Parental Alienation and the Pandora’s Box of Family Law

After a divorce or separation, it’s not uncommon for a child to side with one parent over the other, but as a parent you should be diligent about your child maintaining a relationship with their other parent. 

Parental alienation is a broad concept but essentially boils down to one parent influencing the child to reject the other parent. Some examples of a child’s behaviour that can be used to indicate alienation are irrational reasons to justify their hatred, vilification of the parent, no acknowledgment of a desire for reconciliation, or simply talking openly with others about the rejected parent’s perceived shortcomings. 

As a divorced or separated parent, ensure you take the time to monitor not only your child’s behaviour, but your own actions as well. Many actions you might not think are problematic can be considered alienating actions. Allowing and insisting the child to make their own decisions about contact with the other parent, no encouragement of a call to the other parent between visits, over-involving the child in adult matters and litigation, or even showing no concern for missed visits with the other parent can all be considered alienating parental behaviour. 

If a judge decides there is parental alienation in your case, you can be forced to pay for expensive court mandated family reunification therapy and legal fees, there could be a variation in your existing custody agreement, and it could negatively impact any other ongoing family law proceedings. Furthermore, your child can be negatively impacted (both psychologically and developmentally) by parental alienation.

If you are concerned that your indifference towards your child’s relationship with their other parent and your child’s behaviour could be considered parental alienation, take steps immediately to stop this behaviour and limit your liability. Alternatively, if you are a parent that feels that their child is withdrawing from them and exhibits some of the behaviours mentioned above, reach out to one of our experienced family law lawyers to enforce your right to have a healthy relationship with your child.  

Choose Millars Law when you cannot afford to lose. When you need a lawyer, you need peace of mind. This comes from knowing that someone skilled and trustworthy is on your side and defending your interests. If you or someone you know needs to speak to a lawyer, please feel free to reach out to us to book a consultation.

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