Fighting Parental Alienation

When parents become legally separated or divorced, one of the parents may engage in parental alienation – the act of turning one’s children against their ex. While parents do this for reasons we can understand, it’s never acceptable for reasons that we’ll explain.

Divorce can be an extremely upsetting event. Virtually every aspect of a person’s life is turned upside-down in a very short time. Divorce and separation affect people emotionally, financially, socially, etc. Then, there may be factors that make the divorce or separation harder, such as cheating, domestic violence, substance abuse, debt, and a reduced quality of life (especially if marital waste was a factor).

If your ex has entered into a new, intimate relationship, that can complicate things even more. Suddenly, you’re faced with a whole other set of issues, including concerns over your children’s emotional well-being when exposed to the new relationship.

Are You a Victim of Parental Alienation?

One of the most common byproducts of divorce is where one parent criticizes the other parent. The parent may be angry, hurt, sad, bitter, resentful, or all the above. He or she may want revenge for an affair. They may feel as if they have no other choice, as if they’re acting in self-defense, that they’re protecting their children from disappointment.

When a parent attempts to turn their children against the other parent, it’s called “parental alienation.” As a divorce law firm, we see it all the time. Parental alienation manifests in many ways, including:

  • Badmouthing the other parent to the children.
  • Providing a negative reaction if the children display positive feelings toward their other parent.
  • Scheduling activities, parties, playdates, sleepovers, etc. during the alienated parent’s court-ordered time with their children.
  • Starting fights during pickups and drop-offs.
  • Telling the children about negative financial information and blaming the family’s money problems on the other parent.
  • Encouraging the children to have ill feelings toward the other parent.
  • Advising the children that they don’t have to obey the other parent.
  • Contradicting the other parent for no good reason.
  • Saying bad things about the other parent’s significant other.
  • Not allowing the children to contact the other parent whenever they wish.

If any of the above describes your ex’s behavior, he or she could be engaging in parental alienation, which is not only bad for your children and you, but can be bad for your ex. Like California, New York is one of the states that recognizes the ill effects of parental alienation.

If you’re the alienated parent and you can show this in court, you may be able to use it to gain custody of your children. If you can prove that your ex has willfully interfered with your parental rights, he or she may be found unfit and custody could be changed. For further reading on the matter, read, “Parental Alienation – A Broader Perspective” published in the New York Law Journal.

Next: At What Age Can a Child Choose Custody in New York?

To learn more about parental alienation and how it may impact your child custody case, contact the Law Office of Dennis R. Vetrano, Jr., LLC today.

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