Not all divorces are amicable. Sometimes, tensions run so high that one spouse may try to sabotage a child’s relationship with the other parent. This is called parental alienation, a form of child abuse that can cause irreparable damage to the well-being and mental health of your child and you as the rejected parent.
Our family law team at Jimeno & Gray can help you fight for your child or children. We serve clients in Glen Burnie, MD, and throughout Maryland. Call (443) 232-9385 today or contact us online to speak with a parental alienation lawyer.
What Is Parental Alienation?
Child psychologist Richard Gardner coined the term “parental alienation” in 1985. The phrase is a catchall for any behavior in which one parent displays unjustified negativity at the other parent to harm their relationship with the children.
While contentious divorce and custody cases often involve parental alienation, it is not yet officially designated as a syndrome or disorder. This can make it hard to recognize and prove in court. Our parental alienation lawyers at Jimeno & Gray can support your case and present evidence during your divorce or custody process.
Recognizing Parental Alienation
Parental alienation involves a wide range of tactics. If the other parent or your children display any of the following behaviors, seek legal counsel right away:
- Bad-mouthing you
- Interfering with visitation and communication rights
- Denying past positive experiences with you
- Accusing you of exaggerated or made-up wrongdoings
- Refusing to take responsibility for alienating actions
- Expressing no remorse for treating you harshly
- Showing increased animosity toward you and your family
Children exposed to alienation may also side with the other parent, rebel against you, or pull away for no apparent reason.
Steps to Take If You Suspect Parental Alienation
If you suspect that your spouse is manipulating your children, contact a parental alienation lawyer from our team immediately. We can build a legal strategy to curb the alienating behaviors, including:
During a custody evaluation, a licensed mental health professional or clinical social worker evaluates the interactions between you, your co-parent, and your children and submits a formal recommendation to the court. If you and your spouse cannot reach a custody agreement, the court may appoint an independent guardian ad litem to represent the child’s best interest.
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution method in which a mediator—a neutral third party—facilitates communication between you and your spouse so you can arrive at a compromise. Many parents agree on a parenting plan that serves as a blueprint for parenting after the divorce. A parenting plan can ensure that you spend more time with your children.
If you have already divorced, you may be able to modify the custody arrangement to spend more time with your children. However, you need to show the other parent is violating the existing custody order, such as by denying you visitations without a valid reason.