blog home child custody How to respond to parental alienation
Posted by Thomas Huguenor on Jun 10, 2021 in Child custody
Nobody will tell you that having joint custody with an ex is a breeze, but arguments between parents should never affect their relationship with the children.
Two parents may disagree on custody agreements, alimony payments, or other aspects of their arrangement, but forcing their child into these arguments can cause permanent damage. Most children are not mature enough to understand or deal with the complexities of joint custody. They don’t have to either.
Unfortunately, parents can and do drag children into these arguments, often to avenge the other parent. This is a slippery slope that can easily lead to claims of “parental alienation” and can even lead to child abuse.
The essence of parental alienation
Parental alienation occurs when one parent tries to manipulate their child into an antagonistic relationship with the other parent. The parent can do this by disclosing personal information about their divorce or previous relationship, making derogatory remarks about the other parent, or claiming that the other parent does not love the child or does not care for the child. Whatever the parent’s approach, the ultimate goal is to drive a wedge between the child and the other parent, which can result in the child disobeying the other parent, refusing to comply with the custody agreement, and spending time with that Spending another parent or developing a strained relationship with that parent
There are several ways one parent can alienate the other, including:
- Insulting the other parent in front of the child
- Passing on details about the parent’s relationship with the child
- Prevent the child from seeing or talking to the other parent
- Exclusion of the other parent from extracurricular activities
- Lying or making false claims about the other parent
- Making the child feel guilty for spending time with the other parent
- Force the child to spend more time with them by offering gifts
It is important to understand that alienation is different from alienation. Alienation occurs when a child and parent drift apart for legitimate reasons such as abuse, disagreement, or conflicting beliefs. Alienation, on the other hand, is caused by one parent destroying the relationship between the other parent and the child.
What can I do if my child experiences parental alienation?
The effects of parental alienation on a child’s development are still unclear. The term “parental alienation syndrome” is circulating in some circles, but it is not yet an accepted medical term. However, there is general agreement that children should have healthy relationships with both parents, and the psychological manipulation used by one parent to harm the other parent through the child is harmful. Parental alienation can leave children feeling confused, angry, or depressed about their relationship with their parents, which can lead to long-term mental illness.
Since your child’s development is at stake, it is important to discuss your situation with an experienced San Diego family law attorney who can explain how to obtain relief from the San Diego family courts. Family courts put the best interests of the child in the foreground. When a child is coerced by one parent to alienate the other parent, the court can intervene. A judge can amend the custody agreement to limit the child’s time with the manipulative parent, request court-ordered advice to rectify the alienation of the parent-child relationship, and order the manipulative parent to attend therapy.
But in order to get the court to act, you must prove that your relationship with your child has been damaged by the actions of the other parent. You may need to collect evidence such as text messages, voicemails, social media posts and letters, and testimony, which can include that of counselors, psychiatrists, family members, and even teachers.
Since the burden of proof is yours, you should only entrust your case to an experienced lawyer. At Huguenor Mattis, APC, our law firm has over 45 years of experience handling the toughest family law cases in San Diego. Our team can sit down with you for a free consultation, explain your options and fight to protect your relationship with your child.
Thomas M. Huguenor is a Family Law Specialist and Amelia J. Mattis has been selected as a Top Ranking Attorney by the American Association of Attorney Advocates (AAAA). If you bring your case to us, we will use all of our know-how to represent your interests.
If you’re experiencing parental alienation and want to learn more about your rights in San Diego, call us today at (858) 458-9500.
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