Dealing with Parental Alienation?

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In matrimonial law, it is not surprising to see couples embroiled in lengthy struggles over divorce, visitation and custody, orders of protection, charges of criminal contempt for those disregarding court orders on visitation rights, and charges of aggressive behavior. In some instances of aggressive behavior, a parent may be the recipient of parental alienation, and the anger may be rooted in deep frustration from the alienating parent and child.

Parental alienation is any behavior by a parent, mother or father, either conscious or unconscious that creates distancing in the relationship between that child and the other parent. It can involve brainwashing and manipulation of the child by one parent, with the purpose of destroying a loving and warm relationship the child may have shared with the other parent.

It is not uncommon that these cases can extend for a long time. Regardless of the degree, researchers believe that any alienation of a child against the child's other parent is harmful to the child and can cause them severe psychological damage which can extend well into adulthood. Parental alienation often forces children to choose sides and become allies against the other parent. Children caught in the middle of such conflicts can suffer severe losses of love, respect, and peace during their early formative years. In some cases, the child is so alienated that the target parent may withdraw, leaving the child altogether with the alienating parent.

The target parents often suffer heartbreaking loss of their children through no fault of their own. They may also face false accusations from their alienated children that they cannot defend with facts. Sometimes there are charges of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, which must be investigated carefully to maintain and protect the safety of the child.

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What is Parental Alienation Syndrome?

Parental Alienation Syndrome is different from parental alienation, and occurs almost exclusively within the context of divorce. In the latter, the brainwashing of the child by one parent is also accompanied by severe opposition by the child towards having contact with the other parent, and may even include a visible hatred toward that parent, though there is little and often no logical reason to explain the child's behavior.

Each case involving Parental Alienation Syndrome has its own unique circumstances, and needs to be considered individually. One thing is likely: The alienating parent will not stop trying to distance the child from the targeted parent. If you suspect that Parental Alienation Syndrome is interfering with your child's behavior and attitude toward you, it is important to consult with a professional who is knowledgeable about this condition.

It is equally important to work closely with your attorney to prepare an appropriate course of action to protect and preserve your relationship with your child. It is crucial to maintain contact with your child, and not get discouraged.

Risk Factors of Parental Alienation

During a separation or a divorce, there are a number of factors that can put you and your children at risk for parental alienation. Early recognition of these factors is important so you can intervene and protect your relationship with your children. Common signs include:

  • Visits are withheld
  • Children are frequently not returned on time
  • A parent threatens to abduct the children
  • Suggestions of sexual, physical, and / or mental abuse
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • A parent having a severe mental disorder
  • A parent interferes with a reasonable number of phone calls.
  • Children begin refusing to visit.

Contact Wisselman & Associates to discuss your rights in the face of parental alienation.