What is parental alienation? Parental alienation occurs when there’s been programming by one parent to denigrate the other parent in the presence of the children or child. This is an extremely serious issue. We have seen a number of these cases during the course of my career, where a parent is intentionally denigrating the other parent by this programming that takes place. I’m going to read to you a definition of what parental alienation is. A psychiatrist, Richard Gardiner, describes the concept of parental alienation as a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child custody disputes.