Every aspect of divorce presents challenges and difficulties, but probably no element of divorce can be more trying and frightening than the prospect of having your relationship with your child or children suffer. The absolute last thing most parents want is for their child experience anxiety, fear or any type of suffering simply because the marriage between his or her parents didn’t work out.
As St Clair County divorce lawyers we can tell you that most of the hurtles that must be overcome when a couple divorces are universal and not in any way specific to any particular jurisdiction. It bears mentioning that even though many of the emotions and conflicts have much in common among most divorces, there are patterns of behavior that run counter to moving forward in a healthy manner that is in everyone’s best interest.
One of the issues we sometimes encounter involves what is called parental or child alienation. This article seeks to educate you as to what these terms mean and how to avoid this parenting pitfall.
What is Parental or Child Alienation?
Parental alienation, sometimes referred to as Parental Alienation Syndrome, is a parenting behavior in which one parent purposely displays to the child unjustified negativity aimed at the other parent.
The underlying, and possibly, unconscious purpose of this is to damage the child’s relationship with the other parent and to turn the child’s emotions against that other parent thereby creating a bond between the child and parent exhibiting the dysfunctional behavior.
Avoiding Parental Alienation
It’s important to mention at the outset that once the behaviors and patterns surrounding genuine parental alienation occur, a child is by definition already being harmed. As family law attorneys we hate to see this type of destructive behavior and we offer these suggestions to prevent the problem before it starts.
- Consider and seek Family Mediation Services. We offer these services in the St Clair County and Madison County area. Through this process, we help families by acting as a non-biased, third party with the goal of facilitating a healthy separation.
- Agree between both divorcing parents that the number one goal is to ensure that children are able to maintain a close and continuing relationship with both parents. It’s in the child’s best interest to be able to be encouraged to continue the bond with both parents and other family members throughout and after the divorce.
- Understand that custody cases can be difficult and emotional, but that children are never to be used as pawns and that alienation behavior constitutes a form of child abuse and that it has consequences.
- Encourage a close relationship with both parents by discussing the divorce process in an age-appropriate manner with your children. This can be done jointly or alone when you are sharing time with your child. It is often useful to consult online resources, books or consultations with a mental health professional to understand how your divorce is likely to affect your children.
How to Prove Child Alienation
Illinois courts tend to not use the term “parental alienation,” however, alienating actions by a parent can be considered by the court when determining child custody and parenting time allocation. One factor considered by courts to determine child custody arrangements is each parent’s “willingness and ability to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship” between the child and the other parent.
If one or either parent is shown to be manipulating a child, this can be considered a form of abuse. If you think the other parent has falsely accused you of hurting your child, is lying about you to your child, or attempts to harm your relationship with your child, this may impact your child custody case, even leading to restrictions on the other parent’s allotted parenting time.
This is an issue that should be addressed with your family law attorney.
What To Do If You Need a Parental Alienation Lawyer
At Wilson, Dabler & Associates, LLC, we take our clients’ assertions of any type of child abuse or endangerment very seriously. We will review your case to help you determine if there is credible evidence of parental alienation. We pledge our diligence to bring any and all evidence to bear under Illinois law to ensure that a target parent, falsely disparaged by an alienating parent in the eyes of their child is assured an ongoing and meaningful relationship with their child.
Unfortunately one of the roles we have to sometimes play is that of parental alienation attorney, offering our representation and legal advice in parental alienation cases to ensure that good parents are allowed to continue their very important role in their child’s life.