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What to Do When Your Ex Is Turning Your Child Against You

Abdallah Law, A.P.C. March 28, 2023

It can be devastating to realize that your former spouse is actively attempting to turn your child against you. This behavior, known as parental alienation, is a form of emotional abuse that can have long-term consequences for both the parents and the child. 

For parents who suspect their ex-spouse of attempting to alienate their child, the best decision may be to contact a family law attorney. At Abdallah Law, A.P.C., I assist parents who believe their former partner or spouse is trying to use psychological manipulation to turn the child away from them. With an office in Sacramento, California, I provide legal counsel to clients in San Joaquin County, Yolo County, Placer County, Solano County, Eldorado County, and Alameda County.  

Parental Alienation  

Parental alienation is an emotionally-charged issue that can have serious consequences for parent-child relationships. It occurs when one parent attempts to turn a child’s affection away from the other parent and towards themselves by badmouthing, manipulating, or otherwise diminishing the other parent’s role in the child’s life. 

It is important to recognize that parental alienation is not always intentional. Sometimes, it can be unintentional and caused by poor communication between parents or a lack of understanding of how their words are affecting their children. 

Common Signs of Parental Alienation  

Parental alienation (also known as estrangement) occurs when one parent uses psychological manipulation to turn a child away from the other parent, often by belittling them or painting them in a negative light. This can result in a breakdown of communication between the child and the targeted parent, as well as feelings of guilt, fear, and confusion for the child.  

Some common signs that your ex may be attempting to alienate your child include sudden changes in behavior such as:  

  • Hostility toward you or withdrawal from you 

  • Refusal to communicate with you about anything other than basic needs 

  • Unfounded criticism of you 

  • Pressuring your child into taking sides against you 

  • Refusing visitation rights 

  • Talking badly about you in front of your children 

If your ex-spouse is doing any of these things on purpose, it could be considered parental alienation. However, there may be other – less subtle or less obvious – signs of parental alienation to watch out for when co-parenting.  

Proving Parental Alienation  

If you suspect your ex-spouse is turning your child against you, there may be several pieces of evidence to help you prove it, including:  

  • Witness statements from people such as family members or friends who have heard your ex badmouth you can provide valuable evidence that parental alienation has occurred;  

  • Documentation from therapists or psychologists who have worked with you and/or your child; and  

  • Other evidence such as emails or text messages can also help prove parental alienation if they contain derogatory statements about you from your ex-spouse. 

In some cases, evidence of parental alienation may be limited or non-existent, which may make proving that parental alienation has occurred more complicated. If you suspect that your ex-spouse is turning your child against you, consider speaking with an experienced family law attorney immediately. A skilled attorney can advise you on your best course of action to make sure that you have strong evidence of parental alienation while also ensuring your child’s safety and well-being.  

Are There Laws Stopping Parental Alienation?   

Parental alienation is not specifically addressed in most family law statutes. However, there are laws in place that allow courts to intervene when a parent is exhibiting detrimental behaviors to an extent that it affects their child’s well-being. The court may adjust custody arrangements if they find evidence of parental alienation. This would involve the alienating parent having reduced or supervised visitation rights based on their behavior. 

When determining what actions should be taken, courts will always consider the best interests of the child. Depending on factors such as the age of the child and the severity of alienation tactics used by the alienating parent, they may opt to limit contact between them and their child until they complete counseling sessions such as anger management or parenting classes. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that the relationship between parent and child remains healthy and beneficial for both parties involved. 

How an Attorney Can Help 

If you suspect or know that your ex-spouse is attempting to turn your child against you, consulting with an experienced family law attorney can help protect both yourself and your child’s best interests during this difficult time. An attorney will be able to assist in gathering evidence of parental alienation so that you can provide proof in court if needed.  

Additionally, they can help determine what course of action will best suit your particular situation so that you can move forward with confidence knowing that all necessary steps have been taken for everyone’s safety and well-being. 

Protect Your Family’s Best Interests  

No one should have to go through parental alienation alone. If you think your ex-spouse might be trying to turn your children against you, get immediate legal assistance. As a family law attorney at Abdallah Law, A.P.C., I can help you protect your family’s best interests. Contact my Sacramento, California, office today and tell me about your case.