What Is Parental Alienation?
Parental alienation occurs when one parent deliberately acts in a way to ensure that the children of the marriage are isolated from the other parent. It involves systematic acts of undermining the relationship the other parent has or could have with their children.
Unfortunately, it has become an all-too-common occurrence in nasty custody battles. Normally it stems from deep-seeded resentment from one side against the other, and it can result in serious emotional and psychological trauma for the children involved.
Hurting The Parent-Child Relationship
Countless studies and cases have shown that children benefit from fulfilling relationships from both sets of parents. Their identity comes from knowing both parents, and arguably, when one parent is kept out of the lives of his or her child, that part of the child’s identity is never fully able to develop.
The problem arises when the other parent willfully disagrees with this fact and continues to isolate the child from his or her other parent. Not only does that hurt the child, it hurts the parent in major psychological ways, as well.
How To Know It Is Occurring
Parental alienation may not seem obvious right away. In fact, it normally occurs and increases in severity overtime. While, yes, it does sometimes come on suddenly if a parent has normally had a good relationship with his or her child soon finds out that he or she no longer does.
Often, it is something that begins to deteriorate over time before a parent even knows that it is occurring.
Here are a few of the behaviors a parent should look for when it comes to parental alienation:
- Anger or outward disrespect from a child where this type of behavior would never have occurred before;
- Continued interference from other parent when it is time for visit with the child, despite court order;
- The child acts quiet or cold when with the parent during weekend visits;
- The other parent continually tries to text or contact the child during time with the non-possessory parent;
- Last minute cancellations continue to occur before weekend visits with the other parent; or
- The child suddenly determines, without warning or cause, that he or she no longer wants to see his or her other parent.
Options For Alienated Parent
If it is believed that the possessory parent is attempting to alienate the other parent from his or her child’s life, that parent does have options to protect the relationship. Specifically, if visits are not occurring, the parent has the option of filing an enforcement suit against the other parent.
This suit alerts the court that the possessory parent is violating its orders, giving details as to what the violations are and how often they have occurred. The enforcement suit normally seeks to have the other parent held in contempt of court.
Depending on how extensive the violations are, contempt penalties can include as much as six months in jail. Further, the parent that filed the enforcement suit can seek damages for attorney’s fees, court costs and out-of-pocket expenses incurred.
The court will ensure that the alienating behavior stops and that the child and nonpossessory parent continue to have a relationship.
Do Not Wait
Many parents choose not to file a suit in the fear that they will lose in court and be out court costs and attorney’s fees for filing. Many do not want to upset the other parent or put the child in a difficult situation.
However, by waiting too long, all that allows is the behavior to continue, the relationship to further deteriorate, and more damage to happen to the child by not letting him or her continue to develop a relationship with both parents.
If a parent waits for years after alienation occurs to develop a relationship, the use of therapy may be needed to help assist the parties in meeting and working together. By waiting, all the parent is doing is hurting himself or herself and the child in the process.
Speak With An Experienced Texas Custody Attorney Today
Parental alienation is a serious matter. If you have found yourself alienated and separated from your children because of the actions of the other parent, it is important you reach out to a family attorney today.
We can help ensure that you spend the time you deserve with your children. Both parents should be involved in the child’s or children’s lives, and the decision should always consider what is in the best interest of the child.
Please contact family lawyers at Scott M. Brown and Associates. You can reach us by calling 281-972-4386 today. We have offices in Angleton, Houston, and Pearland.