Child and parent on the beach

What Is Parental Alienation?

Divorce can be the best path for a family to take. Sometimes, people are just better when they are not together. Despite this, divorce is difficult. Dissolving a marriage can be an emotional roller coaster and cause the individuals involved to go through some very trying times. This can all be especially true when there are children involved. In some cases, the pain and strain of divorce can present itself with some counterproductive and even harmful behaviors. When these behaviors impact children, the law draws a hard line. That is why there are laws protecting children from parental alienation.

What is Parental Alienation?

The emotions of a divorce can leave many forgetting where the true priorities lies, such as protecting the emotions and well-being of children. Divorce can be a difficult time for children and the situation should be handled with ongoing care. Both parents will likely need to put aside some strong feelings in order to be present for their children and encourage them to remember that they will continue to have two, active, supportive parents in their lives.

Unfortunately, parents, as well as family members and even friends, can forget that the best thing for a child is to have confidence in the love and support of both parents. When this happens, people can either intentionally or unintentionally act or speak in ways that cause damage to the child’s relationship with a parent. This, of course, most commonly occurs when one former spouse speaks ill of the other parent in front of the child. Others, however, can speak in similar ways as well. Interfering with a parent’s relationship with his or her child is referred to as parental alienation. 

When actions or words work to cause a rift between a parent and child, this is parental alienation, and it is a serious matter. As parental alienation can perpetrate indefinite harm to the parent and child relationship, courts are quick to act when this type of behavior is brought to light. Hopefully, however, parents and others around the child will be mindful of the potential damage parental alienation can cause and take concerted measures to prevent the behavior in the first place.

Of course, a parent may not be aware that parental alienation is necessarily occurring if the child is with the other parent. Here are some red flags to be aware of as they can indicate parental alienation is occurring:

  • A child’s behavior suddenly shifts towards a parent
  • A child’s attitude drastically changes from happy to see a parent to want to immediately leave and go to the home of the other parent
  • A child seems uncomfortable around a parent when they never did before
  • A child stops talking to a parent or is uncharacteristically rude
  • A child discloses knowledge of detailed intricacies about the divorce, beyond what would be appropriate for a child to know about
  • A parent’s scheduled parenting time seems to start consistently late, ends early, or is missed in its entirety

Family Law Attorney

Should your co-parent or others associated with your co-parent be causing division between you and your child, the time to address the situation is now. The law recognizes the importance of resolving these damaging situations as soon as possible. Cohen Family Law is here to help. Contact us today.