Parental Alienation in a custody case is easy to spot. The children don’t want to see the non-custodial parent, and they often have an unrealistic negative view of that parent. The disorder, Parental Alienation Syndrome, is caused by the custodial parent. The custodial parent indoctrinates the child, to the point that the child has no relationship with the non-custodial parent. So spotting the syndrome is easy for the lawyers and the judge involved. The question is, what do we do about it? Should the alientated parent get more time with the children, or less? Is it better for the alienated parent to just walk away? At a recent Forensic Forum seminar, Judges Vega and Kelly presented their joint seminar on Domestic Violence and Parental Alienation issues.
It was clear to the participants in the audience, that even the judges had different ways of dealing with the problem. But what everyone agreed to, was that the alienated parent needed to fight for his rights. Walking away only made the problem worse.
When a parent sees alienation, it is important for the parent to stand up and fight, and fight quickly. Letting things work themselves out, or waiting for the other parent to cool down, only seems to encourage the alienating behavior, and can lead to no relationship at all with your child. Fighting is never good for the children, but in this instance, if you don’t fight, you won’t have a child to fight about. As the alienator gains more ground, your child will dislike you more and more, to the point that no relationship is possible.
Keeping good records of your missed parenting time is essential. Not only the dates missed, but why was the visit missed. Did your son have to go to baseball practice instead of seeing you? Did your daughter have friends over, and just didn’t want to come? You might feel bad about asserting your rights to see your children because you don’t want them to miss baseball practice and you don’t want your child angry about missing time with her friends. Certainly, you need some flexibility in your parenting time with the children, but once you notice that it is becoming more and more common to miss time with them, and the children start acting negatively toward you, you need to step up. Therapy sometimes works, and sometimes just having more (not less) parenting time is essential.