Going through a divorce can be stressful. With children in the mix, family issues may become difficult to navigate and sometimes emotions can take over. When tensions run high and out of control, you may find yourself dealing with an issue psychologists call “parental alienation.”
Parental alienation, in a nutshell, is when one parent turns a child against the other parent during or after a Maryland divorce. Typically this happens when one parent takes resentment, anger or bitterness toward their ex-spouse and influences their child to feel and behave the same way. As you can see, this is unfair and harmful for everyone involved, as well as potentially causing long-term psychological effects on both the affected parent and the child.
What is parental alienation?
Psychology Today describes parental alienation as “the programming of a child by one parent to denigrate the other (targeted) parent, in an effort to undermine and interfere with the child’s relationship with that parent, and most often occurs within the context of a child custody conflict.”
Potential signs of parental alienation can include:
- Negative talk about the other parent
- Preventing the child from seeing the other parent
- Telling the child the other parent is a terrible parent
- Blaming the other parent for the divorce
- One parent denying the other parent access to medical or school records
- The child begins acting abnormally uneasy or rebellious around the other parent
Are you a victim of parental alienation?
If you feel you may be the victim of parental alienation, your family law attorney can evaluate your situation and provide guidance on legal and other remedies. However, there are some warning signs every parent should be aware of:
- Your child appears to be on the other parent’s “side.” Your child may begin to internalize any negative talk from your ex-spouse. Hostile or angry behavior toward you from your child can be a symptom that your child’s other parent is negatively influencing their behavior.
- Your child begins arguing your decisions. Another sign of parental alienation is undermining of parental authority. When you begin constantly hearing things like, “Mom lets me do it this way,” or “Dad says this way is best,” there may be a bigger issue at play.
- You are denied visitation with your child. A parent may continually make excuses or flat-out refuse to let you see your child during your court-appointed time. Failure to comply with an order is against the law, and can also set the stage for the child to be uncomfortable visiting you in the future.
- Your child has too much information about sensitive matters. Your ex-spouse should not be discussing details of your divorce or any infidelity or abuse leading to the split. Details like this can fracture the relationship between the other parent and the child.
If you believe you’re being targeted for parental alienation, you should get in touch with a lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can work with the courts to ensure your custody and visitation plan is enforced and your child’s best interests are represented.
The Bethesda family law attorneys at McCabe Russell, P.A. are dedicated to protecting the rights of you and your family. We can answer your questions and guide you through the legal process with compassion. To speak with an experienced lawyer serving Montgomery County clients, please call 443-812-1435 or fill out our contact form. We also maintain offices in Columbia, Rockville and Fulton.