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Parental Alienation Part Two

This is the Second Part of our Series on Parental Alienation Where One Parent Deliberately Tries to Distance Their Child From the Other Parent. 

Some common signs of parental alienation include: 

  • A parent who refuses to foster connection between their child and the other parent, despite the parent wanting contact, without any clear reason. 

  • A child who sees one parent as good, and the other as bad - despite facts that are more balanced. 

  • Lack of cooperation from the alienating parent with any attempts to change the situation. 

  • A parent who claims they have been falsely accused of something or lied about for the financial gain of the other parent, or to create a barrier for having contact. 

  • Children who are sent by the alienating parent to ‘get information’ about the alienated parent, or to deliver information to them that the parents should be solely responsible for exchanging. 

  • A parent who unreasonably compares their new partner to the child’s other parent in front of the child, knowing the child is likely to tell their parent. 

  • Children who are unable to see a situation clearly (ie, they ‘forget’ the strong relationship they had with the alienated parent, or it is minimised by the alienating parent if they were younger at the time). 

  • Children who show no remorse, guilt or regret being mean, harsh or judgemental to the alienated parent, which may be modelled from the alienating parent. 

  • Children with ‘black and white’ thinking, with one parent being defended, and the other being criticised, without any sound reasoning. 

  • Children may feel they will be ‘punished’ by the alienating parent if they do not reject or criticise the alienated parent, which can be a very real fear, especially if they are dependent on the alienating parent.  

Signs of a healthy child/ parental relationship: 

  • Parents who foster connection with their children and the other parent, in the best interests of the child 

  • Children who see both parents as human, with strengths and weaknesses 

  • Separated parents who have challenges, conflict and differences that children are aware of, but are not placed in the middle or encouraged to ‘take sides’. 

  • Parents who communicate privately and reach agreements, and then approach children with a unified front and back each other up 

Is Parental Alienation the Same as Family Violence or Child Abuse? 

Parental alienation has many similar crossovers with family violence and child abuse. It’s often noted by professionals in these areas that the presence of power and control dynamics defines family violence. Alienation can be extremely distressing to children and the alienated parent and have significant long-term impacts, and some behaviours may be seen as child abuse. 

How Can I Get Help If Parental Alienation Is Affecting My Family?   

If you or someone you know is experiencing a situation of parental alienation, you do have some options. It can be difficult to prove in some instances and in more serious cases, unfortunately, children may be requested by the courts to attend psychological assessments to ascertain the impacts. 

In Australia, there is no set law around parental alienation, but there is a growing awareness of its prevalence and the impact that is has on the emotional and psychological wellbeing of children and their development. Courts have the power to intervene, but it can be distressing for families living through this. Outcomes may include changes in the child’s living arrangements, court-ordered counselling or courses focused on reunification. 

Early Intervention 

Recognising the signs of parental alienation early is crucial for effective intervention. Legal professionals, therapists, and family counsellors can play a key role in identifying and addressing these behaviours. 

Legal Support 

Seeking legal advice is essential for parents experiencing alienation. Courts can intervene to protect the child's best interests and enforce visitation rights, ensuring the targeted parent has the opportunity to maintain a meaningful relationship. Acting quickly to address these issues will assist in preserving these significant relationships. 

Therapeutic Intervention 

Family therapy or counselling can be instrumental in addressing the emotional impact of parental alienation. A qualified therapist can help rebuild trust and communication between the parent and child. 

Open Communication 

Establishing open and honest communication with the child is crucial. Encouraging them to express their feelings and concerns without fear of judgement can help bridge gaps and rebuild the parent-child bond. 

Court-Ordered Reunification Programs 

In severe cases where alienation has significantly damaged the parent-child relationship, courts may order reunification programs. These programs aim to rebuild the relationship through therapeutic interventions. 

Parental alienation is a deeply distressing phenomenon that requires careful recognition and proactive intervention. By understanding the signs and taking decisive steps to address the issue, parents can work towards fostering healthy relationships with their children, ensuring their emotional well-being and long-term happiness.  

If you are experiencing parental alienation and need support or to understand your options, please contact one of our Family Lawyers to learn more about the specific legal considerations relevant to your situation. 


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