High-conflict situations post-separation can lead to the child preferring to spend time only with one parent, or even outright refusing to spend time with or contact the other parent. If this is the result of one parent deliberating alienating the child from the other parent, it is called parental alienation. If this occurs naturally, without manipulation by any parent, it will not be parental alienation.
Parental alienation is the specific process by which a child becomes estranged from one parent as a result of the psychological manipulation of the other parent. It can be a grave concern for some parents who are parenting after separation, and this manipulation can result in a fracture between the parent-child relationship that needs to be addressed immediately.
Examples of parental alienation include:
- Making the child unavailable for the other parent’s visits, or visits from grandparents and other family members connected with that parent,
- Deliberately speaking ill of the other parent,
- Sharing unnecessary details of the separation/divorce, or suggesting to the child without justification that the other parent is abusive,
- Rejected the other parent’s gifts and presents,
- Making important decisions about the child without consulting the other parent, and
- Infringing on the other parent’s time with the child.
Parental alienation is both a legal issue and one which needs to be addressed with family therapists and psychologists with experience in these situations. Agreeing the terms of how parenting after separation will operate, with binding Consent Orders, and discussing these issues with your ex-partner is important in terms of not letting the situation go this far.
If you are parenting after separation and feel that the other parent is undertaking emotionally manipulative tactics to influence your child, please contact our offices, and we will assist you in understanding these personality traits and provide you with assistance and support, as well as in depth practical legal advice.