Select Page

Parental alienation is a heartbreaking reality faced by many families going through high-conflict divorces or separations. It’s a complex issue where one parent, consciously or unconsciously, works to turn the child against the other parent, often with devastating consequences for the child’s well-being and the targeted parent’s relationship. As a targeted parent, it’s crucial to understand the dynamics of parental alienation and take proactive steps to address it before the damage becomes irreparable.

Understanding Parental Alienation

Parental alienation is a process in which one parent, the “alienating parent,” engages in behaviors that foster the child’s rejection of the other parent, the “targeted parent.” This can involve denigrating the targeted parent, removing reminders of that parent from the child’s life, or even coaching the child to express negative feelings about the targeted parent. The result is a child who becomes fearful, avoidant, or hostile towards the targeted parent, despite the targeted parent having done nothing to warrant such a reaction.

Recognizing the Signs of Parental Alienation

Identifying parental alienation can be challenging, as the behaviors can be subtle and difficult to prove. However, some common signs to watch for include:

  • Sudden and unexplained changes in the child’s behavior or attitude towards the targeted parent
  • The child’s inability to provide a clear, rational explanation for their negative feelings about the targeted parent
  • The child “parroting” or repeating the alienating parent’s perceived flaws or negative attributes about the targeted parent
  • The alienating parent’s excessive involvement in the child’s life during the targeted parent’s parenting time, such as frequent check-ins or providing the child with ways to contact the alienating parent

Documenting Parental Alienation

If you suspect parental alienation is occurring, it’s crucial to document everything. Keep a detailed journal of the child’s behaviors, the alienating parent’s actions, and any changes in the child’s relationship with you. This documentation will be essential if you need to take legal action.

Seeking Professional Intervention

In many cases, professional intervention is necessary to address parental alienation. Consider enrolling the child in therapy, as a therapist can help the child navigate their negative feelings and recognize the difference between “real” and “imaginary” fears. Additionally, you may want to attend therapy or parenting classes yourself, as this can help you develop strategies for coping with the stress and rebuilding your relationship with the child.

Involving the Court

If the alienation continues despite your efforts, you may need to involve the court. This can be done by filing a motion to modify the parenting plan or custody arrangement. The court may then appoint a child custody expert, such as a Child and Family Investigator (CFI) or a Parental Responsibilities Evaluator (PRE), to assess the situation and make recommendations.

Court-Ordered Remedies

If the court finds that parental alienation is occurring, they have a range of remedies at their disposal, including:

Temporary Restraining Orders

The court may issue a temporary restraining order to immediately stop the alienating parent from contacting the child or engaging in specific alienating behaviors.

Parental Alienation Evaluation

The court may order a comprehensive psychological evaluation to diagnose the presence and degree of parental alienation, as well as the contributing factors.

Mandatory Therapeutic Interventions

The court may order the alienating parent, the child, or both to undergo targeted therapy to address the underlying issues and rebuild the relationship between the child and the targeted parent.

Changes to Custody and Parenting Time

In severe cases, the court may modify the custody arrangement or parenting time schedule to limit the alienating parent’s access to the child, or even transfer primary custody to the targeted parent.

Enforcement and Sanctions

The court can enforce its orders through contempt proceedings, including fines, attorney’s fees, or even jail time for the alienating parent if they continue to violate the court’s directives.

Overcoming Barriers Approach

In recent years, a therapeutic intervention program called the “Overcoming Barriers Approach” has been introduced in some Texas family courts. This comprehensive, court-directed program aims to address the needs of alienated children and provide a whole-family approach to improving family functioning and re-establishing positive contact between the alienated child and the targeted parent.

Maintaining Hope and Resilience

Navigating the complexities of parental alienation can be a daunting and emotionally draining process. It’s important for targeted parents to maintain hope and resilience, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges. By documenting the alienation, seeking professional support, and utilizing the court system when necessary, targeted parents can work to protect their relationship with their child and ultimately overcome the damaging effects of parental alienation.

Parental alienation is a complex and deeply troubling issue, but with the right strategies and support, targeted parents can fight back and reclaim their relationship with their child. By understanding the dynamics of parental alienation, taking proactive steps to document and address the problem, and seeking professional and legal intervention when necessary, targeted parents can work towards a brighter future for their family.

Contact Us (859-371-0730) for a Consultation Today

About Helmer Somers Law

Helmer Somers Law helps individuals and businesses navigate the complex system of rules that accompany all legal situations. We are licensed to practice in both Kentucky and Ohio and offers flexible, affordable payment terms for our services. We welcome the opportunity to earn your trust and become your lawyer for life! It’s a fact of life in the modern world. There comes a time for virtually every adult American when the services of a competent, dedicated lawyer are required. Circumstances such as divorce, bankruptcy, estate planning or an income tax audit demand that your rights be protected, and your long-term interests advocated for with diligence and perseverance. When you call Helmer & Somers Law, you can rest assured that they will be.

Contact Us| (859) 371-0730