One of the biggest fears parents have about divorcing is that it will damage the relationship with their children. In most cases, children and teenagers whose parents divorce go through emotional upheavals but eventually reconcile their feelings with their parents' decision. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
There are some scenarios in which a parent can experience potentially permanent damage to the relationship with their children. Parental alienation is one such scenario.
Whether you currently have custody of your children or are in the process of seeking shared custody, familiarizing yourself with parental alienation to prevent it from happening to you or to avoid doing it to your ex is definitely in your best interest.
What is parental alienation?
At its most basic, parental alienation is the concerted effort of one parent to damage or destroy the relationship of their children with the other parent. Sometimes, parental alienation can take the form of denying visitation and custody rights. Simply cutting one parent out of the children's lives at a young age can damage the parent-child bond at a critical stage in child development.
Other times, parental alienation is more active. By making one parent look like the villain in the divorce, it is possible to turn the anger of the children at the disruption of the family toward that parent and not the custodial parent. Regardless of what kind of behavior parental alienation involves, it can be emotionally and socially damaging for the children.
Unless there are issues with extreme instability, child abuse or addiction in your household, your children will do best after a divorce if they have healthy, ongoing relationships with both parents.
The courts take a dim view of parental alienation
Child custody is often a contentious issue, and the courts have developed careful processes to ensure they make the best decision in each unique situation. To do this, they must always seek a solution that works in the best interest of the children. In most cases, these best interests include seeing as much of both parents as possible.
The courts will look at the ability and willingness of each parent to work in the best interest of the children. When one parent refuses visitation, even if it is court-ordered, or when they intentionally poison the relationship between their ex and their children, it is a red flag to the courts. This kind of behavior indicates that the parent and question is putting their own desires or emotions above the needs of their children.
This may sway the courts toward awarding more custody toward the parent dealing with alienation, as opposed to the parent creating it.
No matter how stressful your relationship with your ex may be, it is always in your best interest to comply with the court-ordered visitation and custody schedule. Failing to do so could result in claims of parental alienation, which may damage the outcome of your child custody case.