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How to Prove Parental Alienation

Scene of family divorce and child custody dispute. Crying mother, and father leaving with son. Husband and wife break up. Problems in relationship. Flat vector cartoon illustration isolated on white.

Co-parenting after a divorce or other breakup is difficult. When one parent is actively trying to sabotage your parent-child relationship, it can be downright devastating. Parental alienation is harmful to children and may be grounds to affect the child custody arrangement issued by the court. Read on for advice on how to show parental alienation, and call a compassionate New Jersey child custody and parenting time attorney for help with a New Jersey family law matter.

What is Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation occurs when one parent deliberately or negligently causes their child to reject their other parent. The parent may use a variety of tactics to cause the child to hate, fear, or otherwise avoid contact with the other parent. Parental alienation is a form of child abuse, and it’s extremely damaging to children. It can cause lasting, harmful effects on children, leaving deep-seated emotional and psychological scars.

Parental alienation can be accomplished through a variety of underhanded tactics, including:

  • Lying to the child about the other parent, or otherwise “bad-mouthing” them
  • Sharing the details of the divorce or breakup with the child
  • Allowing the child to feel that they have the ultimate choice regarding custody and visitation, and encouraging them to reject their other parent, even though the schedule has been set by the court
  • Scaring the child with threats or other behavior into not seeing or communicating with their other parent
  • Isolating the child from the other parent
  • Asking the child to choose between the two parents
  • Physically or emotionally “rescuing” the child when there has been no threat to the child’s safety
  • Eavesdropping and commenting on the child’s conversations with the other parent
  • Asking the child about the other parent’s personal life
  • Blaming the other parent for the breakup or for problems in that parent’s life, such as their financial struggles
  • Acting hurt, upset, or angry whenever the child spends time with their other parent or says anything positive about the other parent
  • Using the child to spy on or gain information from the other parent

Proving Parental Alienation in Family Court

If your ex or other co-parent is engaging in parental alienation, talk to your family law attorney. You may be able to obtain a court order preventing the other parent from engaging in alienating behavior, and if the problem persists or reaches a sufficient level of severity, you could have grounds to change your child custody arrangement and limit their custody rights.

Proving parental alienation can be difficult. However, there are a number of steps you can take to gather and preserve evidence demonstrating parental alienation is taking place, including:

  • Keep social media evidence, especially comments, posts, or messages indicating alienation
  • Keep records of all communications in which you are asking to see your kid, especially if the other spouse engages in a pattern of delay or denial
  • Keep text messages, emails, and other communications that show alienating conduct
  • Keep detailed records of the time you spend with your kids, including receipts, photos, and other evidence of you spending time together, to refute any allegation that you do not spend time with the kids
  • Identify witnesses to the alienation or the effect on the children, including nannies, teachers, friends, family members, coaches, therapists and counselors, and child custody evaluators
  • Listen to your child custody attorney; they may have specific advice regarding your case

Talk to a seasoned New Jersey child custody lawyer about your situation to find out how you can protect your relationship with your kids, both in the courtroom and in the home.

If you’re dealing with a child custody dispute or considering divorce in New Jersey, contact the practiced and professional Union family law attorney John B. D’Alessandro for a consultation.

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