Parental Alienation, sometimes known as Hostile Aggressive Parenting, is behavior by a parent which could cause alienation in the relationship between a child and the other parent.
Parental Alienation occurs most often in divorce and custody disputes, where a child may be turned against a parent by a series of actions or statements by the other parent, either subtle or overt, which may disrupt an otherwise loving bond. These Parental Alienation tactics include speaking negatively about the other parent to or in the presence of the child, interfering with communication and visitation, and sharing inappropriate details of the marriage, divorce, custody or court proceedings. The child is mentally manipulated or bullied into believing that the other parent is, in effect, the enemy, to be disrespected and avoided.
Whether acting out of ignorance or rage, a parent who puts the child in the middle of a custody dispute with such negative images and descriptions of the other parent takes advantage of the suggestibility and dependency a child. Parental Alienation is often considered by mental health professionals to be a form of emotional abuse, and children who are exposed to such behaviors for extended periods of time may become confused and depressed.
Custody laws in Pennsylvania are not supportive of Parental Alienation techniques. 23 Pa. C.S. 5328(a) When deciding the custody schedule that is in the best interest of the child, the Courts are required to consider which parent is more likely to encourage contact with the other parent, and any attempts that may have been made to negatively affect the child’s relationship with the other parent. Judges need to know whether a parent is willing to cooperate with the other parent and minimize conflict. Parental Alienation is likely to be negatively construed by the Court when considering these factors and making custody decisions.
Complete this questionnaire if you are interested in learning more about Parental Alienation as it relates to you. If you are involved in a divorce or custody case and find that you are engaged in or victimized by Parental Alienation behaviors, you may contact the family law attorneys at The Mazza Law Group, P.C. for advice and assistance.