Divorcing Parents And Understanding Parental Alienation

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

family law attorney Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmWhen one parent tries to turn a child against the other parent it is called parental alienation. Parental alienation can occur in a divorce especially if there is a custody battle going on.  Sometimes one parent hopes to gain full custody of the children by poisoning their minds against the other parent and hoping the children will choose not to stay with that parent.  Behavior that amounts to parental alienation can and usually does  backfire and you could lose custody in the process if proven.

What happens during parental alienation? 

There are three sides involved in parental alienation; the alienating parent is the one who is poisoning the child’s mind, the target parent is at the receiving end, and the child or children caught in the middle. When a couple has divorced they might get joint custody of a child or one might get full custody and the other visitation rights. In a case where one parent is not happy with the arrangement and wants the other parent out of the child’s life completely he or she might resort to parental alienation.

If for example the mother who has custody doesn’t want her ex involved with her children in any way she might tell her children unpleasant things about their father. Talking about their father as irresponsible, lazy, abusive and maybe even violent could make the children not want to see their father again. It is possible that the mother is not wrong but there could be a different way to approach the situation like supervised visits or requesting that the father get rehabilitation.

The other scenario is that the mother is making up a lot of things just to turn her children against their father. But what she is doing in both cases is depriving the children of one parent and also causing them a lot of emotional distress. Constant alienating tactics could emotionally scar children for the rest of their lives.

What are the consequences? 

If it can be proven that the alienating parent is emotionally damaging the child or children it is quite possible that Child Protective Services could remove the child from his or her custody. Alienating a former spouse simply to eliminate them from your life completely could cost you losing your kids altogether. Parental alienation can be considered a form of child abuse and the parent responsible might lose all contact with their child or children as a result of it.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated! Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

3 Ways That Parental Alienation Affects Children During Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

best divorce lawyers in Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmParental alienation occurs when a child becomes attached to one parent while rejecting the other. It usually happens when one parent purposefully encourages the child to alienate the other parent. The targeted parent may not be at fault and some parents try this as a means for winning custody battles. During a divorce, there are different emotions that come into the picture and anger and frustration are some of them. Some parents might vent out their anger by using his/her children against the other parent.

“Programming” the child to hate the other parent

Parental alienation usually involves the “programming” of the child to hate the other parent. It is a method of destroying the relationship between the child and the other parent. It is not only wrong to do so but also harmful for the child. The child develops a hatred towards the other parent and in future that hatred can manifest to something worse. It has been found that such “programmed” children are at risk of mental trauma and problems and treating them at a later stage can be difficult. The mental pressure faced by these children are symptoms of bigger mental problems.

It is a form of abuse

Research conducted on parental alienation has revealed that it is a type of abuse. It has been found that children of divorced couples are more prone to stress and anxiety than other children. One of the main causes has been attributed to parental alienation. In children, parental alienation leads to serious mental conditions and has long-term negative effects. Some of the symptoms exhibited by children who are victims of parental alienation are  lack of trust, low self-esteem, anxiety and depression. It also harms the other parent and often leads to substance abuse and other addictions.

Post-traumatic stress following parental alienation

Children who are caught between spousal wars are likely to get post-traumatic stress especially when they constantly hear something negative about the other parent. Children have a fundamental right of being with whichever parent they wish to be with. Snatching that right not only creates post-traumatic stress but it also violates ethical standards. Children who are taught to hate the other parent are constantly in a conflict with themselves. They have trouble differentiating between what is right and what is not. The doubt leads to reduced self-confidence and causes post-traumatic stress.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

How To Deal With Parental Alienation In Custody Cases

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law FirmIn order to act against parental alienation, you first need to educate yourself about what parental alienation actually is. Once you are fully aware of what parental alienation is and how it is affecting you, your child, and your relationship with each other; you will be able to tackle it in a better way.

Many experts have suggested a number of ways of acting against parental alienation. But you will have to decide what is best suited for you.

Tackling it head on

Have a talk with the child directly. They should be made to realize that their opinion about you is wrong, that they are being manipulated, and that their behavior towards you is baseless and inappropriate. You could directly talk to the other parent also. But there is every possible chance that the other parent will outright refuse any sort of manipulative behavior. Arrange a family meeting if possible.

Enroll in a parenting program

You could attend parenting programs and seek the help of a parenting consultant. Any consultant with experience and expertise in parental alienation will be able to guide you. You will become aware of the steps and strategies that you can take to prevent your child from feeling alienated from you.

Consult with a lawyer

If everything else fails, you should consider enlisting the help of a lawyer with good experience of practicing family law. Sometimes the threat of a legal action may get the other parent to tone down a bit and correct themselves. But before you can consult with a lawyer you need to document the alienation you are experiencing. You should have proof of the verbal accusations the child has said the other parent has made against you.

The lawyer will be able to send a legal notice to the other parent asking for an explanation of their unacceptable behavior. The lawyer will also explain the laws regarding parental alienation to the other parent and state the consequences they may have to face if they continued with their manipulative behavior. It may include court action. In serious cases of alienation, where the other parent has falsely accused you of something, your lawyer can take court action immediately.  You should not sit back and accept parental alienation, but you need to have an understanding that undoing parental alienation can be a long, difficult process even if you have legal representation and reunification therapy ordered to be implemented.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

Understanding Supervised Visitation

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

child custody attorneys in Orange CountyThe State of California stipulates that all child custody related arrangements with reference to parental divorce cases would incorporate the best interest of the child. As per the specific situation, the court of law will decide a settlement which would imply that either both or one of the parents will be granted the shared or single custody of the child respectively. In addition to the child custody, the judge may decide the visitation arrangements for the child which would order the child to have contact with one parent only in the presence of neutral third party. The aforementioned arrangement is termed as supervised visitation. In such a settlement, the court has the right to specify the duration and time of visitation. In some cases, the judge might further allot the third party supervision to specific persons and list out the places where the visitation can take place.

When does a court grant supervised visitation?

There are several cases wherein a court will require the parent to carry out supervised visitation with their child, such as:

  • In cases where a parent would like to address some specific issues with the child
  • In order to recreate a bonding with a long absent parent
  • To facilitate an introduction between the parent and child in cases wherein there was a nonexistent relationship between the two.
  • In cases wherein there is a history of domestic violence or physical abuse
  • In cases where there is a threat of parental abduction

Who is a supervised visitation provider?

A supervised visitation provider can be anyone ranging from a neutral family member, a friend or even a professional. It is the provider’s duty to oversee all the visitations cautiously and ensure that all the separate parties involved in the process are kept safe and free of any harm. The provider is obliged to stay around during all the visits and also keep a close track of what is being discussed and how the child is responding to it. Since it is his job to ensure everything goes on smoothly for the child, the provider is supposed to report the parent’s misbehavior or child abuse to the court. He further has the right to interrupt or even put an end to the visit if required.

The supervised visitation providers may be broadly classified into two categories, namely non-professional and professional providers. While non-professional providers are somewhat related to your family or friend circle and are not paid, the professional providers charge a fee for their services.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

Is Your Child Suffering From Parental Alienation Syndrome?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmIt is the children who often suffer the most in the event of a divorce of their parents. However, their torment reaches unprecedented levels, if one or both of the parents are unwilling to create a positive and congenial environment for their kids, post-divorce. There are a huge number of reported cases, in which the battle for child custody ended up taking an ugly shape. Many a times, one of the parents has been reported to brainwash the kid, and manipulate him in such a way, that he develops harsh feelings and a sense of loathing for the target parent. Such an act leads to a psychological disorder referred to as the parental alienation syndrome in the child. The root cause of such manipulative programming of the child’ psyche originates from the fact, that one or both of the parents are unable to distinguish their personal conflicts from the well being of the child.

What are the symptoms of parental alienation syndrome?

We are listing a few symptoms that might exhibit a manifestation of the parental alienation syndrome in your child, post a divorce or a legal separation.

  • The child has developed skewed notions about the target parent, and views the alienating parent as the only one having honest and positive attributes. The child starts to distinguish between the two parents as good and bad, and tends to develop feelings of hatred and disdain for the target parent.
  • Such a child doesn’t acknowledge the fact that he is being coached or manipulated by his alienating parent. Instead, he tries to project the feeling of abhorrence for the target parent, as his personal choice.
  • The child’s distorted notions often end up extending to the target parent’s family as well. He might begin refusing any kind of contact with the relatives of the target parent, even if they are congenial and warm towards him, irrespective of the separation.
  • More often than not, the ideas of loath and disrespect stem from baseless accusations. The child develops feelings of contempt and fear, as a result of a mere conditioning of their psyche, which are rarely based on any authentic personal experiences.
  • And most importantly, the loving and conducive relationship that the child shared with the target parent, prior to the alienation, has vanished into thin air without any possible rationale. The child may gradually drift away, and break all contacts with their once loved target parent.

In a nutshell, parental alienation is that harmful act that can possibly damage the psychological health of your child for the rest of his life, and must be refrained from at all costs.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

No Legal Advice Intended: This website includes information about legal issues and legal developments. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You should contact an attorney for advice on specific legal problems. Full disclaimer.