When a couple that shares a child decides to divorce, one of the most important decisions they need to make involves how and where the child will live going forward. Subject to the circumstances that led to the divorce, one parent may receive the child’s primary custody while the other parent receives visitation – also known as parenting time – rights.
What happens when your co-parent is interfering with your parenting rights? Worse still, what happens if they turn your own child against you? As you can imagine, this can be devastating.
What constitutes parental alienation?
Parental alienation is simply what you would imagine it to be – when one parent turns a child against their other parent. This can happen in a variety of ways, such as:
- When one parent says particularly negative words about the other in the presence of the child and does so repeatedly
- A parent tells the child that the other parent is to blame for the divorce
- When one parent tells the child that the other is abusive and not fit for parenting
Countering parenting alienation
Parental alienation robs a child of a healthy relationship with their parent. This phenomenon can have a lasting impact on a child’s well-being. If your co-parent is alienating you from your child, you’ll need to take steps to address the situation. In fact, parental alienation can be the basis for modifying an existing custody order in favor of the child’s best interests.
Here are three steps you’ll want to consider if you suspect that your co-parent is alienating you from your child:
- Document the alienation – Keep a journal of incidents, the dates involved and any witnesses.
- Talk to your ex about your concerns – sometimes, your co-parent could be alienating you from your child without even realizing it. If you are concerned that their behavior could affect the child, seek an audience with them and address the matter.
- Take the matter to court – if the alienation continues even after raising your concerns, you’ll need to let the court know what is happening.
Protecting your child’s best interests
Parental alienation hurts everyone. If you believe your ex is alienating you from your child, you’ll need to take steps to safeguard your child’s best interests and your relationship with them. Seeking legal guidance is a good first step forward.