Parental Alienation: What Is It and How to Prevent It?

Walters Gilbreath, PLLC

Parental alienation occurs when one divorcing parent, the alienating parent, attempts to create a relationship with the children that excludes the other parent from their lives. The children get to a point where they refuse visitation with the target parent and express only negative feelings about that parent. Parental alienation is a very separate issue from children who have been physically, emotionally or sexually abused by a parent they no longer want to have contact with. In alienation cases, one parent makes negative comments about the other capable and loving parent and strives to destroy any relationship the children may have with him or her.

Psychologists report that when divorcing couples are extremely acrimonious to each other and involve the children in the divorce litigation process, children may suffer serious and long-lasting emotional harm. When children feel they must show loyalty to one parent and exclude the other one from their lives, and vehemently refuse to spend time with the target parent, the alienating parent has accomplished his or her goal.

How Parental Alienation Can Be Prevented

Divorce attorneys can help divorcing parents understand the value of children spending time with each parent. Children should not be used to gain information about the target parent. If a parent is willing to drag their children into the divorce process, this is a “red flag” that the parent is focused more on his or her own agenda than in the well-being of the children. This may be a time to call in mediators or psychologists to help an alienating parent understand the harm that is being caused to the children.

If you are involved in a custody battle with your ex or soon to be ex-spouse, or believe you are the target of parental alienation, contact Walters Gilbreath, PLLC who work diligently and use their experience on your behalf to resolve these issues.

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