What Should You Do if You Are Being Alienated From Your Child?

Walters Gilbreath, PLLC

Parental alienation in a divorce or child custody proceeding may develop quite fast. Because parental alienation in Texas can affect the outcome of a custody case, it’s important to act quickly if you begin to notice warning signs. There are some steps you can take to fight back:

  • Identify the symptoms or signs of parental alienation (PA)
  • Get a diagnosis of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) from a child therapist. Your attorney can help you with finding one.
  • Seek the appropriate remedy in court. If parental alienation appears obvious, you should quickly seek legal redress; i.e. custody modifications, enforcement of orders, modifications of temporary orders etc. to prevent it.

How to Move on From Parental Alienation

While you pursue these above steps, it is important that you follow some basic rules dealing with your child and the alienating parent. This will eventually help you to demonstrate yourself as a good parent to the court and most importantly, to your own child. It will also help all of you to move on and to maintain healthy relationships.

  • Never show up your anger. Stay calm and in control of your own behavior.
  • Try to keep a log of events as they happen. This may help you in court.
  • Always call or pick up your child as scheduled, even when you know the child won’t be available. This can be painful, but you must be able to document to the court that you tried to see your child and were refused.
  • When you get to spend time with your child, focus on positive activities. Revisit with him/her all the good memories and fun-filled times you had together.
  • Try not to argue with or be defensive with your child. Talk openly about what your child is actually seeing and feeling, as opposed to what the child has been told to be the truth.
  • Work on improving your parenting skills by taking parenting courses and reading parenting books, so that you can be the best possible parent to your child.
  • If possible, get counseling for your child, preferably with a child therapist trained to recognize and treat parental alienation syndrome.
  • Perform your parental obligations despite how bad or frustrating the situation is for you. Pay your child support on time. Don’t do anything to violate any court orders or otherwise be an undesirable parent.

Parental Alienation in Texas Courts: How Does the Court Intervene in a PA allegation?

You should always bear in mind that courts do not approve or favor parental alienation. Texas courts have started to act when there is suspected parental alienation. If a court (judge or jury) determines that one parent wrongfully manipulated the child or being alienated from your child, it may make the inference that this particular parent is incapable of acting in the best interests of the child. This means that once there are allegations of parental alienation, there are certain things a court can do:

  • Appoint guardians ad litem to study children’s living situation or a parenting facilitator to study parent interactions with their children.
  • In many cases, forensic psychologists can also be employed to study the mental health of both the parents and the children.
  • May order therapy to the child if he/she appears to show decreased abilities; i.e. if his/her school grades, social skills etc. deteriorates.
  • Based on the reports, courts may make any number of rulings including the imposition of court-ordered therapy, restricted visitation or reduced parental rights.
  • The court can also modify an existing custody order and move your child to a neutral environment if that seems appropriate.
  • If the court determines that another parent should be kept away from the child, it will make the appropriate and necessary orders.

So, don’t just act out of anger or desperation. Divorcees and child custody battles are rough. And they are rough not only for the two of you but also for your children. Never lose your “cool” and never attempt to disengage the other parent from your children’s lives. Because if the court finds out that you have been improperly alienating the other parent, it could lose you custody altogether.

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