Custody disputes can be downright brutal. After all, if you and your former spouse cannot agree on legal custody, physical placement or support payments, you may face a great deal of uncertainty. That is, you may have to ask a judge to intervene in your custody matter.
Even if you disagree with your ex-spouse’s parenting style, you should be able to trust him or her to behave reasonably. That does not always happen, though. Sometimes, unscrupulous spouses try to turn their kids against the other parent. This mental manipulation, known as parental alienation, can be extremely harmful to your children’s emotional well-being.
Detecting parental alienation
For whatever reason, you and your former spouse decided to end your marriage. Your disagreements with your ex-partner should not be detrimental to your kids. If your spouse engages in any of the following behaviors, he or she may be trying to either intentionally or unwittingly alienate your kids:
- Making disrespectful, disparaging, negative or ugly comments about you to your kids
- Telling your children that you do not love them
- Asking your kids to monitor your behaviors and report back
- Alleging abuse or neglect when neither exists
Clearly, parental alienation can have a long-term and negative effect on your relationship with your kids. Therefore, you may need to document suspected parental alienation carefully. While no one behaves perfectly all the time, an ex-spouse’s attempted parental alienation may require legal action.
Modifying child custody orders
If you already have a custody order or parenting plan in place, you should be able to depend on your ex-spouse to honor it. Put simply, because parental alienation runs counter to the best interests of your kids, it likely violates existing orders. As such, you may need to ask a judge to modify an existing child custody order. If harm is imminent, you may also need to ask the court to act quickly.
Parental alienation is unacceptable in any parent-child relationship. If you suspect your former partner is actively trying to ruin your relationship with your kids, understanding your legal rights is essential.