Often time-sharing disputes devolve into nothing more than mud-flinging. This can be enormously frustrating to a judge if your case ends up in court. With little or no background knowledge, he or she is forced to decide what kind of arrangement is best for your child based on what little information is in front of him or her. As difficult as this is for a judge, it can put you and your child at risk of a bad outcome, especially when the other parent presents evidence that simply isn’t true.
Understand parental alienation
These situations where one parent uses certain strategies to try to create distance between the child and the other parent are referred to as parental alienation. Some people think of this as brainwashing or programming. Essentially, one parent tells the children certain things that are false in hopes of changing the children’s perception of that other parent. For example, a mother might consistently tell the children that their father doesn’t love them, so the children learn to believe it.
Parental alienation, its severity, and its signs
Parental alienation can run the spectrum of severity. Some of it can be relatively minor, while some of it can lead children to believe that a parent has abused them when the abuse never occurred. There are certain signs of alienation, though, that you might want to pay particular attention to, including:
- Unquestionable support of the alienating parent
- Unfair criticism of the falsely accused parent
- The use of language that isn’t age appropriate when criticizing the alienated parent
- The child doesn’t feel guilty about the hatred or criticism leveled at the alienated parent
- The alienating parent restricts the alienated parent’s access to the child
- The alienating parent schedules fun activities for the child during times when he or she may have scheduled time with the alienated parent
- Gossip and secrecy within the household in commonplace
Don’t let alienation harm your child
While parental alienation can affect your relationship with your child, it can also affect your child. Children who are subjected to parental alienation can experience a whole host of problems, including destructive behaviors, excessive anger, feelings of neglect, and a lack of empathy.
Fortunately, you can address parental alienation in your time-sharing case, but you’ll have to be adequately prepared to do so. Since parental alienation isn’t clear cut in the mental health field, you’ll probably need an expert to testify on your behalf and an attorney who can help tell your side of the story. With that in mind, you might want to sit down with a well known, respected, and successful family law attorney to come up with a strategy that is best for you and your child.