Some relationships end badly. When a couple has children, one parent may do all that he or she can to use the kids to hurt the other parent. Parental alienation is a very real thing and complaints of it occurring in Michigan families are often seen in the family law world. In honor of Parental Alienation Awareness Day, which falls on April 25, this week's column will address the damaging effects of this behavior.
What exactly is parental alienation? In short, it is where one parent does things to poison his or her children's relationship with the other parent. There are a number of ways this can be done; a few examples include:
- Interfering with parenting time
- Blaming the other parent for the marriage ending
- Talking negatively about the other parent
- Telling children that their other parent does not want to see them
It is believed that fathers are most often the victims of parental alienation. However, it can and does happen to mothers as well. No matter which parent is behind the alienation, those who suffer the most are the children. This is extreme emotional abuse that can taint the parent-child relationship for the rest of a child's life.
When going through the divorce process and even when all is said and done, acting in a way that is beneficial to the children is really beneficial for the whole family. It can be difficult to do, particularly when a lot of bad feelings are involved, but becoming an alienating parent will only come back to hurt one in the long run. Michigan residents who stand accused of engaging in parental alienation may find themselves in contempt of court. This means that they could end up having to pay fines, possibly spend time in jail and face having their custody orders modified in a way that is not in their favor. Those who believe that they are the victims of this behavior can seek out an experienced family law attorney who will be able to help them address the matter in or out of court.