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What is parental alienation?

On Behalf of | Mar 27, 2022 | Family Law

All too often does an ongoing divorce turn into a heated competition between parents. Resentment can fuel one’s desire to “win” the divorce or even a child’s love, and parental alienation is a common means toward that end.

Parental alienation is a toxic behavior wherein one parent attempts to turn their child against the other. Individuals going through a child custody case should be aware of how this behavior can manifest and what effects it may have on the child.

How can parental alienation occur?

Parental alienation is a manipulative act that is often subtle in nature, so much so that the offender may not be aware of it themselves. Bad-mouthing the other parent within earshot of the kids is an example of how one might try to create a negative impression of their spouse. Interfering with a child’s personal time with the other parent or excessively showering them with gifts are also ways that a toxic individual might undermine a relationship.

What are the effects of parental alienation?

The National Center for State Courts explains how parental alienation can evolve into emotional child abuse. The potential implications on a child’s mental health should be reason enough to cease such behavior. However, both parents should also be aware that any signs of child abuse can factor into a court’s decision regarding child custody. A judge performing their duty toward a child’s best interests will likely rule against a parent who exhibits alienating behavior.

Most parents experiencing a divorce simply want the best possible outcome for their children. Parents who notice manipulative behavior in their divorce can support their child by contacting a mental health professional to assess the situation.