Divorce is a high-stress situation. Throw a child into the mix and things can get heated. Of course, no one wants a disagreement between parents to affect a child. But when emotions run high, a child can get caught in the middle of a custodial dispute and become traumatized.

One common issue in divorce is parental alienation. While the term is often used in legal settings, parental alienation is actually a mental health term. It refers to a syndrome in which a child is alienated from one parent as the result of manipulation or abuse from their other parent. 

Of course, this scenario can be devastating for the parent who becomes alienated. However, it is really the child who is most affected. Depression, substance abuse, and low self-esteem are just a few of the well-documented side effects of parental alienation. 

If you believe your ex-partner is engaging in parental alienation, you need to resolve the problem immediately. Unfortunately, it may take time to collect the evidence you need to make a change. Keep reading to learn how you can get started.

How to Determine Whether Parental Alienation Has Occurred

Unfortunately, parental alienation is a fairly common occurrence. In fact, Science Daily estimates that one-fourth of children involved in divorce suffer from this syndrome. Parental alienation may be common, but that does not make it acceptable.

Cases range from mild to severe. Watch for these signs to determine whether your child is being pushed toward parental alienation. 

Mild Parental Alienation

Does your child seem initially reluctant to spend time with you, only to then switch gears once you are together? Any sign that a child is displaying hesitancy for the benefit of the other parent is cause for concern. 

Moderate Parental Alienation

Moderate parental alienation is characterized by a child who is reluctant to spend time with one parent and maintains that opposition throughout the visit. 

Severe Parental Alienation

A child who runs, hides, or physically resists a visit with the other parent is likely suffering from severe parental alienation. 

Severe parental alienation can be difficult to cope with. Oftentimes, the child will lash out in anger and then show no remorse for any hurt feelings. If your child seems to suffer from any of these symptoms, it’s time to start collecting evidence to support your belief.

How to Provide Evidence of Parental Alienation

Parental alienation can be difficult to prove. It may help to remember what causes the syndrome in the first place: manipulation and abuse. 

Start by documenting any instances in which the other parent takes any of these actions in front of the child:

  • Undermines you
  • Lies about you and/or the custody agreement
  • Accuses you of having false motives
  • Drives a wedge into your relationship

Evidence can come in many forms. Some parents may be able to provide testimony from a therapist or counselor. You may have family, friends, or neighbors who have witnessed manipulation or abuse. You could even compile a file of voicemails, social media posts, and text messages to support your theory.

Possible Remedies for Alienated Parents

Keep in mind that parental alienation is not illegal. But if you can prove that the child’s best interests are not being met, a judge may adjust the custodial agreement. 

Sometimes, a change in custody only serves to further traumatize a child. In those cases, the judge may opt for a pathway toward gradual reunification. 

Increased therapy and parental visits may work to resolve the problem over time. If you are ready to address parental alienation in court, a legal professional can help you to put forward the best arguments to effectively prove and fight parental alienation.

For more information, call our family law firm at (404) 594-2143 or reach out to us online by visiting our contact us page today.