Divorce can have devastating ramifications for everyone involved. If you have a child together, one of the most important, yet contentious, subjects you will need to address is the child’s post-divorce living arrangements. And this is where a custody order comes in.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for one parent to attempt to interfere with the child’s relationship with the other parent. This is basically known as parental alienation and besides straining the parent-child relationship, it can also have a lasting impact on the child. As such, you must never take incidents of alienation lightly.
But what constitutes parental alienation?
Basically, parental alienation happens when one or both parents manipulate the child to believe the other parent is bad. The ultimate goal of parental alienation is to hurt the child’s relationship with the alienated parent. Here are a couple of ways in which this can happen:
- One parent using disparaging words against the other such as selfish, lazy, crazy or unworthy
- Either parent telling the child that the other parent is to blame for the divorce because they were promiscuous, irresponsible or abusive
- Instructing the child to spy or gather information on the other parent
Any of these practices can hurt the child. If you have evidence that your ex is engaging in them, you need to act fast.
Here are two steps you should take if you suspect parental alienation
Protect the child – Never forget that your child is a victim of your ex’s alienating behavior, too. As such, reassure the child of your unconditional love and care. Depending on their level of maturity, you may seek counseling for them. No matter how hurt you are, do not counter the other parent’s alienation with your own.
Document the alienation – It’s important that you keep a detailed journal of your ex’s alienating behaviors. Write down exactly what happened as well as when it did happen.
If your ex is alienating you from your child, you need to take steps to assert your parental rights.