What constitutes parental alienation - real life examples of parental alienation
At Pathway Legal, as parental alienation lawyers, we have seen a lot of parental alienation divorce. Here are some examples of narcissistic parental alienation syndrome that we have come across in our cases (obviously we have changed details to protect our clients and their children’s identities):
1. A parent insults the other parent in front of their kid.
In one case we had one parent who always insulted the other parent’s choice of food and what they fed their child.
2. A parent interferes with the other parent’s parenting time without a legitimate reason.
Withholding the child after the end of their parenting time is an example of this. Nowadays the best evidence for child custody in this type of circumstance often comes from texts, and email communication between the parents.
Just recently we saw a case where one parent picked the child up from daycare and withheld the child from the other parent for eight days. The child had never been apart from the other parent for more than three days. At 3 years old, there is no doubt this child was confused as to what was going on, having no explanation as to why her primary caregiver had disappeared for so many days without an explanation.
Parental alienation phone calls - these are also signs of parental alienation and happens when one parent is limiting or blocking the communication time that a child has with the other parent or conversely, excessively texting or phoning the child whilst in the other parent’s company.
3. Blaming the other parent for the separation in front of the child
Unfortunately, we have seen this happen way too often. Kids already feel that the separation is their fault, but to blame the other parent in front of the child really makes the child feel like it is their fault even more.
4. Asking the child to spy on the other parent
This can be unintentional. In one case we had recently, the father always wanted the child to report things that were “bad” that were going on in the mother’s home. Their 8-year-old son knew that the best way to get attention from Dad was to tell him that Mom was doing “bad” stuff. What the Dad failed to realize was that his ongoing interrogation of the child and getting him to report everything that went on in Mom’s house was a form of child abuse.
5. Breaking down into tears when the child is to leave with the other parent
Thus causing the child to feel guilty for spending time with the other parent. Yes, we saw this happen. We would not have believed it if we did not see it on video. In this particular case, the father was at the mother’s house to pick up the child. The father had, in his pocket, his phone video-recording the pickup. The mother was sobbing, yes, sobbing, as she was buttoning up the child’s jacket. Clearly, the mother was having a very hard time with the child leaving for the several hours he was about to spend time with his Dad.
At five years old this child was being made responsible for how his mother was feeling. Even worse, as the mother was crying, she was (we think unintentionally) undermining the father’s parenting abilities. She was reminding the child to keep his jacket done up if he was cold, to ask for food if he was hungry, to be safe, etc. She said all of this to the young child through tears while the Dad was standing right there. It was nothing short of gross.
6. Insulting the other parent’s choice of food and nutrition, new partner, gifts, or ways of spending time with the child and making those insults in front of the child
In one case we had recently, the father had given the child a lego set as a gift. When the mother picked up the child, she was furious about the gift, complaining that now she would have to build lego with the child. “As if I don’t already have enough on my plate!” she yelled, as she stormed off. The wild thing is that she stated this in front of a professional visit supervisor. It makes you wonder what she says around the child when professionals are not around right?!
7. Pressuring the child to choose between the parents or take the side of a conflict
Often parents do not agree on which child custody schedules to implement for their parenting time. For example, one parent might want a week-on/week-off-type custody schedule while the other parent might want a 2-2-3.
We recall one case when a 9-year-old girl was interviewed by a professional for a “Hear the Child” report. The child, unprompted, said, “My Dad says for me to tell you I want week on and week off.” The report writer told the Dad he was “busted.”
8. Bringing a child to court to testify against the parent
This is probably one of the more awful examples we have seen when looking at what constitutes parental alienation. In this case, the father was criminally charged with sexually assaulting the children’s mother. The father pleaded not guilty to the charge and the matter went to trial. At trial, the father had one of the children testify on his behalf against the mother. Despite the testimony, the father was convicted of sexual assault.
It is no surprise that in this particular case, the kids have refused to see their mother at all.
This is probably close to the worst example of parental alienation against a mother that we have ever seen.
9. Alienation of parental affection by making disparaging comments about the other parent in relation to their work, family, or friends and doing so in front of the child
In cases like this, the alienating parent not only denigrates the other parent in front of their child but everyone and everything the other parent does. We have seen this happen.
10. Undermining the other parent’s parenting style or authority in front of the child
For example, telling them to ignore the parent’s request to do their homework.
11. Making false reports to the Ministry for Children and Family Development (aka child “protection” authorities)
In one case we saw that there were five false reports made to the Ministry about the mother’s supposed lack of care of the child. This happened within a week after the father started dating a social worker. Although there are cases where there is parental alienation against the father, this was a clear case where there was parental alienation against the mother.
12. Spreading nasty and untrue rumours about the other parent
So that other adults in the child’s life will be fed a very false and damaging narrative about the other parent. We wish we had never seen this kind of thing happening, but it has.
13. Coaching a small child to draw photos of alleged sexual interference when the sexual interference did not happen
Yep, this happened. Imagine a child being coached to “remember” something that did not happen to them in the first place and being shown and coached how to draw parts of their body demonstrating where the other parent had supposedly been grooming them. The judges view on parental alienation was that she did not take it lightly. The legal consequences of parental alienation in that case were so severe that the parent lost custody of their child.
14. Ignoring or discouraging the child’s positive relationship with the other parent
In one case, the parent refused to allow the child to mention anything at all about the other parent. It was a strict rule. The parent said, “When you are in our home, your father does not exist.” Imagine how that landed for the child. In that case it was a significant case of parental alienation against the father.
15. Withholding important information about the child’s education, medical requirements or other important information that affects the child
Parenting is about more than spending time with your child. It is also about being able to take responsibility for what is happening in their education, their medical care, and other areas of their lives that are important to them. Keeping information from the other parent is another clear example of alienation of parental rights.