What Is Parental Alienation?

What Is Parental Alienation?

Divorce can be messy and, unfortunately, when some couples choose to divorce, they bring their children into the process. When parents ask their children to take sides in a divorce, make negative comments about the other parent, or involve them in parental disputes, this often results in parental alienation. Parental alienation can damage the child’s relationship with his or her parents and is often used as a way to influence the child custody arrangement.

Understanding the concept of parental alienation

Parental alienation refers to a condition in which the child of divorced parents feels an unwarranted and profound detachment and anger towards one of the parents. In parental alienation, this disengagement is caused by one parent making disparaging, derogatory comments about the other parent. As a result of these critical comments, the child may feel animosity towards the disparaged parent and seek to avoid the parent all together. And, unlike the normal childhood rebellion or teenage angst that is all a part of growing up, parental alienation can have long term effects, severely damaging the parent-child relationship. While acknowledging the conduct, which may be treated, the medical and psychological communities do not recognize the alienating behaviors as a syndrome.

Can parental alienation be used in child custody decisions?

The Wisconsin courts – like all states – begin with the premise that it is in the best interests of a child to have regular, ongoing contact with both parents after divorce. Whenever possible, family law judges try to support joint custody arrangements. That being said, child custody decisions are based on what is deemed to be in the best interests of the child. Parental alienation can cause serious harm to a child during child custody disputes, prompt unjustified negative feelings towards one parent. The Wisconsin courts consider several factors when determining the child custody arrangement and parental behavior is one such consideration.

Concerned about parental alienation? We can help

Divorcing a spouse can be difficult enough without the added emotional turmoil of the divorce’s effect on your children. Oftentimes, parents willingly or unwillingly bring their children into the divorce process, which can have long term effects on the child and the child’s relationship with his or her parents. In some situations, this parental alienation influences child custody decisions and can foster false allegations against a parent. If you are concerned about parental alienation during the divorce process or post-divorce, we can help. At the family law firm Bandle & Zaeske, LLP in Milwaukee, our experienced family law attorneys provide compassionate counsel on all family matters, including divorce, child custody, and child support. We understand all Wisconsin divorce laws and are dedicated to guiding you through the process for the most favorable outcome in your situation. To schedule a confidential consultation with a member of our team, contact our office at 414-359-1424 or online.

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