It’s very difficult to protect yourself against parental alienation allegations if there is a serious and substantial breakdown of the relationship of your child with the other parent. It’s very easy for the parent without a good parent/child relationship to blame the other parent and submit the other parent to parental alienation claims. Even though the parent suffering the breakdown of the parent/child relationship may be primarily responsible for the estrangement because of past and current behavior, steps should nevertheless be taken to protect yourself from this devastating legal defense, which is difficult to defend because of the different theories supporting parental alienation.
Parental alienation syndrome and potential alienation are two different concepts, but are often times used simultaneously. There is much data refuting the legitimacy of parental alienation syndrome, but it remains imperative to build a defense against these allegations, which are almost universally predicated against women/mothers, rather than men/fathers.
1. Do not bad-mouth the other parent in front of the children. This is not good behavior under any circumstances.
2. Try to let the other parent know about the child’s school activities and extracurricular activities. This is not your job, but providing this information may direct the evaluators away from any parental alienation allegations. While it seems to me that any good parent would take the time to find out when his/her child had a concert or a soccer game or a Christmas play, etc., take the high road and send an email or text advising the other parent of the activity.
3. Make sure your child has a photo of his/her father or mother in his wallet or available to him/her or at least have photos for the child to access.
4. Send copies of your child’s report cards and school information when received. Encourage the other parent to sign up for direct access of this information from the school.
5. Refer to the kids as “our” children — not my children.
6. Help the children remember the other parent’s birthday. Have the child send a card. Even if you don’t want to, do it anyway.
7. Keep the other parent up to date on medical and dental appointments.
8. When talking to the guardian ad litem or custody evaluators, do so without venom. You married the person; there’s got to be at least one thing positive you can say about him/her.
Parental alienation creates a vicious cycle. If you bring your concerns to the guardian ad litem or other evaluator, you are perceived as bad-mouthing the other parent and supporting the parental alienation theory. If you don’t bring the allegations against the other parent, he is getting off scot free for his bad behavior. So take action to defend against parental alienation allegations. In that manner your case can move forward on an individualized basis, taking into consideration the totality of the circumstances, including the actions of both parents as well as the child/children involved.
For more information on parental alienation syndrome, please go to VAWNET.org.
Most important, don’t defend yourself against these allegations. This is a very sophisticated area of the law, not well-known by even many lawyers and judges. Hire an attorney familiar with parental alienation to defend the claims against you. Contact Vanden Heuvel & Dineen, S.C. for a free consultation.