What Is Parental Alienation?

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.

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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 Gardner, describes the concept of parental alienation as a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against the parent, a campaign that has no justification, and it results in the combination of programming, also known as brainwashing, the parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the target parent. Vilification means that one parent is saying the other parent is no good, the other parent is bad, the other parent does bad things.

We see a lot of these kinds of cases where one parent is badmouthing the other parent, badmouthing the other parent’s new wife or new husband. Limiting contact with the other parent is a common parental alienation as well. Erasing the other parent from the child’s life. I’ve seen that a number of times in my practice where one parent will get the kid involved in sports or there’s choir at school and won’t tell the other parent. Won’t get the other parent involved in the child’s medical or dental care. Asking a child a lot of questions about the other parent’s parenting behavior. Oh, how was your weekend with your dad? What did you do? Where did you go? How long were you there? Where was your dad? Did you see your dad drink alcohol? What was he doing? What’s his new girlfriend like? Any kind of brainwashing of a child against another parent is a form of parental alienation and it should be looked at very seriously.

A lawyer who has a lot of experience with these kinds of cases should be able to assist you in determining how parental alienation is relevant to your specific case. Keep in mind that our law in Colorado says that when it comes to the best interest of children, both parents should encourage and foster a loving relationship between the child and the other parent. If that’s not being done and parental alienation is present, you should speak to an attorney who has experience in these kinds of matters to determine what impact this may have on your family law case.

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