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Parental Alienation

Today, we'd like to talk about parental alienation, the psychological manipulation of a child into showing unwarranted fear, disrespect, or hostility toward another parent.

Hello, I’m Megan Jamieson, an Associate with Feldstein Family Law Group.

Today, I will be discussing parental alienation.

Parental alienation is the psychological manipulation of a child, usually by one parent, into showing unwarranted fear, disrespect or hostility towards the other parent. Generally, when a child develops feelings of hatred or dislike for one parent following separation after being influenced by negative comments from the other parent, this is what is known as “parental alienation”.

Parental alienation most often arises in high-conflict separations and divorces dealing with parenting arrangements. Given the predominance of this issue, experts in both Canada and the United States have identified four (4) signs that parents should be aware of when they suspect that parental alienation has occurred:

  1. Blocking Access: In most cases, it is in the best interests of a child to have a meaningful relationship with both parents. However, in situations of parental alienation, one parent actively block the other parent from having access to the child. The reasons given to the rejected parent are numerous, such as the child needs time to adjust to the change; access is too unsettling to the child; or the child simply doesn’t want to see the parent.
  1. Unfounded Allegations of Abuse: Generally, the most common allegation is emotional abuse as this is difficult to prove.
  1. Deterioration of the Parent-Child Relationship: Most children have a strong relationship with both parents prior to separation but this may change inexplicably post-separation. If the rejected parent is having trouble maintaining a positive relationship with the child following separation, it may be associated with the other parent’s attitude towards the rejected parent. Generally, a positive parent-child relationship does not break down without cause and parents should be mindful of this when a change has occurred.
  1. Intense Reaction of Fear by the Child: The last sign to be aware of is when a child suddenly, and without provocation, decides to cancel an access visit with the rejected parent. This may be associated with the child’s fear of losing the approval of the other parent. The child may be afraid of being abandoned by the custodial parent. As a result, the child will make decisions that affect the relationship with the rejected parent to maintain the approval of the other parent.

If you believe your former spouse is attempting to alienate your child from you, it is important to address these concerns by consulting a lawyer as soon as possible to prevent long-term harm to your child.

Thank you for taking the time to listen today. If you require more information with respect to parental alienation and wish to schedule a consultation, please visit our website at or contact our office at 905-415-1636.

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