Some parents will do almost anything to win a custody case, including turning their children against their other parent. Unfortunately, the children suffer the most when they are used as weapons and pawns in a battle between their parents.

What is Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation describes the act of one parent turning the child against the other parent. It involves manipulation and lies. The parent makes the child believe that the other parent does not care about or love the child, even when the other parent is trying to be a part of the child’s life. For example, a parent may interfere with visitation and communication to make the child believe that the other parent does not want to spend time with them. 

Sadly, parental alienation is more about the hatred of the other parent than about the child’s best interest. The parent may claim to be protecting the child, but the parent is likely motivated by anger, jealousy, hatred, or selfishness. 

Parental alienation is often used during the divorce process to retain custody so that the parent can claim child support

Proving Parental Alienation in Court

Georgia courts look at the best interest of the child when deciding custody matters. Judges will carefully consider numerous factors to determine whether the parents should share custody. If a parent is unfit, the judge may grant sole custody to the other parent.

A parent engaging in parental alienation attempts to convince the children and the judge that the other parent is either unfit or refuses to play an active role in the child’s life. 

You can fight against these attempts to keep you out of your child’s life by:

  • Contacting a child custody lawyer immediately to discuss your legal rights and how to fight attempts at parental alienation
  • Keep a record of all attempts to contact your children, including by telephone, video chat, and in-person
  • Maintain a log of all functions you attend with your child or for the benefit of your child
  • Make sure that your child’s coaches, teachers, and other extra-curricular providers have your contact information to notify you of all events so that you can attend
  • Maintain a log detailing each time your child’s other parent interferes with visitation, such as “forgetting” about visitation or planning activities that coincide with your scheduled visitation 
  • Keep a detailed list of all comments your child’s other parent makes against you that are derogatory or inflammatory 
  • Create a list of individuals who can provide affidavits regarding your attempts to exercise visitation and how your child’s other parent tries to prevent contact
  • Keep copies of all communications with your child and your child’s other parent
  • Make pictures and videos of you with your child participating in various activities and visitation 

It can also help to keep a list of all of the questions and statements your child makes that are evidence of how the other parent tries to manipulate the child into believing you do not care. 

For example, your child constantly asks you if you care more about your job than the child or if your new partner hates them. These comments could be evidence that your child’s other parent is actively trying to alienate your child from you.

Signs of Parental Alienation

Parental alienation can be very subtle. However, there are generally signs that you can point to that your child is being manipulated to believe you do not care. 

Some signs of parental alienation may include:

  • Your child points out that the other parent is better than you
  • Younger children only listen to the parent who is being manipulative and refuse to obey the other parent
  • A child “parrots” the comments made by the other parent, especially negative comments against you
  • Your child resists or refuses to visit with you or come to your home
  • Older children schedule activities that prevent you from exercising your visitation schedule
  • Your children refuse to follow your house rules or obey you
  • When you try to discuss good times and things that you and your child enjoyed, your child only focuses on negative aspects of the relationship
  • People in your child’s life only deal with your child’s other parent, including coaches, teachers, and friends’ parents
  • Your child dislikes and rejects anyone that is associated with you, including your family members and friends

Parental alienation is harmful to the child. It can cause emotional and mental distress and trauma. Children who are victims of parental alienation may require extensive counseling and therapy to undo the damage caused by a selfish, vindictive parent. 

It can be challenging to prove parental alienation in some cases. A divorce attorney in Lawrenceville can help you locate experts and specialists who deal with this type of emotional manipulation. Experts can provide testimony that can help prove parental alienation in court.