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, made consciously or subconsciously – that creates distance in the relationship between the child and the other parent. It can involve brainwashing and manipulation of the child by one parent, for the purpose of destroying a loving and warm relationship the child may have shared with the other parent.

It is not uncommon for these cases to extend over a long period of time. Regardless of the degree, researchers believe that any parental alienation is harmful to the child and can cause them severe psychological damage, sometimes extending 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 solely 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; accusations they cannot defend with facts. Sometimes there are charges of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, which must be investigated carefully in order 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 it occurs almost exclusively within the context of divorce. In the latter, the brainwashing of the child by one parent creates severe opposition from the child when it comes to having contact with the other parent; this may include a visible hatred toward the other 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 affecting 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 to not get discouraged.

Risk Factors of Parental Alienation

During a separation or divorce, a number of factors can put you and your children at risk of 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 number of phone calls
  • Children begin refusing to visit.

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