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Parental Alienation Is A Form Of Child Abuse

by Sharon Jackson  on September 25, 2023 under 

When a relationship does not work out, it can lead to a custody battle. In the end, a legal agreement details when each parent will spend time with the child. However, when one parent is vindictive, they can abuse the child through parental alienation. If you notice the other parent is purposefully alienating you from your child, you must act. Discuss your options with a Georgia child custody lawyer by calling (678) 436-3636.

Definition of Parental Alienation

Parental alienation is a deliberate attempt to break up the relationship between a child and a parent. Essentially, one parent deliberately prevents the child from seeing the other parent. It can take many forms. Sometimes the custodial parent will convince the child that the other parent is bad. This can lead to the child having an illogical or exaggerated reason for refusing to see the other parent.

The Impact on Children and Families

Parental alienation can have severe consequences on children and families. There are varying degrees of parental alienation. You must speak to a Georgia child custody lawyer when you see the signs. There is a correlation between parental alienation and intimate partner violence. It can appear as follows:

  • Aggression
  • Physical threats
  • Coercive control
  • Lying about past events (gaslighting)
  • Stalking

Often the alienating partner is also the custodial parent. They will use their power to keep the non-custodial parent in fear. The non-custodial parent doesn't want to jeopardize contact with their child, so they will appease the custodial parent. Instead of appeasing them, speak to a Georgia child custody lawyer.

Psychological Effects on Children

Children are always the victims in these situations. They might see the abuse firsthand. They will also feel the absence of the other parent. All of this can lead to psychological impacts on the children. The court or child services rarely get involved in these situations. Some adverse effects on children in parental alienation situations include:

  • Inability to express grief
  • Mental illness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feelings of abandonment
  • Poor physical health
  • Self-hatred
  • Anxiety
  • Substance abuse disorders in teens
  • Disturbed psychosocial development
  • Poor academic performance

Determining when the child is suffering from parental alienation is challenging. It is often a pattern of behavior rather than a one-time incident or action. Another challenge is that many practitioners do not look for the impacts of parental alienation. They often believe it only happens in high-conflict relationships.

Why Parental Alienation is Child Abuse

You might not think parental alienation constitutes child abuse, but it does. Many of the aspects of alienation overlap with the symptoms of child abuse. Parental alienation can fall into two categories of child abuse. The first is emotional or psychological aggression manifesting as:

  • Using the child to spy on the other parent
  • Convincing the child the other parent is dangerous
  • Holding the child responsible for court order violations
  • Making children feel guilty for showing love, warmth, or affection to the other parent
  • The parent withholding their love and affection when the child talks about the target parent
  • Forcing the child to choose between parents
  • Interrogating children when they come back from visits
  • Throwing away gifts from the target parent
  • Introducing a replacement to the child, changing their last name to corrupt the child's identity
  • Telling the child falsehoods about the other parent not showing up and disappearing from their life

The other form of child abuse that parental alienation can manifest is child neglect. This may include the following actions:

  • Isolating the child from people who ask about the other parent
  • Making false allegations of illness and abuse so they can get custody
  • Giving the target parent inaccurate medication information so they can use it as evidence to have sole control of the child's medical needs

Georgia Laws on Parental Alienation and Child Abuse

There are currently no specific laws regarding parental alienation in Georgia. You may change your parenting time, custody, or visitation agreements if you have sufficient evidence to show the judge. You must gather as much evidence as possible to help your case if you're the victim and call a Georgia child custody lawyer as soon as possible.

While there are no parental alienation laws, there are child abuse laws. The law recognizes that specific actions constitute child abuse. If you prove parental alienation is child abuse, the alienating parent can suffer legal consequences. Some forms of child abuse include:

  • Injury
  • Neglect or endangerment
  • Sexual abuse

What to Do if Parental Alienation is Happening

The child is the priority, and you must take the appropriate steps to help them. Do not try to resolve the situation outside of the family court system. Instead, you can take these steps:

  • Educate yourself on how to recognize abuse and parental alienation
  • Clinical intervention to help the child repair the damage done
  • Seeking the reversal of custody to remove the child from the abusive parent

Family courts can take additional steps to remedy the situation, like intensive collaboration between health and legal professionals. They can also issue court orders. If uncertain how to proceed, speak to a Georgie child custody attorney.

How a Skilled Child Custody Attorney Can Help Protect Your Child From Parental Alienation

Child custody battles can be contentious. When one parent is unhappy with the outcome, they can take illegal and harmful actions. This can be in the form of parental alienation. They think they are hurting the other parent, but the child is the one who suffers. Contact Georgia child custody attorney Sharon Jackson at (678) 436-3636 to discuss your case.


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