Parental Alienation - Clark Law Office Serving Central and Eastern Kentucky

Parental alienation can happen at any time in the process when parents divorce or separate. While there is some debate about whether alienation is a “syndrome” or a psychological disorder or a group of behaviors, there is no question that in some high conflict cases, a parent can become alienated from his or her children by the actions of the other parent. It is scary and serious and often requires the intervention of the Courts to prevent permanent and irreparable damage.

From the many resources available, (and the variety of descriptions is enormous), the following are just some behaviors to look for in children who you suspect might have been alienated:

  • Interprets events or actions regarding targeted parent (the parent who has been alienated) with sinister motives; just trying to “buy love”
  • Doesn’t show normal positive reaction to gifts or affection from the targeted parent
  • Forgets past events, or distorts facts about those events; amnesia about positive history; vagueness about details
  • Black and white view of parents- one all bad, the other all good, no gray area
  • Insist these ideas are really their own (even when they seem too sophisticated to be child’s normal ideas) or they do not understand what they are saying
  • Makes statements that seem coached; denies coaching by alienating parent (the one doing the alienating)
  • Anger towards targeted parent out of proportion to reality of situation; lack of forgiveness
  • Will not tolerate or listen to other version of events that contradict alienating parent’s version; changes subject when sensitive issues come up
  • Downgrades/downplays feelings of targeted parent as unimportant or less important than those of alienating parent
  • Treats the targeted parent worse when around alienating parent or people close to alienating parent; warms up gradually to “normal” when alienating parent is not around
  • Negative feelings about targeted parent extend to rest of family regardless of their behaviors or their own previous relationships with child

The attorney will want to determine:

When did the behavior start? Or when did you first notice the behavior?
What was going on before the behavior started? Anything major?
How often does the behavior occur? Patterns?
Are the behaviors different at the beginning and end of timesharing that during?
Has behavior gotten worse?
Does behavior change depending on who is around?
Has anyone else noticed changes in behavior?
Do all children act the same way? Differences between children?

If you suspect the other parent of alienating your children from you, examples of the kinds of behaviors in the alienating parent to look for include:

  • Denial of the targeted parent’s existence in big and small ways; scheduling activities during other parent’s time
  • Making child aware of adult parent issues; oversharing
  • Not wanting to hear about positive experiences child has with the targeted parent
  • Letting child decide about visits
  • Making the child feel guilty about positive experiences with targeted parent
  • Using child as a messenger or otherwise putting child in middle; grilling child upon return
  • Voicing concern for child’s safety when in targeted parent’s care
  • Trying to get child to “side” with alienating parent against targeted parent; “us versus them” mentality
  • Using collaterals (boyfriends, spouses, grandparents) to bolster alienating positions
  • When all else fails, flat out lying, making stuff up

Treatment ranges from teaching the targeted parent “comebacks” to combat alienating behavior and comments, therapy for the children alone, therapy for each parent alone, therapy for children with parents together, reunification therapy, all the way to the extreme of the Court blocking all contact between the children and the alienating parent, temporarily or permanently.

We help clients everyday to overcome life's most difficult experiences.

Reach out today and call us at (859) 219-1280 to ask for our help.