What Is Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation is a type of behavior that happens most often during contested divorces. Usually, one parent will manipulate the child into caring more for that parent and less for the other as a result. For example, if a father has custody of the child, he would be guilty of parental alienation by being excessively nice to the child and saying negative things about the child’s mother (things which may not be true). This manipulative behavior causes the child to reject the parent who has been targeted by his or her manipulative ex.

Parental Alienation Syndrome was identified first by Dr. Richard Gardner in the 1980s after he noticed an increase in “brainwashing” of a child by one parent in an effort to discount the other parent. This behavior usually manifests during a child custody dispute, typically in a bid to win full control over the child.

The child involved may eventually display bad feelings or hatred toward the abused parent without much, if any, guilt. In some cases, the child will be so brainwashed he or she will make up situations he or she never experienced.

Additionally, there are three types of categories an alienator can fall into. Naïve alienators may not realize the damage they are doing to their child. Once someone points out his or her effect on the child, the naïve alienator is willing to be educated and make the necessary changes for his or her kid. These alienators tend to be the mildest. The next category is the active alienator. These individuals will exhibit alienating behavior when their emotions are triggered, and they forget appropriate boundaries; however, when they calm down, they are also unlikely to admit the inappropriate quality of their behavior. Last, the most dangerous type of alienator is called the obsessed alienator. These individuals will have a fervent desire to destroy the targeted parent and his or her relationship with their kid.

Part of the damage of parental alienation comes from this behavior encouraging the child to become dependent on the alienating parent. It can also damage the relationship between the child and his or her other parent, which can have long-term negative consequences. Most would agree the influence of both parents is the most beneficial for a growing child’s emotional and psychological growth. However, if the child sabotages his or her relationship with one parent because of the manipulation of the other, that relationship bond could be gone forever.

If your spouse is displaying signs of parental alienation, you could ask the court to grant you temporary custody of your child until the final custody decisions have been made. Judges are unlikely to look favorably on what is considered by most to be psychologically abusive behavior. The parent accused of parental alienation might lose the opportunity to have even partial custody of the child.

Talk to our skilled Clearwater divorce attorneys about your situation as soon as possible. Tinny, Meyer & Piccarreto, P.A. are committed to helping families through their divorce proceedings, which we understand can cause a significant amount of stress on many people. Let us help you get through this difficult time.

Contact our firm at (727) 245-9009 or fill out our online form to get in touch with us today.