Parental Alienation occurs most often in high conflict divorce and custody cases. It most likely arises when the child has been placed in the middle of a contentious battle between the parents. In a parental alienation situation the child is forced to choose sides. Even after thousands of dollars in litigation a child may still be caught in the middle. From over 20 years of complex custody cases we’ve learned some tips on how to handle parental alienation in a custody case.
Tip #1: Taking a break doesn’t work. If you find that you are the parent at the receiving end of the alienation it’s often easy to avoid the conflict by “taking a break.” Absence does not make the heart grow fonder. In an alienation case taking a break may only make future contact more challenging.
Tip #2: Don’t let a child choose. This sounds tough, but there is a difference between listening to a child’s wishes and granting their choice. You are still the parent. Give the child a voice but not the choice. Be confident that you are able to distinguish what a child needs from what the child may want.
Tip #3: Syptoms v. Cause. Don’t be paralyzed by the symptoms of alienation: fear, anger, acting out, etc. Realize that such conduct demonstrates the symptoms of alienation. The symptoms arise from a deep feeling of anxiety arising from the relational problems. If you understand that the symptoms exhibit the cause it’s easier to take refuge in a knowledge that you understand the underlying anxiety as the root of the current conflict.
Tip #4: Extreme Measures Are Necessary. When you’ve taken proper steps to reintegrate with therapy, court action and outside parties, you sometimes must seek the extreme measure of complete custody change. Experts are aware that extreme measures sometimes are the only solution.
Tip #5: Sometimes Waiting is Best. There may be times when it just doesn’t make sense…financially or emotionally…to keep fighting against a child entrenched with the other parent. When this happens the alienated parent must realize that waiting might be the best strategy. This doesn’t mean that you simply abdicate and give up, but instead involve yourself in active waiting. Take what you can and wait. Usually alienated children will start to think for themselves and see changes over time.
If you or someone you know are embroiled in a complex custody case or dealing with parental alienation contact our child custody experts at the Justice Legal Group at 505-880-8737 or email us at info@JusticeLegalGroup.com.