Sharing parenting duties with an ex-spouse can be difficult. After all, you may disagree with how your former partner chooses to raise your kids. Still, you should be able to trust your ex to do what is right for the children. Unfortunately, that does not always happen.
Parental alienation occurs when one parent tries to instill anger, distrust or resentment against the other parent in the kids. Doing so can be tremendously harmful to the emotional growth and overall health of your children. As such, you must watch for the signs of parental alienation and take immediate action to stop it.
There is no standard definition of parental alienation. On the contrary, this type of conduct may take many different forms. Still, any of the following may indicate that your spouse is trying to turn your kids against you:
- Your former partner makes disparaging comments about you to your children.
- Your ex-spouse asks your kids to take sides.
- A co-parent tells your children to spy on you.
- Your former partner openly questions your parenting tactics.
- Your children ask you not to attend important functions.
The best interests standard
In Washington, judges must consider the best interests of the children when determining parental responsibilities. If a parent’s conduct damages a child’s emotional growth, a court is likely to intervene. That is, you can ask a judge to rework a custody order if you have evidence of parental alienation.
You want what is best for your kids. That, of course, does not include parental alienation. If you are the victim of this type of behavior, you should begin to document it. Keeping detailed records of what you see may be essential. Documenting parental alienation in a comprehensive and contemporaneous journal likely makes sense.
With some luck, you may never face parental alienation. Still, because not all parents behave rationally, you should understand what to do if your spouse targets you. Then, you must take steps to ensure that your kids have what they need to grow up successfully.