Parental alienation is a serious issue that can have lasting effects on both the alienated parent and the child.
Recognising the signs and taking steps to address the situation can make a significant difference in the lives of those affected.
In this guide, we will identify the 17 signs of parental alienation and discuss how you can help your child navigate this difficult situation.
What are the Signs of Parental Alienation?
The following are the 17 signs of parental alienation that parents should watch for:
- A child unjustifiably rejects one parent while expressing extreme loyalty to the other.
- Rationalisations for the deprecation and hatred of one parent are often weak, frivolous, or absurd.
- Hatred towards the alienated parent lacks the usual ambivalence that characterises healthy parent-child relationships.
- The child claims the decision to reject the parent is their own (the ‘independent-thinker’ phenomenon).
- The child reflexively supports the preferred parent in parental conflict.
- The child expresses guiltless disregard for the feelings of the alienated parent.
- Borrowed scenarios exist, where the child uses language or expressions borrowed from the alienating parent.
- Animosity is spread to the extended family and friends of the alienated parent.
- The child’s recollections of adverse events are grossly distorted or fabricated.
- The child loses previously shared passions or interests with the alienated parent.
- The child excessively highlights and exaggerates the flaws of the alienated parent.
- The child is not ambivalent about their feelings; it’s all hatred, without any ability to see good or recall positive memories.
- The child’s feelings are almost exclusively negative, without the ability to feel or express love, pity, or guilt toward the alienated parent.
- The child’s perception is not in line with reality or what others know to be true about the alienated parent.
- The child wants to avoid spending time with the alienated parent, including rejecting meals, outings, and visits.
- The child’s negativity extends to others associated with the alienated parent, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and pets.
- The child’s animosity towards the alienated parent remains unwavering, regardless of the time spent apart from the alienated parent.
These signs of parental alienation can manifest differently in every family. Depending on the situation and the individuals involved, they might present as subtle behaviours or more overt actions.
Also read: How to Win Back an Alienated Child
Can You Give Examples of Parental Alienation?
Examples of parental alienation can vary from subtle manipulations to overt efforts to turn a child against one parent. Here are some examples:
- One parent consistently speaks negatively about the other parent to the child, sharing inappropriate information or false accusations.
- A parent unreasonably limits contact between the child and the other parent, creating physical and emotional distance.
- The alienating parent might manipulate the child to fear, disrespect, or dislike the other parent.
- The alienating parent might interfere with communication, prevent the exchange of gifts, or undermine the other parent’s authority and rules.
What if Parental Alienation is Against the Mother?
Parental alienation against the mother can be incredibly challenging. Society often assumes that mothers are the favoured parent, but this isn’t always the case.
Mothers can also become targets of parental alienation, devastatingly impacting their relationship with their children.
Can Parental Alienation Be Directed Against the Father?
Yes, parental alienation can be directed against the father. Many assume this to be the more common scenario.
This can occur due to the aftermath of a contentious divorce or separation, where one parent, possibly the mother, could be manipulating the child against the father.
Can a Mother Manipulate a Child Against the Father?
Yes, a mother can manipulate a child against the father, often by painting a negative, false, or exaggerated picture of the father.
This behaviour can cause significant emotional distress for the child and damage the father-child relationship.
How Can Legislation Address Parental Alienation?
The Family Law Act 1975 establishes children’s rights and parents’ responsibilities in Australia. The law prioritises the child’s best interests, which includes having a meaningful relationship with both parents.
Consequently, parental alienation can be viewed as harmful to the child. Family Courts consider evidence of parental alienation when making parenting orders, and if established, it can influence the Court’s decision significantly.
Are There Notable Cases of Parental Alienation in Australia?
Yes, there have been notable cases. In the 2010 case “Goode v Goode”, the Family Court of Western Australia ruled that the mother’s constant alienation of the father significantly harmed the child’s well-being. The Court awarded the father sole custody, a decision not taken lightly and illustrative of the Court’s serious view on parental alienation.
Dad Desperate to Migrate to the US with Kids Accused Mom of Parental Alienation
Our client, a devoted mother, came to us at Justice Family Lawyers, distressed and falsely accused of parental alienation by her ex-husband. He was determined to move to the US with their children, despite the Court ruling favouring them remaining in Australia, as it best served their interests.
Her ex-husband’s allegations were cunningly designed to reverse the Court’s decision. He claimed she was turning their children against him and obstructing their relationship. This accusation, she feared, threatened not only her reputation but the well-being of her children by attempting to remove them from their familiar surroundings and support system.
Our child custody lawyers sprang into action. We meticulously gathered evidence, including testimonials from school teachers and psychologists, to debunk the claims of parental alienation. Simultaneously, we built a case highlighting her ex-husband’s ulterior motives.
Our relentless pursuit of justice meant that the false allegations were seen for what they were – a manipulative tactic to subvert a court order. The Court stood firm on its previous decision, safeguarding the children’s best interests.
Are You Seeing Signs of Parental Alienation in Australia?
Don’t face this challenging situation alone. The skilled team at Justice Family Lawyers is ready to support you.
We understand the nuances of parental alienation and can guide you toward the best outcome for your child. Contact us today for a consultation, and let us help protect your family.
Principal of Justice Family Lawyers, Hayder specialises in complex parenting and property family law matters. He is based in Sydney and holds a Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Communications from UTS.