What is Parental Alienation and What Can I Do About it?

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “What can I do to gain custody of my child in North Carolina?”

Getting a divorce is never easy for anyone, especially those with children. Divorce can create a lot of animosity between spouses, which can cause undue stress on all family members. Parents should be careful to keep their personal dislike of each other away from the kids. Unfortunately, sometimes a parent uses their resentment to alienate children against the other parent. Parental alienation can create a challenging situation and may require some unique insights and resolution for shared parenting and visitation after divorce.


What is Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation can happen when one parent uses various tactics to turn a child against the other parent. Alienation may be like a form of brainwashing, where a parent keeps telling a child terrible things about the other parent until the child believes the lies. Parental alienation is not a new concept. Parental alienation was noted in legal cases more than a hundred years ago. The problem with parental alienation is that the false information given to the child results in the breakdown of the relationship between the child and the other parent. In many instances, the child is a victim and does not even realize how the problem occurred.



How Does Parental Alienation Occur?

Parental alienation is usually manipulation that happens over time. A parent may speak poorly about the other parent to the children. It occurs most often between parents who have an acrimonious relationship. One parent may express anger and frustration with their former spouse by relating the details to their child. A parent may say things to the child about the other parent, such as disparaging remarks about their parenting skills, tardiness, lack of child support payments, or any other faults of the other parent. When a child hears the negativity enough, they begin to side with one parent over the other and resent the other parent.


What Should I Do About Parental Alienation?

If you suspect your child is being manipulated or you are the subject of alienation, it is crucial to take action quickly. You need to try to resolve the matter before the situation worsens. In some cases, the child may begin to refuse visitation. When alienation occurs, you can do something to protect yourself and your child. The first step may be to speak privately to your ex to discuss the matter without the child present. Family therapy might be recommended so everyone can air their concerns with help from a professional. A hearing before a family court judge might be needed to resolve the matter. A judge will review the details and may request therapy or other options to help you and your spouse and children get through this challenging period.


It is not easy being a divorced parent, but it can become much more difficult with the existence of parental alienation. While you may be tempted to reduce your time with your child, do not give in to unhealthy demands. Your child needs and deserves to spend time with both parents without feeling bad. Get a phone, video, or in-person consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe; please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today or find additional resources here.






The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes four Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre-and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options and then work to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.




Family therapy – Mayo Clinic

Parental Alienation | Psychology Today


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