There are generally two types of situations co-parents find themselves in once they split if they share children: Some make co-parenting look easy, while other parents are so bitter with one another that they get into spats anytime they communicate.
In the latter case, it isn’t unusual for one parent to drive a wedge between their children and the other parent, effectively destroying their relationship. This approach is called parental alienation. Any parent who engages in this runs the risk of losing their custodial rights.
What does parental alienation look like?
Parental alienation generally means that one parent works to create a negative image of the other parent in their children’s minds. This can take on many different forms, including:
- A parent may accuse their co-parent of child abuse or domestic violence (and, perhaps, even coax the kids into believing that something happened, especially if the kids are young)
- A parent may feed their child untruths about their other parent that damage the parent-child relationship, like, “Mom doesn’t love you anymore,” or “It’s Dad’s fault that we have to move and leave your friends.”
Sometimes, these tactics will be temporarily effective — but judges are canny and aware of such tactics. Once the purposeful attempts to alienate the children come to light, the court may limit or remove custody from the parent who is engaging in such practices.
How can you best handle child custody disputes?
One of the worst decisions a parent can make if they’re unhappy with their custodial agreement with their ex is to start using their child as a pawn, whether that means physically withholding custody or trying to play with their minds or perceptions.
You may want to request a modification hearing if you’ve concerned about what’s happening to your children. Preserving your relationship with your children is a major priority for the future.