Child custody disputes are often stressful in and of themselves, but things can become even more difficult when you child's other parent is committing parental alienation. Parental alienation is the act of psychologically manipulating a child to dislike, fear, or disrespect one of their parents. Whether intentional or subconscious, your ex-partner alienating your child from you can have damaging and sometimes lifelong effects on your little one. As a result, many people who believe their child is undergoing parental alienation choose to take matters to court. If you're considering contacting a family lawyer about an alienation case, here's what you should do before you bring the case to court:
Note Down Signs of Alienation
When a child is showing several signs of alienation against you, the stress and upset of the situation can cause you to focus on the emotions you feel rather than the behaviours your child is exhibiting. While this is a perfectly valid response, you need to be able to present an accurate picture of the alienation in court. If you can't recall specific behaviours, it may look like you're overreacting or making things up. To avoid this, as hard as it may be, it's a good idea to write down the signs of alienation that your child is exhibiting. Some common behaviours include negativity and anger, lying and making excuses for bad behaviour, being overly protective of their alienating parent, and disregard for your emotions.
Note Down Acts of Alienation
As well as signs of alienation coming from your children, look out for (and write down) the ways in which your child's other parent is clearly trying to separate the child or children from you. This may include legally changing or attempting to change your children's surname, frequently contacting the children while they're with you (especially if a child is upset after the call), showering the children with gifts, trying to stop the children from spending time with you and accusing you of abuse. While these may seem like normal disputes individually, they can help build a picture of alienation when together.
Make Recordings Where Possible
Where possible, it's a good idea to make recordings (either photo, audio or video) of these signs and acts of alienation. Solid proof of alienation will make your case much more solid and dramatically improve the chance of a good outcome. Remember to follow the laws of the state you live in when recording, as any evidence which doesn't comply with the law won't be valid in court. You also need to be careful about your child's level of involvement when making these recordings. Sometimes, if the alienating parent finds out recordings are happening, they will subject your child to further torment or encourage them to close up about what's happening to them. If your state allows it, make these recordings without your child's knowledge.
Reduce Contact With the Alienating Parent
In some post-separation disputes, it's a good idea for both parents to talk out their problems. When it comes to parental alienation, talking can do more harm than good. Things you say may be used against you by your child's other parent and could cause more emotional harm to come to your child. Outside of what is required, try to reduce contact with your ex-partner, both in person and online. It's also crucial that you avoid talking about the alienating parent with others, especially on social media, as this could hurt your case in the long run.
Look After Yourself and Your Children
Above all else, it's crucial that you look after yourself and your children as your court date approaches. Legal disputes can be troubling, and your family will need to stay strong to get through them. Continue to show your love to your children, though be careful of being overbearing as this can have an alienating effect. Don't be tempted to stop following court orders regarding custody, as this can hurt your case. If you're struggling with feelings of depression or anxiety due to alienation, it's a good idea to talk to a qualified psychologist or counsellor.
For more information on your court case, contact local family lawyers in your area.