Parental alienation may happen where there is a high-conflict divorce and a child strongly identifies with one parent over the other.
Signs of parental alienation
The alienating parent may pressure the child to feel hatred toward the other parent and reject him or her, may criticize the alienated parent or may interfere with the other parent’s relationship with the child. As a result, the child may have negative things to say about the parent, may defend the alienating parent or may say hurtful things to the parent without remorse or feelings of guilt.
Parental alienation may range from mild to severe. With mild parental alienation, the child may not want to visit with the alienated parent, but once he or she does, enjoys spending time with him or her.
Moderate parental alienation may be present where the child strongly resists contact with the alienated parent or strongly opposes spending time with the parent. With severe parental alienation, the child may resist contact and may run away, hide or show other physical signs to avoid visiting with the parent.
Depending on the severity of the parental alienation, the judge in a divorce case may order the alienating parent to stop speaking about the other parent negatively, require the parents to adhere to their parenting plan and attend parenting classes.
It may also be necessary to remove the child from the alienating parent’s custody. The court may appoint a guardian ad litem who represents the child’s interests.
It’s important to understand the signs of parental alienation and for parents to know that help is available. An experienced attorney can provide representation and advice.