When a spouse exhibits hostile feelings toward their partner, children are often caught in the middle. This can lead to feelings of anger, fear or resentment towards one parent by the children. This is often referred to a parental alienation.
Parental alienation is a common syndrome in many divorces. This can result in children refusing to see or even talk to an alienated parent. This attitude can even influence Texas child conservatorship decisions.
What are the signs of parental alienation?
In a perfect world, divorcing parents put the needs of their children first, and many do. However, others driven by anger and bitterness against a spouse may lose sight of that and manipulate a child using guilt or even direct disparaging remarks to damage the other parent’s credibility. Signs of parental alienation include:
- The child is overly protective of the parent who is manipulating them
- The child emotionally withdraws from one parent
- The child shows increased agitation or anxiety when staying with the alienated parent
- The child refuses to spend time with the alienated parent
- The child repeats derogatory comments spoken by one parent about the other
- The child refers to specific court matters of which they would typically not be aware
How can alienated parents fight back?
Manipulating a child to harbor negative feelings against one parent can be devastating by stunting a child’s mental and emotional development. Texas courts understand this syndrome exists, but it can be challenging to prove. An experienced family law attorney understands the intricacies of this condition and can help you by taking actions, such as:
- Securing a court order for a counselor to assess the relationship
- Requesting intervention in the form of therapy
- Pursuing conservatorship arrangements that allow you to maintain contact with the child
- Modifying conservatorship agreements regarding where the child lives
Working for the child’s best interests
Parental alienation can happen unintentionally when a divorce is contentious. Or, it can be a purposeful action by one parent to gain a more favorable parenting arrangement or as a way to strike back at a former spouse.
Courts are bound by the Texas Family Code to ensure a child’s best interests are the primary factor in conservatorship decisions. Judges generally believe that children are typically better off with both parents involved in their lives and try to make decisions that will allow you to achieve the best possible outcome.