In a divorce, it may seem natural to talk badly about your ex to your children, especially in the presence of infidelity, domestic violence, emotional abuse, marital debt, and marital waste that affected your standard of living, but it’s actually called “parental alienation” and it’s not acceptable in a divorce.
Parental alienation is the practice of criticizing your ex to your children. It’s not only bad for your family, but it can hurt you and your family law case. When you get a divorce, emotions are raw. You may feel angry, bitter, sad, resentful, etc. Under these circumstances, it’s only natural to want to vent your emotions – practically everybody does it. However, when it comes to venting to your children, it’s not recommended.
What is Parental Alienation?
When a parent is trying to turn their children against the other parent, it’s called parental alienation. As a divorce law firm, we see it all the time. Often, it’s unconscious behavior, but it can harm children’s mental health and overall wellbeing and impact them for life. Not only that, but the courts are keenly aware of it and can punish alienating parents for their bad behavior.
What parental alienation looks like:
- Having a negative reaction when the child expresses positive feelings about the other parent.
- Telling the child that he or she does not have to obey the other parent.
- Sharing intimate financial details about the marriage with the child and blaming the problems on the other parent.
- Encouraging the child to have negative feelings about their other parent.
- Contradicting the other parent without a valid reason.
- Saying bad things about the other parent’s significant other.
- Scheduling events, activities, and parties during the other parent’s time with the children.
- Not letting the child contact the other parent whenever they please.
- Intentionally withholding information about the child from the other parent.
Does any of this describe your current behavior? Or, are you thinking about behaving in such a manner? If so, we strongly advise that you don’t. It’s not only harmful to your children, but it can harm you when it comes to child custody.
The family courts are aware of parental alienation and they frown upon it. If the court recognizes that a parent is engaging in such negative behaviors, he or she can be deemed to be unfit to have custody of the kids, even if they were originally awarded primary custody of the children. A court can also charge the offending parent with contempt of court in certain circumstances.