Divorce is especially tough with children in the picture. No matter how good a parent you are, your spouse may try to receive custodial advantage over you. They may even resort to parental alienation in doing so and try to cut your children off from you. While this behavior can harm your relationship with your kids, you have ways to fight back against it.
Understanding parental alienation
If your spouse practices parental alienation, they are trying to estrange your children from you. They may try to brainwash them by making false statements about you. Or, they may provide incentives for disobeying scheduled custody or visitation time. Your children might parrot your spouse’s behavior if they are young. If they do, their statements and actions will likely hurt you. But remember that these do not reflect their true feelings.
Your spouse may be engaging in parental alienation if:
- They berate you in front of your children
- They tell your children you’re responsible for your divorce
- They guilt your children for spending time with you
- They lie to your children about your attempts to contact them
- They propose alternative activities during your custody or visitation times
- They deny you access to your children during scheduled custody or visitation times
- They accuse you of physical or sexual abuse
Dealing with parental alienation
If you are the victim of parental alienation, you will want to reopen your custody agreement. In doing so, you will need to provide evidence that your spouse’s behavior meets its threshold. Keeping a comprehensive record of their actions, as well as your children’s, can help you do so. With proper documentation, the court could revise your agreement in your favor. Your spouse may risk a contempt of court charge if their behavior has interfered with your parenting time. And they could lose custody altogether depending on the severity of their alienation. The court will likely mandate reunification therapy for your children, too. This process will help them reestablish a relationship with you and heal from your spouse’s adverse actions.
While parental alienation is painful, it rarely signals your children’s true feelings. No matter your spouse’s efforts, you can take steps to be a part of your kids’ lives. An attorney with family law experience can help you stand up for your parental rights.