One of the most challenging aspects of your post-divorce life is learning how to share custody with your child's other parent. The purpose of your time-sharing agreement is to establish a timesharing schedule and to put certain safeguards in place to protect your parental rights. But what can you do if your ex is turning your child against you?
Defining Parental Alienation
Unfortunately, it is not unusual for an insecure or vindictive parent to selfishly weaponize a child against the other parent. Parental alienation is a term used to describe the actions one parent purposefully takes to undermine the child’s relationship with the other parent. This behavior usually stems from the alienating parent’s unresolved emotional issues regarding the divorce, though the reasons for this type of behavior are limitless. The gist of parental alienation is that the alienating parent uses the child to resolve his or her unhealthy emotional needs by punishing the child's other parent.
Children are very impressionable, especially after parents go through family law litigation. In dissolution of marriage cases, your marriage was once the foundation of your child’s security and understanding of the world. In other cases, a child's security and understanding is premise upon the relationship between his or her parents, living together as a family unit. Without that stability, your child may be vulnerable to verbal and mental manipulation. As an indirect tactic, the other parent may trick your child into believing that you are the cause of their pain and confusion. If you don’t take legal action, this behavior can irreparably damage your relationship with your child.
Examples of parental-alienating behavior include:
- Insulting the child’s other parent;
- Interfering with the other parent’s timesharing;
- Giving the child decision-making power over timesharing;
- Acting hurt and betrayed when a child shows positive feelings about their other parent;
- Preventing communication between the child and other parent;
- Throwing out the other parent’s letters and gifts;
- Using the child as a spy or reporter;
- Manipulating the child to lie or betray their other parent’s trust;
- Infringing on the other parent’s timesharing with excessive phone calls or activities;
- Creating situations to test a child’s loyalty;
- Gaslighting the child by forcing him or her to question the other parent and causing the child to rely on the parent doing the gaslighting.
This is unfortunately not an exhaustive list of examples of parental alienation tactics. In serious cases of parental alienation syndrome, the alienating parent may work with the child to keep the estranged parent out of their lives. This can have an extreme psychological impact on your child’s development. In fact, such harmful family dynamics can teach your child that hostile and manipulative behaviors are acceptable in any relationship.
Some ways to recognize if your child is the victim of parental alienation syndrome:
- Your child hates, fears, or rejects you;
- The other parent is providing frivolous and absurd reasons to deny your parenting time;
- Your child demonstrates automatic and idealized support of your ex;
- Your child reconciles his or her actions by pretending you don’t have any feelings;
- Your child rejects your gifts and acts as if you don’t deserve their appreciation;
- Your child is brainwashed into adopting your ex’s behaviors and verbal arguments;
- Your ex manipulates your child into rejecting your side of the family.
If you believe that your child is a victim of parental alienation, it’s imperative that you seek legal representation immediately. The actions and behaviors that constitute parental alienation need to be addressed swiftly and aggressively. By listening to your story and utilizing essential evidence, the Clearwater child custody lawyers at K. Dean Kantaras, P.A. can construct a litigation strategy that protects your parenting rights. If necessary, our legal team can even help you request a child custody modification that alters your time-sharing agreement and safeguards your parent-child relationship.
Protect Your Parenting Rights Today
Being a parent involved in family law litigation, no matter how contentious, is a difficult and life-altering experience for all members of a family. However, one parent's emotional circumstances shouldn’t dictate how a child interacts with the other parent. Contact K. Dean Kantaras, P.A. if you’re facing a child custody issue or require a parenting plan modification. Our legal team has been representing Florida families for over 25 years. If you need to assert your parental rights, rely on our Clearwater child custody attorneys.
Retain skilled and experienced legal representation. Call K. Dean Kantaras, P.A.at (727) 939-6113 to schedule a consultation.