Parental Alienation

Fathers' rights regarding parental alienation during divorce

How Dads Can Respond When Your Ex Tries to Turn the Kids Against You

Divorce isn't easy, and the end of your marriage is likely to stir up many emotions for both you and your ex. However, there are both healthy and unhealthy ways to deal with those emotions, and divorcing parents should make sure to avoid behaviors that could negatively affect their children. One of the most harmful things a parent can do is to attempt to damage their kids' relationship with the other parent. This is known as parental alienation, and if you believe that your ex is acting in this way, you should seek immediate legal help.

Forms of Parental Alienation

Your ex may attempt to alienate your kids against you in hopes that she can influence decisions about child custody and visitation. She may believe that if she can convince your children that they would rather spend time with her than with you, the court will follow these wishes and rule in her favor. However, parental alienation is not always so overt. If your ex has mental health issues or is a narcissist, she may believe that her wishes should be followed during your divorce, regardless of what is actually best for your kids, and her attempts to influence your children may be more subtle and manipulative.

There are a wide variety of ways your kids' mom may attempt to alienate them against you, including:

  • Complaining about you to your children or criticizing you in the child's presence.
  • Sharing inappropriate details with kids about why your marriage ended or discussing disputes about child custody or other divorce-related issues.
  • Blaming you for the divorce and any subsequent difficulties your ex has experienced.
  • Asking your children to keep secrets from you or refusing to share important information such as medical records or report cards.
  • Forcing children to choose between their parents and making them feel guilty about wanting to spend time with you.
  • Asking children to spy on you and tell your ex about where you go, who you spend time with, or how you spend your money.
  • Refusing to allow your kids to call or communicate with you or monitoring their phone calls with you or the text messages or emails they send or receive.
  • Undermining your authority as a parent by disregarding or ignoring the decisions you have made about your kids.
  • Encouraging children to treat a new partner or step-parent as if they are an equal or more important parent than you are.
  • Telling your kids that you don't love them or want to spend time with them.
  • Making false accusations that you have committed domestic violence or child abuse in hopes that the court will award them sole custody or place restrictions on your parenting time.

Parental alienation can be incredibly damaging to children. In fact, it is a form of abuse. Children deserve to have a good relationship and quality time with both of their parents. Trying to take this away from them can increase the feelings of abandonment and guilt they may feel following your divorce, and it can impair their ability to build positive relationships with others as they get older.

Addressing Parental Alienation

If you suspect that your ex has committed parental alienation, you'll want to take immediate legal action to protect your relationship with your kids. Your divorce attorney can help you understand the best strategy to use, including asking that a child custody evaluator or guardian ad litem be appointed in your case. Proving that your ex has attempted to alienate your children against you can sometimes be difficult, but if you can do so, you may be able to pursue sole custody or ask that her parenting time be restricted. By acting quickly and effectively to protect your parental rights, you can make sure that your kids can have the ongoing positive relationship with you that they deserve.

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