Parental alienation, words or actions taken in an effort to turn one’s child against the child’s other parent, occurs much too often when couples split. If you’re struggling to “play nice” with your ex in the co-parenting department, think twice. Not only could your attempts at parental alienation negatively affect your possession and visitation rights, but your child will also pay the biggest price.
Texas judges take parental alienation seriously
Why? Parental alienation can be extremely detrimental to children. In addition, It is clearly NOT in the best interest of a child, which is a top priority for Texas judges. (See below.)
At the Sisemore Law Firm, we always preach: It doesn’t matter what the other parent is saying, what’s important is how YOU react to the situation. If you retaliate, you’re no better than the other parent in the eyes of the judge. If you take the high road, in the face of the other parent’s “bad” behavior, your “good” behavior is more likely to give you the edge in court.
You will need to provide evidence of the other parent’s attempts at parental alienation. Evidence may include recordings of conversations that prove the other parent is attempting to alienate the child from you. Keep in mind, you’ll need to provide a recording (or other evidence) with the full conversation, so if you say something disparaging about your ex, that evidence won’t do you any good.
Counselors and/or parenting coordinators who evaluate the children and their living circumstances may also provide evidentiary statements to support (or disprove) parental alienation. Judges may also ask children ages 12 and above which parent they prefer to live with, and potentially glean additional insight during those conversations.
Parental alienation hurts children in the short- and long-term
When parents can’t peacefully co-parent, the negative things that are said and done can traumatize children for years to come. Unfortunately, our Fort Worth family law attorneys have witnessed the harmful effects of parental alienation too many times to count. Here are a few important things to keep in mind:
- If you’re being negative about the other parent, the child will likely feel you’re being negative about them too. Kids identify themselves as being a part of mommy and daddy.
- Most kids simply wish that mommy and daddy will get back together, even if they know it may never happen. As teenagers, all they want is for mom and dad to get along,
- Your child wants to love both mommy AND daddy. If you trash talk the other parent, your child will very likely get upset with YOU.
- The more you disparage the other parent, the more likely that child will replicate that parent’s behavior.
- Bad blood is something that almost never goes away. Even when the child becomes an adult, the feelings of angst they experience through years of parental discord will continue to loom large, making those scenarios when you all get together (family gatherings, weddings, graduations, etc.) unnecessarily difficult for your adult child.
- At worst, if you and your ex can’t get along, your adult child won’t want to be around either one of you.
Do the right thing
Regardless of how the other parent behaves, just focus on loving your child. That’s what they need more than anything during a divorce and even as they become adults. Don’t risk your child’s future OR child custody, visitation and access to him or her by saying anything but positive things about the other parent in front of that child.
If you live in Tarrant County, and your ex is saying or doing anything that could harm your child emotionally or physically, contact us at 817.336.4444. (In case of emergency, call 911 first.) There are legal steps the Sisemore Law Firm in Forth Worth can help you take to protect your child and ensure the optimum custody outcome for you and your child.