Lost Bonds: Understanding Parental Alienation and Its Impact on Families.

“Parental alienation” can mean many things; however, the most recognised definition comes from Cafcass which defines it as the following: “when a child’s resistance or hostility towards one parent is not justified and is the result of psychological manipulation by the other parent”.

Parental alienation can either be intentional or unintentional. Intentional alienation is where one parent deliberately encourages their child to negatively view the other parent. It commonly happens in child-custody disputes because one parent wants sole or majority custody of a child.

Unintentional parental alienation happens when a parent, without meaning to, shows their child through words or actions that they do not like the other parent. This can confuse the child and can change the way the child feels towards the other parent. For example, through repeated minor criticisms of one parent or the child overhearing arguments or complaints.

It is not always easy to spot parental alienation. Most of the time it happens within the home and there are no witnesses.  Though, some things that could identify when potential alienation is taking place for a child include the child:

  • Sharing opinions with the alienating parent;
  • Having  a lack of guilt;
  • Excusing their own actions;
  • Showing disapproval towards the targeted parent;
  • Being aggressive toward the targeted parent’s relatives;
  • Having extremely positive view of the alienating parent and extremely negative views of the other parent.

The alienating parent themselves can often also display signs of parental alienation which can include:

  • Limiting contact between the parent and child;
  • Forcing the child to choose between parents;
  • Using the targeted parent’s first name instead of “mum” or “dad”;
  • Not sharing medical, academic, and other important information.

Parental alienation can really hurt families, causing a lot of problems now and later. The parent who’s being pushed away can feel sad, stressed, and even like they’re not worth anything. And the children can suffer too, feeling bad about themselves, maybe even turning to drugs or alcohol later, and having a harder time in their own relationships when they grow up.

When parents split up, the court usually thinks it’s best for children to have both parents in their lives. But if one parent is trying to turn the children against the other parent, the court sees that as harmful to the children and will try its best to help settle the problem. By, for example, ordering parents to attend parenting courses, CAFCASS / Social Services involvement, and in cases that are thought serious enough, to decide on the contact arrangements of the child between the parents.

Higgins Miller Solicitors will provide compassionate support for those facing parental alienation issues. With our experienced team, we offer personalised guidance, ensuring that you receive the support you need. We listen to your concerns and gathering all relevant information to fully understand your situation. From there, we provide clear explanations of your legal rights and options, empowering you to make informed decisions about how to proceed.

Whether through negotiation, mediation, or litigation, our family law solicitors Manchester work tirelessly to achieve fair resolution that prioritises the well-being of your family. At Higgins Miller Solicitors, we’re committed to helping families overcome the obstacles of parental alienation and move forward toward a brighter future together.

Kaley W

February 14, 2024