Divorce, by its very nature, can be conflicting and contentious. It is hard. It is complex. Divorce can be incredibly confusing to a child. The last thing we want to do during a divorce is to cause further disturbances in our children’s lives. They need two independent parents on solid foundations, not a broken family.
Parental alienation can easily occur when someone is still feeling hurt. Many parents may find that they need guidance when it comes to co-parenting and forming a bond that wholly exists to uphold the child’s needs.
What is Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)?
Parental Alienation Syndrome is not a syndrome. It is a set of negative behaviors by a spouse said and done in front of your children with the intention of degrading you, the other parent.
The goal is to get the child on their side, whether to increase the assets they receive during the divorce or to punish you for personal slights that still sting.
We can be the targets of PAS and/or the offender. And we can act this way accidentally, unknowingly, or purposefully, depending on what we want to achieve. Unfortunately, our children always lose when PAS occurs, and it can have repercussions for your custody argument.
Signs Of Parental Alienation
Parental Alienation Syndrome has signs that can be easily identified when you know how and where to look. The child could/will:
- Quickly, or even immediately, change their opinion about one parent in favor of the other
- Give fragile arguments in support of these negative feelings
- Appear as if they do not care about the parent, or about any part of that parent’s life, to a seemingly severe degree
- Always defend the offending parent and claim that these opinions are their own
- Appear to have no conscience when it comes to the targeted parent
- Display a steadfast devotion to the offending parent, with no regard for the other parent
- Use words and phrases that the offending parent, or another adult, uses and knows details about things they shouldn’t and couldn’t know
- Choose to alienate the parent’s entire family, as well as the parent
These changes usually come on suddenly, but the results will also depend on each parent, child, specific accusation, and the circumstances around the divorce.
If you have any concerns about your child, or children, being purposefully alienated from you, address the problem immediately with your attorney.
Your attorney can tell you what to do next, step-by-step, to protect yourself and your children from further harm. They may suggest a simple discussion. They may recommend mediation. And they could get involved themselves by filing an order of contempt. It all depends on the details.
How Can I Protect Myself From Such Accusations?
While you are keeping an eye on your children and how they respond to you after the divorce, you should also protect yourself from any accusations of parental alienation from an aggressive ex. We can say things without thinking and ask questions without weighing the consequences of the answers.
Protect yourself as well as your kids. Here is some advice:
- No one should mention details about the divorce to any minor children, especially from a place of malice. You want to remain as neutral as possible in front of the children.
- Do not exaggerate any stories, create drama, or attribute blame to any one action or person. False allegations are serious, even when unintentional.
- Try not to speak badly about your former partner in front of the children. If something slips out, reassure the child that the words were only in anger towards behavior and not reflective of who your ex is.
- Be careful about your facial expressions and body language in front of the children when you are near each other. They will pick up and react to any negative tension. They will also make their own inferences on what your body language means.
- Do not ask your children for private information about your former spouse unless you feel the child is in danger. You do not want to be accused of searching for a problem.
- Never keep the children away from their other parent during their scheduled custody time. If a serious problem arises, take it to your attorney or the authorities immediately before anything begins in front of the kids.
Parental alienation is serious and can permanently damage a relationship between a loving, attentive parent and a child who deserves the security that such closeness can offer. No one wins in a divorce, especially the children, and treating it as a game will only garner destructive results.
What is an order of contempt in family law?
In a divorce, an order of contempt supplied by an attorney is an official accusation that a person has willfully failed to live up to their responsibilities, as defined in the divorce decree. Parental alienation directly undermines the court’s power, disobeys every parenting plan, and can damage the child’s life.
What should I do if I suspect a serious problem?
If you have reason to believe that you have been accused of something illegal or harmful as part of the parental alienation from your former partner, contact your attorney immediately and follow their advice. They can set you in the right direction.
Contact us at Aramjoo Law Firm LLC to schedule your first consultation. We can get you the right resources, help you create a plan of action, and give you confident, experienced, and trustworthy advice. When it comes to family matters in Missouri, Aramjoo Law Firm has you covered.