Parental Alienation and Child Custody Attorneys Little Falls NJ
When a couple goes through a separation and child custody determination, stress levels often run high, and even the most respectful co-parents have their scuffles.
Navigating such intense emotional energies while attempting to manage the impact the divorce has on a child is a lot to cope with, and not all parents do so wisely. Arguments between divorcing and divorced spouses are a commonality, and sometimes disrespectful comments are expressed in front of a child. However, these are almost inevitable; a child is resilient and can overcome the impression that such a comment makes on them. When disrespectful or downright combative language about the other parent is ongoing, though, an impressionable child can internalize this negative belief, affecting their trust and love for the other parent. When a parent engages in this type of slandering and distances themselves from the other parent; as a result, this is called parental alienation.
What are some of the effects of alienation on Children?
Parental alienation can adversely affect a child in longstanding ways. Children need to maintain a close and loving relationship with both parents to receive the socioemotional sense of belonging that will help them grow to become resilient people. Parental alienation blocks a child from a smooth transition into the new lifestyle resulting from a divorce, stunting their emotional and mental growth and the ability to adjust to emerging life dynamics.
What separates a parenting faux paux, such as disparaging an ex-spouse in front of a child and a downright dangerous act like parental alienation, is consistency. Whether or not ex is ‘deserving’ of disgust is not the issue here – it is that the best interest of the child includes that a healthy and bonded relationship with each parent, regardless of the dynamics of the ex-couple, is the most important element of a healthy divorce and co-parenting arrangement. Though you are no longer with your ex, you are each still partners in raising a well-adjusted child, and that requires that you show your child your respect for each other, as well as the love and concern you share for your child’s wellbeing.
A person who often disparages their co-parent to their child – whether consciously or unconsciously – is generally considered one of three types of parental alienators:
Unconscious parental alienation
An act of unconscious parental alienation is when a parent is, on the surface, investing in a positive and collaborative co-parenting experience. They abide by the custody arrangement and actively participate in following through with the parenting time agreement. However, due to their own unresolved emotions, they occasionally put their ex down in front of or to their child. These remarks are intended to influence the child into taking sides with them and against the other parent. There is often remorse shown for an act of unconscious parental alienation.
Conscious parental alienation
Conscious parental alienation is when a parent is more open and active about disparaging their exes and creating a hostile competition between the two that the child is expected to join. This often happens during the course of a divorce settlement and custody agreement, as agreements over the division of assets and parenting time agreements are hard to come by. Even after a divorce, though, conscious parental alienation and sabotaging of a child’s relationship with their other parent can continue if one’s own emotional issues or sense of betrayal are not addressed. What separates an act of unconscious parental alienation from an act of conscious parental alienation is the awareness that one is harming a child’s relationship with their other parent, or their emotional wellbeing, by one’s words or actions. There is little remorse shown for an act of conscious parental alienation.
Active parental alienation
Active parental alienation is the harshest and most direct form of parental alienation and can legally affect a custody or parenting time agreement. It is the repeated attempt to separate a child from a healthy relationship with their other parent by forms of psychological or emotional manipulation – making a child distrust their other parent due to one’s accounts of who the other is as a person.
You may discover you are the victim of parental alienation if you are physically withheld from seeing your child despite New Jersey Superior Family Court-ordered parenting time agreements; if your child physically or emotionally pulls away from you, and it can’t be attributed to natural changes in their development like puberty or transitional process; your child becomes combative and accusatory of your actions without having reason, or your child actively defends your ex-spouse in the absence of your own disparaging commentary.
If you believe you are a victim of parental alienation, you can petition the court for a change in the parenting time agreement, though doing so on account of parental alienation is difficult to prove. You can also pursue mediation with the help of a family law attorney; their support can help you determine the next steps to creating a positive co-parenting environment in service of your child’s socioemotional well-being as they develop, as well as your own peace of mind.
Contact a Little Falls NJ Custody and Family Law Attorney Today
The Montanari Law Group and the team of family law attorneys are skilled at supporting our clients across New Jersey, including towns like Paterson, Clifton, Little Falls, Wayne, Woodland Park, West Milford, and the greater Passaic County area in their divorce, custody, parenting time, and mediation needs.
To schedule a confidential consultation with a member of our firm today to discuss your experience of parental alienation and appropriate next steps, please contact us online or through either our Little Falls office at (973) 233-4396.