When you decided to divorce your spouse and share custody of your children, you may have assumed that much of your marital strife had come to an end. After all, you no longer must live with an incompatible spouse. However, if your former partner is actively trying to turn your kids against you, you may feel like the heartache has only just begun.
Parental alienation occurs when one parent manipulates the children for the purpose of causing fear, anger or resentment toward the other parent. If the young ones in your life are the victims of parental alienation, it may take a tremendous toll on your parent-child relationship. Fortunately, Illinois law offers some solutions.
Identifying parental alienation
There is no quintessential example of parental alienation. On the contrary, it may take a variety of forms. If your ex-spouse engages in any of the following behaviors, he or she may be trying to harm your relationship with your kids:
- Making false allegations of abuse
- Saying derogatory, disparaging or otherwise negative words about you
- Encroaching on your visitation time
- Excluding you from normal parenting activities
- Asking your children to spy on you
- Undercutting your parental authority
Documenting parental alienation
Both you and your ex-spouse have a responsibility to act in the best interests of your children. Parental alienation runs counter to that standard. If you suspect your former partner is engaging in parental alienation, you probably want to document relevant behaviors.
Often, keeping copies of electronic communications is a good place to start. You may also need to seek an independent evaluation from a qualified social worker or family therapist. Furthermore, if your ex-spouse is violating a court order, you should create a written record of each violation.
Illinois family law judges tend to take allegations of parental alienation seriously. If your former partner’s actions are egregious, a judge may decide that the co-parent is not acting in the best interests of the kids. Still, you may need to act quickly both to seek a modification of an existing custody order and to protect your parent-child relationship.