While more and more people are learning about the destructive effects of parental alienation, the issue is often misunderstood by society at large. Commonly seen in divorce or custody cases, parental alienation occurs when one parent withholds child visitation from another or otherwise seeks to turn a child against a co-parent.
As you might imagine, the results can be devastating for both the affected parent and the child, and for these reasons, courts take a hard view of individuals who alienate children from family members. Fortunately, there are ways that a Texas divorce attorney can help.
- How Does Parental Alienation Manifest Itself?
Parental alienation can manifest itself in a number of ways. The offending parent may attempt to turn the child against a co-parent by speaking negatively about that parent’s character; they may cut visits short or avoid giving visits altogether. In extreme cases, a parent may move to a different state or country to keep a child away from the other parent.
- How Children are Affected
Parental alienation often has a damaging effect on children. Because children cannot mentally separate the behavior of others from their own decision-making process, they often blame themselves for situations in which one parent is not able to see them. If one parent consistently disparages a co-parent, a child may end up blaming themselves for what they perceive as the “offending” parent’s shortcomings.
Indeed, even when these shortcomings are wildly blown out of proportion or do not exist in the first place, children may still feel that they are at fault for “driving away” the parent or “causing” the perceived behavior.
- Why Do Parents Alienate Children from Co-Parents?
There are a number of irrational reasons for why a parent might alienate a child from another parent. If the alienating parent has a condition such as borderline personality disorder, for example, they may convince themselves that a co-parent is a threat to the child even when no such threat exists. Moreover, they may feel resentment towards a co-parent and seek to use a child to redress a perceived slight.
Either way, parents who alienate children from a co-parent can experience serious legal repercussions for their decision. They may end up losing custody of their child, for example, or they may be charged with contempt of court if the alienation continues.
- How Can a Texas Divorce Attorney Help?
Sadly, many parents affected by issues surrounding alienation avoid going to court out of a fear that they will lose what rights they have. Fortunately, divorce attorneys can help affected parents establish or reestablish their legal rights to see their child and prevent the offending parent from continuing their alienating behavior.
For these reasons, parental alienation can have an enormous effect on the lives of affected co-parents and children. However, much can be done when affected parents alert family courts to the behavior of the alienating parent.
While dealing with the situation on a day-to-day basis can be extremely difficult, it is important to understand that things can and will get better. The process may feel intimidating and difficult to cope with, but the right legal counsel can help guide you through the process of reestablishing your parental rights. And that is parenthood at its best!
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