As if fathers didn’t have enough to contend with in child custody issues, there are unfortunately situations where matters are made even more difficult by parental alienation. Your ex may be saying or doing things to get your children to form negative opinions about you—or unreasonably accusing you of trying to alienate the children against them.
To protect your relationships and the wellbeing of your children, it is important to recognize parental alienation and the provisions Maryland law offers to put a stop to it. At the Carmiece Graves Law Firm, we know the damage that can be done by parental alienation and we work tirelessly to protect you in parental alienation cases.
What Is Parental Alienation?
Parental alienation occurs when one parent says or does things to encourage a child to form a negative opinion about the other parent. Essentially, the alienating parent is using the child as a weapon, undermining and gradually destroying the relationship between the child and other parent. This conduct can occur not just during divorce, but while a couple is still together.
Alienation occurs in many forms, and it usually involves multitudes of manipulative comments. The alienating parent may frequently blame the other parent for the breakup of the family, tell the child the other parent doesn’t want to be around them, or imply that the child has something to fear from the other parent. The alienating parent can specifically target the other parent, or even cause the child to fear that the entire other side of the family cannot be trusted.
A child can, on their own, develop negative thoughts about one parent based on unintentional statements made by another parent. This is not parental alienation. For parental alienation to occur, the alienating parent must be deliberately saying or doing things to undermine the relationship between the child and other parent, even if those actions are very subtle. For instance, an alienating parent might say that they are rescuing the child when they come to pick them up, implying that the other parent is incapable of providing proper care.
How to Recognize Parental Alienation
Because parental alienation can be subtle in many situations, it can take time to recognize the effects. Unfortunately by that time, feelings of anger and resentment can already cause considerable damage to the child’s mental health. Some that indicate a child is suffering from parental alienation include:
- Rejecting communication with the targeted parent
- Not having a reason to justify negative feelings toward the targeted parent
- Denying positive memories of experiences with the targeted parent
- Unbalanced opinion of parents, seeing no fault in one and nothing but faults in the other
- Acting rudely or coldly to the targeted parent with no sign of remorse
- Always sides with the alienating parent in any conflict
- Repeating language used by the alienating parent, sometimes without understanding the meaning
- Negative conduct toward the family of the targeted parent
In addition to watching for signs from the child, it is also wise to be aware of signs from your ex. For instance, if your ex frequently denies you the opportunity to communicate with your child, or refuses to give you information about your child’s schedule when asked, those could be signs that they are engaging in alienation tactics.
Protecting Your Rights and Your Relationships
If you suspect parental alienation is occurring, start keeping records of what’s going on. Your records could demonstrate a pattern of conduct that is not in the child’s best interests. If you do not already have a legal plan in place for custody and parenting time, you should work with a fathers’ rights lawyer to establish a plan that protects your rights, and let the court know about parental alienation issues you and others have observed.
If you already have a custody order, you may want to talk to your divorce attorney about seeking a modification. Custody decisions are based on the child’s best interests, and it is in the child’s best interests to maintain a solid relationship with both parents. Courts do not like parental alienation. If you want to keep the matter out of court, however, there are other avenues your attorney can pursue, including negotiating a settlement which may include counseling.
Work with the Fathers’ Rights Lawyers Who Know How to Fight Parental Alienation
As a father, you have certain rights, regardless of your marital status. You have the right to a fully developed relationship with your child, free from poisoned bias by your ex.
The law is on your side. However, if you do not take steps to assert your rights as a father, your rights can be swept under the rug and your relationship with your child can be destroyed. If you suspect your ex is engaging in parental alienation or if your ex is wrongfully accusing you of alienation, talk to the experienced team at the Carmiece Graves Law Firm today to learn how we can help.