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What can you tell me about parental alienation?

Parental alienation occurs when one child's parent attempts to interfere with the child's relationship with the other parent. It is believed that such alienation attempts can have damaging effects on the child's mental and emotional health. Any behavior that does try to alienate a child from the other parent is also a violation of the child's right to love and be loved by both parents.

A serious by-product of alienation attempts is called Parental Alienation Syndrome, which is a condition seen in children who have been impacted by high conflict family law problems like divorce or child custody. Side effects of Parental Alienation Syndrome can continue into adulthood or even throughout the victim's entire life.

Most parents do not want their children to suffer in any way during family law procedures. Often, parental alienation occurs almost subconsciously because one spouse is hurt and wants to hurt the other. Unfortunately, turning a child against the other parent is an effective, albeit harmful, way to do this.

You and your co-parent can avoid the harmful effects of parental alienation by watching for signs associated with the phenomenon. Some of these include:

-- Abrupt and negative changes in how children interact with a parent

-- An unusual knowledge of details about an impending divorce

-- Sudden loss of meaningful communication between the child and a parent

-- Uneasiness, rudeness or belligerence on the part of the child toward a parent

-- Indications that your co-parent may be interfering with your access to the child

If you have concerns that parental alienation is happening to your children, you need immediate legal assistance and may also need professional help for your child. A family law attorney based in Pennsylvania can help you take steps to avoid further damage to your case and to your child.

Source: Parental Alienation Awareness Organization (PAAO), "What is Parental Alienation?," accessed Aug. 04, 2016

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