During or after a divorce, parental alienation can become a major issue that affects the relationship between children and their parents. I have seen this become a point of contention far too often in Texas Family Court proceedings.
Often, one parent will use their children as a vehicle to inflict further damage against the other spouse or receive a favorable ruling from a judge. If you believe that you are a victim of this tactic, then you need to learn more about what you can do about parental alienation.
Let’s start with a review of what is commonly recognized as parental alienation in Texas. This way, you can match up what you are going through against the evidence that a judge will want to see to stop the other spouse’s actions.
Signs of Parental Alienation During a Divorce
During a divorce, one parent will often attempt to disparage the other spouse when talking to the children. This is often done to try to gain the upper hand in the conservatorship of the children.
According to the Texas Family Code, a child who is 12 years of age or older can express their preference of which parent should “have the exclusive right” to designate their primary residence.
One parent could abuse this law by attempting to denigrate the other spouse without merit. The parent will then try to convince the children to tell the court who they want to live with.
If you believe that the other spouse is attempting to use this tactic against you to support their case, then consider these signs that you need to speak up to the court and call foul that you are a victim of parental alienation:
- Your children stop communicating with you as part of your normal routine
- Your children no longer want to spend time with you
- Your children start lashing out or misbehaving in school
- You start receiving phone calls from concerned parents about your children
- Your children start to take the side of the other parent irrationally
- Your children no longer want to spend time with your parents (their grandparents)
If one or multiple signs apply to your case, then a judge will want to understand the level of severity. Was it a blip on the radar where your children simply had a bad week trying to process their parents getting divorced? Or, has this become a pattern of your children expressing unusual behavior tied to the comments made by the other parent about you?
To support your argument, you will want to gather evidence about changes in behavior patterns, any negative communication by the other parent about you, and the frequency of this activity. Documenting dates, times, and methods of communication will help your case.
Signs of Parental Alienation After a Divorce
In other situations, parental alienation occurs after the divorce is finalized when child custody and visitation rights kick in. Anger and bitterness can lead to one parent using their allotted time with the children to make derogatory comments about their ex-spouse in an attempt to look more favorable in the eyes of their children.
That’s why many divorce orders include a non-disparagement clause preventing one parent from talking negatively about the other parent following the divorce. The clause is designed to protect the reputation of each spouse on an individual basis, but it is also very important to protect the parent-child relationship.
Keep in mind that your ex-spouse could also be trying to set up an argument to gain sole custody of the children or receive a more favorable visitation schedule. By trying to turn your children against you, they will attempt to look like the “better parent” before a judge during a modification hearing.
If you believe that your ex-spouse is attempting to use their visitation time to damage the relationship with your children, then look out for these signs that the situation has escalated to parental alienation:
- Your children suddenly stop communicating with you after spending time with the other parent
- Your children return to your care, seemingly afraid to be in your presence
- Your children refuse to go home with you from school, daycare, or other pick-up points
- Your children are quick to defend the other parent when asked questions
- Your children become highly argumentative with you and develop a hair-trigger temper
- Your children exhibit unusually violent behavior or tendencies
- Your children are disrespectful to your parents (their grandparents) or other relatives from your side of the family
Similar to when going through a divorce, you need to gather evidence about what is happening. Document times, dates, and locations where you notice unusual behavior that you believe points to your ex-spouse attempting to influence your children in a damaging manner. You need to gather as much evidence as possible to counter your ex-spouse’s tactics.
How to Put a Stop to Parental Alienation
If you believe that you are being affected by the harmful actions of your current spouse or ex-spouse, then you need to act quickly to present your argument to the court. You don’t want long-term damage to set in that could affect your reputation or your relationship with your children.
Based on my experience dealing with these types of situations, I can help you gather the appropriate evidence to support your claim. I’ll serve as a fierce advocate helping you present the best possible argument before a family law judge to put a stop to the other spouse’s actions.
Whether you are currently going through a divorce or need help enforcing the terms of a court order after the divorce is finalized, I can provide you with expert legal assistance.
I currently help spouses in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Harris County fight back against parental alienation. If you live in one of these Texas counties, then contact me right away to get started on your case.
Call my offices today at 281-944-5485 or 979-267-7660 to discuss your current situation. Let’s get started on forming your defense!