Child custody and visitation schedules are hard on parents and kids. Many moms and dads go from seeing their children every day to having to abide by a schedule. The children, who are used to having access to both parents, suddenly have two homes.
When a custody arrangement is determined by the court and not the parents themselves, it can be even harder for the parents to keep the resentment and anger from building and from taking those feelings out on the kids.
What is Parental Alienation?
Parental alienation occurs when one parent manipulates a child’s view of the other parent in an attempt to alter or end their relationship. This can often happen if one parent believes the other is a poor parent or lets his or her own personal feelings cloud their best judgement in regard to what is best for the child. Parental alienation can also occur due to a grandparent or step-parent’s actions.
Illinois law recognizes that the purposeful manipulation of a child and his or her parent’s relationship is wrong and damaging to the child. The acts of the adult are clearly not in the child’s best interests.
Signs of Parental Alienation
Children of all ages can be grumpy and angry with their parents. It is important not to take normal parts of childhood as symptoms of parental alienation. However, there are some signs that one parent is trying to emotionally and physically separate the child from the other parent.
Signs are when one parent or other adult:
- Often makes disparaging remarks about the other to or in front of the child;
- Creates false allegations of drug, alcohol, or sexual abuse;
- Tells the child that the other parent does not love them;
- Lets the child know that having a good time with the other parent is hurtful to them;
- Tells the child details regarding why the marriage ended;
- Gives the child details of the divorce proceedings and final order; or
- Does not uphold the visitation or custody agreement outlined by the court.
Additional signs are when the child:
- Has a sudden change in attitude toward the other parent;
- Is frequently angry or rude at the other parent without reason or with vague explanations;
- Begins to express that he or she does not want to see the other parent; and/or
- Believes one parent is causing problems for the other parent.
Contact an Illinois Family Law Attorney
It is possible in Illinois to go back to court to try and correct this situation. In many cases, the affected parent will seek to modify the custody order or uphold the schedule in place. The parent will need a solid theory of parental alienation and evidence to prove it is going on and harming the child.
Because of the need for probative evidence, a parent should work with a skilled DuPage County family law attorney instead of trying to handle the situation on his or her own. An experienced lawyer will know Illinois case law on the matter and will understand the need to find proof of the alienation.