The potential effect of parental alienation on custody cases

What is parental alienation? This is a question parents sometimes need to find answers for during child custody battles. Despite the fact that parental alienation is not a crime in Texas, it can affect child custody. The courts may decide against awarding custody to a parent who has been alienating their children from the other parent.

What is parental alienation?

According to the website, it is the effort to ruin or negatively affect the child’s connection with or perception of the other parent.

What are some indicators of parental alienation?

An article published in Psychology Today, discussed a study where a psychologist revealed that if four factors are present, parental alienation is a valid conclusion:

  • A prior positive relationship between the child and parent is now being rejected. There was previously a close, loving bond with the child.
  • The rejected parent has not maltreated or been seriously deficient in parenting. There’s no background or poor parenting or malice on the part of the rejected parent.
  • The favored parent is using multiple behaviors to alienate the other parent. The truth is that the favored parent’s own abusive behavior has intimidated and pushed the child away from the targeted parent.
  • The child is exhibiting behavior that shows parental alienation has occurred. Observed shifts in the child’s behavior patterns provide evidence of parental alienation.

What types of behavior are typical of the parent who targets the other parent for alienation?

  • Criticizing the other parent in front of the children
  • Interfering with visitation to limit the other parent’s contact
  • Preventing or interfering with phone calls during visitation
  • Withdrawing love if the child loves the other parent
  • Telling the child that the targeted parent doesn’t love them
  • Forcing the child to choose between parents
  • Creating the impression that the targeted parent is dangerous
  • Asking the child to spy on the other parent
  • Changing the child’s name to remove association with the other parent
  • Withholding medical, academic and other important information from the targeted parent or keeping their name off relevant documents


What behavior are signs of alienation in the children?

  • Showing ridicule or scorn toward the targeted parent
  • Weak or ridiculous reasons for rejecting the parent
  • Seeing one parent as all good and the other as all bad
  • Lack of remorse for treating the targeted parent badly
  • Claiming not to have been influenced by the favored parent
  • Using phrases and words the favored parent uses
  • Being unkind to the targeted parent’s relatives

If you recognize these types of behavior and suspect parental alienation, you should speak with a family law attorney as soon as possible.

The Law Office of Lindsey J. Wilson provides legal representation for clients in cases involving family law, custody and support, divorce, property division and modifications and enforcement.