We’ve all heard it at least once, “If I ever get divorced I’ll do the best for my children and I won’t let them be affected by the divorce. I will never leave the other parent out!” Unfortunately, too often this is not the case.
Divorce and separation are synonymous with bad times and for a number of people involved, events are often considered out of context. I have said that in other articles about divorce and I say it again, those who suffer are the children.
Parental alienation is established when a child rejects and no longer wants to hear from of his or her parents as a result of divorce or separation proceedings. The custodial parent sometimes verbalises his or her negative feelings in the presence of the child, which has the effect that the child acts as the protector of that parent. What can exacerbate parental alienation is the lack of empathy of communication of the rejected parent. This only confirms to the child that the parent’s feelings are justified.
Every child deserves to have a normal and loving relationship with both parents, although sometimes parents are unable to communicate with each other. There is also the possibility of a child developing a fear that if he or she continues to have an equal relationship with both parents, the custodial parent could negatively and see it as the child’s abandonment.
Unfortunately, although parental alienation is perceived by some as a form of child abuse, the courts are not easily persuaded of the existence of it and consequently, the rejected parent bears the heavy burden of having to demonstrate that the relationship between the parent and the child is almost non-existent. There is in fact no clear indication that a parent is exercising parental alienation on the other parent. Most often the problem is to know which parent has the closest relationship with the child and who has more weight on the control of his or her emotions.
In each type, it is important to keep in mind that parental alienation exists and that the child is affected regardless of the degree.
01. Minor Parental Alienation: in this situation, the parent is more subtle towards the alienation. The parent is not imposing or restrictive and encourages shared custody or extended visitation rights with the other parent, while continuing to impose a minor degree of programming on the child. In this situation, the alienated parent puts the child at ease and is comforting and tries to project an image to the child that will strengthen the strong link he has with that parent on the other parent.
Moderate Parent Alienation: in this situation, the parent attempts to limit the interactions between the child and the rejected parent as much as possible while respecting the limits. The parent will cooperate in therapies and evaluations, but maintains his position and while the other parent’s denigration takes place, it does not seriously reach the limit that causes harm to the relationship between the child and the rejected parent. This behaviour on the part of the parent is to place itself in the role of a victim who wants to do the best for the child, but fights so that it is understood. Thereafter, the child will create a strong link with that parent and develop his role as a parent and other kinship protector.
Severe Parental Alienation: in this situation, the parent does not prohibit any means to limit and even diminishes any kind of relationship between the child and the rejected parent. This type of alienation comes from a need for vengeance towards the rejected parent. There is a strong presence of paranoia in the parent that can be reflected in some children. In this case, there is a lack of logic and understanding the part of the parent. Sometimes the alienation also affects the close and distance members of the family of the rejected parent.
In most cases of parental alienation, the mother is generally favoured and the father is the subject of rejection and denigration. Regardless of the type of parental alienation, the fact is that it exists and must be treated immediately in order to avoid a growing sense of hatred in the child towards the rejected parent.
If you would like more information on parental alienation or need discuss it in the light of your situation, please do not hesitate to call our office 514-499-2010.
Prior to instituting divorce proceedings, have you thought about family mediation?
OTHER ARTICLES TO READ IN THE FAMILY LAW CATEGORY:
Matrimonial regimes in Quebec
Common law partners
Protection and custody of children
Representing the child at court