How to Prove Parental Alienation in Texas


Parental alienation is a serious problem. Not only does it harm your child and you in the present, but it also has the potential to forever damage the relationship between you. If you notice certain behavioral patterns or think your child’s other parent may be engaging in alienation tactics, it’s important to take action.

Parental alienation is considered a form of child abuse that, according to research, can negatively impact a child’s self-esteem and may lead to issues with substance abuse.

Parental alienation can harm your relationship with your child

Parental alienation is a term used to describe what can happen when one parent attempts to “alienate” a child from their other parent through a campaign of denigration, criticism, and disinformation. Parental alienation can result in canceled or skipped visits, even if they’re required per court orders.

Parental alienation doesn’t just keep you physically from your child. Your relationship may be altered, too.

The child's emotions or beliefs may be manipulated to devalue the other parent in that child’s eyes. False claims may be made with the intent of damaging the child’s relationship with their parent or even promoting estrangement.

A consequence of parental alienation is known as “parental alienation syndrome.” This refers to the psychological damage experienced by both the alienated parent and their child. The child may act out against the alienated parent, displaying behavior such as defensiveness, lack of empathy toward the parent, and refusal to spend time with them. Left unresolved, this can lead to long-term psychological issues for both parent and child.

In a high-conflict divorce, both parents should do their best to avoid arguments and fighting in front of the child.

Signs of parental alienation

Several clues may indicate that your ex is trying to alienate you from your child. For example, your ex may not allow you to see or talk to your child. They may monitor or patrol your interactions or even refuse to provide information on their whereabouts. The child may display behaviors such as becoming suddenly negative toward you, appearing indifferent and uninterested in your parent-child relationship, or becoming hostile during conversations.

Are you worried that your child’s other parent has been bad-mouthing you? Read How to Deal If Your Ex Talks about You Negatively in Front of the Kids.

This type of behavior can be a form of emotional child abuse. It’s not okay for someone to treat another person like this. Therefore, if any of these signs are present, seek help from an experienced professional so the best course of action can be determined.

The negative effects of parental alienation on a child can stay with them into adulthood. It may be helpful to seek individual therapy with a mental health professional for both yourself and your child.

Parental alienation and Texas law

The term parental alienation does not appear in the Texas Family Code. However, this legal statute clearly says that the role of the state is to ensure that children have frequent and continuing contact with parents and to encourage the parents to share in the rights and duties of raising the child.

Parental alienation could involve keeping a parent from court-ordered contact with a child or blocking one parent from sharing in child-raising functions. These rights are enshrined in divorce court orders, and if they’re violated, you could ask the court for help.

Parental alienation can also involve parents talking badly about one another or causing a child to behave badly during a court-ordered visit. These consequences can be hard on your relationship, but unfortunately, the court can’t intervene directly. Texas laws don’t require parents to be nice to one another. If your partner engages in this type of alienation, proving it is harder.

How to prove parental alienation in Texas

At the end of your divorce, the court issued orders involving child custody and visits. To prove parental alienation, you must return to those orders. If your partner’s behavior alters your arrangement as defined in your court orders, you can act.

Your Texas custody order outlines when you will have custody of your child. If parental alienation means your ex won’t let your child participate in those visits, take the following steps:

1. Gather your information

Documenting evidence of parental alienation is crucial. For example, if your ex is continually late to drop the child off for your scheduled visits, you could record the dates and times these events occur. Similarly, if your ex refuses to let you have phone calls with your child, you could keep a written record of these refusals for future reference.

Know that you must have proof that your partner isn’t following your visitation schedule. That means you can’t stay home when your ex calls to cancel a visit. You must go to the agreed pickup location and prove that the other parent wasn’t there. Even better, pick up a receipt from a nearby store or coffee shop proving you were there.

Texas offers a formal Visitation Journal form for these situations. Document when the visit was scheduled, who witnessed the child skipping the visit, and what happened when you arrived. Fill this out carefully, and be prepared to show it in court.

2. Fill out paperwork

Several documents can help you encourage the court to enforce your visits. They include the following:

Take these files to the courthouse in your county and pay a fee (which varies by county) to start the case.

3. Get signed copies

With your paperwork filed, the court coordinator will instruct you how to get a judge to sign the order to appear. These instructions can vary dramatically by location, so listen to your clerk carefully.

4. Give legal notice

When the judge has signed your documents, return them to the court clerk. The clerk will stamp them and give you official versions. Tell the clerk you want a constable to serve (or deliver) the papers to your spouse.

5. Attend a hearing

The court will set a hearing date so you can explain what’s happening and ask the judge to intervene. At the end of this hearing, your order is likely to be enforced with more documents.

Get help

If you find yourself in a situation where you believe parental alienation is occurring, it is important to seek legal advice and intervention as soon as possible. A lawyer can assess the situation by reviewing the evidence and documentation you provide. They can advise you on the best course of action.

Reconciliation counseling is a type of family therapy designed to help improve a child’s parental relationships.

A lawyer can provide legal representation if the issue goes to court, and they can support you through the entire process. Ultimately, having an experienced attorney by your side can help protect your rights as a parent as well as the well-being of your child.

Your relationship with your child is the most important relationship you have, so take every effort to protect and cherish this time.



Divorce Content Specialist & Lawyer
Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Legal Insights

Bryan is a non-practicing lawyer, HR consultant, and legal content writer. With nearly 20 years of experience in the legal field, he has a deep understanding of family and employment laws. His goal is to provide readers with clear and accessible information about the law, and to help people succeed by providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to navigate the legal landscape. Bryan lives in Orlando, Florida.