How to Spot Signs of Parental Alienation in Your Family

child feeling alienated from his parents during a divorce or separation

Parental Alienation is harmful to children. The negative impact of alienation may include depression, substance abuse, low self-esteem, self-hatred, guilt, poor interpersonal relationships, distorted view of reality, and self-doubt.

Most of my clients don’t realize how harmful it is to the child’s development to try to separate the child from the other parent during your access time. The child should not have to hide the fact that they may wish to speak to their mom during your access time or that having a picture of their mom by their bedside might help them fall asleep. It is not healthy for the child to simply erase the mom during their time at your home. Similarly, a mom should not try to erase you from the child’s life. You should be invited to watch the child’s extra-curricular activities. Mom should let the child have a picture of you to look at when they are feeling lonely about not being with you. Mom should let the child talk freely to you on the phone at their own initiative. Mom should share all information with you about the child’s progress in school and about significant events, good or bad.

Key Indicators of Parental Alienation

• Bad-mouthing the other parent.
• Creating irrational fear in the child about the other parent.
• Creating resentment in the child for the other parent.
• Discouraging the child from showing positive feelings towards the other parent.
• Eradicating the other parent from the child’s life.
• Not correcting the child from talking negatively about the other parent, or the other parent’s family or pets.
• Allowing the child to make decisions about contact.
• Dissuading the child from talking about the visits.
• Acting permissive to gain favour.
• Displaying body language that shows disdain for the other parent.
• Downplaying the value of the other parent’s relationship with the child.
• Asking the child to keep secrets from the other parent.
• Using the child as a messenger.
• Not correcting the bad behaviour of the child towards the other parent.
• Escalating fear about the other parent.

If alienation has been found, then the court may order therapeutic reunification counselling. A possible consequence of failure to participate in counselling could be custody reversal, placement with a 3rd party or with the CAS. Parental alienation is not easy to prove. Expert evidence of emotional harm to the child will most likely be required.

If you and your children are victims of alienation, call us. We can discuss strategies moving forward and offer you choices. If you must go to court, let us be your advocates. We can help.  Book a consultation today!

Lynn Kirwin

Lynn Kirwin has been practicing law for 28 years. She specializes in high conflict family law cases with a focus on resolving them in an expedient and results-oriented manner. She believes in saving the client costs. She offers the option of limited scope retainers. As well, coaches many clients through the process of family court including assisting them with self-representation at trial. Her wide breadth of knowledge has lead her to have published several books on family law as well as other areas of law. She has expertise in child abuse cases having worked as in-house counsel at a Children’s Aid Society and having represented parents in court on child protection cases. She also is a panel member for the Office of the Children’s Lawyer, providing representation for children in court. She volunteers her time as the Chair of a Board for a women’s shelter and as President of the Orillia Law Association. She has two daughters who attend university. She enjoys spending her free time travelling with her husband, road cycling and taking long walks with her two beagles.

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