As if separation and divorce weren't difficult enough, unfortunately, some ex-partners will go out of their way to make it more difficult, even at the expense of their own child's mental health and well-being. One way of doing this is known as parental alienation. Below is an overview of parental alienation, what effects it can have on your child and your family, and what you can do to prove it in court.
What is Parental Alienation?
Parental alienation, while unfortunate, is a reality for many families who're going through a separation or divorce.
In the simplest of terms, parental alienation is a form of emotional abuse where one parent looks to drive a wedge between the other parent and their child. A common example of parental alienation would be a parent talking badly about the other parent in front of the child. A more extreme example would be a parent deliberately telling lies to their child so as to make the child love them more than the other parent.
What Effects Can Parental Alienation Have on Your Family?
The very purpose of parental alienation is to cause a major rift between one parent and their child, so it's no surprise that the impact parental alienation can have on your family is devastating.
The impact that parental alienation can have on your child will vary, but common issues include distress and anxiety, defiance, sleep disturbances, and lack of empathy. If the alienation is severe, the child may even begin to believe the lies and doubt that the non-alienating parent loves and cares for them. Fortunately, the legal system has begun to recognize forms of emotional abuse and take them into account when consider custody and visitation arrangements.
How Can Parental Alienation Be Proven in Court?
If you're dealing with parental alienation, it's vital that you have a knowledgeable family law attorney by your side.
It's true, emotional abuse is not as easy to prove as physical abuse because the scars are invisible, but there are still a number of ways that you and your attorney can prove parental alienation. One, it's important that you document every interaction that you and your child have with the other parent. This can be as simple as writing it as a dated entry in a journal and saving any hostile voicemails, text messages, emails, or letters.
Two, your child should be seeing a therapist who's experienced with issues related to emotional abuse, as the therapist can offer their expert opinion during the case. Three, if possible, any physical meetings between yourself and your ex should only be in the presence of a mediator or other trusted source – this can help to show the courts that you've never acted inappropriately during these interactions.
While parental alienation can be difficult to deal with, there are family law attorneys who have experience with such issues and can help you to do what's best for you and your child. To learn more about parental alienation and what you can do to protect your child from it, consult with your family law attorney, such as one from Cragun Law Firm.