Many recently divorced couples struggle to navigate the nuances and pitfalls associated with child custody orders and visitation schedules. Both children and parents need time to adjust to their new circumstances and lifestyles. It can be particularly difficult for parents to see their exes for drop-offs and pick-ups, especially when the emotional and mental wounds from the divorce are so fresh. Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for insecure and bitter divorcees to subconsciously or intentionally weaponize their children against their exes.
While the visitation schedule safeguards your legal parental rights, it can’t stop your ex from turning your child against you. Children are incredibly vulnerable both during and after a divorce. Your marriage, for better or worse, functioned as your child’s support blanket. Without that stability, your child may fall prey to the machinations of a vindictive parent.
For instance, your former spouse may try to trick your child into believing that you’re the cause of their grief and confusion: the divorce is your fault; your ex’s feelings are your fault; you just didn’t love them enough to stay; everything could have remained the same if it wasn’t for you. This sort of behavior is called “parental alienation.” The purpose of utilizing this tactic is to harm you by irreparably damaging your relationship with your child. If you fail to pursue legal action, you may find yourself continually struggling to reconnect with a distant and angry child.
Other examples of parental alienation include:
- Directly interfering with one ex’s parenting time
- Preventing communication between child and parent
- Using the child as a spy
- Manipulating the child to betray the other parent’s trust
- Openly insulting the child’s other parent
- Pressuring the child to make decisions regarding visitation
- Acting sad or betrayed when the child mentions their other parent
- Creating scenarios to test the child’s loyalty
- Gaslighting the child
In more severe cases of parental alienation, the alienating parent may encourage a sense of camaraderie with the child for the sole purpose of keeping the estranged parent out of their lives. This can have an extremely damaging impact on the child’s psychological maturation and development. When the parent enforces and praises alienating behaviors, the child learns that being hostile and manipulative is acceptable in any personal relationship.
Your child may be the victim of parental alienation syndrome if they exhibit the following behaviors:
- Your child rejects, fears, or openly dislikes you
- Your child feels guilty about spending time with you
- Your child starts adopting your ex’s behaviors and echoing their arguments
- Your child irrationally idealizes and supports your ex
- Your child refuses your gifts
- Your child suddenly doesn’t want to spend time with your extended family
Learn More by Scheduling a Consultation Today
Contact The Virga Law Firm, P.A. if you believe that your child is a victim of parental alienation syndrome. Our Destin child custody attorneys can listen to your story, compile evidence, and develop a litigation strategy that safeguards your parenting rights. Depending on the severity of your case, we can even help you negotiate a child custody modification that fine-tunes your parenting plan and protects your child’s best interests.
We’re available 24/7! Contact the Virga Law Firm, P.A. at (800) 822-5170 to schedule a consultation.