What is Parental Alienation?

Parental Alienation (PA) or Hostile-Aggressive Parenting (HAP) is emotional child abuse that leads to Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), a psychological condition of the child.  It is a tactic used by one parent to undermine or destroy the child’s love, attachment and relationship with the other parent.  It is seen frequently in custody disputes and has long-lasting effects.  Research indicates that children with PAS have problems with their own relationships as adults and, when they become parents themselves, they repeat the alienating behavior learned as a child with their own children.  It becomes a cycle of psychological child abuse.  More information on the definition, symptoms and examples of Parental Alienation or Hostile-Aggressive Parenting may be found at this link: Parental Alienation Awareness Organization. A recent article about Parental Alienation published in the Denver Post may be downloaded at this link. Syndicated News talk shows about Parental Alienation and what to do about it are at these links: Blog Talk Radio 1-11-12 and 1-25-12.

What to Do About The Problem

Most parents faced with parental alienation in a custody dispute don’t know what to do about it: they have never experienced it before and, faced with uncertainty about what to do, they try to “wait it out” and hope that it will get better on its own.  It doesn’t. While the parent is procrastinating about what to do, the other parent has more time to continue the alienation.  Unfortunately, many lawyers, therapists, evaluators and judges also don’t know what to do about the problem.  Meanwhile, the children are turned against the other parent and, in the process, learn how to become alienating parents themselves and repeat the process later in life.

Educating the professionals and decision-makers involved in custody matters is necessary.  This is usually done through the testimony of an expert in the courtroom having the training and experience in identifying and dealing with parental alienation.  It is difficult, however, to convince the court to act, even if the judge recognizes the problem.  Too many times the judge falls back on the “wait and see” approach and hope that the offending parent will change his or her ways.  This is the worst thing the judge can do and it does nothing to promote the child best interests in having a relationship with both parents.  It does, however, give the alienating parent more time to perfect the alienation.

There are legal “tools” available to combat parental alienation.  In the domestic or custody court, one of the criteria for determining the child’s best interests in custodial placement and parenting time include consideration of the parent’s ability (and willingness) to promote and foster the child’s relationship with the other parent.  See, C.R.S. § 14-10-124(1.5)(a)(VI). When parenting time schedules are not followed, they can be enforced through a contempt proceeding or a motion to enforce under C.R.S. § 14-10-129.5. In enforcement proceedings, the court may modify the parenting time in accord with the child’s best interests.  In a severe case of parental alienation, rising to the level of imminent emotional danger to the child, parenting time may be restricted under C.R.S. § 14-10-129(4).

Outside of the domestic or custody court, there is civil litigation under tort against the alienating parent.  This type of litigation, which may include trial by jury rather than a judge, is specifically recognized by statute:  C.R.S. § 14-10-129.5(4).

The information provided above is general in nature, is not intended as legal advice for your particular situation and should not be relied upon without first consulting with legal counsel.  Martin Law Firm provides legal representation regarding parental alienation and father’s rights matters in the Denver, Colorado, metro area and will tailor its services to your particular needs and unique circumstances.

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