Raising a child with an ex-spouse can be a very stressful experience, especially when you don't get along with your child’s other parent. When two people want to split, sometimes it can be as simple as cutting ties with them or making a legal agreement with them to divorce.
However, once there are kids in the mix of a divorce or a breakup, one partner may start to alienate their child from the other parent. Here are four major warning signs that parental alienation is occurring that you should watch out for.
The Parent Skips or Cancels Visitation Time
This is a familiar alienation tactic parents use when they don't want their child to see the other parent. For example, parents may have a certain time they agreed on for visitation, but then when it comes time to switch off, the other parent refuses to let them see their child. They might stand the other parent up, call them at the last minute to say they are too busy to bring the kids, or come up with other excuses.
The Parent Forces the Child to Lie
When parents are going to court for custody, one defense tactic the other parent will use is telling the children lies about the other parent. They might tell their child things like how their other parent doesn’t love them, they don't want to see the child, or that the other parent wants nothing to do with them. Once children start to believe these lies, the other parent might force the children to say these things in court in order to gain custody, which might lead the court to consider this when determining custody.
The Child Acts Hostile and Angry
These lies can lead to children acting out against their other parent. Children are easily manipulated, and if they believe that their other parent doesn’t care for them they might start to act angry and hostile towards their other parent. During visitation times, they might refuse to talk or even go anywhere with that parent.
The Child Becomes Dependent on the Alienating Parent
Because the alienating caregiver will often be emotional fragile and feel a need to control the child, the child will usually develop a highly sensitive awareness and responsiveness to that parent's needs or wishes. This will manifest in several ways. First, they will consider those needs above those of anyone else—including themselves or their other parent and siblings. They will speak and act protectively of their emotionally abusive parent.
What to Do if a Parent is Alienating a Child
It's important that social workers, caregivers, and legal actors recognize these symptoms as a form of parental emotional abuse. If you see any of these signs, and you feel like your ex is treating you and your children unfairly, contact an experienced child custody attorney immediately to discuss your next option. At The Law Office of Rebecca J. Carrillo, our team will fight to ensure you and your family’s best interests and rights are protected during this difficult time.
Call our San Antonio child custody attorneys today at (210) 405-6623 to discuss how to move forward in your parental alienation case.