At Orlando Family Team, our two principal attorneys understand all too well the dire effects parental alienation can have on the affected parent and child. Children are generally happiest when they have positive interactions with both of their parents, even when the parents cannot get along with one another.
Defining Parental Alienation
Parental alienation is a process in which one parent deliberately seeks to estrange his/her child from the other parent through psychological manipulation. The reasons the parent engages in this destructive behavior may vary from psychiatric pathology to a desire for revenge. Typically, the twisted mind of the manipulative parent doesn’t acknowledge that her/his cruelty punishes not only the detested ex-spouse but the innocent child as well.
When Legal Intervention Is Necessary to Cope with Parental Alienation
If you and your child are being victimized by your ex-spouse through parental alienation, it is time to contact our experienced child custody attorneys. We have the well-honed skills to evaluate your case from a legal perspective and we are prepared to file a lawsuit against your ex-spouse for parental alienation if necessary.
In situations in which you fear for your child’s safety or welfare, we may be able to:
- Seek a court order prohibiting your ex from engaging in damaging behavior
- Petition the court for supervised timesharing when your child visits with your ex
- Pursue a lawsuit for you to be awarded sole custody of your child
It should be remembered that parental alienation may be difficult to prove because so much of parent-child communication is private. Nonetheless, as your attorneys, we will dedicate ourselves to gathering evidence of the charge. Our goal is to prevent your ex from further alienating your child so you begin repairing the damage and regain your child’s trust and love.
There Are Always Exceptions
It is undeniable that there are extreme cases in which it is necessary for parent-child bonds to be severed, at least temporarily — such as when there has been physical or sexual abuse, life-threatening neglect, or dangerous criminal behavior. In most cases, however, psychiatrists, social workers, and other professionals attest to the fact that children grow up to be more balanced and self-assured when they are connected to two loving parents.
Symptoms of Parental Alienation
While you, as an alienated parent, are the adult most affected by the syndrome, other adults in the child’s world will also pick up signals that something is amiss. Close relatives, teachers, therapists, coaches, counselors, physicians, and others in a position to observe and mentor your child may also report the following as possible symptoms that your child is being subjected to the abuse of parental alienation:
- Emotional issues, such as anxiety, rage, depression, nightmares, nervous habits
- Inability or refusal to communicate or socialize, not only with you but generally
- Physical manifestation of emotional distress, e.g. headaches, stomach aches, eating problems, body aches, fatigue
- Expressions of annoyance, disgust, or hatred of the parent being targeted
- Refusal to interact with the parent from whom the child has been alienated
- Recitations of the targeted parent’s faults to justify negative feelings (in many cases such “faults,” (e.g. sloppiness, eating or purchasing habits, teams rooted for) are insufficient to justify the intensity of the animosity being expressed
- Black and white view of the parents — one angelic and one demonic
- Absence of guilt over behaving badly toward the targeted parent
- In some cases, rejection extending to relatives and friends of the targeted parent
Of course, the alienated parent will exhibit symptoms as well, feeling betrayed and mistreated in the worst possible way — by being rejected by her or his own child. It should be remembered that parental alienation can take place in intact, as well as divorced, families.
Tactics One Parent May Use to Alienate the Child from the Other Parent
Though no two cases of parental alienation are identical, several tactics are pervasive among parents trying to alienate their children from the other parent. According to Amy J.L Baker, Ph.D., a noted expert in the field, these tactics include five general categories:
- Communicating to the child that the targeted parent is unloving, unsafe, unavailable
- Limiting and interfering with contact and communication between the child and the targeted parent (e.g. not passing messages along)
- Doing everything possible to replace the targeted parent, making the child more dependent on, and obedient to, the alienating parent, implicitly threatening loss of love unless the child capitulates
- Encouraging the child to keep secrets from the targeted parent and to spy on him or her
- Undermining the authority of the targeted parent, often by revealing inappropriate, private information the child does not need to know to denigrate the ex
Although not all children “drink the Kool-Aid,” many are too confused or frightened, or simply too young, to evaluate what is happening to them, especially if there is no one else around (e.g. a grandparent, aunt or uncle, older sibling) to contradict their indoctrination. Therefore, parental alienation is a force many parents must reckon with.
Proving Parental Alienation in Court
Parental alienation must be taken seriously since it can not only cause intense emotional pain but permanently damage the fundamental relationship between a parent and child. When you consult with the sharp, caring divorce attorneys at Orlando Family Team, you will receive the legal advocacy and moral support you need to fight for the rights of you and your child. We will assist you by:
- Gathering documentation (e.g. text messages, emails, social media posts, school, and medical records) of toxic communication by the alienating parent
- Questioning relatives, friends, and neutral witnesses (e.g. teachers, healthcare professionals, coaches, troop leaders, etc.) who can report evidence of parental alienation
- Obtaining professional testimony from experts on parental alienation (psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers) who have interviewed or worked with the child and can substantiate your claims
We may, if your case comes to trial, put your toxic ex on the witness stand to reveal his or her destructive misconduct, and in very rare instances, if we feel it won’t be detrimental, question your child directly in court.
Don’t Lose Your Child to Parental Alienation — Contact Our Child Custody Attorneys Now
We know how terrible it is to feel your child’s affection for you slipping away, especially when your child’s other parent is engineering the alienation. Orlando Law Team has the sharp negotiation and litigation skills to fight aggressively for your parental rights.
We will do everything in our power to have the alienating parent sanctioned and/or have you awarded sole custody. By making increased contact, freer communication, and therapeutic intervention possible, we will help you repair this vital relationship. Contact our skilled Orlando child custody attorney for a consultation.