Your spouse may treat divorce as a process they must win. If you two are parents, they may resort to unethical tactics like manipulating your children. If your children have avoided you or cut you off after your divorce, this may not be your fault – or theirs. Parental alienation could be at play.
Understanding parental alienation
Parental alienation occurs when one parent tries turning their children against the other. Their actions are a way of convincing their children to spend less time with the other parent, or no time at all. Certain behaviors point to alienation. Your spouse may:
- Disparage you in front of your children
- Blame you for the divorce
- Break your custody agreement
- Lie to your children about your attempts to contact them
- Tell your children they don’t matter to you
- Coach your children to say negative things about you
- Allege abuse against you
Your children may take your spouse’s statements at face value, especially if your spouse rewards them for their favoritism. As a result, when you do see your children, they may say mean things to you or run away from you. But while you may feel hurt by their actions, your children are as wounded as you by your spouse’s manipulation.
The consequences of parental alienation
If your spouse has engaged in parental alienation, you may feel you have limited recourse. Yet, it’s crucial that you document their actions and your children’s behavior. Recording these will give you evidence for reopening and reviewing your custody agreement. If your spouse has violated it, you must revisit it to guarantee its enforcement. By doing so, you can work toward reestablishing a relationship with your children.
Your children will also need help if your spouse manipulated them. They will likely benefit from therapy, which officials may order in some situations. And if your spouse engages in extreme forms of alienation, like accusing you of abuse, they may run the risk of losing custody of your children.
The hurt caused by parental alienation is worth fighting back against. Consulting a family law attorney can help you work toward a fair parenting plan.