Parental Alienation: What It is, Warning Signs, and What To Do About It

As a parent, it’s natural that you want to spend as much time as you can with your children. When going through a divorce, you and your ex must agree on a time-sharing arrangement for your children so you can both remain an active part of their lives. However, in certain instances, one parent may try to manipulate the children into rejecting their relationship with the other to gain the custody arrangement they desire. This is called parental alienation. This intentional manipulation can have serious effects on your relationship with your children. Learn more about parent alienation and what to do if you believe you’ve been the target of this here. 

What is Parental Alienation Syndrome? 

Parental alienation is when one parent intentionally manipulates and influences their children to reject the other parent for seemingly no reason. Parent alienation occurs in situations where there is no threat to the health or safety of the children at the other parent’s home. Instead, one parent uses emotional coercion to convince the children to shun, reject, or reevaluate their relationship with the other parent. Florida considers parental alienation to be a form of emotional abuse. If proven in court, the offending parent could have several legal consequences for this behavior, including significantly reduced custody.

Parental Alienation Warning Signs 

Parental alienation puts children in a vulnerable position, often making them feel like they are pitted against each parent. Usually, children aren’t aware this is happening. Some warning signs of parental alienation are:

  • One parent failing to follow the approved parenting plan. 
  • Children being isolated from seeing one parent. 
  • False abuse claims to attempt to justify the isolation.
  • Children’s refusal to see or visit the other parent for a sudden or unapparent reason. 
  • One parent speaks negatively about the other parent in front of their children. 
  • “Brainwashing,” where one parent continuously and consistently makes the child think negatively about the other parent. 
  • One parent makes false statements to children about being rejected by the other parent. 
  • The offending parent exhibits controlling behavior when the children are with the other parent, such as demanding constant communication that interferes with spending time with your children.
  • One parent creates an unfounded fear of safety when the children are with the other parent. 
  • The offending parent insists on letting the children choose whether they visit the other parent despite court orders. 
  • The offending parent tells the children details about the parents’ personal relationship before the divorce. 
  • The offending parent refuses to include the other parent in daily tasks such as extracurricular activities, medical decisions, and schooling. 
  • Using the child to spy on the other parent. 

How Do You Prove Parental Alienation? 

You need to present evidence to the court that your relationship with your children has been negatively affected by your ex’s intentional manipulation. Parental alienation is difficult to prove due to its emotional nature. However, you may be able to show the courts that you are being alienated from your children. You can do this by showing documentation that your ex refuses to adhere to the parenting plan and isn’t allowing you to see your children. You can also present texts, voicemails, and emails from your children or your ex that exhibit behaviors of parental alienation.

Consequences of Parental Alienation 

If parental alienation is not addressed, the child may become estranged from you. Unfortunately, family courts are reluctant to penalize the offending parent unless they admit wrongdoing and seek help. That’s why it’s imperative to get the help of an experienced Florida family law attorney to help represent your case. If you’re able to prove that your children are experiencing alienation, your ex could face the following consequences: 

  • Relinquishing custody to make up for the time lost due to the alienation. 
  • Attending court-order counseling.  
  • Being held in contempt of court for not adhering to the parenting plan 

Seeking Justice for Families After Parental Alienation  

Parental alienation impacts children for the rest of their lives, even after being reunited. If you’re the target of parental alienation, contact our team at the Remsen Family Law Firm to discuss your case. We serve families throughout Central Florida in Lake and Seminole counties. Contact us today and we’ll help you get on a path to reunite with your children.