I’ve talked a lot about signs of parental alienation in order to prevent it or stop it. But what if it has already happened? Can it be fixed or reversed? Legally, if we take the necessary steps with the courts, the short answer is yes. However, from an emotional standpoint, the damage can certainly be minimized, and the sooner the legal steps are taken to rebuild the child’s relationship with the alienated parent, the better. The necessary legal steps must be coupled with the appropriate therapy to help the child mitigate the damage emotionally. Unfortunately, experts agree, children that have been alienated from a parent often carries throughout their lives into adult relationships.
Of course, every case is unique, but there are options for trying to undo the damage caused by an alienating parent. One method is modifying the custody agreement to limit the alienating parent’s ability to engage in such behaviors going forward. However, without the appropriate legal representation and evidence of such alienating behavior, this can be difficult. When courts determine a custody agreement, they have considered the child’s best interest – the child’s health, safety, and welfare. Therefore, unless the party requesting the modification can prove that the child’s health, safety, and welfare are at risk or already jeopardized, the courts are hesitant to make a modification. This is why it is crucial to document everything. There’s an old saying, “If it’s not documented, it didn’t happen.” I can’t begin to tell you how much truth there is in that statement when it comes to legal issues. Documentation can change everything. In the case of parental alienation and modification of a custody agreement, sufficient documentation can help prove your case that the parent engaging in the alienation is causing a negative impact to the child’s health, safety, and welfare.
If a court agrees to a modification, it can be anything, as they have a wide discretion in how they handle child custody and visitation issues. When the court determines a modification is warranted, they are aimed at meeting the needs of each unique circumstance for each family. Many times, to the surprise of the alienating parent attempting to prevent the child from seeing the other parent without legitimate and justifiable reason, their behavior may result in the court determining what type of contact, if any, he or she should have with the child. They can limit the visitation of the parent causing the problem, require supervised visitations, or anything else deemed necessary by the court. May times the modification comes with an additional requirement that the parents attend co-parenting counseling, individual therapy, and any other modification that will help the family become better equipped at keeping the focus on the child’s best interest and/or to begin to repair the damaged relationship.
Hickey and Hull Law Partners can guide you through the process of helping you legally fix parental alienation. While we are not therapists, we can say that the sooner the parental alienation issue is dealt with and resolved, the better for the child and parent. Repairing a damaged relationship that has only occurred for a short period of time is much easier than repairing a lifetime of alienation. Give us a call today and don’t delay because your relationship with your child depends on it. We have two convenient locations, the River Valley office, 479.434.2414. and the Northwest Arkansas office, 479.802.6560.