Divorce is difficult, stressful, and frustrating on its own. Toss children into the mix and things become exponentially more challenging and there are even more potential problems that can rear their heads. One of those is parental alienation – it’s a terrible situation that drives a wedge between a parent and their child, and even between the child and other family members.
What Is Parental Alienation
As sad as it is, you and your spouse have decided that the only path forward is to divorce. Your spouse was awarded physical custody, so you only see your child on weekends and other court-mandated times. Over time, you notice that your child behaves differently around you than they once did. They are angry, sullen, withdrawn, or even indifferent.
It’s tempting to assign these attitudes to the child’s natural emotions stemming from the divorce, but it could be something deeper. It could be your spouse attempting to turn your child against you. This is what’s called parent alienation, and it can encompass a wide range of symptoms and signs, including:
- Your child destroys gifts you give them.
- The other parent interferes with visitation, or even prevents visitation.
- Your former spouse blames you for the divorce in front of your child.
- Your former spouse bad-mouths you in front of the child in an attempt to “be honest”.
The Repercussions of Parental Alienation
Sadly, parental alienation can have devastating consequences. It may take years for the alienated parent and their child to rebuild their relationship. In many cases, that relationship may never be rebuilt, depriving both the parent and the child of love and care. In addition, if the child learns of the manipulative actions of the other parent, it can cause serious damage to that relationship, and even to the child’s ability to trust others at all.
Is Parental Alienation Illegal?
While Texas does not recognize parental alienation as a crime in and of itself, it does represent behavior that can be argued as child abuse, as it goes against the best interests of the child and may cause the child irreparable mental and emotional damage. Because this is technically abusive behavior, you may have legal grounds to challenge the custody arrangement.
Your Options Moving Forward
If you suspect that your ex is being manipulative, you do have legal rights. The best option is to move forward with legal charges and attempt to get full custody of your child assigned to you. At the very least, if you are able to prove that abusive actions are occurring within the custodial household, the court may be able to censure your spouse and get the behavior to stop.
Have you noticed significant changes in your child’s behavior after divorce? Do you suspect your former spouse is manipulating your child’s emotions in order to alienate them from you? If so, contact the Law Offices of Sharita Blacknall to schedule a free consultation. Call 214-678-9111.