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Denver Laws to Protect Against Parental Alienation

Almost all divorces exert a powerful emotional impact upon separating spouses – especially when children are involved. As issues such as child custody, visitation rights, and child support come up, doubts, uncertainties, and strong emotional reactions are natural.

Often, emotional issues become so powerful that one parent intentionally or unintentionally starts to exert an excessive influence on the children. When one parent turns the opinion of the children against the other parent, it may lead to a situation known as “parental alienation”.

In Denver, this is a problem that can complicate a divorce and it may require the intervention of an experienced divorce attorney and the courts to put a stop to it. Parental alienation sometimes requires an alienation expert to not only determine whether or not it is occurring but how to resolve the issue. It is important for parents to catch alienating behaviors by the other parent early on as alienation has extreme lasting effects.

What is parental alienation?

Parental alienation is very complex. Often a sign of alienation is when the opinions of a child are turned against one parent by the other. 

The victim or intended victim is referred to as the target parent and the instigator of the alienating tactics is the alienating parent.

The behavior can start off mildly but eventually lead to “unexplained” resentment, verbal attacks, and blind hatred by the child. 

It may cause canceled meetups and result in the child keeping their distance both physically and emotionally from the target parent.

When such negative behavior in the child is encouraged by the alienating parent, it needs to be identified and called out. The “cure” for alienation is not clear cut and sometimes involves the need for therapeutic assistance. 

Children by nature are impressionable. During divorces, when conflicts are common and stress levels high, they are also often at their most vulnerable. The Colorado courts ultimately want to protect children in any divorce case. Sometimes the best way to protect children is to ensure that both parents spend quality time with the children and have input into their moral upbringing.

If undue influence is exerted on the children by an alienating parent to the detriment of the other, this will not be deemed to be in the best interests of the children by the courts. The solution to alienation also needs to be one in the children’s best interests.

Common parental alienation examples

Parental alienation can be subtle – or more obvious. Some typical examples of actions that may be perceived as parental alienation tactics include:

  • Failing to pass on birthday gifts or other presents from the target parent
  • Telling the target parent that the child is not available when they call or visit
  • Keeping the target parent in the dark about important upcoming events in the school or social calendar of the child
  • Pointing the finger at the target parent for everything that goes wrong
  • Blaming the target parent for leaving the family home
  • Telling the child that the target parent doesn’t love them or making other disparaging remarks
  • Fabricating information or making false allegations to create a negative impression of the target parent
  • Forcing the child to choose between the alienating parent and the target parent 
  • Coaching the child to ignore the instructions of the target parent

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Denver Parental Alienation

How does parental alienation affect children?

If hostile behavior is directed by one parent towards the other during a divorce, a challenging time can become even more challenging for children.

In many cases, a child when questioned will not offer specific reasons for their feelings of alienation towards the other parent. They may seem withdrawn or fearful of saying something “wrong”. Sometimes, the child does not know why they say things. They simply “parrot” what the alienating parent has said. These can be telltale signs of parental alienation.

Witnessing the breakup of their parents can be deeply traumatic for children and, in this emotionally fragile state, their opinions can be easily manipulated. They are vulnerable and impressionable. The emotional scars of parental alienation can damage relationships long into the future. The child can end up suffering from guilt, anxiety, sleep disturbances, lack of trust, and a decline in performance at school.

This is why it is taken so seriously by the Denver family court system.
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What can be done about parental alienation?

Parental alienation often occurs in high-conflict situations in contested divorces, making it extremely complex to resolve. However, manipulating a child’s opinion of their other parent is deemed contrary to the interests of the child. In fact, it can be considered a form of child abuse.

As such, Colorado’s domestic relations laws try to protect the child (and the target parent) against parental alienation. The Colorado Revised Statute on Domestic Matters on the best interests of the child states:

“In determining the best interests of the child for purposes of parenting time, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including: The ability of the parties to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other party.” 

So, you have recourse through the local courts to redress parental alienation. A judge can modify parenting or take other actions to put an end to the abusive behavior that is detrimental to the wellbeing of your child. For instance, the court can order a Child Family Investigator to evaluate your case.

How can our Denver divorce lawyers help?

As a parent who is gradually losing the affection of your child, you may be a victim of parental alienation. It is vital to catch alienation early on instead of waiting until it is too late. You deserve a normalized relationship with your child. It is important to put an end to the alienation for your mutual benefit. 

As experienced and compassionate divorce and family law attorneys based here in Denver, we can offer the assistance you need at such a testing time.

Call Colorado Legal Group at 720.594.7360 or get started with a free case evaluation. 

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