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How Parental Alienation Can Impact Your Legal Rights

Parental alienation is an unfortunate consequence of some divorces which many parents do not learn about until it has already occurred. When a child becomes emotionally estranged from a parent, that parent’s legal custody rights can be impacted as a result. It is important to recognize the early warning signs of parental alienation so that the parent can re-establish frequent and meaningful contact with their child as soon as possible. A Somerset County child custody attorney can also help alienated parents in New Jersey find the right tools for asserting their legal custody rights.

What is Parental Alienation?

Dr. Richard A. Warshak explains parental alienation is a syndrome which is characterized by a child’s rejection of a parent. In some cases, the child has good reasons for rejecting a parent, such as alcoholism or abuse. In other cases, however, the rejection is disproportionate to the parent’s behavior and inconsistent with the prior healthy relationship between the parent and child. The child will usually have very polarized views about his or her parents, and negative views of the alienated parent often reflect the other parent’s negative attitudes about the alienated parent. These children will often rewrite the history of their relationship with the alienated parent to obscure its positive elements. They tend to show disobedience, hostility, defiance and withdrawal toward the alienated parent. Often, they remain aloof and refuse to demonstrate any genuine affection toward the parent toward whom they harbor such an irrational aversion.

How Can Parents Stop Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation is a documented condition by behavioral specialists. It has been researched extensively by therapists, counselors and other mental health professionals who specialize in family dynamics. Often, parental alienation requires the intervention of a qualified professional who can help the child address his or her aversion to the parent, and help the family reestablish healthy dynamics.

As our Somerset County child custody attorneys know, one of the most important steps in establishing a healthy parent-child relationship is simply ensuring that the parent and child have time together. Often, children suffering from parental alienation will refuse to see that parent. Older children may use the pretext of extracurricular activities or social engagements. Younger children may have tantrums or demonstrate other disruptive behavior in the hopes that it will lead to a cancellation of parenting time.

These behaviors are often complicated by the other parent’s subconscious approval of the behavior. While not outwardly endorsing the tantrums, the parent nonetheless harbors ill feelings toward the alienated parent, and is therefore rarely willing to enforce visitation with the alienated parent. Alienated parents must combat these complications by asserting their visitation rights. Children cannot be allowed to use tantrums or flimsy excuses to cancel parenting time. If the other parent is allowing the child to do so, he or she must be confronted about the role their approval plays in the alienation which is occurring. If none of these lesser interventions work, the alienated parent may need to return to the family court to seek enforcement of his or her visitation rights.

A Somerset County family law attorney can help parents overcome issues of parental alienation to enforce their custody rights. There are many tools which are available to alienated parents, and it is important to find those which best meet the needs of your family’s specific needs.

If you are experiencing challenges with issues of parental alienation, contact the Somerset County child custody attorneys at Rozin-Golinder Law LLC by calling (732) 810-0034.

Additional Resources: What is Parental Alienation?, by Dr. Richard A. Warshak,, 2013.

More Blog Entries: At What Age Can a Child Choose Who to Live With in NJ?, September 6, 2017, New Jersey Family Law Attorney Blog

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