Every child deserves a healthy and loving relationship with both parents, provided that both of their parents are fit and are eager to remain invested in a child’s life. Unfortunately, co-parenting relationships can be strained following a divorce. Consequently, one parent may resort to practices that hurt the relationship between the child and the other parent. When this phenomenon plays out in extreme fashion, it is known as parental alienation.
Parental alienation is not only detrimental to a child’s relationship with the alienated parent. It can also impact the child’s long-term well-being. So, what do you do if you discover that your ex is intentionally sowing a seed of discord between you and your child?
Parental alienation basics
Simply put, parental alienation happens when one parent incites a child to despise or undermine their other parent’s authority. Usually, the overall goal is to let the child believe that the alienated parent is “bad” even though the alienating parent is a fit and invested parent. This is different than supporting the child in the wake of an abusive parent’s behavior.
Here are three steps you need to take if you discover that your ex is wrongfully alienating you from your child:
Document the alienating behavior
It may not seem important now, but documenting evidence of parental alienation can help you build your case if the matter eventually goes to court. In your journal, be sure to include the specific incident, the date and the location where it happened. And if anyone witnessed the incident, be sure to note this too. If there are text messages and voice mails, keep these as well.
Assert your rights
Once you establish a pattern of alienating behavior, you can choose to take steps to assert your rights. First, seek an audience with the alienating parent so you can make clear your concerns. If you cannot see eye-to-eye with them, don’t give up. Instead, take the matter up with the family court. The worst mistake you can make when your ex is alienating you from your child is to take matters into your hand and interfere with an existing custody order.
Protecting your child’s best interest
Parental alienation comes in a variety of forms. Seeking legal guidance to learn more about California child custody laws can help you protect your rights and your child’s best interests.