Help! My Children Are Being Turned Against Me!

Even in the most amicable divorce, shared custody can be difficult at times. Normal difficulties become something much more sinister when one parent attempts to sabotage the relationship of their child with the co-parent. The parent on the receiving end of such manipulation is often hurt, confused, angry, and unsure of their legal options. By learning to identify signs of parental alienation and utilizing simple tips to stop the behavior, you can protect your rights and the wellbeing of your child.

Parental alienation

Parental alienation is when one parent intentionally undermines the parent-child relationship of the other parent by attempting to influence or manipulate their child to turn against the other parent. Parental alienation can take many forms: for instance, a parent may criticize the child’s other parent, use the child to gather information, or even interfere with the other parent’s custody time. Regardless of the form the parental alienation takes, the effects can be devastating both for the child and the alienated parent.

Massachusetts’s stance on parental alienation

In Massachusetts, family courts have recognized the validity of parental alienation claims on the basis that the alienating behaviors are contrary to the best interest of the child. Parties have successfully used experts such as custody evaluators and child psychologists to argue that the alienating behavior is a significant enough grounds on which to re-evaluate or modify current custody arrangements. In many states, including Massachusetts, experts are beginning to recognize in children a condition known as parental alienation syndrome which is classified as a child who has turned against one parent without reason, usually due to some level of manipulation by the other parent.

Tips to stop parental alienation

If you feel that the other parent of your child is using parental alienation techniques to undermine your parent-child relationship, there are tips you can utilize to protect yourself and your child. These include:

  • Don’t blame the child for their behavior
  • Discuss the alienating behaviors with the other parent in a non-confrontational manner
  • Refrain from retaliating against the other parent by stooping to their level
  • Reinforce a positive relationship with your child
  • Consider consulting a child psychologist or family counselor
  • Seek legal help

At O’Connor Family Law, we pride ourselves on our dedication to providing families with top-notch legal services. If you think that your child is being exposed to parental alienation behaviors, contact the trusted legal team at O’Connor Family Law by telephone at (744) 314-4725 or visit us online at

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