Parental Alienation and Child Contact
It is difficult enough going through a separation or divorce when you have children but it is so much worse when your attempts to have regular contact with your children are being thwarted and you think that is down to parental alienation. Our family and children law solicitors can help you if you are struggling to see your children and to arrange child contact because of parental alienation.
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Parental alienation – why is it happening to me?
If children lawyers are honest there is no logic to why some couples are able to divorce amicably and sort out agreed childcare and contact arrangements and why, in other family situations, a parent can't have child contact because of parental alienation. Despite serious incidents of domestic violence or financial control some parents can rise above those issues and agree contact whilst, in other family scenarios, there appears to be no specific trigger for the refusal to allow child contact, or to restrict contact, and for one parent alienating the children against the other parent.
When a parent asks a children lawyer about why parental alienation is happening to them and their children there often isn’t an obvious answer. Sometimes, with a bit of digging for information, a children solicitor can discover that one parent blames the other parent for the relationship breakdown, or one parent has unresolved feelings about their own parents’ divorce or intensely dislikes the fact that they are no longer able to live at the family home or they cannot accept the fact that their ex-partner has met someone else or has had another child.
The reasons for parental alienation and the impact on child contact can be complicated and illogical. Therefore, whilst children lawyers will do their best to understand the reasons behind the child contact difficulties, the family solicitor will focus on finding a solution to help a parent enjoy a meaningful relationship with their children and be able to spend quality contact time with them.
Parental alienation and child contact – the solution
If you think your children are being alienated against you, and there is no good reason for that, then you need to take action. That’s because once parental alienation starts it rarely stops of its own accord.
If one parent is committed to parental alienation then it is unlikely that family mediation will work but you may need to attempt it before court proceedings are started for a child arrangement order. Our children lawyers can support you through family mediation to try and make sure that the process works for you and your family.
In family mediation, or in child arrangement order court proceedings, the mediator or court may try to show a parent the impact of their behaviour on their children through the input of a child expert or psychologist. In mediation, the family mediator will try to reach a compromise. In court proceedings for a child arrangement order, the court will impose a decision on child contact based on the judge’s assessment of what type of child arrangement order will be in the best interests of the children. In cases of parental alienation, the court can be asked to make temporary interim contact orders so the parent’s cooperation with the court order and with facilitating child contact can be monitored.
If the court makes a child contact order and parental alienation continues (so contact either does not take place or is still being impacted by parental alienation) then the court can be asked to enforce the child arrangement order. In situations where a parent continues to alienate their children against the other parent, despite court intervention and contact orders, the parent experiencing parental alienation can ask the court to vary the child arrangement order so they become the children’s primary carer on the basis that they will facilitate contact to the other parent and the order is therefore in the best interests of the children.
Challenging parental alienation
When your children are experiencing parental alienation, it can be hard for others to see it for what it is or for them to appreciate the extent of the damage done to your relationship with your children. In extreme cases, children can refuse to see a parent. In other cases of parental alienation, children can be reluctant to go to contact visits , not because they don’t want to see their parent but because they fear the reaction of their other parent when they return home.
Children lawyers say that if parental alienation is not challenged and stopped then, when children grow up, they often see the parental action in stopping contact not as the behaviour of a loving parent but the behaviour of a controlling parent. That isn’t of much comfort to a parent who is desperate to see their children now, but is being prevented from doing so because of parental alienation.
Children solicitors say that challenging parental alienation is hard as it takes commitment and courage but nowadays it is easier to combat parental alienation as the family court and family professionals are better trained to understand that parental alienation does occur and to realise the short-term and long-term damage it can do to children.
If you think you and your children are being affected by parental alienation it is best to get help before you find yourself in the situation where the children are refusing to come to contact visits because of the parental alienation behaviours that they are being subjected to. At times it is easy for a parent to get frustrated by the children saying they don’t want to see them but the child is the innocent victim in cases of parental alienation. It is therefore vital that you do your best to challenge parental alienation by securing a child arrangement order to make sure you can maintain a healthy relationship with your children.
How can OTS Solicitors help?
The children and family lawyers at OTS Solicitors can help you in securing child arrangement orders and children law orders.
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