Parental alienation can occur either during or after divorce proceedings. The adult tries to influence their child against the other parent by imbuing them with negative ideas about that parent.
They might tell the children that the former spouse doesn’t love them anymore or tell negative things about the other person. This way, the kids might learn to stay away from the other parent.
The consequences of parental alienation, especially among children, are so severe that some experts call it a form of emotional abuse. It causes psychological damage and distortion in how they view others and themselves for many years after these events have passed.
One of the most dangerous outcomes of this kind of treatment is that the child starts to prefer one parent to another, which should never happen in the best of circumstances. How do you avoid being in such a situation? Here are tips:
1. Work with a Divorce Attorney
During divorce proceedings, it is not enough to have an attorney. Get someone who knows and understands the way family structures work. This person should help you with all your legal needs, but they should also be able to look at the big picture and see what kind of damage might happen if your abusive relationship with the former spouse and/or children continues for too long.
Look for a divorce attorney with a lot of experience in parental alienation. This situation can be both tricky and complicated to argue in court.
2. Strike to Work Out Mediation or Collaborative Divorce
It is possible to avoid the worst of parental alienation by getting into mediated divorce proceedings. You can go this route with or without lawyers, but it will be easier if you try to find an attorney willing to work with that kind of system.
The benefit here is that spouses are less likely to start suggesting negative things about each other, as this is part of the process. Additionally, the mediated sessions will be less acrimonious.
In collaborative divorce, you do not have to go to court, but it is still possible for each spouse to hire an attorney. The difference here is that their job is not to argue for their client’s side but rather discover the best solution together. This kind of system also helps spouses avoid involving their children in these proceedings, which should be avoided at all costs.
3. Reach Out to the Children
Spouses trying to avoid parental alienation should not wait for the process of divorce to be complete before they reach out to their children. This can lead them to be absent from their lives, which can cause a lot of damage.
You have the right to tell your child that you love them and miss them despite everything that is happening, and you should explain why it is not a good idea for them to get involved.
Honor your custody arrangements. Visit the kids when it is your time to do so. Take them on vacations (if this is allowed in your visitation rights), so you can spend more intimate time with them. Consider living much closer to them.
4. Be Supportive in the Other Parent’s Life
If your child spends time with the other parent, avoid badmouthing them in any way when they’re gone. Talk about how nice they were or share pleasant memories you had together.
Parents who actively work toward reducing the effects of parental alienation do so for their children. That can lead to them being more relaxed and happy.
5. Offer Help as a Co-Parent
Sometimes it is not enough to be supportive of the other parent’s life. You might have to be actively involved in it. This is not usually the best course of action, but if you can do this without hurting your child or adversely influencing them, you can offer to help with challenging things for the other parent.
This might mean taking care of children when they’re sick, picking them up from school, or helping them with homework. Do not make these offers to earn their love but show that you can cooperate with your ex-partner and are ready to do what’s best for the children.
6. Document Your Children’s Behavior
There are many signs of parental alienation. These include the child being afraid of being around one parent, having a strong dislike for them, or saying negative things about them.
If you notice any of these signs, it is time to request that the court order a mental evaluation. Within this process, your lawyer can work with you to help your ex-partner understand what’s going on.
However, you might also want to document your child’s behavior, especially when they are around you. If you are sure you are being alienated, these pieces of evidence can help you argue in court.
Parental alienation is one of the most difficult things to deal with during a divorce, but it can be minimized if you follow these steps and work hard. It might take time and effort, but if you do it right, everyone wins.