Parent alienation is a significant factor which New York courts consider in child custody cases. Parental alienation can strain parent-child relationships if not identified and handled correctly. Parental alienation occurs when one parent influences the child to have “unwarranted feelings of fear, anger and/or disrespect towards the other parent.” This can cause the child to push away the alienated parent. Often in divorce cases, one parent will let their negative emotions consume them and allow them to manipulate the way their child perceives their other parent.
There are ways to spot parental alienation. Some signs include the child’s emotional withdrawal from a parent, the child’s display of separation anxiety, and the child refusing to spend time with the alienated parent. One clear sign is when the child asks about specifics regarding the divorce case, which they would have picked up from the other parent. To avoid parental alienation, the court can order both parents to attend a parenting education program, avoid using the children as messengers between the parents, and to communicate directly.
Often, it becomes necessary to take legal action in cases where a parent exhibits alienating conduct to prevent further damage to the parent-child relationship.