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Child custody: Are you a victim of parental alienation?

When you and your spouse decided to file for divorce in a Colorado court, you understood that you might encounter challenges regarding your future co-parenting plan. In fact, you might be one of many parents who often fought about your kids during marriage, especially if you and your co-parent tend to disagree on how to interpret your children's best interests.

All that aside, getting divorced doesn't mean you're abdicating your parental rights. You're not divorcing your kids; you're divorcing your spouse. Therefore, your ex has no right to try to systematically undermine your relationship with your children by filling their heads with lies or trying to turn them against you. This is called parental alienation and it is not okay.

Recognizing the signs of a parental alienation problem

When a Colorado parent sets out to turn children against a co-parent, he or she can be quite covert in his or her attempts. Such a parent often uses subtle means for instilling fear or hatred in his or her kids against the other parent. If you notice one or more of the signs included in the following list, you may have reason to suspect that your spouse is targeting you in a parental alienation scheme:

  • If you normally video chat, text and otherwise keep in close contact with your kids and they have suddenly rejected your attempts to correspond, it's definitely cause for concern.
  • Have your relatives mentioned that your children have shut them out of their lives? Isolating kids from extended family members is a common tactic used in parental alienation.
  • Do you suspect that your ex is abusing your kids? While this is a separate issue, it may also intersect with possible parental alienation because abusive parents often try to turn their kids against their other parent.
  • Children who give reasons why they don't want to see a parent will often sound as though they're repeating a script if, in fact, one parent is trying to alienate them from the other. An alienating parent will drill certain phrases or words into their kids' minds, or even instruct them how to respond to certain questions or inquiries.
  • Parental alienation often involves parents making negative comments about co-parents within earshot of their children. It is intentional and is a covert means for turning kids against the parent in question.

While you can try to talk to your kids about your suspicions, if it's already gone too far, they will likely tune you out or even refuse to speak to you. That's why a best course of action is often to reach out for additional support to help you protect your parental rights by bringing the matter to the court's attention.

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