While divorce entails severing the marital relationship, that is not the only relationship which may be threatened during the process. Maintaining a solid father-child relationship is often a challenge. Divorce inherently puts a strain on this relationship, which unfortunately can be compounded when your ex-spouse systematically attempts to further the divide – a process known as parental alienation. If you are a father experiencing alienating behavior after divorce, educate yourself more about the phenomenon and what you can do to stop it.
Parental alienation occurs when one parent purposefully encourages a child to disengage with the other parent and/or denigrate the other parent. It can often be one of the most damaging effects of a difficult, highly contested divorce.
Examples of alienating behavior may include:
- Badmouthing the parent
- Limiting contact with that parent
- Using the psychological threat of detachment
- Forcing the child to reject the other parent
- Forcing the child to choose between parents by threatening withdrawal of affection
- Creating the impression that the other parent is dangerous
- Belittling and limiting contact with the extended family of the targeted parent
What can I do about it?
- Do not delay action, hoping that the behavior will change. Act early to assert the father’s rights that you are entitled to have with your child.
- Never retaliate. While things may get heated, it is important to remain even tempered and in control – otherwise you may end up proving your ex-spouse’s assertion that you’re unstable.
- Keep a journal or log of all the key events, detailing what happened and when. Write down all the lies that the child is reporting to you.
- Don’t get your child involved. Resist the urge to talk to them about the case or talk badly about the other parent and don’t let them hear inappropriate conversations.
- Live within the letter of the law. Pay child support on time and never violate court orders.
- Keep in frequent contact with your child and let them know you love them. Make and keep promises to help build trust.
- Perhaps most importantly- consult with a divorce lawyer who has experience with parental alienation, such as Charles Jamieson. Enlisting the legal advice of an expert can help a parent with an alienated child evaluate their options and pursue the proper course of action. The most qualified family law attorneys are familiar with the latest research on the topic, have an extensive network of experts in the fields of child developmental psychology, the sociology of relationships, and have the knowledge of the relevant legal principles to assist them in protecting and defending a parent’s right to pursue a healthy relationship with their child.
Parental alienation is a serious issue that can have severe and long-lasting effects on a child including low self-esteem, self-hatred, lack of trust, depression, substance abuse and loss of the capacity to give and accept love. It is important to seek help as soon as you see alienation behavior emerging in order to minimize its impact.
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Board Certified Marital and Family Law Attorney Charles D. Jamieson understands that divorce is an extremely sensitive and important issue. Thanks to extensive experience and a focus on open communication, Attorney Jamieson adeptly addresses the complex issues surrounding divorce while delivering excellent personal service. To discuss divorce in Florida, please contact The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A.The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A. or call 561-478-0312.