Parental Alienation and Child Abuse

Divorce is hard on the separating spouses, but when children are involved, they tend to be the ones who are hurt the most. While many believe that parental alienation occurs after the divorce, studies show that it’s most likely happening before the final notice is signed. 

While divorce can be amicable, often there is one parent who harbors hard feelings over the split, for a variety of reasons. Without realizing so, that parent may be causing their child to also hold onto those feelings. This may be because of the sudden change in living arrangements, financial status, and just the emotional toll a divorce causes.

In turn, the child becomes a sponge to this information, gathering the feelings and projecting them on the other parent. While this may just seem like a natural, emotional reaction to a split, some researchers have reason to believe that parental alienation is a form of child abuse. There are ways to tell if this form of parental alienation is occurring, and what you should do if you suspect it.

Parental Alienation Syndrome

Child psychiatrist Richard A. Gardner, coined the term parental alienation syndrome as the adverse reaction to an estranged parent during separation or divorce. Through his studies, he found there are eight symptoms linked to parental alienation syndrome which include:

  1. “Relentless denigration of the targeted parent;
  2. A frivolous, weak, or absurd rationale for the denigration;
  3. A lack of guilt or embarrassment about the denigration;
  4. A lack of ambivalence such that the child considers one parent to be entirely “good” and the other parent to be entirely “bad”;
  5. Automatic support for the alienating parent in any conflict;
  6. Hostility toward and refusal of contact with the extended family of the targeted parent;
  7. The presence of “borrowed scenarios,” in which the child’s speech when describing aversion to the targeted parent often includes the same phrases used by the alienating parent;
  8. The child’s insistence that he or she is expressing his or her own opinions in denigrating the targeted parent.”

While some courts will accept this diagnosis in child custody courts, not all are in agreement that this is a form of child abuse. 

Regardless of what your opinion is on the diagnosis, parental alienation is not permissible and can impact your child custody and visitation rights.

My ex is manipulating our child. What should I do?

In Tennessee, a standard Parenting Plan highlights how important both parent-child relationships are to the overall welfare of the child. Within these post-divorce parenting forms, the interest of the child is always of top priority. 

However, if you are being prevented from seeing your child or know your child is hearing derogatory statements about you, you should know that this behavior goes against your parenting plan. 

You can make a request to the court to change the plan, and even argue for changes in custody arrangements. But in order to do so, you need to establish that the alienation is occurring, which is why you need an experienced child custody attorney to learn what your next steps should be and what you need to prove your case.

How Our Child Custody Lawyers Can Help

Parental alienation is abusive behavior and needs to be stopped before it destroys relationships and harms your child’s well-being. If you believe you’re a victim of parental alienation, contact MHPS today for a free consultation.

Categories: Family Law
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