Parental alienation: what to do if you think your ex is turning your child against you.
A growing number of parents caught in the crossfire of a relationship breakdown are citing parental alienation - where they feel their child is being turned against them by the other parent - as a significant issue.
Examples can include everything from negative comments and convincing the child concerned that the other parent doesn't love them anymore to blocking contact. There's no doubt that the emotional effects can be devastating for all concerned.
As one Family Court judge, commenting on a distressing case of parental alienation which cost in excess of £300,000 in litigation fees, put it recently: "These parents now need to invest their resources in trying to undo the immense harm that has been done to this very likeable young man.
"They need to do that in partnership. (The child) needs to see them working together for his best interests, it is clear he has seen very little of that in the past."
What is parental alienation?
The Child and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) define parental alienation as 'when a child's resistance or hostility towards one parent is not justified and is the result of psychological manipulation by the other parent.'
The purpose of parental alienation is usually to punish the other parent by actions including:
- Badmouthing the other parent;
- Encouraging the child to blame the other parent for the relationship break down;
- Manipulating the child into believing the other parent is dangerous or untrustworthy;
- Banning the child from talking about the other parent whilst in their care;
- Interrogating the child when they've visited the other parent;
- Stopping the child from seeing their other parent.
What are the warning signs of parental alienation?
Often, out of the blue, blatant hostility may be expressed with the child repeating the negative comments they have been told by one parent about the other.
In other cases, the child may become reluctant to spend time with their other parent without saying why.
What should I do if I suspect parental alienation?
Spotting the signs and seeking advice from an experienced Family Law and Divorce solicitor at an early stage is key if you have any concerns that parental alienation is, or could be, an issue.
All the research shows that the greater the hostility between parents, the greater the impact on children so achieving the best possible and most amicable break up is in everyone's interests.
Specialist solicitors can assist couples by helping with parental plans and recommending therapeutic help.
Sometimes, an application will need to be made to the Family Court when Cafcass become involved. This is an emotional and expensive process, best avoided if at all possible.
Get in touch
Wards Solicitors' highly experienced Family Law and Divorce team can help and advise you about any aspect of parental alienation
We have 12 offices across Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Bath and North East Somerset.
Click here to book an initial meeting.