Child custody and access cases can be difficult for parents as well as the children. Unfortunately, kids sometimes get stuck in the middle of the parents’ conflicts. It’s natural for children to be attuned to their parents’ emotions. In a divorce or separation, kids are usually aware of conflicts and disagreements no matter how much parents try to shield them.
When a disagreement between parents causes a child to feel negative or disparaging toward one parent, however, the parent-child relationship can suffer irreparable harm. The law refers to this situation as “parental alienation.”
Unintentional vs. Intentional Parental Alienation
Parental alienation can happen intentionally and unintentionally. When the parents’ relationship ends, one parent might say negative things about the other parent in front of the child without thinking about how it affects the child. Nevertheless, the child may become influenced by these negative comments until the child begins to feel negatively toward the other parent.
In other cases, the alienation is deliberate. Parents may “coach” their child to tell mental health professionals negative and inaccurate information about the other parent. In other cases, parents have manipulated their children’s affections by purchasing the children excessive gifts or making unrealistic promises. In many cases, the parent with primary custody is responsible for alienating the children from the other parent, although parental alienation can be caused by either parent.
What Can I Do if My Ex Is Alienating My Kids?
Fortunately, courts take parental alienation very seriously. If you believe your ex is engaging in behaviour that is damaging to your relationship with your children, call to discuss your options. In some cases, we can stop the behaviour by notifying the other parent of your concerns and simply asking for it to stop. In other situations, the court may need to issue an order regarding the parental alienation. In extreme cases, the court also has the authority to revoke the other parent’s custody.