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 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.

The child's emotions or beliefs may be manipulated in order 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 towards them, and refusal to spend time with them. Left unresolved, this can lead to long-term psychological issues for both parent and child.

In 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 about 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 badmouthing 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, it is important to 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.

Document everything if you suspect parental alienation

Documenting evidence of parental alienation is crucial, as it will provide proof when speaking to an attorney. This could include photos or videos of interactions between you and the child, emails or text messages from your ex containing demeaning language, and even witness statements from third parties who have witnessed the behavior.

As an example, if your ex is constantly late to drop the child off for your scheduled visits, document this by recording the dates and times these events occur. Similarly, if your ex refuses to let you have phone calls with your child, keep a record of these refusals for future reference.

Some of the best evidence can actually come from your child. Not only do children frequently speak the truth, but alienated children can also exhibit drastic changes in their behavior at times. Try to document your child’s behavior during visits. If your child feels angry or appears withdrawn or even scared, this could be used as evidence to prove that you are a targeted parent and they have fallen victim to an emotionally abusive environment.

Children can also make things confusing. They can be emotional, and they may exhibit signs or symptoms that suggest abuse but could also just be a bad day in your child’s life. But if you see patterns, or if your gut tells you something is wrong, don't ignore it or pass it off as your child having a bad day. Take action.

Your gathered information can be used to show a pattern of behavior that could prove useful in court. Your lawyer will need as much evidence as possible that your child's other parent is actively trying to alienate you from your child.

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 help assess the situation by reviewing the evidence and documentation you provide. They can then 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.

Depending on the circumstances, your lawyer may suggest filing a restraining order or petition for court-ordered child custody arrangements. A lawyer can help 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.