Understanding Parental Alienation In High-Conflict Cases

Most parents who split up or get divorced want what's best for their children, which generally means spending time with both parents. Parents can accomplish this goal in a variety of ways, and most can work out a mutually acceptable agreement amicably.

In certain cases, however, custody becomes the centre conflict in the separation. One parent refuses to cooperate, either with the system or the law, and children are caught in the middle between two feuding sides. Such high-conflict cases give rise to the possibility of parental alienation syndrome (PAS), whereby the child is pressured to take sides.

We at Westside Family Law have decades of experience handling family disputes of all kinds, including ones with high emotion and conflict. Our lawyers strive to be the level head in an emotionally difficult situation. We offer sound, assertive counsel aimed at achieving positive outcomes in the most efficient, effective manner possible, which may include nothing less than arguing your case in Court.

Symptoms Of Parental Alienation

It's natural for children to become angry or hurt by parental separation. Most children feel that the separation is their fault and may lash out occasionally as a result. That being said, here are some telltale signs that a child may have become alienated from his or her parent:

  • The child displays only anger or hate towards the targeted parent.
  • The child demonstrates no guilt or remorse over cruel words or actions towards the victimized parent.
  • The child offers made-up or unrealistic reasons for his or her anger.
  • The child invents scenarios that did not happen and describes them in vivid detail.
  • The child protects the unaffected parent's actions and feelings at all times.
  • Hostile feelings spread to friends or family members of the victimized parent.
  • The child expresses frustration or anger at being forced to spend time with the targeted parent, even if ordered to by the nontargeted parent due to a court order or parenting agreement.

It's important to note here that legally speaking, parental alienation applies only in situations where there is no justified reason for the child's responses. Cases involving family violence, addiction or abuse can certainly fuel these reactions. In such cases, the Court will likely take action to ensure that the child's best interests are protected, which could mean limiting or prohibiting time spent in a toxic household.

What You Can Do About Parental Alienation

Contested custody situations can be emotionally taxing on everyone. At such times, you want a level head who can help you take positive, concrete steps to rectify the situation. Our lawyers will seek the assistance of qualified, neutral experts to help with your case, such as child psychologists or therapists. Their testimonies and insights can not only help you with your case, but also protect the child's best interests as well.

If you already have a parenting agreement or Court order and are trying to get it changed, it's important to follow the terms of your agreement carefully in the meantime. We can help you build your case, which may take some time as we need to gather evidentiary support. Rest assured that we will do what we can to protect the children you love.

We Can Help You Through This Difficult Situation

Call us at 604-800-8853 or send us an email to get started. Our law firm strives to help families throughout the Vancouver area resolve difficult legal situations. We will give you our undivided attention and respect, and we always will.