Even if each spouse recognizes that ending a marriage is the right course of action, divorce is rarely pleasant. If you and your ex-spouse do not get along, however, your divorce may have been downright brutal. Now that it is over, the two of you can focus on co-parenting your son or daughter. Unfortunately, though, if your ex-husband or -wife is angry, he or she may try to sabotage the relationship you have with your child. 

Parental alienation happens when one parent uses psychological manipulation to turn a child against the other parent. While this manipulation may be either intentional or involuntary, the results are the same. Specifically, the alienated parent loses the love, affection and trust of the child, while the child experiences potentially long-term emotional harm. 

Common warning signs 

Unfortunately, because it may take a variety of forms, parental alienation is not always easy to identify. Similarly, a single incident may not rise to the level of parental alienation. Nonetheless, if you notice any of the following warning signs, your ex-spouse may be trying to harm your parent-child relationship: 

  • Negative, mean or otherwise disparaging comments about you 
  • Exclusion from normal parent-child activities 
  • Disapproving statements about your fitness as a parent 

A serious matter 

When making child-related orders, such as custody or visitation, judges in Michigan must consider the child’s leading interests. Clearly, parental alienation is not in any child’s interests. Nonetheless, because they usually strive to involve both parents in a child’s life, judges may be slow to stop suspected parental alienation. As such, you should consider carefully documenting alienating behaviors in a custody notebook. Not only does this approach allow you to determine if parental alienation is pervasive, but it also helps you collect relevant documentation. 

Like most parents, you treasure the relationship you have with your son or daughter. If your ex-spouse is trying to ruin that relationship, you likely must act quickly to stop parental alienation. Understanding how to identify the behavior, though, is a critical step.