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Colorado Legal Group Family Law Attorneys

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

How to Address Parental Alienation

Parental alienation is a serious issue that can deeply affect the relationships between a parent and their children. It occurs when one parent, either consciously or unconsciously, influences the child to reject the other parent. Addressing this complex situation requires a thoughtful and strategic approach to ensure the well-being of the child and the preservation of parental bonds.

  • Recognizing the Signs: The first step in addressing parental alienation is to recognize the signs. These can include unjustified criticism of the other parent, exaggeration of flaws, and outright lies about the parent’s behavior. Children may also begin to exhibit unexplained anxiety, withdrawal, or hostility toward the alienated parent.
  • Seek Professional Help: Once parental alienation is suspected, it’s crucial to seek help from professionals who specialize in family dynamics and child psychology. Therapists can work with the child and parents to uncover the reasons behind the alienation and help restore the affected relationships. Therapy provides a neutral ground for airing grievances and can teach healthy communication and conflict-resolution skills.
  • Legal Intervention: In cases where the alienation is severe and the influencing parent is uncooperative, legal intervention might be necessary. This can involve revisiting custody arrangements or requesting court-ordered family therapy. It’s important to document instances of alienation and communicate with your attorney about the best course of action to protect your relationship with your child.
  • Educate Yourself and Your Family: Educating yourself about parental alienation is vital. Many organizations and resources offer insights into how to handle this situation effectively. Additionally, educating other family members, especially those who might unknowingly contribute to the alienation, is essential. They need to understand the long-term impacts of their actions on the child’s mental and emotional health.
  • Promote Open Communication: Encourage open and honest communication with your children without disparaging the other parent. It’s important to listen to their feelings and concerns, validate their emotions, and gently correct any misconceptions or inaccuracies about your behavior or character. This approach can help mitigate the effects of alienation and reinforce your bond with your children.
  • Consistency and Patience: Dealing with parental alienation requires patience and consistency. Maintaining a consistent presence in your children’s lives, showing unconditional love, and being patient with their emotional fluctuations are vital. Over time, these efforts can help rebuild trust and alleviate the impacts of alienation.

Addressing parental alienation is challenging but essential for the well-being of both the children and the affected parent. By combining professional advice, legal solutions, and personal education, you can work toward overcoming the barriers erected by alienation and fostering a healthy, loving relationship with your children.

How an Experienced Colorado Family Law Attorney Can Help with Parental Alienation

Parental alienation poses significant challenges within family dynamics, particularly during or after contentious divorces. In Colorado, where family law aims to protect the interests of children, an experienced attorney can be instrumental in addressing cases of parental alienation. Here’s how legal expertise can help:

  • Navigating the Legal System: An experienced family law attorney understands the complexities of Colorado’s legal system, including the nuances of family law that can impact custody and parental rights. They can guide you through the process of filing the necessary legal documents to address parental alienation and represent your interests effectively in court.
  • Advocacy in Court: In cases of parental alienation, demonstrating the issue to a court requires clear, compelling evidence. A skilled attorney can help gather and present evidence of alienation, such as documented changes in the child’s behavior, communication records, and expert testimonies from psychologists or child behavior specialists. By advocating on your behalf, the attorney ensures that the court comprehends the seriousness of the situation and its impact on the child.
  • Legal Strategies and Solutions: Depending on the severity of the alienation, various legal remedies can be explored. This might include requesting modifications to custody arrangements to ensure more balanced access to both parents, or instituting specific measures that prevent further alienation. For instance, a Colorado attorney might suggest incorporating detailed provisions in the custody agreement that require both parents to attend family therapy or parenting classes.
  • Professional Referrals: Family law attorneys often have networks that include child psychologists, therapists, and counselors who specialize in treating cases of parental alienation. These professionals can provide the necessary support to help restore the parent-child relationship and can also serve as expert witnesses if your case goes to court.
  • Mediation and Negotiation: Before escalating to court, an attorney might recommend mediation. This approach can help parents reach a mutual understanding and amend their behavior for the child’s benefit. An attorney’s experience in negotiation can be crucial in achieving a resolution that protects the child’s well-being while also preserving parental rights.
  • Long-Term Guidance and Support: Dealing with parental alienation can be an ongoing challenge. A seasoned family law attorney can offer continued legal advice and support as your case develops and as your child grows, ensuring that any new issues are addressed promptly and effectively.

At Colorado Group we aim to help our clients preserve the peace in their family and minimize any drama that might arise during a family law battle. If you think you may be in a situation where parental alienation is occurring, please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our experienced Colorado family law attorneys or submit a free case evaluation today.

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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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Denver, CO 80210

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