Parental alienation is, simply put, when one parent essentially makes the children of the marriage choose sides in order to undermine the relationship between the other parent and the child.
When one parent pits the child against the other parent for no justifiable reason, they are engaging in parental alienation. This dangerous behavior is more common that you would like to believe and occurs in many Texas divorces, especially those that are contentious.
Divorce causes strife and hardship in even the best situations. When one parent, or both parents, choose to engage in alienating behaviors then a bad situation goes to even worse very quickly. The child loses part of their identity because he or she is never able to form fully functional relationships with both of their parents, and the parent who is being alienated suffers as well because their ability to parent is curtailed by their spouse’s behavior.
Finally, the alienator suffers as well, especially in the long run. Years after the alienating behavior occurs an older, more mature child will often come to realize that one parent was pitting them against their other parent. It is understandable that the child will not be happy and may draw away from the formerly antagonistic parent.
How to determine if Parental Alienation is occurring in your family
If you are a parent who has a good relationship with your child and all of sudden, almost overnight, that relationship begins to deteriorate then you may be the victim of parental alienation.
Signs of anger and disrespect from a child who previously would never have acted that way is a tell-tale sign that your spouse may be attempting to alienate your child from you.
What sort of behavior does an alienating parent utilize?
If you are going through a divorce an alienating parent may attempt to do things that are contrary to the rules as set forth by your Court. For example, if your court orders allow you to have visitation with your child on the first, third and fifth weekends of each month, an alienating parent may constantly harp on you and your visitation time during the week prior to your weekend visitation.
This leaves your child in a position where they’ve heard nothing but negatives about you and your time with the child for days prior to coming to your home. This will encourage the child to not want to take advantage of their opportunity to be with you.
Maybe the most egregious example I can think of is from a former client of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Unfortunately, this gentleman had the misfortune of having to “co-parent” with an ex-spouse who had no intention of allowing their young son to have any relationship with his father.
Our client would be denied his son at the ordered drop off/pick up location each Friday prior to their scheduled weekend visitation. When I say each Friday, I mean each and every Friday our client would be denied a 6:00 p.m. pick-up of his son. His ex-wife may have been 10 minutes late or she may have been 50 minutes late. But rest assured she would be late.
Another example of what our client had to go through just to see his little boy would be the continuous changes to doctor and dentist appointments by the child’s mother without consulting with our client first.
Our client would often times take off work in order to attend pre-scheduled doctor appointments only to find out that the appointment had been changed the day prior without alerting him first.
This would understandably upset and frustrate our client who not only didn’t get to see his son but would take off work to do so.
Finally, our client would be denied access to his son’s medical records, attendance charts from daycare as well as the opportunity to even pick up his son from daycare in an emergency. The child’s mother listed her boyfriend as well as her own mother as the child’s emergency contacts.
Our client was left in the cold and on more than one occasion had to move mountains to remove his child from daycare on days when family situations made this necessary. Our client had to put up with all of this for a year, but then decided to do something about it.
What you can do in order to protect your rights as a parent from alienation attempts
When the other parent to your child is attempting to alienate your child from you and is doing to against the orders of a court, you have the option to file an enforcement suit against him or her.
This enforcement suit notifies the court of the specific violations of its orders that have been undertaken by the other parent and the dates that these violations have occurred.
The enforcement will seek damages for attorney’s fees, court costs and out of pocket expenses (if any) incurred due to the alienating behaviors of the other parent.
Finally, an enforcement action seeks to have the other parent held in contempt of court which carries penalties of as much as six months in jail. At the very least, a court can assess a dollar value against the alienating parent for each violation of its order.
In our story above about our former client, the opposing party would tell our client in no uncertain terms that she would violate the court’s order until a judge told her not to. Well, it took hiring our office and dragging his ex-wife to court but the judge sure enough did tell this mother to straighten up her act- and forced her to pay a hefty sum to our client for having committed those wrongs against him.
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan: Here to serve you and your family
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan is thankful for this opportunity to go into some detail on the subject of parental alienation and share some of the experiences we’ve seen in past clients our office has represented.
If you have any questions after reading this post please feel free to contact our office in order to set up a consultation with one of our family law attorneys. These meetings are free of charge and allow you to ask as many questions as you would like.
From Baytown to Hempstead and all points in between, the Law Office of Bryan Fagan represents mothers, fathers, husbands and wives across southeast Texas. Please call today in order to learn more about our office and how we can serve you and your family.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Parental Alienation in Texas: What is it and What can it mean for your family?
- Texas Child Visitation Enforcement
- 6 things You Need to Know Before You File for Divorce in Texas
- I Want a Texas Divorce but My Husband Doesn't: What can I do?
- Am I Married? - Marital Status in Texas
- 6 Tips - On How to prepare for a Texas Divorce
- Roadmap of Basic Divorce Procedure in Texas
- Child Custody Basics in Texas
- 10 Quick Tips About Parental Visitation
- The benefits of not immediately introducing your children to your new love interest after divorce
Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Tomball, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Tomball, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers in Tomball TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles Divorce cases in Tomball, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.