Divorcing a Narcissist

How does a narcissist cope with divorce and its effect on you?

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We don’t so much care about a narcissist spouse’s coping mechanisms as much as we do about its impact. Once your divorce has ended, hopefully on a successful note for you, there is usually a period of healing that takes place. This healing, in a normal setting, can take many forms. With a narcissist ex spouse who still believes themselves to have been wronged, it can become an opportunity for “round 2” of the divorce where they believe the end is an opportunity for more misconduct.

This can lead to post divorce judgment requests for order on custody and support issues, although it isn’t limited to those two.

Some things you can do in such a situation are as follows. This does not include those that involve physical violence or child abuse. For those, contact law enforcement and seek a restraining order immediately.

  1. Avoid direct communication with the narcissist ex-spouse. Get court orders that limit communication about the children to the use of programs like Our Family Wizard. Take away the narcissist’s opportunity to engage and upset you.
  2. Keep the narcissist on a short leash when it comes to court orders. If the narcissist is supposed to pay you support and fails to do so, file a contempt action and seek attorney fees, issue a wage garnishment, and levy accounts. If the narcissist learns that you won’t tolerate nonpayment and there will be consequences, he or she may be more likely to pay on time. Of course, you can let it build up and collect the legal rate of interest and then collect a few months or a year or so down the line but be sure to consult with your divorce attorney about the best choice because there is a limited period you can proceed with contempt actions in California. Read our contempt page for more information.
  3. Keep custody exchanges without communication and curbside. Custody exchanges are an opportunity for the narcissist ex-spouse to disparage and threaten you, especially in front of the children because he or she knows that is the best opportunity to upset you. A curb-side exchange avoids communication and contact.
  4. Take parental alienation seriously. If the narcissist ex-spouse is starting to engage post divorce decree in parental alienation of the children from you, take it seriously. Consult your family law attorney for help and document the alienation with the narcissist or his or her lawyer and seek court intervention if it does not stop.

The Law of Parental Alienation in Ohio

By:  Douglas B. Dougherty, Attorney At Law
I. Parental Alienation is Relevant to Child Custody Decisions

In considering a child custody issue, a court must consider evidence of parental alienation. In determining the best interest of a child, a court must consider all relevant factors. R.C. 3109.04(F)(1). Attempts by one parent to destroy a child’s relationship with the other parent are certainly relevant to a determination of a child’s best interest.

It is the public policy of the State of Ohio for both parents to have full involvement in a child’s life where appropriate. The Ohio Supreme Court recently observed:

“The best interest of a child encompasses not only the home environment, but also the involvement of both parents. In today’s society that fully admits the need for parenting by both parents.

Each parent should have full involvement in a child’s life where possible and desired by the parent.”

Davis v. Flickinger (1997), 77 Ohio St. 3d 415, 419.

Various courts of appeal have also recognized this public policy. The Athens County Court of Appeals has noted that public policy favors a child’s maintaining a close and on-going relationship with both parents. Cordon v. Gordon (October 19, 1987), Athens App. No. 1334. The Pike County Court of Appeals has noted that children need to know both parents love them. Beekman v. Beekman (1994), 96 Ohio App. 3d 783. The Beekman court also observed that each parent has a duty to foster and encourage a child’s love and respect for the other parent. Id.

 

II. Parental Alienation is Harmful to Children

Attempts by one parent to alienate a child from the other parent are harmful to the best interest of the child. In Davis, the Ohio Supreme Court observed:

“When one parent begins to cut out another parent, especially one that has been fully involved in that child’s life, the best interest of the child is materially affected.”
Davis supra at 419.

Various courts of appeal have recognized the harms that result from parental alienation. The Athens County Court of Appeals has noted that “systematic interference” with visitation rights injures a child and deprives the child of “nurturing, support and companionship” from the other parent. Holm v. Smilowitz (1992), 83 Ohio App. 3d 757, at 777.

The Pike County Court of Appeals has commented on the extent of harm that a child may suffer when one parent attempts to alienate the child from the other parent. The Beekman Court observed:

“It is the duty of each parent to foster and encourage the child’s love and respect for the other parent, and the failure from that duty is as harmful to the child as is the failure to provide food, clothing, or shelter. Perhaps it is more harmful because no matter how well fed or well clothed, a child cannot be happy if he or she feels unloved by one parent.
Id. At 789 (emphasis added to original).

Psychological and sociological literature clearly documents the specific harms that can occur when one parent has alienated a child from the other parent. See Richard A. Gardner, The Parental Alienation Syndrome (1992); David Popenoe, Life Without Father (1996).

III. Examples of Parental Alienation Behavior

Parental alienation encompasses many types of inappropriate behaviors. The Ohio Legislature has specifically recognized and condemned several types of parental alienation behavior in the statute defining the best interest of the child. R.C. 3109.04(F)(1). Specifically, the statute recognizes that a parent should not continuously and willfully deny the other parent his/her right to visitation. R.C. 3109.04(F)(1)(i). Similarly, the statute recognizes that a parent should honor and facilitate the other parent’s visitation rights. R.C. 3109.04 (F)(1)(f).

The concept of parental alienation goes beyond the mere recognition and enforcement of visitation rights. Indeed, an alienating parent may allow all visitation to occur, but may actively attempt to destroy a child’s relationship with the other parent in many other ways. Ohio courts have recognized and condemned many types of alienation behavior other than mere denials of, or interference with, visitation rights.

The Ohio Supreme Court has commented on several types of alienation behavior. The Davis court noted that a parent should not engage in behavior that increases hostility and frustrates cooperation between the parents. Davis supra at 417, 419-420. Similarly, a parent should not file an unfounded motion to terminate the visitation rights of the other parent. Id. at 419.

Numerous Ohio appellate courts have condemned various types of alienation behavior. The Franklin County Court of Appeals has unanimously noted that a court may consider which parent is more likely to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact with the other parent. Klamforth v. Klamforth (April 9, 1996), Franklin App. No. 95 APF 10-1396; see Stevens v. Stevens (February 10, 1997), Preble App. No. CA96-07-010. Conversely, a court may consider whether a parent has attempted to turn the child against another parent. Grant v. Grant (July 21, 1989), Wood App. No. WD-88-29. Specifically, a court may consider if a parent has told a child that the other parent may harm or even kill the child. Id.

A court may consider whether a parent has demeaned another parent in the presence of a child. Holm supra; Stevens supra. A court may also consider whether a parent has encouraged a child to be disobedient and disrespectful regarding the other parent. Beekman supra. A court may also consider whether a parent has talked to a child about the litigation. Grant supra.

A court may consider whether an alienating parent has attempted to involve third parties. Grant supra. A court may also consider whether a parent’s parents (that is, a child’s grandparents) are also involved in alienation behavior. Beekman supra. A court may consider whether a parent has made unfounded allegations of abuse. Holm supra; Beekman supra; Barton v. Dean (February 20, 1990), Madison App. No. CA89-08-013.

Finally, a court may consider whether there is any evidence indicating that an alienating parent will stop his behavior in the future. Stevens supra.

 

The Vicious Alienator’s Game Plan

Parental Alienation

The Vicious Alienator’s Game Plan

Ludwig.F. Lowenstein Ph.D

Southern England Psychological Services

This article describes the motives and demeanour of the vicious and determined alienator in preventing, by whatever means, good contact and a good relationship with the absent, non custodial parent. Two illustrations are provided. One dealing with the father and the other with the mother as the alienator. A two-step approach is presented in how to deal with the implacable hostile and non-cooperative alienator. The importance of the expert witness working together with the court is required, as well as the court acting decisively to limit the “game plan” of the alienator is emphasised.

Illustration 1 – the father as an alienator

Mr Y had been given custody of a son aged 16 and a daughter aged 14 mainly due to the fact that the mother had suffered from depression. Mr Y was a highly controlling individual who…

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We must expose the psychopathology of parental alienation

Parental Alienation

We must expose the psychopathology of parental alienation and break through the ignorance. Ignorance and secrecy make this trauma pathogen possible. The alienating parent depends on the ignorance of their allies. The allies may include stepparents, family members, the mental health system, and even the legal system. The children themselves have become allies as well, believing that the rejected parent is the source of their angst. But it is the disrupted bond with the “bad” parent that is the source of their misery and anger.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dana-laquidara/hope-and-empowerment-for-_b_7861326.html?

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How Does a Parallel Parenting Plan Help in High Conflict Child Custody Cases?

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Parallel parenting is a term used more and more in California divorce and child custody cases. It bridges the gap between the ideal low to no conflict cases and, in the other extreme, very high conflict ones. The latter leaves very little room for effective communication and co-parenting – enter the parallel parenting plan.

The high conflict cases of which we speak are not just those where the parents have trouble getting along. We are talking about one or both parent’s narcissistic or borderline personality or hostility that make co-parenting all but impossible. This includes situations where:

  • one or both parents still harbor resentment toward the another due to the breakup or separation and that affects communication and the willingness to co-parent;
  • one or both parents do not respect the other parent’s role and refuse to work with the other;
  • one or both parents have related emotional upheaval that doesn’t allow for effective communication.

In this article, we are going to look at parallel parenting. We will discuss how it may work in a child custody case as well special challenges. This article is written with California child custody cases in mind. Nothing contained in this article is legal advice. Your situation is unique. Please consult with an attorney in your state. 

Parallel parenting defined

Parallel parenting is parenting without traditional co-parenting and communication. It allows the parents to detach from each other and not engage in frequent discussions about day-to-day issues. Each parent is in charge of the custodial decisions while the children are under that parent’s care. Parallel parenting gives each parent control over their parenting responsibilities. It does so without the need for approval of the other parent or even communicate about anything other than an emergency or other serious issues.

Parallel parenting does not mean “no contact.”

Parallel parenting minimizes contact and the limits are on issues that are necessary to discuss.

In a parallel parenting plan, the communication is far more direct, with minimal emotion. For example, rather than telephone or face-to-face communication where “hearing the other parent’s voice” could cause high conflict parents to react, there is an alternative mode of communication. This alternative suppresses unnecessary opinions or editorial comments.

We are not a huge fan of email or text messages in high conflict cases. There is a program called “Our Family Wizard” which is found at ourfamilywizard.com.

Assigning a parenting coordinator or special master as part of a parallel parenting plan

In the highest of conflict cases, the court may appoint a parenting coordinator or special master. This is something parents can either agree on (called a “stipulation”) and have a court order or the court can order it despite the parent’s agreement. Such parenting coordinators or special masters receive duties and privileges to oversee the parenting and help resolve conflicts.

Parenting coordinators are not the same as private California child custody evaluators. They are not doing a forensic psychological examination of the parents and are not making custodial recommendations to the court within that context. However, parenting coordinators or special masters can still report to the court. These reports often occur if one or both parents are being unreasonable or difficult and interfering with the other parent’s legal or physical custody rights. Reports are also common when the other parent’s conduct is harming the children.

What is the primary purpose of parallel parenting?

Some believe that parallel parenting avoids conflict altogether. While that is what may eventually occur, that is not the primary goal. The goal of parallel parenting is to avoid conflict in front of the children.

Studies have shown that children who witness high conflict between their parents can suffer from psychological and behavioral problems in their own life.

The focus of any child custody case in California is not the mother or father but what is in the best interests of the children. Any parenting plan that the family court puts together must have that as its foundation and core intent.

Is parallel parenting wise in domestic violence or child abuse cases?

The purpose of a parallel parenting plan is not to keep the parents away from the children but to keep the parents away from each other. In cases where physical abuse has occurred, keeping the parents away from each other may not protect the children from that abuse. In physical and serious emotional abuse cases the children being alone and in the care of the abusing parent could be very harmful to the children’s best interest.

We spoke with psychotherapist and distinguished author, Donna F. Ferber, LPC, LADC about this topic. We asked her if parallel parenting works in cases of domestic violence or child abuse. Ms. Ferber told us:

In order for parallel parenting to be successful, it requires adherence to fairly strict guidelines including no personal contact between the parties.

Domestic violence is often aggravated by the assailant’s inability to adhere to certain guidelines including non-compliance with court orders.

Furthermore, cases of domestic violence are often complicated by one or more of the following – impulse control, anger management, obsession, substance abuse and a disregard for both rules and authority.

Simply put, regardless of what is mandated by a court order, some individuals will, regardless of consequences, feel compelled/entitled to repeatedly break those orders. There is no reason to believe that one would adhere to a parallel parenting plan, if, for example, they have violated a restraining order.

In terms of child abuse, counseling and supervised visitation may be better choices. A person who had abused their child needs more support and accountability to both the legal and psychological communities. In parallel parenting there is little accountability to the other parent: I can imagine the non-abusive parent’s anxiety would be sky high if they have no contact with their child during visitation.

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, the parent with a history of either domestic violence or child abuse who can demonstrate change and have it documented by a mental health professional may be a candidate for parallel parenting. Supervised visits might be part of this model. We should always keep in mind the child’s safety and well-being are paramount.

Parallel parenting plans must be specific

Because parallel parenting, unlike a co-parenting situation, cannot rely on regular communication, the child custody order must cut out as much “need for communication” as reasonably possible.

A traditional child custody order may set holidays and vacation schedules for a certain duration and leave much of its details to the parties’ agreement. A parallel parenting plan and custody order should specifically state:

  • the start and end time of each custodial segment,
  • the specific exchange place, and
  • elimination of other issues that could cause conflict if there is miscommunication or the court order is vague.

Typically what we like to see in a parallel parenting plan order is the following:

    • the specific days of the visits,
    • the specific start times and end times,
    • the pick up and drop off location,
    • specific provisions about cancellation and make up time, if any,
    • responsibility for transportation, and
    • what happens after a dispute between the parents over the custody schedule.

Is parallel parenting the beginning or the end of the parenting plan?

A parallel parenting plan does not mean hope for co-parenting and communication is over. In fact, the exact opposite may occur.

Think about it logically for a moment – if the parents are not required to constantly communicate with each other and co-parent, they will stop getting on each other’s nerves. They will have some peace from each other while they continue to raise their children in a conflict-free environment.

Just as the expression goes, time heals all wounds. Parents are no exception and there is a chance, absent the extreme cases, two parents who had a lot of hostility toward each other and could not communicate and co-parent effectively during the divorce can get over that and do better after the divorce.

I do not base this on speculation. I have seen this happen.

We asked Ms. Ferber her opinion of whether parallel parenting can lead to co-parenting in situations when parents just need a cooling off period post-divorce. She stated:

 Absolutely! It is always easier to relax the rules than tighten them.

Initially co-parenting agreements should be very specific, leaving no room for different interpretations and therefore no room for additional conflict. A period of parallel parenting could give both parents a chance to recover from the loss/anger of the marital relationship that often gets acted out in a co-parenting venue. During this cooling off period when the parents are not in constant contact, each has a time to heal, gain perspective and deal with their resentments.

As they let go of the spousal role, they can begin to see each other predominately as co-parenting partners. With this change in perspective and their own issues mostly settled, they are more likely to be able to co-parent effectively and calmly, thus creating a better environment for all members of the family.

Parallel parenting plans and joint legal custody in California

Joint legal custody in California requires parents to share in the decision-making process about the children.

With high conflict parents, sharing anything is difficult. Sharing in important decisions that concern children can become an opportunity to create conflict by taking unreasonable positions or simply refusing to compromise.

A parallel parenting plan can delegate certain decision-making authority to each parent. This is as simple as activities that relate to sports being handled by one parent and other activities being handled by the other. This can work for a variety of issues although it’s not wise to do it for medical ones, especially for anything serious.

There are too many dynamics from one case to another to have a one-size-fits-all parallel parenting plan as it relates to joint legal custody. Custom plans toward parents’ needs make a lot more sense.

In the alternative, the parents can have a traditional joint legal custody order whereby all or the significant decisions are mutually made. Once again, unemotional and logical communication through electronic or other nonverbal means is best. A parenting coordinator, special master or other designated third-party can also help to become a tiebreaker or advisor on disagreements.

Parallel parenting plans and joint physical custody in California

Parallel parenting plans do not have much of an effect on the label of physical custody. If it is a joint physical custody situation or both parents have significant time with the children, it’s the time with the children that matters, not a label attached to it.

Arguments against a parallel parenting plan

The most compelling argument against parallel parenting is that it gives up on co-parenting. In extreme situations, that is actually a true statement. But, is that really a bad thing for the children if the children are the focus?

While we would all like parents to co-parent and communicate as well as be reasonable, it simply will not happen in some situations. Just as we would like spouses not to physically abuse each other, physically or sexually abuse children or not place their children in danger, when the problems are self-evident and there is no other way to protect the children, we must explore alternatives.

Another argument against co-parenting is that it is inconsistent with the California Family Code’s preference of joint legal and physical custody, sharing of information and co-parenting. That however is a bit of a straw-man argument. Parallel parenting can involve joint legal and joint physical custody. Parallel parenting works when parents have frequent and regular time with the kids. This includes 50/50 parenting time cases.

Parallel parenting doesn’t so much deprive a parent of frequent and continuous contact nor take away any rights as it does change the way parents communicate with one another about those rights. In that respect, parallel parenting is not inconsistent with California child custody laws.

The best and worst of parallel parenting

At its most efficient, the children avoid seeing conflict between their parents. At its most idealistic, the parents cool down the hostilities and work toward a co-parenting arrangement.

At its worst, it doesn’t work and the court makes other orders depending on which of the parents is causing the parallel parenting to fail.

Giving co-parenting and communication a chance

Should parallel parenting be the first parenting plan? Especially when there has not been a history of unresolvable conflict?

The short answer in our opinion is no. If there is a history of conflict that validates the plan or co-parenting and communication has clearly failed in the child custody proceeding, parallel parenting makes more sense. However, even in that situation, a wild swing from one parenting plan to another is unnecessary.

Elements such as limiting communication, except through specific means, are a starting point. We can add other elements of parallel parenting when necessary, including something as extreme as dividing joint legal custodial decisions.

The future of parallel parenting plans

The future of parallel parenting is now. Family law attorneys may not know it but they have implemented portions of parallel parenting within their agreements and requests for years.

Where the evolution must take place is the family court becoming more willing to adopt a parallel parenting plan in high conflict cases, especially where cramming co-parenting related orders down each parent’s throat is completely inconsistent with the children’s best interest.

Donna F. Ferber, LPC, LADC was kind enough to provide us her insight. She graciously did this without charge to us. Nothing contained therein should be construed as advice of any kind. Ms. Ferber is a psychotherapist in private practice in Farmington, CT since 1986. She is the author of the award-winning From Ex-Wife to Exceptional Life: A Woman’s Journey through Divorce now available in Kindle format for $9.99 as well as in paperback. For more about her work, or to read her weekly blogs please visit www.donnaferber.com.

Parental Alienation During The Holidays

Parental Alienation During The Holidays – By Chris Gearing

During the holidays, millions of children from divorced families will be spending time with their parents separately. But what happens when one parent begins a systematic campaign to discredit the other parent and make their child hate their ex?

This is one of the worst developments in American families of the past 30 years. Psychologists are calling it “Parental Alienation” and it literally rips families apart. Here’s what it looks like:

Systematic Campaign of Alienation: Parental alienation is a systematic campaign of character assassination. One parent is determined to alienate the child’s affections toward the other parent or toward a grandparent. It is most prevalent in child custody cases and it is worst at the holidays as parents tend to compete for the affection of their children.

Spans the Range: Parental Alienation spans the range from outright malicious intent, legal battles and reckless accusations to careless, self serving comments that undermine the child’s view of their parent.

Emotional Abuse of Children: Parental alienation not only hurts the ex, it’s a form of emotional abuse of the child. Beyond the confusion and pain of divorce and losing a parent, children take their parent’s qualities and characteristics as their own. As one expert says, “ Bad mouth your ex and you simultaneously bad mouth your child.”

Legitimized by Self Absorbed Culture: Most divorces involve pain and suffering and parental alienation flourishes in a family culture of conflict. However, the epidemic of narcissism that has defined our country in recent years legitimizes winning at any cost. Savage and unethical behavior is justified even if it involves waging war against an innocent person.

So if parental alienation is so damaging to so many people, why would someone do it?

Revenge: There are complex reasons to explain this behavior but all explanations boil down to one principle reason — Revenge. Some people feel pleasure from inflicting pain on people they believe have wronged them. The mind of the child becomes the battlefield for hurting their ex.

Child Is Perceived As A Possession: For some parents, adequate boundaries with their children are absent. The child is perceived as an extension of themselves. They inflict parental alienation on the other parent to banish him or her so that they can have the child to themselves.

Compensating for Inadequacy and Guilt: Parents may try to resolve their low self-esteem and sense of failure by reinforcing their belief that they are the better parent. Posturing as the superior parent makes them feel better even if it is at the expense of their child. They have no conscience about the suffering of the child or the other parent – it’s really all about themselves.

Parental alienation runs rampant at the holidays with children traveling between the homes of divorced parents. But how are children affected by parental alienation?

Brainwashed by Lies: These kids are basically brainwashed and now regard their targeted parent as the enemy or as a worthless afterthought. This kind of betrayal can poison even in the most tender and loving relationships.

Rehearsed Answers: Divorce is very scary for children. Often they feel unstable and they may be worried about the approval of the parent that they are living with. In an effort to feel safe, they orient to the controlling needs of the alienating parent at all costs. They are often unable to specify why they dislike the targeted parent or they exaggerate faults of the parent to justify their rejection. Their comments parrot the alienator’s words and feelings.

Long Term Damage: There is minimal data on the long-term effects of such alienation on kids. However, we do know that the earlier the separation from a parent, the more traumatic it is for the child. The basic tenants of loving relationships—trust, loyalty, and forgiveness–are never learned and the child may struggle for a lifetime because of these experiences.

Now, if you or someone you know is the victim of parental alienation – here’s what you can do to protect yourself and reclaim the love of your child:

Remain Calm: Understand that you have been systematically undermined and that you are taking every step to remediate the situation. Focus on what you can control and don’t stress about other factors. Do not lose your temper, reject your child or insult your ex in front of your child.

Educate Yourself: Parental alienation can be an elusive phenomenon to prove especially in a highly intense forum such as child custody. There are several books with great resources that are “must reads” for parents. Please see the sources for this story for some suggestions.

Work with Great Experts: Hire a psychologist and a lawyer who are proven experts in parental alienation. The therapist must acknowledge the massive psychological impact such alienation has on the child and the targeted parent. Your attorney needs to possess a solid understanding of this type of emotional abuse and they must have the substantial legal skills to protect your child and your interests.

It won’t be easy – but with a great deal of patience, help, and prayer, you can protect yourself and your child from the devastating effects of parental alienation.

Resources:

“Divorce Poison,” Dr. Richard Warshak

“The Custody Revolution” by Dr. Richard Warshak

“Divorce Casualties: Understanding Parental Alienation,” Dr. Douglas Darnall

Parental Alienation is a stalker. Learn how to gain awareness and stop the abuse.

Parents who have become victims of parental alienation often don’t see it coming.  Parental alienation, unlike other forms of abuse, isn’t always clear. You don’t pick up your child and see a parental alienation scar or bruise.

Your child rarely outwardly tells you what the other parent has said or done. Even more mature children, including teenagers, are hit hard by alienation without understanding what the other parent is doing. This sometimes affects a child’s custody preference and is used in Court. That is what awareness of parental alienation so difficult.

Parental alienation is a stalker.

It does not immediately physically strike you. It does not scream, “Help! I am being alienated.” It is a penetrating form of psychological abuse that permeates through a child’s heart and mind. And that is where you must pick up the subtle clues the alienating parent and the children leave for you. That is where your vigilance and diligence becomes essential.

Recognizing the alienation before it takes complete control may be the single most important factor in stopping it. It stops alienation from becoming a “syndrome.” All of the court orders in the world may not save your child if your child has been completely alienated from you and wants nothing to do with you. The amount of therapy involved as well as time and effort that you must undertake in the most extreme cases can be too much to bear for some parents.

We’ve had those extreme cases. We’ve had success. But we write this article because we want you to know what to look for so you do not have to be one of those cases. We want you to take action early and often to combat the parental alienation. Let’s look at this topic closer.

If you have any questions, contact our experienced Orange County child custody attorneys. We offer an affordable strategy session.

You want to neutralize parental alienation? Spend quality time with your children.

Children do not like hearing bad things about their parents. It causes them anxiety. It causes them to act out. Over time, it can cause alienation. No mind, however young, wants to be coerced or influenced and your children are no exception. While some children will actually rebel against attempted alienation, others will not. The better relationship you have, the less likely alienation may have the negative impact the other parent desires.

If you see your children on a frequent and regular basis, spend quality time with them and they are able to see how much you care for them, even an adolescent mind may be able to recognize that what the other parent is saying about you just doesn’t add up. It doesn’t mean you ignore the alienation. Your actions should be the same. However, your love and care may create a buffer against the other parent’s misconduct and may afford you greater opportunity to protect the children.

Parental alienation is a form of abuse. Take it seriously.

Parents who actively alienate the other parent do so with an end-goal in mind. It is not to foster the child’s relationship with you. It is not to do anything consistent with the child’s best interest, as twisted as the alienating parent may think it is. It separates and ultimately severs your relationship with your child.  Would you look the other way if the other parent was neglecting the health or safety of your child, placed your child in danger or physically abused your child?  Of course you wouldn’t. For the same reasons, you wouldn’t look the other way when parental alienation occurs.

Identify the different types of parental alienation.

This list is not exhaustive. These are the most common we have seen:

  1. Disparaging comments about you or about your significant other or close members of your family;
  2. Trying to replace your role as a parent by infusing another into that role;
  3. Undermining your parental discipline and authority;
  4. Playing the role of the victim to the children, with you as the perpetrator; or
  5. Making false allegations of abuse against you.

To get in-depth knowledge on the different types of parental alienation, read our article titled What is Parental Alienation?

How do you document parental alienation?

The first sign of parental alienation sometimes comes from your own children. The moment one of your children states, “mommy said that you” or “daddy says that you” and then you hear the disparaging remark, even if a subtle one, it is time to take action. To what action do we refer?

While it does depend on the disparagement’s severity, you should at least document the child’s statements to the other parent and calmly explain to the other parent that such a comment was inappropriate when he or she made it to the child. You are not just stating what the child said but you are asking for an explanation and details from the other parent. You want to tell the parent what the child told you, you want the parent to explain exactly what he or she said to the child (or did, if it was conduct) and you want a specific explanation why he or she said or did that.  Why?  In order to avoid a scenario later on of “he said or she said.”  Do you think a parent who alienates the children will admit to it? They don’t.

The alienating parent has only three choices when confronted in writing with his or her misconduct.

  1. Ignore the request for information;
  2. Reply to it and admit his or her conduct; or
  3. Reply to it and deny his or her conduct. Most of the time, there is some form of denial with arrogant alienators whose perspective was so distorted that they did not understand their misconduct.

No matter which path the other parent takes, documenting it and the demand for explanation may, at least, bring to the parent’s attention that you will not tolerate such misconduct. That, by itself, may dissuade further alienation or, if he or she persists and with further documentation, you will have enough information to take court action. Lawyers can use such responses (admissions, false denials or refusal to answer) in family court with success.

How to take action against parental alienation?

The age of the children and their maturity will make a big difference in how you approach the alienation. Some may tell you it is best to tackle it head on – to speak with the children directly and tell them what the other parent said or did was inappropriate.  Some may state that it is best to face the other parent and perhaps have a family meeting to discuss the things being said and done.  Others suggest getting a therapist involved.  Many may tell you to get a lawyer.

The approach you take will depend on your family’s dynamics. There isn’t a perfect answer here because you are unique as an individual as is the other parent and ultimately your children are not like every other child.  Each one of the above approaches has its advantages and some disadvantages.

In our experience, anything that increases the hostility level between you and the other parent during these attempts to curb the alienation or prevent it can actually worsen the situation. At the same time, if it is serious and not an isolated incident, increasing hostility may not be a concern because immediately protecting the children from further harm becomes the highest priority.

It is important that you first educate yourself on exactly what is “Parental Alienation.”   Just as you would not diagnose your child with a serious illness without first knowing exactly what the symptoms are, you should not label the “alienation” without knowing the symptoms.

There are books and parenting programs that can accurately describe and give the symptoms of alienation.  You may want to develop a strategy to show that you have your children’s best interest at heart and not just wanting to throw blame at the other parent.

You may wish to speak with a parenting consultant who is experienced in parental alienation and who will be able to guide you through the steps you can take to protect the children from alienation by helping you devise a strategy on how to deal with this prior to taking any action that may exacerbate the situation.

In addition, that you seek a parenting program for yourself, and especially if you ask the other parent join in the sessions, will further document your attempts to show your concern for the best interest of the child and sincerely stop the parental alienation.  This will weaken the other parent’s attempt to later claim no alienation occurred.  In most parental alienation cases, the alienation festers and ends up in an adversarial court process.

By taking action, you make a statement – “What you are doing is not in the best interest of our child. I have brought it to your attention, if you do not take this matter seriously and stop this destructive behavior, I will take further legal action to protect our child from the emotional upheaval caused by this conflict.”

Getting a lawyer involved.

Must you have a lawyer?  If the alienation has just started or in cases that involve disparagement which is new and not ongoing, a lawyer may not be immediately necessary if you are taking proper action such as documenting the alienation.

If the alienation is ongoing, getting an experienced family law attorney involved may be necessitated to cite the other parent the law about parental alienation and can send a letter to the other parent to demand an explanation of the misconduct and tell them of the consequences of the continued alienation, including court action.

However, in the more serious alienation cases such as false allegations of neglect or abuse, it may need an attorney to take immediate court action.

Nothing in this article is intended as legal or any other type of advice. What we have listed here is common sense and is based on our experience as California family law attorneys.

[Source:  farzadlaw.com ]

5 Behaviors of Alienating Parents

Here are 5 Common Behaviors of Alienating Parents:

1. Bad mouthing the other parent to the child and in front of the child

Frequently alienating parents will say extremely negative things about the other parent not only in front of the child but to the child as well. The negativity can reach a level of an unending campaign or a rapid fire list of negativity about that parent. The allegations can include that the soon to be rejected parent has poor parenting skills, never really cared for the child and in fact was at times so angry he or she was very abusive. When such allegations are repeated frequently, loudly and intensely enough they become a reality to the child.

Actually, sometimes these behaviors become “facts” for the adult as well.

2. Limiting contact between the child and the other parent

An alienating parent will frequently sign a child up for numerous activities in order for the child to be so preoccupied that there will very little time left for the soon to be rejected parent. There have been incidences where children were hospitalized and have gone through surgery without the other parent knowing. When the child is released from medical care, the child will confront the parent as to why they didn’t come to see them. If a court leaves the time sharing up to the alienating parent the soon to be rejected parent will have very little if any access to the child. Limiting contact between a parent and a child provides the opportunity for the alienating parent to tell the child all kinds of lies about that parent. Without opportunities to counter the falsehoods, the rejected parent’s absence is capitalized on by the alienating parent.

3.  Erasing the other parent from the life and mind of the child

It is common for alienating parents to remove any evidence that the soon to be rejected parent ever lived there or is even alive. Photographs, belongings and even activities that that parent engaged in with the child are discarded.

In the example of activities, the child is discouraged from continuing in those activities that they participated in with the other parent.  If the child and parent were involved in soccer, the child will be discouraged from continuing in soccer suggesting that they never really liked that sport anyway. Their prior including in the sport will be used as proof that the other parent forced them to do things they did really want to do.

4. Creating the idea/impression that the other parent is dangerous

The alienating parent will “preach” that they have to be ever vigilant to watch out for the other parent because of their angry episodes and outbursts.  One parent actually would tell the children to “run” when they would see the other parent instilling fear in the children at the very sight of the rejected parent.

This behavior would occur even when there was no possibility that the rejected parent could hurt because they were across the street during a parade that was passing by. Frequently children would be “reminded” of incidents when the other parent was abusive to the parent and child even though that never really happened. Also, children would be allowed to read court motions and pleadings that described allegations of abuse by the other parent. The legal documentation would be presented as proof that the abusive behaviors actually occurred.

5. Forcing the child to choose parents

The forcing can be giving children obvious choices such as “do you want to go with the soon to be rejected parent or go to your friend’s house for a sleepover?”  Such choices become common place with the child making choice that is presented as the most fun. In addition alienating parents will have long, overly dramatic “good byes” that communicate that the parent is suffering tremendously by the child’s absence. Also, this suffering is being caused by the rejected parent’s selfishness in wanting to take the child from the alienating parent.

In some extreme cases the alienating parent will actually tell the child to choose, “if you love me, then stay here, if you don’t go with them”. This will be followed with “I don’t know what I did to deserve this rejection, after all I’m not the one that left us”. There will be very strong emphasis on “us”, not to leave the child out.  He or she divorced “us”.

[Source:  http://nationalassociationofparentalalienationspecialists.com/ ]