Few things will make parents as angry during a divorce as issues with the custody of their minor children. Some parents can be petty during a divorce and will do anything to push their ex out of their children’s lives.
Sometimes, inappropriate behavior from one spouse goes beyond simple pettiness and veers into more dangerous territory. It becomes parental alienation. What is parental alienation, and how do you prevent it from affecting the relationship with your kids?
Parental alienation involves one parent turning the children against the other
Unfortunately, it is common for parents to put their children in the middle of a messy divorce, expecting them to pick which parent they want to live with or otherwise take a side. Some parents take their attempt to win in custody proceedings to an extreme degree. They start lying to the children about the other parent and telling them horrible things.
They may cancel visitation and then tell the children that the other parent didn’t want to see them. Sometimes, alienation means cutting off all forms of communication and denying all parenting or visitation.
Other times, the parent won’t stop the children from seeing their ex. Instead, they choose to belittle the other parent. Constantly feeding children negative stories about one parent can result in the children having negative opinions about that parent or even choosing to withdraw from the relationship.
Know your custody rights and document everything
Even if one parent has primary custody of the children, the other will likely have a right to liberal visitation. If your ex keeps reducing or denying your parenting time, you need to start creating a record of you didn’t get to see your children. You may also need to start documenting things that the children say they have heard about you.
Being able to demonstrate a pattern of negative speech and denied visitation can help you show the court that your ex has tried to use the children as a weapon. You can potentially show the court proof of these alienation efforts during custody proceedings. If the courts have already finalized their divorce, you can bring up the matter in a modification hearing.
The judge presiding over your case may give you more parenting time or may even make you the primary custodial parent if they believe your ex has not acted in the best interests of your children. Although proving parental alienation is often a challenge, doing so can help you maintain time with your kids.