Parent Alienation in Divorce

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All about Parent Alienation in Divorce - Forms, Causes and Symptoms

A divorce is sure to leave its impression on the two partners who have decided to split along with their child/ children, if any. One of the most devastating effects of divorce is known as 'parent alienation' or 'parental alienation'. This happens when one parent willingly interferes with the relationship between the other parent and their child/ children, and maliciously attacks the other parent. One parent tries to put a barrier between the other parent and their child. As a result the child starts developing negative feelings about the other parent. The aim of parent alienation in divorce is to manipulate or control one partner by the other.

In this world of hatred and competition, parental alienation has become a relevant concept. This variation can vary in terms of severity. It may so happen that one parent deliberately calls his/ her ex-spouse a derogatory name or he/ she may go the extreme point of doing something that may worsen the relationship between the child and the ex-spouse. This is a syndrome which can take the following forms:

  • One parent can speak ill of the other parent in front of the child.
  • He/she can forbid the child to accept or keep things that were gifted by the other parent.
  • He/ she can deny the visitation or custody rights to his/ her ex-spouse.
  • He/ she can also prevent the other spouse to attend the child's school functions. In addition, the other parent may not be granted access to the child's medical records or school reports.
  • An extreme form of parent alienation is to deviate the child from meeting the other parent by offering the child a number of exciting games and activities. The child is lured by all these and gradually stops meeting the other parent.

After discussing the causes of parent alienation, let us cast a quick glance on the different types of alienators who are characterized by their behavioral pattern:

  • Naive Alienators: All parents are intermittently of this type. They are passive about the relationship of their children with the other parent. However, they infrequently say or do something to alienate the children from the other parent.
  • Active Alienators: The behavior of such parents is marked by extreme anger or hurt. This results in them impulsively losing control over their demeanor or speech. At a later stage, they experience guilt over what they said or how they behaved.
  • Obsessed Alienators: These parents have a fervent reason to demolish the targeted parent.

Risk Factors associated with Parent Alienation in Divorce

If the following factors exist in a divorce, there is a risk of parental alienation.

  • The children deny to visit the non custodial parent
  • One parent begins interference regarding the number of phone calls between the other parent and the child, although this number is reasonable
  • Either parent develops a severe mental disorder
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Suggestions of mental, physical and/or sexual abuse
  • One parent threatens that the other parent would never see the children again
  • Any parent terrorizes to kidnap the children
  • Presence of very controlling and intrusive step-parents and grandparents
  • Non control over anger by either parent, particularly in the presence of the children
  • After visitation hours, children are not returned as per schedule frequently (generally, later than 30 minutes)
  • The visitation schedule is withheld

Manifestation of Parent Alienation in Divorce

A child displays the following symptoms if he/she feels parent alienation.

  • The child might look similar to a normal and healthy child. However, when this child is interrogated about the targeted parent, this topic triggers the child's hatred
  • The hatred of the child towards the targeted parent is an obsession. The child expands this hatred to the extended family of the targeted parent. The child does not have any remorse or guilt regarding this expansion
  • The child and the obsessed alienator form a team. Both of them aim to malign the targeted parent
  • The child is not capable of forgiving any past parenting mistakes or indiscretions
  • The child does not experience any guilt regarding his/her behavior towards the targeted parent
  • The child is not ambivalent. He/She lacks the capacity to view the goodness of the targeted parent. He/She simply has complete hatred for this parent
  • It is often observed that the child did not have any negative experiences with the targeted parent. The reasons that the child has against the targeted parent have been communicated to the child by the obsessed alienator. The child cannot differentiate between these two topics
  • The child is not afraid of the court
  • The beliefs that the child states are often irrational and delusional
  • The child denies to spend time or visit the targeted parent
Ways of combating the problem

If you find any divorced parent playing this nasty game, you should do something to stop that. Spouses who choose to do so should surely come out of this syndrome so that both the partners and their child can live peacefully. The following ideas can prove helpful:

  • If any parent recognizes the symptoms of parental alienation, he/ she can discuss the matter with his/ her ex-spouse.
  • The parent who is hurt should keep in constant touch with the child. This parent should try to visit the child everywhere possible such as school, at relatives' place, day care, etc.
  • You can hire an attorney and take the matter to the court. The court may order a Guardian Ad Litem who will monitor compliance and then report to the court.

Parent alienation in divorce is a major issue. The worst sufferer is the child who is made to hate a loving parent. This affects the all round development of the child who is alienated. Those parents who are engaging in such type of alienation need to realize that they are committing some grave mistakes which can totally distort the future of their children.

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