Provo Parental Alienation Lawyer

Kelly Peterson | Law Office of Kelly Peterson

The problem:

Unfortunately, it is all too common that one parent alienates a child against the other parent. This can either happen intentionally or unintentionally.

Intentional alienation occurs when one party engages in the following type of conduct:   disparaging the other parent to or in front of the child, reminding the child of broken promises the other parent made, informing the child of bad things the other parent has done, blaming the other parent for the breakup of the relationship, etc.

Unintentional alienation can occur when a parent naively creates an environment where the child feels as if he has to choose between his parents. This is often called a loyalty conflict. In other words, a child becomes aware of the harsh feelings between his parents and feels pressure to side with one or the other. If a parent inappropriately asks the child who he/she wants to live with, that is sometimes equivalent to asking which of the parents the child loves more. On other occasions, the parent asks the child to report on the bad behavior of the other parent, or interrogates the child on past bad acts of the other parent. Another important way that a loyalty conflict environment can be created is when one parent tells the child that the child gets to choose how much and what kind of contact they are going to have with the other parent. Children are not emotionally equipped to make such a decision. Where the child gets to live or how much contact they have with the other parent is a decision to be made by the parents or the court, never the child. The child’s preference should be considered, even heavily considered if they are 14 years old or older, but the child should never be placed in a position where they are required to choose. Sometimes, a child will demonstrate animosity towards one parent simply to reduce the amount of pressure that they have to deal with. In other words, they will side with the parent who creates the most pressure for them in order to simplify their lives and the amount of conflict they must deal with.

Parental Alienation Lawyers in Provo Utah

Whether the alienating behaviors of one parent are intentional or unintentional is often difficult to determine. However, it is their behavior that matters, not their motivation. Modifying their behavior should be the main goal, rather than determining their motivation. Oftentimes, a parent unintentionally alienates a child against the other parent simply because they have a profound lack of insight regarding how their own alienating behavior is inappropriate and harms the child. They think they are justified, and do not realize the extent to which they are harming the child. Often they fail to understand the impact those behaviors have on the child or think that they have a right to engage in those behaviors because of the misconduct of the other parent. Therapy is often needed to help such a parent gain insight into how they are harming their children.

The solutions:

There are remedies to these difficult dynamics of parental alienation. What remedies to pursue depends on whether the alienation is intentional or unintentional, the age of the child and other factors. Some remedies include court-ordered conjoint therapy, parent-child reunification therapy, sanctioning the alienating parent in court, and possibly even a change in custody or visitation. In extreme cases, supervision of the alienating parent may be necessary.

Family law attorney Kelly Peterson can help you defend your parental rights and deal with a parental alienation situation.

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*Child Welfare Law Specialist Nat’l Assoc. of Counsel for Children