Understanding Parental Alienation after Divorce or Separation

parental alienation

Have you noticed that your relationship has changed after your divorce or separation? If your kids have suddenly become distant or uninterested in spending time with you, there’s a chance that your ex-spouse may be manipulating their trust.

Referred to as parental alienation, this behavior occurs when children side with one parent while rejecting the other parent without a rational or legitimate reason. Typically, this is a result of one parent unfairly encouraging the children to alienate or ignore the other parent and is a major issue within the family law court system and typically arises during divorce cases that involve children. While each California divorce case is unique, parental alienation usually occurs because a parent wants to gain child custody while minimizing the other parent’s involvement in the child’s life.

What’s Parental Alienation?

Your former spouse may be accomplishing this task by limiting your contact with your children, interfering with your ability to communicate with them, or reinforcing a negative perception of you. Examples include your ex-spouse undermining your authority by telling children that you’re irresponsible or untrustworthy. It can be something as simple casually making negative remarks about you or blatant, ongoing attempts to discount your credibility.

The following scenarios may be signs of parental alienation:

●        Your children considerably favor your ex-spouse while they reject you without any reasonable justification. They don’t offer any signs of wanting to build or maintain their relationship with you.

●        Your children speak poorly of you and no longer want to visit or spend time with you.

●        Your children consistently side with your ex-spouse and repeat her thoughts and opinions about you.

●        Your children suddenly begin to mistreat your extended family or refuse to have contact with them

Preventing Parental Alienation

If you suspect your former partner is alienating you from your children, there are steps you can take to repair your relationship with your children. One of the most important things you can do as a parent is to offer unconditional love and support to your children, even if it’s not reciprocated. As your children grow older and mature, they will better understand the circumstances surrounding your divorce as well as the truth behind your ex-spouse’s motivation for wanting to harm your relationship.

Children learn by behavior so set the best example possible. Remember, this isn’t your children’s fault and their words and actions are a result of your ex-spouse. Be patient, be positive, and don’t do anything that may support your ex-spouse’s attempts to alienate you from your children.  It is critically important to regularly pay child and spousal support, be on time to your children’s activities, and remind your children often how much you love them.

Children may experience psychological effects as a result of parental alienation that can affect other aspects of their lives, such as school and friendships. That’s why it’s important to talk to an experienced California divorce and family law attorney if you suspect parental alienation.