Parental alienation sometimes arises during New Jersey divorce proceedings. Parental alienation occurs when a child becomes estranged from one parent due to the psychological manipulation or influence of the other parent. This can lead to the child expressing unwarranted fear, hostility, or disrespect towards the alienated parent. In the emotionally charged atmosphere of a divorce, such scenarios can become more pronounced and damaging.
Parental alienation is considered a form of child abuse, and cam lead to harmful effects on all family members. The consequences of parental alienation are far-reaching. For children, it can lead to long-term psychological and emotional issues, including depression, anxiety, and difficulties in forming healthy relationships. For the alienated parent, the loss of a meaningful relationship with their child can be profoundly distressing. Furthermore, the alienating parent may also suffer negative consequences, as their actions can lead to legal repercussions and strained family dynamics.
Signs of Parental Alienation
Recognizing the signs is crucial for addressing this issue effectively. Here are some common signs of parental alienation:
Denigration and Criticism: The child constantly criticizes and speaks negatively about one parent, often echoing the sentiments of the alienating parent. This criticism is usually disproportionate and unjustified.
Lack of Ambivalence: Normal relationships are ambivalent, having both positive and negative aspects. In cases of parental alienation, the child may express only negative feelings towards one parent while idealizing the other.
Independent Thinker Phenomenon: The child insists that these negative views and feelings are entirely their own, without influence from the alienating parent, even when it’s clear they are echoing the latter’s views.
Support for the Alienating Parent: The child strongly aligns with the alienating parent, showing unwavering support, regardless of the situation.
Lack of Guilt: The child shows no guilt or remorse about their behavior towards the alienated parent, which is uncharacteristic of normal child development.
Use of Adult Language: The child uses language or concepts in their criticisms that are not typical for their age, suggesting they are being influenced by an adult.
Rejection of Extended Family: The alienation often extends beyond the targeted parent to include their family members. The child may refuse or resist contact with extended family on the alienated side.
Revised History: The child’s perceptions of past events involving the alienated parent may be distorted, exaggerating negative memories or claiming no positive experiences ever occurred.
Automatic Support in Parental Conflict: In any conflict between the parents, regardless of facts or context, the child automatically supports the alienating parent.
What To Do If You Suspect Parental Alienation?
Currently, in New Jersey, there isn’t a specific legal action designated for parental alienation. This means you can’t directly sue your former spouse for parental alienation itself. Nevertheless, parents who are victims of such behavior have some recourse in the legal system. For instance, it’s against the law for a parent to deliberately prevent the other parent from spending time with their child, whether it’s for custody or visitation purposes. If a parent violates a child custody agreement, they could face contempt for not complying with the custody order. The court may also alter custody arrangements temporarily or permanently based on the actions of the violating parent. While these measures can aid the parent who is being alienated, they don’t always address the psychological harm caused by the other parent’s manipulative actions. This situation can be extremely frustrating for the parent who is the target of such behaviors.
Therefore, dealing with suspected parental alienation can be challenging and requires a careful approach. Here are some steps you can consider:
Documentation and Evidence Gathering: Keep detailed records of any incidents or behaviors that suggest Parental Alienation. This includes texts, emails, and notes about conversations or events.
Legal Consultation: Consult with a New Jersey family law attorney who has experience in cases involving Parental Alienation. They can provide guidance on legal options and the best course of action.
Mental Health Support: Consider seeking support from a mental health professional, both for yourself and your child. A therapist can help in dealing with the emotional impact of the situation and can also provide a professional assessment of the child’s emotional state.
Communication with the Other Parent: If possible, try to communicate with the other parent. Express your concerns calmly and try to work towards a solution that prioritizes the child’s best interests. This can be difficult in high-conflict situations, so professional mediation might be helpful.
Custody Evaluation: In some cases, a formal custody evaluation by a court-appointed expert might be necessary. This can provide the court with an objective assessment of the family dynamics and the best interests of the child.
Court Intervention: If informal resolutions are not possible and evidence suggests significant Parental Alienation, legal intervention might be necessary. This could involve modifying custody arrangements or seeking court-ordered therapy for the child and the alienating parent.
Educate Yourself: Learn about Parental Alienation, its effects, and coping strategies. There are many resources available, including books, support groups, and online forums.
Support System: Build a support system for yourself and your child. This can include family, friends, and professionals who understand the situation and can provide emotional and practical support.
Rember, every case is unique, and the best approach depends on the specific circumstances. The welfare of the child should always be the top priority, and any actions taken should be aimed at preserving and improving the child’s well-being and relationship with both parents.
If you suspect parental alienation is affecting your relationship with your child and/or custody arrangement, contact our office to schedule a consultation. The Law Office of Andrew R. Fischer has experience with cases involving parental alienation, and can help to ensure that your parental rights are protected. Contact the Law Office of Andrew R. Fischer today at 732-865-6653.