Parental Alienation

Alienation can have permanent psychological implications

Safeguarding Your Relationship with Your Children

When parents split up, children are often drawn into the conflict between them. One parent will sometimes say and do things to sabotage the relationship between the child and other parent. This is an attempt to alienate the child from that other parent, so it has become known as parental alienation.

Courts in California can take serious action when one parent is trying to turn a child against the other parent. For that reason, parents have been known to falsely accuse the other of parental alienation to gain the sympathy of the court.

Whether you are in a situation where parental alienation is being used against you or a situation where you are wrongfully accused of alienation tactics, you need to act quickly to protect your parental rights and your relationship with your child. The Certified Family Law Specialists at Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC understand the dangers you face and we are prepared to use the most effective strategies to preserve your rights and relationship as a parent.

What Does Parental Alienation Involve?

Tactics that amount to parental alienation can look completely different in different situations, so the patterns are not always easy to spot. Parental alienation efforts can involve actions or words, and may be direct or subtle. 

The combined effect of parental alienation tactics often cause a child to withdraw from the targeted parent. The child may seem angry or fearful and become reluctant to spend time with the targeted parent.

Of course, when parents separate, children are often angry, hurt, and withdrawn even in the absence of deliberate parental alienation tactics. This is why it can be difficult to realize when a parent is engaging in parental alienation and why, on the flipside, it can be easy to mistakenly or wrongfully accuse a parent of trying to turn a child against the other parent. When trying to determine whether a parent is trying to alienate a child, it is important to look at the parent’s patterns of behavior and anything that indicates the motivation behind the behavior.

Actions That Can Constitute Parental Alienation

Because parental alienation efforts can traumatize a child as well as destroy the relationship between the child and the targeted parent, psychologists have studied these cases in depth. Mental health professionals have identified as many as twenty main parental alienation strategies, with many variations. These can be broken down into six main categories:

  • Negative messaging: One parent bombards the child with poisonous messages about the other. The alienating parent might portray the targeted parent as dangerous, or indicate that the other parent doesn’t have time for the child or doesn’t love them. The messages might be overt or subtle, such as “jokingly” inferring that a child needs to be “rescued” from the targeted parent.
  • Limiting contact: The alienating parent takes steps to restrict and reduce contact and communication with the targeted parent.
  • Erase and replace: One parent tries to remove evidence of the other from the child’s life. The alienating parent might remove all pictures of the other parent and replace them with photos of the alienating parent or a new partner. If the child had rituals with the targeted parent, the alienating parent might duplicate them. If the child has gifts given by the targeted parent, those gifts might disappear.
  • Encouraging breach of trust: An alienating parent might ask the child to spy on the parent and report certain actions, implying that the other parent is doing something wrong.
  • Emotional dependence: An alienating parent might withdraw love and affection unless a child agrees with negative statements about the other parent or make the child feel guilt for spending time with the other parent, making the child take on responsibility for hurt feelings of alienating the parent.
  • Undermining authority:  One parent might change practices to deliberately contradict everything the other parent child does. This could include lying to the child about the other parent’s custody rights or payment of child support.

The alienating parent is often the one with primary custody because that parent has more opportunity to impact the child and isolate them from the other parent. However, either parent can engage in parental alienation.

Proving and Disproving Parental Alienation

Evidence is the key to proving that one parent is attempting to alienate a child or demonstrating that a parent is interacting reasonably with a child. It can take time to collect records of communication, observations from witnesses, and other evidence. 

For that reason, it is best to work with an experienced parental alienation attorney as soon as you suspect alienation may be occurring. Depending on the circumstances, it may be wise to bring in an expert to give an opinion on what has happened and the effects.

Get Experienced Legal Protection from Holstrom, Block & Parke

Parental alienation can have a substantial impact on custody and visitation as well as interpersonal relationships for years to come. Assistance from an experienced legal team can help you safeguard your relationship with your child and secure your parental rights.

Time is of the essence, so whether you are targeted for alienation or falsely accused of alienation tactics, contact Holstrom, Blocke & Parke today to get started on a plan to protect your future as a parent.

A parent’s actions that can lead to PAS include:
  • Getting back at the other parent through a rigid visitation schedule
  • Making the child feel guilty for having fun with the other parent
  • Allowing the child to decide whether or not to visit with the other parent
  • Openly speaking badly about the other parent with the child
  • Blaming the other parent for issues in front of the child
  • Falsely accusing the other parent of abuse or drug or alcohol use
  • Destroying or hiding mail or presents from the other parent
  • Blocking any communication between the child and the other parent
  • Not allowing the other parent to have access to the school or medical records
  • Not including co-parent in child’s extracurricular activities
Don’t Let Your Co-Parent Get Away with Alienation!

Parental alienation can have a lasting impact on your child. If you notice signs of parental alienation and believe that your co-parent is attempting to turn your child against you, act quickly to get the legal help you need.