Shared custody situations take time for families to adjust to and are often stressful for parents and children alike. Parents frequently have strong emotional reactions to one another in the early months after their initial separation, which can make custody exchanges particularly challenging.
Eventually, most families adjust to their new arrangements and find a productive and healthy way to share parenting time across two households. Unfortunately, there are always those bad actors who put their wishes ahead of the law and everybody else’s best interests.
For example, sometimes parents subject to a custody order will still intentionally interfere in the relationship that their ex has with the children. They may engage in parental alienation for their own selfish gratification.
What is parental alienation?
Those who have never heard the term before might find the idea of parental alienation somewhat strange. How can a child truly become alienated from one of the people closest to them in the world? Unfortunately, it can happen easier than people realize when the one encouraging the alienation is also a parent.
Parental alienation usually involves a combination of one parent verbally disparaging the other in front of the children and the reduction or elimination of their parenting time. If your children have started to accuse you of misconduct towards your ex when they see you or if your ex has repeatedly canceled your time with the children when you show up for a custody exchange, you may be experiencing an attempt at parental alienation.
How can you fight back?
The family courts are familiar with parental alienation, as it has been causing problems for divorcing couples for decades. Most judges will view parental alienation as comparable to outright child abuse. Provided that you have documentation that supports your allegations, such as testimony about statements made about you in front of the children and records of canceled visitation, you could potentially ask the courts for a custody modification.
The judge may limit how much time your ex has with the children or instruct them to change their behavior as a result of their attempts to interfere in your relationship with the children. Knowing when your ex’s attitude toward child custody matters could harm your kids can help you intervene for their protection.