There is no official definition of parental alienation, but it essentially means a child has been “turned against” one of their parents by the other.
Parental alienation can be devastating for the child, the parent and other family members.
Dealing with parental alienation can be complicated, and often needs input from other specialists such as therapists, as well as legal proceedings.
An experienced parental alienation specialist can help you decide what additional help to ask the court to provide for.
If you think your child has been influenced or turned against you, one of our specialist Family Law Solicitors can help you.
What is Parental Alienation?
Parental alienation can be deliberate, or unintentional. It can take lots of different forms, including:
- Refusing to allow contact
- Putting impossible conditions on contact
- Being extremely controlling of contact, and refusing to allow the child and other parent to spend time together independently
- Refusing to share important information about the child
- Trying to persuade the child not to go for contact
- Making the child believe the other parent doesn’t love them or want to see them, or that they have other priorities
- Making the child believe the other parent poses a risk, or might harm them
- Saying unpleasant things or telling lies about the other parent
- Making the child feel guilty for having contact
- Involving the child in adult issues inappropriately, and making the child “take sides”
Sometimes, the behaviour can be very subtle, other times it is very clear.
It is always important to tackle parental alienation quickly, as the more alienated or entrenched the child or the situation becomes, the harder it can be to resolve.
What Can I Do About Parental Alienation?
If you believe parental alienation is happening, it’s important to act sooner rather than later to identify and tackle the behaviour quickly.
Helping your child restore their parental relationship with you and overcome parental alienation can be long and difficult process. It’s often easier to make progress if the situation is dealt with at an early stage.
Parental alienation involves complex emotional and psychological issues and it needs a careful and structured approach. The legal process must work alongside other support, such as therapy.
A Court application for a Child Arrangement Order will usually need to be made, and as part of that process, the Court can order assessments and expert involvement if needed.
Signs of Parental Alienation
If you are worried that your child is being turned against you, there are some signs of parental alienation you can look out for. They include:
- Your child is becoming withdrawn
- A previously affectionate child is becoming distant
- Your child not wanting to talk about the other parent or home
- Your child saying that negative comments have been made against them, their family, or contact
- Your child constantly always having other things they need to do when contact is scheduled
- Your child expressing reluctance or refusing to go for contact without a clear reason
- Contact being cancelled or refused
- Your child saying they feel guilty about leaving the other parent when they come to visit
- Your child displaying an awareness of adult issues or using adult language
- Your child is making unfounded allegations against you
Of course, these signs don’t automatically mean parental alienation is happening, but they can be important signals to look out for.
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What Can The Court Do About Parental Alienation?
The starting point is that a child should be allowed have a loving relationship with both parents.
If that relationship is being stopped without good reason, the Court will want to resolve it because research has shown there can be lasting emotional and psychological harm to children who are the subject of Parental Alienation.
Each case of parental alienation is different so the Court will look at the circumstances of the individual child when deciding how best to deal with it. The Court has extensive powers, but what is suitable will depend on the circumstances of the case.
Our Family Law Solicitors can help you understand all the options available and what could get the best outcome for you and your child, in your circumstances.
The orders the Court can make include:
- Orders for contact – known as a ‘Spends Time With’ order
- Attaching a penal notice to a Child Arrangement Order warning a parent that they may be fined or sent to prison if they do not comply
- Changing residence from one parent to the other
- Getting the Local Authority involved, which in some circumstances could lead to Care Proceedings
- Sending the non-compliant parent to prison
- Providing for the child to be separately or independently represented in the Court proceedings
- Providing for expert assessment by a social worker, psychiatrist or psychologist
- Providing for therapeutic work for the either the parents, child or whole family
Why Choose Simpson Millar?
Cases of parental alienation need robust and careful management from the outset.
Our specialist Family Team of Solicitors have extensive experience in parental alienation cases. We can help you prepare and present your case in the strongest possible way.
A number of our Solicitors are accredited specialists in complex children cases, and they often work closely with trusted experts to provide a solution tailored to your circumstances.
If you’re worried about parental alienation, don’t wait. Get in touch now and one of our friendly team can talk you through your options.
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