Rarely are divorces completely amicable, without any disagreements throughout the divorce proceedings. Divorce often can be an emotional, life-altering process that can be difficult for some people to deal with in a healthy manner. When children are involved, many times the disagreements can increase. Unfortunately, some divorcing parents wrongfully involve their children in their disputes with their soon-to-be-former spouse, and some parents even deliberately attempt to turn their children against their other parent. These kinds of attempts are known as “parental alienation syndrome.” If you suspect that this is occurring in your divorce, you should contact a skilled family lawyer to help protect your rights with regard to your children throughout the case.
Is Parental Alienation Diagnosable?
The term “parental alienation syndrome” (PAS) was coined in 1985 by a child psychiatrist who noticed certain symptoms in children who were exposed to parental alienation attempts. This kind of alienation can occur when one parent attempts to negatively influence his or her children’s relationship with their other parent, sometimes out of jealousy for that parent-child relationship, or sometimes as a way to supposedly hurt his or her former spouse. Whether or not the negative effects of parental alienation are actually a “syndrome” is questioned by some mental health professionals. The American Psychiatric and Psychological Associations do not recognize PAS as a mental health condition, nor can it be diagnosed by a professional; however, the damaging effects of parental alienation on children can many times be apparent.
Searching for Signs of Alienation
Oftentimes divorced parents no longer have a good relationship with each other, but they should still avoid talking badly about the other parent, especially in front of the kids. Not only can that behavior damage a child’s relationship with a parent, but it can also lead to breaches in your parenting plan, or can affect your child custody dispute. The following may be signs that your children are being subjected to parental alienation:
Your children question you about the past. A common tactic of parental alienation attempts involves one parent divulging private and damaging details about the other parent’s past relationships. For example, a parent may tell the children that his or her ex once had an illicit affair, or perhaps the parent brings up with the children matters that in the past led to arguments between the two parents. Telling these details to children can alter their view of the other parent, and/or give them a biased view of your former marital relationship.
You have not seen your children. If you already have an agreed-to parenting plan in place, it should have a schedule for when you will be in charge of caring for your children. If you have noticed a lack of communication between you and your children, or you observe that extracurricular activities are suddenly all scheduled during your parenting time, your ex may be attempting to keep you from seeing your kids. If you have a parenting plan, you can argue that such attempts are a breach of the agreement.
You are being compared to your former spouse’s new partner. It is common for divorced individuals to seek out new relationships and to move on from their past ones. However, if you now find that your ex often is comparing you to your ex’s new spouse, your ex may be trying to show that, for example, the stepparent’s parenting style is better than yours. Similarly, if your children are repeatedly hearing comments from your ex about how much more their new partner loves the children than you do, your children might begin to believe that is true.
Contact an Oak Park Divorce Lawyer
Maybe you have never heard the term “parental alienation,” but you are quite certain that your former spouse is intentionally trying to turn your kids against you. Not only can this damage your relationship with your children moving forward, but it might also lead them to say untrue statements about you in child custody proceedings. This is especially common with younger children, whose opinions are often formulated based on their parents’ comments. At The Law Office of Vincent C. Machroli, P.C., we believe that all parents should have a right to see their children, even if they do not get along with their former spouse. Mr. Machroli has helped protect numerous parents from the alienation tactics of their ex in court, since 1988. If you believe parental alienation may be occurring against you, contact our experienced Hillside, IL family law attorney today at 708-449-7404 to schedule your free consultation.