After months of bickering, you and your ex-spouse finally reached a divorce agreement. You agreed on property division, child support, spousal support, parenting time, and all the other issues that plagued you for so long. Sadly, now that you are ready to go on with your life, your child refuses to spend time with you. You wonder if parental alienation might be the problem.
If your child is showing unwarranted fear, disrespect, or hostility, you might suspect that your ex is turning him or her against you. However, that might not be the cause.
Divorce—especially when there is a lot of conflict—causes a lot of stress. It can be especially difficult for children. They know their lives will change, but they are not sure how. Children react to that uncertainty in different ways.
Is Your Spouse Influencing Your Child?
Most experts agree that it is usually best for a child to have a good relationship with both parents. Parents, therefore, are advised not to say negative things about the other.
However, even a well-intentioned parent slips from time to time and makes a negative remark that the child overhears.
That same parent might even knowingly make an occasional disparaging remark in front of the child. Most children can deal with these behaviors.
Real parental alienation occurs when one parent—usually the custodial parent—intentionally turns a child against the other. It can harm the child as well as the targeted parent.
Signs of True Parental Alienation
The goal of parental alienation is to manipulate the child to be on his or her side in all matters. The guilty party wants to destroy the child’s relationship with the other parent. In order to reach this goal, the offender uses several tactics:
- regularly “bad mouths” the other parent;
- exaggerates mistakes made by the other parent;
- blames the other parent for financial and other problems, such as having to move;
- encourages the child to take sides in arguments; and
- exhibits other behaviors intended to damage the child’s relationship with the other
What to Do If Your Child Refuses to Spend Time with You
Your ex-spouse may be encouraging your child to refuse to spend time with you. On the other hand, your child may just be having difficulty dealing with his or her new situation. In either case, you can try to improve your relationship. Here are some ways you can show your child that you care:
- Maintain contact. Regularly call, email, text, and/or write letters to your child.
- Remember your child’s birthday and other special dates.
- Attend your child’s school and community events.
- Contact your child’s school or other organization. Ask to be notified of events.
- Show up for parenting time even if your child refuses to go with you.
- Do not say negative things about your ex-spouse.
Contact a Knowledgeable Parental Alienation Lawyer
If you think you are a victim of parental alienation, contact an experienced New Jersey divorce attorney. If the best interests of the child are threatened, it is possible that an evaluation can be ordered. If necessary, changes in parenting time or custody may be requested.
Of course, sometimes unfounded charges of parental alienation are made. If you find yourself in this situation, it is vital that you obtain the assistance of a New Jersey parental alienation lawyer to help you challenge false and inaccurate allegations.
Do you have questions about parental alienation, parenting time, or other child custody issues. The experienced New Jersey divorce and family law attorneys at Aretsky Law Group, P.C., can help. Call us 24/7 at 800-537-4154.