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Signs of Parental Alienation

By Jamie Berger, Esq.

Morris County Custody Attorneys discuss 10 Signs of Parental Alienation

Read on to learn about 10 signs of parental alienation and take note if any of them reflect your present personal experience.

Morris County Custody Attorneys discuss10 Signs of Parental AlienationDivorce is never easy, and when children and custody issues are involved, divorce becomes even more complicated and emotionally charged. Some divorced parents with unresolved emotional issues utilize the children to get back at the other parent, manipulating the child’s perception, making the other parent seem like the bad guy.  This is what is referred to as parental alienation.

10 Signs of Parental Alienation

1. An alienator might frequently bend or break custody guidelines.

Such as suggesting a tempting activity during the other parent’s visitation time. For example, “You’re supposed to be at your dad’s this weekend, but I was thinking it’s the perfect weekend to invite your friends to a sleepover here for your birthday this month. What would you like to do?”  An alienator may also refuse to compromise on a custody agreement. For example, if mom’s birthday falls on a day when dad has custody and dad is an alienator, he may rigidly refuse to let the kid go to mom’s birthday dinner when mom asks.

2. An alienator might divulge unnecessary details about the break-up.

Telling the child “everything” about the marital relationship or reasons for the divorce is alienating. The parent usually argues that they are “just wanting to be honest” with their children. This practice is destructive and painful for the child. The alienating parent’s motive is for the child to think less of the other parent. Frequently the alienator discusses emotions and situations inappropriate for a minor such as infidelity or emotional/physical neglect.

3. An alienator might withhold extra-curricular activities

These extracurricular activities can include schedules, recital dates, medical records, or academic grades to prevent the other parent from taking a visible interest in the child. The child then holds resentment for the absent parent, assuming the absence as a sign of disinterest when nothing could be further from the truth.

4. An alienator might encourage secrets

Special signals, a private rendezvous, or words with special meanings can be very destructive and reinforce an on-going alienation. It creates the idea that the alienator and the child have a secret bond not held with the other parent.

5. An alienator will ask the child to act as a “spy”

Sometimes even making it a game to encourage the child to give details about the other parent’s job, residence, relationships, appearance. An alienator will drill the child for every detail as soon as the visitation has concluded. This can make the child very nervous, especially when offering information that is ill-received (such as talk about a girlfriend or boyfriend) or if the child cannot provide all of the details the alienator requests.

6. An alienator may become controlling when it comes to the child’s relationship with the other parent.

For example, the alienator could try to monitor all phone calls, text messages, or interactions.

7. The alienator outright badmouths the other parent.

Manipulation is not always subtle. Frequently an alienator will say things like,” You can’t have XX because Daddy bought himself a new car and doesn’t care about us.” Or “No, you can’t have ice cream because your mom doesn’t want you to have anything yummy.” When parents speak negatively about each other to their children, it can cause the children to feel somehow responsible or insecure.

8. An alienator gives children choices about custody visits.

Allowing the child to decide for themselves to visit when the court order says there is no choice sets up the child for conflict. The child will usually blame the non-residential parent for not spending time with them during non-scheduled times. The other parent may not be able to receive the child for a visit at that particular time due to work or other commitments. The child will perceive this as rejection.

9. An alienator will encourage the child’s negative feelings about the other parent.

Frequently children disagree with the limits set by their parents. An alienator may loosen many rules and restrictions to turn the child against the other parent to limit snacks and sweets or have a specific bedtime.

10. An alienator will insist that the child choose one parent over the other.

Parenting is not a popularity contest, and asking a child to say whom they love more is akin to asking a parent which child is the favorite. It puts children in an impossible situation where they cannot truly express their feelings, causing them anxiety, fear, confusion, and low self-esteem.

Divorce can be a complicated and painful process. That pain is only augmented when divorced parents choose to openly manipulate their children to exact revenge on their former spouse.  These are some things you can consider if you are experiencing Parental Alienation:

  • A court order for the children to live with the targeted parent.
  • Individual therapy for each child and targeted parent and family for all the children and targeted parents.
  • Individual therapy for the alienating parent.

Contact Our Morristown Co-Parenting Attorneys Today

Parental alienation is an unfortunate reality for many divorced parents, but it does not have to be. If you believe your former spouse is alienating you from your children, speak to you as soon as possible.
“At The Law Offices of Jacobs Berger, our attorneys are focused on providing constructive and effective legal solutions for clients Florham Park, Tewksbury, Randolph, Morristown, across Morris County.

Our unique approach to family law centers around creating family life plans out of family law problems. We understand just how important your child’s well-being is to your family, and we are prepared to help you modify or enforce your divorce orders to reflect this importance. By listening carefully to all of your needs and concerns and keeping you highly informed and involved throughout the legal process, we believe we can work together to achieve the results you need in your unique legal situation.

To schedule a confidential case assessment with our firm today, please contact us through our Morristown, NJ office at (973) 710-4366

Contact Our Morristown Attorneys Today

At Jacobs Berger, our attorneys are experienced in protecting our clients across Madison, Randolph, Tewksbury, Morristown, and the greater Morris County area in all family law-related issues.

To schedule a strategic planning session with one of our experienced team members regarding your particular case, please contact us online or through our Morristown, NJ office at (973) 354-4506.