What Exactly is Parental Alienation?


Parental alienation is a situation in which the main victim is a child. It is a phenomenon that has a variety of legal, psychological, social implications for the child. Parental Alienation Syndrome can arise during a divorce or other family law matter, and it can lead to complicated legal issues.

It occurs when one of the parents isolates the child from the other parent, denying them contact with the other parent or establishing a negative relationship with that parent. This can be observed through blackmail, manipulation towards the child and, in the most serious cases, psychological violence.

In any case, parental alienation can create disorders in the child such as:

  •     Anxiety disorders
  •     Sleep disorders
  •     Eating disorders
  •     Aggressive behaviors
  •     Avoidance behaviors
  •     Use of adult language and expressions
  •     Emotional dependence
  •     Difficulties in expressing and understanding emotions

Due to the consequences of parental alienation syndrome, it is advisable to find solutions as soon as possible if you are concerned it is happening to your children. Although you should turn to health professionals for help, as well, in this particular case we will focus on possible solutions from the legal point of view.

One possible solution to parental alienation would be to file a divorce petition, asking for exclusive custody of the child if it is believed that contact with the other parent is harmful. This will require approval of the judge, who will determine the course of action that will preserve the best interests of the child.

In the event that the behavior of a parent could constitute a crime (threats, aggressions, etc.), criminal actions may also be filed to protect the child from further harm.

Prevention of Parental Alienation

It is always best to completely avoid parental alienation when possible. Sometimes this can be achieved during the divorce process through the use of a family mediator. A mediator will try to help the parties involved reach an amicable agreement. It is also in the best interests of the child for the couple to work out their differences so that neither of them loses their right to visit with the child.

How Parental Alienation Should Not be Handled

When parents are separated or getting a divorce, there are certain things that are best avoided when it comes to taking care of any children involved:

  • Never involved the children in decision making during the divorce
  • No matter how tense the relationship is with the other parent, the attitude you have toward the child should not be impacted.
  • Do not block family members of the other spouse from seeing or speaking with the child
  • Allow the court system to handle any discrepancies that the parents have when it comes to child-related issues that cannot be settled between the parties.

Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney Today

When it comes to child custody and visitation issues, it is essential to have the advice of a lawyer with experience in family law. The attorneys at Lankford & Moore Law will study your case to help find a resolution that is best for both you and your children. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. 

I realized the true function of a lawyer was to unite parties riven asunder. The lesson was so indelibly burnt into me that a large part of my time during the twenty years of my practice as a lawyer was occupied in bringing about private compromises of hundreds of cases. I lost nothing thereby — not even money, certainly not my soul.

Mahatma Gandhi

Lankford & Moore Law in Downtown Lawrenceville

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