The decision to end a marriage brings with it an emotional roller coaster. Feelings of rejection and betrayal mixed with anger and hatred may cloud judgment and cause a person to look for any possible way to get back at their spouse. Although Virginia child custody laws stress that the best interests of children must be paramount, divorce attorneys from Hampton to Williamsburg know how often efforts by one parent to manipulate and turn a child against the other parent come to light. The effort to turn a child against a parent may or may not be intentional, but it can have a long-term effect on parents and children.
Children Deeply Affected by Divorce
It’s too easy for parents thrust into the emotional turmoil of a divorce to forget or ignore how it affects their children. Psychologists caution parents about underestimating the extent to which a divorce generates an array of emotions in their children, including:
Seeing their parents in conflict with each other may cause children to be confused about how to react. Even without prodding by a manipulative parent, children may feel pressured into choosing sides. Children may do poorly in school, have difficulty making social and emotional adjustments, and exhibit other behaviors in response to their parents getting a divorce.
When a parent engages in a deliberate course of action to turn a child against the other parent during a divorce or child custody dispute, child custody attorneys and judges must address it. Proving alienation can be difficult, but the Virginia child custody laws give courts the ability to take appropriate action to prevent a continuation of harm to a child by a manipulative parent.
What is Parental Alienation?
It is shockingly easy for a parent to manipulate children and turn them against the other parent. One expert puts the number of parents who have been affected by another parent using tactics to turn their children against them at 22 million.
Tactics may include the following:
- Telling children their parent is a threat to them;
- Asking children to divulge conversations they have with the other parent;
- Making it difficult for the other parent to communicate or have contact with the children;
- Undermining the parental authority of the other party;
- Accusing the other parent of wrongdoing without any factual basis;
- Sharing details of the divorce with children to paint the other parent in a bad light