- Written by Kevin Hickey
Divorce and separation are difficult situations for everyone involved. Ideally, former spouses and partners make the best of the situation and successfully co-parent if they have children together. However, some can’t seem to do this and feel the need to engage in parental alienation. This happens when one parent intentionally and deliberately attempts to turn the children against the other parent. Behaviors such as this make an immediate situation worse by straining relationships even more, but it also causes lifelong issues for the children. If you are beginning to get the feeling or are already experiencing signs that your former partner may be attempting to alienate you from your children, here are five signs to watch out for.
- Consistent And Intentional Interference with Visitation - A parent will often make excuses as to why the children can’t visit, such as an illness or intentionally scheduling other things for the children on the day they are supposed to visit the parent. If you notice this happening, it is imperative that you keep a calendar with the dates and the reasons why the children couldn’t visit you.
- Your Former Spouse Encourages the Children to Not Spend Time with You - Alienating parents often use this method to go around court orders, or so they think. Often parents think that if they give a child a choice as to whether or not they want to visit the other parent and the child elects to not visit, then they aren’t violating court orders. However, child custody agreements are set for a reason and if they are not adhered to or prior other arrangements have been made, they are considered to be violated.
- Encouragement of a Stepparent to Take the Place of You - Many parents begin this form of alienation by encouraging a relationship with a stepparent. While a good relationship with stepparents is ideal, when it is done in a manipulative manner, as I am referring to, it is considered alienating. The parent often begins the process of alienation in this manner by doing all things fun with the kids together with the stepparent to begin building a bond made of nothing but good memories.
- Speaks Poorly of You in Front of the Children - The alienating parent makes comments about you that cause your children to have angry or disappointed feelings towards you. Your former spouse makes comments such as, “We can’t go to Disneyland because your mom/dad wants you to spend time with him/her.” These kinds of comments coupled with the behavior noted in number 3 above can be a very successful method of alienating the children against you.
- Your Former Spouse Uses the Children to Gain Information About You - He or she asks the kids uncomfortable and inappropriate questions about your private life. This puts the children in a tough spot, and the manipulator knows it, as the children want to be loyal to both of their parents.
These five signs are some of the most common that I have seen, however, there can be many more. The bottom line is that anything that doesn’t feel quite right, could be a sign that you are being alienated. Although the courts don’t technically consider alienation to be a crime yet, if there is evidence that a parent is deliberately trying to keep a child away from a parent for no sound reason of abusive or other illegal behavior they don’t take too kindly to it and could consider the alienating parent in contempt of court. Remember, the less time your children spend with you, the less of an emotional bond you can develop. The sooner you stop the alienation, the better your relationship will be with your children. Give Hickey and Hull Law Partners a call today to schedule a consultation. The River Valley office is 479.434.2414 and the Northwest Arkansas office is 479.802.6560.