Sharing custody is a challenge even when parents agree that they need to cooperate with one another. Logistical challenges, emotional confrontations and other issues can strain co-parenting relationships and stress the children in the family. Most parents who choose to divorce or separate eventually find a way to cooperate with each other and support one another as they seek to raise happy and healthy young adults together.
However, there are some parents who simply cannot put the needs of their children above their own emotional reactions to the end of their relationships. Some parents will try to cut the other parent out of their children’s lives either as a punishment for misconduct during their relationship or to save them the emotional stress of always seeing their former partner.
Parental alienation damages not just the relationship one parent has with their children but also often kids’ mental health. These are some of the warning signs that a co-parent has started to inappropriately interfere in someone’s relationship with their children.
Disruptions in communication
Maybe one parent refuses to connect the phone calls that the other makes when the children are in their custody, or perhaps they screen and frequently delete all emails the other parent sends to the children. Even if the parents intercepting those communications doesn’t stop every attempt, the reduction and frequency of communication between a parent and their children can damage their relationship.
Effective co-parenting requires that parents share all necessary information about their children with one another. Details about issues at school, recent health concerns and even conflict with siblings our matters that one parent should always disclose to the other for more effective parenting. When one parent intentionally doesn’t keep the other informed about crucial developments for the children, that may strain their relationship or prevent them from being involved when their presence would be beneficial.
Canceling or shortening visits
It is typically expected that if one parent cancels or reduces the other’s time with the children that they will offer make-up parenting time. However, a parent trying to alienate the children from the other parents will do the opposite. They will cancel and shorten visits and refuse to allow the other parent make-up time with the children. Reduced parenting time could mean one adult always scheduling medical appointments during the other’s parenting time or outright turning them away at the front door. Both scenarios might lead to a judge agreeing that it is necessary to alter the custody order or at least enforce it.
Taking legal action when experiencing parental alienation in a shared custody relationship can potentially help a parent preserve the relationship that matters the most to them.