Parental Alienation Protecting Your Family's Interests for Over 25 Years

Parental Alienation Attorneys

Custody & Family Law Help in Ontario

Legal and psychological experts agree that what children of divorce need is to continue healthy parent-child relationships. Contrary to this philosophy is a behaviour known as "parental alienation," in which one parent undermines an intact parent-child relationship, turning the child or children against the other parent. This results in what is called parental alienation syndrome.

What Is Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation occurs when one parent manipulates a child to reject the other parent, whether out of hatred, fear, or disrespect. Unfortunately, parental alienation is a phenomenon that can arise in custody disputes.

There are many forms of alienating behaviour, ranging from denigrating the other parent to interfering with or denying child access. In the most extreme cases, the alienating parent has fabricated allegations of abuse, causing the child to withdraw out of fear.

It is important to note that while parental alienation syndrome affects children, the driving force behind the behaviour is a parent’s misconduct.

How Federal Legislation & Case Law Address Parental Alienation

The Divorce Act stipulates a “maximum contact” principle, designed to ensure every child has access to both parents so long as it is in that child’s best interests. Further, a parent who ignores an access schedule outlined in a court order can be subject to penalties, including fines or a loss of custody.

The courts repeatedly noted the harmful psychological effects of interfering with an intact parent-child relationship. In Gordon v. Goertz (a 1996 Supreme Court decision) the court stated, “The importance of preserving the child’s relationship with his or her psychological parent has long been recognized by this Court … There is a growing body of evidence that this relationship may well be the most determinative factor on the child’s long-term welfare.”

Likely one of the more infamous parental alienation cases is Bruni v. Bruni, a 2010 Ontario decision. In this case, a mother damaged a father-child relationship beyond repair and was punished by having her spousal support amount reduced to $1.00 per month. The court condemned the mother’s actions, calling the parental alienation behaviour “evil.”

Protecting Children from Their Parents’ Conflict

The fundamental principle in separation and divorce in Canada is that children should not be involved in their parents’ conflict. If your children have become involved in the conflict, be conscious of any unwarranted changes in behaviour that may indicate alienation.

For example, many victims of parental alienation no longer want to spend time with the access parent and will withdraw from contact. Children may also reject all forms of affection or use derogatory language that is atypical for their age. Other emotional responses include anxiety, fear, or upset associated with visits to the access parent.

Much has been written about the negative psychological effects of parental alienation on children. As adults, victims of parental alienation may have emotional scars which can affect parental relationships generations into the future.

What You Can Do

If you are concerned that your former spouse or partner has interfered with your parent-child relationship, there are three important steps to take:

  • First and foremost, contact a lawyer to initiate court proceedings. As noted in the above cases, the judiciary values all beneficial parent-child relationships and will take measures in an attempt to undo any alienation.
  • The second step is to maintain contact with your child as much as possible. Keep the contact positive, and do not engage in a counter attack against the alienating parent, as this can result in further damage to the relationship.
  • Finally, contact a psychologist or other counselling professional who specializes in parental alienation syndrome to initiate the repair process.

Take the first step toward reversing parental alienation. Call Feldstein Family Law Group P.C. at (905) 581-7222.

Meet Our Dedicated Team of Lawyers

Over a Century of Collective Experience
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    Andrew Feldstein

    Founder

    Andrew Feldstein graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1992. Prior to focusing exclusively on family law, Andrew’s legal practice covered many different areas, including corporate commercial. One of Andrew’s fundamental objectives is to achieve those goals mutually and collaboratively, as set out by him and his client.

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    Deleta Grandy

    Lawyer

    Deleta Grandy obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in 2012, where she graduated with Honours. She completed her legal studies at Western Law School, graduating with a Juris Doctor in 2016.

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    Jeff Hart

    Lawyer

    Jeff obtained his Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Classical Studies from McMaster University before attending law school at Queen’s.

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    Daphna Schwartz

    Lawyer

    Location: Markham Daphna Schwartz joined Feldstein Family Law Group, P.C. in 2007 as an associate lawyer. She was previously ...
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    Nick Slinko

    Lawyer

    Location: Vaughan Nick Slinko attended York University from 2003 until 2007 where he majored in both Law & Society and ...
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    Anna Troitschanski

    Lawyer

    Anna Troitschanski joined the team at Feldstein Family Law Group, P.C. in 2012. Prior to that, she practised Family Law at a boutique Newmarket firm. Her experience covers all areas of divorce and family law, including custody and access, child support, spousal support, and division of property.
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    Veronica Yeung

    Lawyer

    Veronica Yeung joined the Feldstein Family Law Group, P.C. as a summer student in 2014 and returned as an articling student in 2015. Following her call to the Ontario Bar in June 2016, Veronica was welcomed to the team as an associate lawyer.

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    Shana Gordon-Katz

    Lawyer

    Shana joined Feldstein Family Law Group P.C. as an articling student in 2017. Following her call to the Ontario Bar in June 2018, Shana was welcomed back to the firm as an associate. While completing her articles, Shana assisted with legal matters covering all areas of family law.

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    Shazia Hafiji

    Lawyer

    Shazia Hafiji joined Feldstein Family Law Group P.C. as a summer student in 2016 and returned as an articling student in 2017. Following her Call to the Ontario Bar in 2018, Shazia returned to the firm as an associate lawyer.

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    Lucy D'Ercole

    Lawyer

    Lucy D’Ercole joined Feldstein Family Law Group P.C. as a summer student in 2017 and returned as an articling student in 2018, during which she gained valuable experience in all areas of family law. Following her call to the Ontario Bar in 2019, Lucy was welcomed back to the firm as an associate lawyer.
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    Joy Pura

    Lawyer

    Joy Pura completed her legal studies and obtained a Juris Doctor at the University of Ottawa. Prior to that, she completed ...
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