Family law dispute: The tragedy of parental alienation

On behalf of Gary Kirk of Kirk Montoute Dawson LLP posted in Family Law on Monday, October 15, 2018.

When a parent turns a child against the other parent, there is no winning outcome. When a family law dispute in Alberta involves parental alienation, there are likely to be boundless hurt feelings and the alienated parent and his or her children are the ones who suffer most. Some psychologists have gone as far as to say that when a parent alienates a child from the other parent, it can be construed as maltreating the child. Some children are the ones who alienate a parent, thinking that doing so may please the other parent.

There are times when not having contact with a parent can be in the best interests of the child — such as in abusive situations. However, most times both parents have something to contribute to their children’s lives in a co-parenting situation. Family court judges have to become astute at distinguishing true abuse allegations from parental alienation and therein lies the difficulty according to some psychologists. There is also the problem of the alienating parent continuing to make disparaging remarks against the other parent in front of the children even when the children have begun to see the estranged parent again.

In extreme cases, the court may decide to actually take the children away from the parent who is guilty of alienation. That alienation could also include lies about the other parent and lashing out in anger against a former spouse in front of the children. These parents could even try to block visitation of the other parent.

When an Alberta parent is embroiled in a family law dispute, he or she may be able to get advice and guidance from an experienced family law lawyer. A lawyer may be able to provide logical ways of dealing with a former spouse who is displaying alienating behaviour toward his or her client’s children. There are tools under family law that may be able to help in such circumstances.

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