Parental Alienation

January 8, 2023

This is a photo of a man whispering a secret to a child.

Parental alienation is a strategy whereby one parent intentionally displays to the child unjustified negativity aimed at the other parent. The purpose of this strategy is to damage the child's relationship with the other parent and to turn the child's emotions against that other parent.  Parental alienation can take many forms. For instance, you have court orders that are not clear, and you want shared holidays with your child and one parent uses a vague Court order as an excuse to prohibit your spending quality time with your child during the holidays. Another is when orders do exist and do not get followed. You have the time per court order but the other parent refuses to follow it. Or, they arrive late. A parent may want to travel out of State and the other may refuse.   The scenarios are endless. 

Often times, the alienated parent is drained and gives up and loses precious time with the child.  Time that parent will not get back. However, despite the difficulties, it is key to remember that there is hope.  

Long term goals are often overlooked for short term gratification. It is often difficult to get into Court due to delays to get orders. Ex-Parte emergency orders are difficult to obtain due to the threshold requirement immediate danger or irreparable harm. However, that should not stop you from looking at how to best change your orders moving forward for the long term.  

It is important to review the existing orders and modify them to be clearer. If orders are clear and are not being followed, it must be raised with the Court. You may have to go before the Court a few times, but you have to try and try again sometimes before you get the results you want.  

Documentation of the incidents is key.  Keep records. Keep calendars and logs of incidents. If necessary, obtain police reports. Sign up for platforms like Talking Parents or Our Family Wizard, where you can keep detailed logs of incidents in a platform and you can print the communications and present it to the Court or your attorney.

Parental alienation can occur even when custody orders are followed. One parent has spoken so negatively about the other that even time that the alienated parent does have does not end up being quality time and can end up even contentious. It may even damage relations with extended family. Whatever the scenario, it is important to remember that the California Family Code has provisions that can protect you. Rather than give up, it is never too late to resolve matters. 

Some solutions include modifications of existing orders. Others are more complex and may require the assistance of a family reunification therapist to undo the damage caused.  In extreme cases, even a child custody evaluation or parenting plan assessment may be necessary.  In extreme cases, a complete change in custody may be necessary.  Parental alienation may even be considered child abuse.  Parental alienation is not acceptable, and it is never too late to fight to change things.  The first step may be to contact a qualified attorney with experience in parental alienation cases.

If one parent is encroaching on your quality time, contact Ashley A. Andrews, APC today. With qualified attorneys at your side, we can help you. Whether we need to change your orders or obtain them, our qualified attorneys can assist you to make your time with your child as enjoyable as possible. 

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This material is provided for educational purposes only. Providing this information does not establish an attorney/client relationship. None of the information contained in this newsletter should be acted upon without first consulting with an attorney. Should you have questions about the content of this newsletter, please arrange to discuss via a consultation.