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Parental Alienation: What is it and what can be done?

Parental alienation is a term that is generally used to describe the act of one parent attempting to alienate children from their other parent. This can be done in a variety of ways and has a number of negative consequences for the children experiencing this behavior. In fact, you can likely organize parental alienation into five different categories:

• Disparagement
• False Allegations
• Parental Substitution
• Parentification
• Undermining Authority

At Lloyd and Hogan, Attorneys at Law, we have encountered our fair share of Alabama parental alienation cases. Our experienced team is ready and able to levy our extensive knowledge to help you safeguard against this issue should it be one that you encounter. It is important to note that it is not only you who is being affected by parental alienation – your child is experiencing the worst part, and the results are something that can negatively impact them for the rest of their life. With that in mind, it makes sense to reach out to an experienced attorney for help as quickly as possible to keep your child, as well as your relationship with them, safe. There are legal solutions to be had here. The attorneys at Lloyd and Hogan, Attorneys at Law, can help you attain them.

Let’s take a closer look at the five categories of parental alienation.

Generally speaking, disparagement tends to be the first stage of parental alienation. Things snowball from here and can become more serious as they spread into the other four categories. That is not to say that disparagement isn’t a serious issue all on its own. Disparagement occurs when a parent insults or belittles the other parent to the child, allows others to insult or belittle the other parent to the child, or uses the divorce proceedings as a way to entrench the child in negativity about the other parent.

False Allegations
A parent making false allegations against the other about domestic violence or child abuse is another form of parental alienation. This is especially true when the child is pulled into the situation and the alienating parent encourages them to lie about the situation in question. These allegations are, by design, made to limit the accused’s contact with the child. If these lies are not addressed swiftly and thoroughly, it is entirely possible that the alienated parent could end up without the right to even visit their child.

Parental Substitution
Parental substitution, much as the name implies, occurs when one parent attempts to replace the other completely. This is not the same thing as one parent simply moving forward with their lives and marrying another individual. Additionally, in cases where a child has been abandoned by one of their parents and the other eventually moves on with another individual whom the child eventually considers to be their parent, parental alienation has not occurred.

When a child has two biological parents who are able and willing to be involved in the child’s life, but one parent makes the decision to attempt to minimize that relationship by placing someone else in the parent’s role, parental alienation has occurred. If one parent begins dating someone and they encourage their child to call that other person “mom” or “dad, especially if they lead the child to believe that they have two mothers or two fathers or that their biological parent isn’t “really” their parent.

This is a particularly damaging form of parental alienation where the alienating parent pushes a child into a “parent” position. This means that they effectively end up parenting themselves by making decisions that they, frankly speaking, don’t have the emotional maturity to make. This includes things like when to sleep, when to do homework, which friends to hang out with, etc.

Parental alienation comes into play because these decisions actively undermine the other parent’s ability to exert authority over their child. Additionally, some parents will allow their children to decide whether or not they want to visit with their other parent, an issue that can also lead to the parents in question seeing their child less often.

Undermining Authority
Undermining authority is another category of parental alienation. This takes place when one parent actively undermines the other’s authority to the child. This shatters the “united front” that parents are so often advised to present to their child when it comes to parenting issues. Over time, this means that the child might eventually come to believe that one way of parenting – that of the parent who is undermining the other, usually – is right while the other is wrong. The alienated parent might find themselves with less control and less of an important place in their child’s life as a result.

Are you being alienated out of your child’s life? Act immediately! It is important to seek expert help as quickly as possible to help ensure the best outcome. The experienced attorneys at Lloyd and Hogan, Attorneys at Law, can help.