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How parental alienation affects a child after divorce

On Behalf of | Jun 5, 2020 | Blog |

Some parents in Hawaii may find themselves the target of parental alienation during or after a divorce. However, parental alienation generally begins before the divorce process.

Anger and manipulation

Parents are supposed to fulfill the emotional needs of their children, but in a parent-child relationship that eventually leads to parental alienation, these roles are reversed. Once the divorce is underway, the child as emotional caretaker of one parent is under a great deal of pressure to accede to that parent’s worldview.

A parent who is angry about the divorce may begin to use the child to get back at the other parent. The alienating parent begins to badmouth the targeted parent, and the child feels as though the only option is to go along with it. Among other things, alienating parents may project their own shortcomings onto targeted parents. Eventually, the child might no longer want to live with or visit the targeted parent.

Legal solutions

The ideal solution is for the targeted parent to obtain a court order to have the child live with them and have supervised visitation with the other parent. Afterward, individual therapy for all three plus family therapy can help in restoring healthy relationships. Unfortunately, targeted parents face a number of hurdles. Courts may not be set up to recognize parental alienation, and they may struggle to understand the difference between a child refusing a visit a parent because of it versus because of abuse.

While parents are often able to negotiate an agreement for child custody and visitation out of court, litigation might be necessary in this type of situation. Parents who believe parental alienation is taking place may want to consult an attorney to help in preparation for the custody hearing.