Let’s face it, divorce is extremely emotional for most people. When you get a divorce, your whole life is turned upside-down. You have to change all of your passwords, go over all of your assets and debts with a fine-toothed comb, possibly find a new place to live, possibly put your house on the market, maybe buy new furniture, open a new bank account, and so on. It’s a lot of work and even if you’re not in the mood, you have to do it all anyway. Sigh.
If you’re feeling angry, bitter, resentful, or even hatred toward your ex, it’s understandable, especially if he or she cheated on you, or if there was domestic violence, or if they were emotionally abusive. Under divorce circumstances, it’s normal to want to vent to someone about what you’re going through, however, you have to be very careful about badmouthing your ex to your children. Because if you engage in parental alienation, it could not only hurt them, but it can hurt you.
Parental Alienation Defined
Parental alienation is the act of denigrating, badmouthing or criticizing your ex to your children. If you’re like a lot of parents, you may be doing it unconsciously. The thing is, the courts are highly aware of parental alienation and they frown upon such behaviors. In serious cases, a parent who engages in parental alienation can lose custody of their children, be fined and charged with contempt of court.
What parental alienation looks like:
- Putting the alienated parent down to the children.
- Encouraging the children to harbor bad feelings toward the other parent.
- Telling the children that they don’t have to listen to or obey the other parent.
- Criticizing the other parent’s significant other.
- Not letting the children speak freely to the alienated parent – not letting them call whenever they want.
- Causing upsets and arguments during pickups and drop-offs.
- Telling the children about financial troubles and blaming the other parent for the couple’s money problems.
- Intentionally scheduling activities, sleepovers, playdates, etc. during the other parent’s time with the children.
Are you engaging in any of the above behaviors? If so, it’s important to stop now. We understand that it can be hard, but it’s important that you do not badmouth your ex to your children or interfere with their relationship.
In California, the courts are keenly aware of parental alienation and if your ex brings up the issue with the court, it could impact child custody, even if you were awarded primary physical custody. Not only that, but it hurts your children. They deserve to have two loving parents actively engaged in their lives.
Next: Should the Richer Parent Win Custody?
If you need professional legal assistance with a divorce, child custody, or child custody modification, contact our firm today.