Divorce can take an emotional and psychological toll on children of any age. As a parent, you must work diligently to ensure that your kids have the tools they need to thrive in your post-divorce family. You also must carefully watch for possible parental alienation. 

If you are going through a contested divorce, your soon-to-be ex-spouse may attempt to engage in parental alienation. That is, he or she may try to make your children fear, hate or distrust you. If you do not take immediate action, your child may suffer extreme emotional harm from this type of mental manipulation.

Common forms of parental alienation 

In simple terms, parental alienation occurs when one parent uses words or behaviors to destroy the other parent’s relationship with his or her children. Unfortunately, there is no standard type of parental alienation. Rather, it can come in a variety of forms, including the following:

  • Using negative, disparaging or contemptible language about a co-parent
  • Failing to support the other parent’s authority
  • Interfering with important parent-child activities
  • Making unfounded allegations of abuse or neglect

You should realize that parental alienation does not necessarily have to be intentional. On the contrary, your spouse may inadvertently damage your parent-child relationship. Still, the effect is the same: If your partner does not behave appropriately, your relationship with your kids suffers.

Legal options for addressing parental alienation 

You do not have to stand by and let a co-parent engage in parental alienation. If you suspect that your partner is manipulating your kids, you have some legal options. Importantly, you should try to document incidents of parental alienation. If you cannot stop the parental alienation outside of court, you may need the evidence you gather to help you convince a judge to intervene.

If a co-parent is not acting appropriately, you must not let parental alienation continue. By acting aggressively to prevent this type of emotional exploitation, you ensure that your kids have what they need to succeed after your divorce concludes.