Chicago Parental Alienation Attorneys
Divorce is a difficult situation for children who need to maintain healthy and continuous relationships with both parents. Shielding children from parental conflicts is important for children to have emotionally stable lives. Some parents, however, try to force their children to choose sides in parental disagreements.
Such behavior is never okay. We at Nottage and Ward, LLP, fight to ensure that children are properly cared for during hostile cases of divorce. If your former spouse is attempting to alienate your child from you, there are avenues you can use to get your child back in your life. For excellent family law legal aid and a helping hand, contact our firm by calling (312) 332-2915. We handle cases throughout all of northeastern Illinois, including Lake, Cook, McHenry, and DuPage Counties.
Parental alienation syndrome (PAS) refers to a syndrome where one parent alienates the other parent from a child through disparaging comments and actions about the other parent. The child, in response, turns against the other parent. Though parental alienation syndrome is not an actual syndrome according to the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, parental alienation is increasingly brought up in court cases.
PAS has not been tested scientifically and may not be valid in court in challenging parental custody.
However, parental alienation may be claimed by one parent to accuse the other of emotional child abuse. In addition, real child abuse may be missed if the abuser accuses the concerned parent of parental alienation syndrome. Knowing what PAS, also known as hostile parenting, looks like is key in early identification. If this sort of behavior is nipped in the bud early, it could save both you and your child from a lot of pain. Examples of hostile parenting include:
- One parent badmouths the other parent to the child
- One parent manipulates the child’s opinion of the other parent
- One parent humiliates and degrades the other parent in front of the child
- One parent tells the child that the other parent does not love or care about them
- One parent shares details about a divorce
While these acts may seem more damaging to the other parent than to the child, the fact is that a child needs a healthy relationship with both their parents in order to grow up into a well-adjusted adult. Hostile parenting can be considered a form of abuse and can cause a lot of damage to your child’s psyche.
When the term abuse is used, many people assume it only refers to assault or domestic violence. While that is a form of abuse that impacts many people around the world, emotional abuse is just as prevalent and much easier to hide. PAS has only recently come under scrutiny by psychologists as a form of abuse that could have a detrimental impact on a child. Psychology Today reported on the issue, delving into new studies done on this manipulative behavior and the impact it had on the children exposed to it.
Hostile parenting can create a situation where a child believes that one of their parents is dangerous, weak, or does not love them. This kind of belief can cause the child to live in fear of their parent or extremely damage their self-esteem. It can also place a child in the role of caretaker, forcing them to look over the hostile parent in order to “protect” them from the other parent. It may even make the child afraid to express love or affection for the other parent because they believe the hostile parent will punish them for doing so.
That kind of trauma can seriously impact your child’s ability to properly develop mentally. They could begin to suffer from mental illnesses, such as depression or anxiety. They could possibly grow up with low self-esteem, under the impression that not even their parent could love them. They may develop an unhealthy attachment to their hostile parent, stunting their ability to socialize with children their own age. Ultimately, hostile parenting does not just impact your relationship with your child, but it can also cause extreme emotional trauma to your child. Protecting your relationship with them also means keeping them safe from harm.
Protecting your rights as a parent is essential when it comes to protecting your child and your relationship with them. If your former spouse is trying to alienate your child from you, then you need to act quickly in order to prevent serious damage. In order to prove that you are a good parent, as well as document your former spouse’s poor behavior, you should:
- Send your requests to see your child in writing
- Keep to the court-mandated parent schedule
- Stay persistent and consistent in speaking and communicating with your child
- Keep a dated journal or diary on what your former spouse says or does
- Seek support from family or a therapist
It can be difficult to go up against a former spouse who is determined to harm your relationship with your child. Sadly, the contentious feelings brought up in divorce are often used as justifications for cruel behavior. But there is nothing more important than the needs of your child. A healthy, well-adjusted child comes from a healthy, well-adjusted home. Both parents being available and involved in the child’s life is a key factor in this.
As much as it may pain you to continue to communicate with your former spouse, to show your child and the court that you are a reliable parent you must continue to request parenting time. At the same time, do your best to document the poor behavior of your former spouse, as an experienced family law attorney may be able to use that documentation to help you get the time you deserve with your child.
The best way to ensure that your child is protected from the hostile parent is to document any allocation violations. Then, the court has the ability to step in and change the situation in order to protect your child. Documenting child allocation violations is more useful in court than vague accusations using parental alienation syndrome. There are many examples of allocation violations and these often hurt children. Some examples are:
- One parent refusing to provide medical or school records to the other parent when requested;
- One parent subverting parenting time, for example, by setting up fun events that conflict with parenting time;
- One parent refusing to share schedules for school, daycare, or extracurricular activities; and
- One parent not allowing any contact with the children through other means, such as telephone or email.
Not including the other parent in religious, medical, or educational decisions can violate a joint allocation agreement. It is critical for you to document each incident. Keep a journal or calendar of parenting time denials, denied access to school records, denied access to school or other schedules, denial of communication with children, and being shut out of medical, educational, religious, or other life decisions. These are the issues that will matter when speaking with a judge about the other parent denying your rights to your child.
We understand that watching your relationship with your child be torn apart can be incredibly painful. That is why we want to offer our support. Hiring an attorney who specializes in child allocation is as important as keeping track of possible violations. By enlisting a skilled family law attorney, you can work to keep your child safe from abusive hostile parenting. Speak to the Chicago family law attorneys at Nottage and Ward, LLP, at (312) 332-2915.
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Leslie has been the strongest representation I could ask for
Leslie has been the strongest representation I could ask for in a very complicated, emotional matter. She has continuously looked out for my best interest and the best interest of my son. She is always prompt in getting back to me and in keeping me well informed about my case.
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