Mother sitting with daughter on the porch of their house

Recognizing and Addressing Parental Alienation

While parental alienation can have a devastating impact on a family, children in particular, it is a persistent problem. This is particularly true of families in the midst of or post-divorce proceedings. To say that parental alienation is one parent turning a child against the other parent is accurate, but still fails to capture the horrible and far-reaching impacts it has. You see, children gain significant benefits from having solid and safe relationships with both parents. Studies have shown that having a positive relationship with both parents helps children achieve better emotional regulation and academic performance as well as fostering socio-emotional development. Parental alienation is tantamount to abuse and can result in lifelong damage to the child and the alienated parent. To help prevent your family from falling victim to the damaging effects of parental alienation, we want to discuss how you can recognize and address parental alienation.

Recognizing and Addressing Parental Alienation

Parental alienation is the result of one parent demonstrating behavior that is aimed at undermining the child’s relationship with the other parent. As a result, the child may start to look at the other parent as the problem or “bad guy.” Here are some red flags to look out for if you suspect parental alienation is occurring:

  • The child makes unexpected objections to spending time with you.
  • The child’s academic performance is suffering.
  • The child has random outbursts of anger.
  • The child mentions detailed or private knowledge about the nature of your separation from the other parent.
  • The child has developed new phobias.
  • The child exhibits poor impulse control which was not previously a problem.
  • The child seems to reject you and your extended family without a logical basis
  • The child exhibits anxiety when separated from the parent perpetrating the parental alienation.

Children suffering from parental alienation may also exhibit:

  • Low self-confidence
  • Sleeping disorders including nightmares and insomnia
  • Eating disorders

As far as behaviors you notice from your co-parent that could be a part of parental alienation, whether intended or not, be on the lookout for your co-parent:

  • Talking poorly about you in front of the child
  • Placing the blame on you for problems or negative experiences
  • Keeping in excessive contact with the child during your parenting time
  • Talking about the reasons why you separated from each other
  • Making the child choose between the two of your

If you believe that parental alienation is occurring, then your best course of action is to stay in strict compliance with the existing child custody order. This not only shows your commitment to your child and maintaining the parenting relationship, but shows that you are making every effort to comply with the court’s orders. Should your co-parent be failing to uphold the court’s child custody order, talk to a lawyer about your enforcement options. 

Additionally, keep a meticulous record of any events or incidences when you have witnessed signs of parental alienation. Also, keep a record of any time your co-parent has stepped out of the lines put in place by the custody order. Detail the time and date of these incidents and include a brief description of what happened.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

For whatever reason parental alienation is being perpetrated, it only serves to hurt the child and the family as a whole. If you suspect parental alienation after your child custody settlement, do not delay in reaching out to the dedicated family law team at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou. Contact us today.

Andrew Nickolaou

Andrew Nickolaou, Esq., B.C.S., is a founding partner at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. He practices almost exclusively in divorce, marital and family law. Andrew also handles record expungements and sealings. If you have questions about this article, contact Andrew today by clicking here.