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Recognizing and Addressing Parental Alienation

On Behalf of | Apr 8, 2024 | Custody

Divorce is often a challenging and emotionally taxing experience. In some cases, individuals may become distraught, angry, or even vengeful towards their former spouses. Unfortunately, this emotional turmoil can sometimes lead to a harmful behavior known as parental alienation.

Parental alienation refers to a situation where one parent psychologically manipulates a child to distance them from the other parent, often during or after a divorce. It’s a harmful behavior that can have long-term effects on the child’s relationship with the alienated parent and their own psychological well-being. It’s essential to recognize and address such behavior to promote healthy parent-child relationships.

When we talk about divorce or modifications with children, there is always one standard: what is in the best interest of the child. That standard is extremely subjective so what it means varies case by case but what is NEVER in the best interest of the child is for one parent to put their child in the middle or alienate the other parent.

What is Parental Alienation? 

Parental alienation occurs when one parent manipulates their child to reject, fear, or disrespect the other parent without justified cause. This is typically done out of spite, but in many cases, the alienating parent also does this to somehow gain full custody and child support. This behavior can damage the child’s relationship with the targeted parent and have long-lasting negative effects on their emotional well-being.

Parental alienation happens more often than you might think. Parental alienation occurs when one parent’s efforts to consciously or unconsciously brainwash a child combines with the child’s bad-mouthing of the other parent. In some situations, one parent constantly speaks ill of the other parent in front of the child or refuses to let the non-custodial parent spend time with the child. In severe cases, the child won’t even want to see or talk to the alienated parent.

Signs of Possible Parental Alienation

Parental alienation can be subtle, or it can be forthright. Sometimes, it can be difficult to distinguish between acts of parental alienation and bad parenting practices. You need to observe the potentially alienating parent’s actions carefully to determine if they truly are alienating the other parent. Here are 10 signs of parental alienation to watch out for:


  1. Saying negative comments about the other parent in front of the child.
  2. Limiting contact or visitation between the child and the other parent.
  3. Encouraging the child to reject the other parent.
  4. Making false allegations of abuse against the other parent.
  5. Undermining the authority of the other parent.
  6. Refusing to communicate or co-parent effectively.
  7. Involving the child in parental disputes or legal proceedings.
  8. Blaming the other parent for financial or emotional hardships.
  9. Creating obstacles to prevent the child from spending time with the other parent.
  10. Using the child as a messenger or spy to gather information about the other parent.

Does Georgia Recognize Parental Alienation? 

While Georgia may have no specific law addressing parental alienation, Georgia courts do recognize parental alienation as a form of emotional abuse and take it seriously. Georgia courts address parental alienation by considering the best interests of the child and may order counseling or therapy to address the issue. Additionally, the court may modify custody or visitation arrangements to protect the child from further harm.

However, proving parental alienation in court can be challenging. 

An allegation of alienation requires real and substantial evidence. One or a few instances of bad parenting choices may be presented to the court, and while these may prove harmful to the child, they may not be enough to prove true alienation.

If you suspect parental alienation, it’s essential to take action promptly and seek legal advice from experienced family law attorneys like those at The Manely Firm, P.C. We can assess the severity of the alienation, and advise you on the type of evidence you will need and the best strategies for your unique case.

How Do You Prove Narcissistic Parental Alienation? 

Proving narcissistic parental alienation requires gathering evidence of manipulative behavior, such as recordings, emails, text messages, or witness testimony. An experienced attorney can help you build a case and present evidence effectively in court.

What to Do If You Suspect Parental Alienation

If you suspect parental alienation, it’s crucial to take proactive steps to address the situation. Here are some actions you can take:

  1. Document any instances of alienating behavior, including dates, times, and specific actions or statements made by the other parent.
  2. Keep communication with the other parent focused on the child’s best interests and avoid engaging in conflict or confrontation.
  3. Seek support from a qualified therapist or counselor who specializes in parental alienation and can help you navigate the emotional challenges.
  4. Consult with an experienced family law attorney who can assess your case, provide legal advice, and advocate for your rights in court if necessary.
  5. Consider requesting court-ordered counseling or therapy for both parents and the child to address the underlying issues and work towards a resolution.
  6. Prioritize the well-being of your child above all else and strive to maintain a positive and nurturing relationship with them, regardless of the challenges you may face.

By taking proactive measures and seeking professional guidance, you can help protect your child from the harmful effects of parental alienation and work towards restoring a healthy parent-child relationship.

Seeking Legal Advice

Judges want to see that you have the ability to co-parent. Judge’s want to see that you care enough about your child to keep the other parent up to date on and involved in the most important aspects of your child’s life. That’s doing it the right way.

If you are going through a custody battle or a divorce, think about how you are extending yourself to co-parent. You walk in your own shoes enough. Take a while to walk a mile in your child’s shoes. Then determine what really is in the best interest of your child.

If you suspect parental alienation, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. The well-being of your child is too important to ignore. Contact The Manely Firm, P.C., to discuss your situation and explore your legal options. Let us help you protect your relationship with your child and ensure their emotional health and stability.