Legal matters, which involve child custody issues, can often become hostile. One parent may attempt to retaliate by interfering with the other parent’s visitation and attempt to undermine a healthy relationship between the child and the ‘other’ parent.
Parental alienation – defined as when one parent’s relationship with his or her child is harmed by the other parent – can have devastating consequences on the emotional health and wellbeing of the child.
Parental alienation, often confused with estrangement, are not the same. When a parent is abusive, or has failures as a parent which strains their relationship with the child, the child may not want to have contact with the parent resulting in an estrangement.
Parental alienation, on the other hand, is when the actions of one parent deliberately harm the relationship the child has with the other parent. In these cases, the child feels little to no guilt about his negative feelings towards the alienated parent.
Identifying a pattern of behavior is the first step to a remedy through the Colorado Family Court system. Alienation of affections can be illustrated, but not limited to the following behaviors
- The limitation/termination of contact with the other parent
- One parent threatens to move away or relocate with the child
- A parent tells the children they do not need to listen to the other parent
- The Parenting Orders of the Court are disregarded and violated
- Use the children as messengers for the other parent
- Exclude one parent from events/activities involving the children
- Speaking badly of the other parent in the presence of the child to gain the child’s loyalty
- Excessively intrusion into the other parent’s parenting time (i.e. frequent texting or calling)
Parental alienation, if proven, is taken very seriously by Colorado family law courts and is considered as a form of emotional abuse. C.R.S. § 14-10-124 (1.5)(a)(VI) explicitly requires a court to consider a party’s ability to foster a positive relationship between a child and the other parent as one of many factors in determining parenting time and a child’s best interest. If a court determines that a party does not support the other party’s relationship with a child and takes that lack of support to the level of alienation, that alienating party can find that he or she is the one who is having parenting time curtailed or decision-making authority taken away.
To establish Parental Alienation or other factors that are contrary to ‘Children’s Best Interests’, consult with an experienced lawyer in the area of family law.