After a divorce and the establishment of visitation arrangements, a child can begin to show a preference for one of the parents. He or she may also grow distant from the other parent. In the most severe cases, a child may refuse all contact with the alienated parent, even phone contact.

The subject of parental alienation has been much studied and debated by psychologists. What are the causes of parental alienation and what options does an alienated parent have?

When the subject of parental alienation began to be studied by psychologists, the assumption was that it was primarily or only perpetrated by mothers against fathers. Since then, research has shown that the gender ratio is about even.

Parental alienation is a complex phenomenon. In some cases, physical, emotional or sexual abuse by a parent can cause a child to reject an abusing parent. In others, one parent attempts to interfere with the relationship between the child and the other parent. This can take many forms – badmouthing the other parent, attempting to make the child choose between the parents, destroying letters, messages or gifts to the child from the other parent, or interfering with the visitation rights of the other parent.

A parent who has been victimized by the behavior of the other parent may have recourse in the courts. In Texas, courts seek solutions that are in the best interest of the child. That could result in a change in custody or visitation arrangements. An experienced family law attorney can review your case and advise you of your options.

The article Parental Alienation Behaviors has additional useful information about this phenomenon. Though it appears on the website womansdivorce.com, the information is applicable to fathers as well as mothers. The site also lists a number of books that describe how a targeted parent can minimize the damage resulting from parental alienation.