Divorce is a difficult situation for everyone involved, especially if you have children with your former spouse. Some divorced parents can engage in a practice called parental alienation, which occurs when one parent attempts to turn the children against the other parent. Not only can parental alienation lead to strained relationships between you and your children, but it is also an abusive practice. Here are a few signs that your former spouse may be engaging in parental alienation.
1. Your Former Spouse Tells Your Children Details of Your Divorce
While your former spouse may claim he or she wants to be honest and open with your children, there are some “grown-up” details that are not appropriate to share with them. If your spouse tells your children why you two got a divorce, including details of your conflict and actions you took to end the marriage, your children could paint a very negative picture of you. Your children could see you as responsible for the divorce and develop anger towards you.
2. Your Spouse Makes False Allegations of Domestic Violence
When telling your children details of your divorce, your former spouse may elaborate on actions you took that hurt him or her and made the divorce necessary. Some parents may make false accusations of abuse to further damage their former spouses’ reputations. If your children make references to past abusive behavior that you did not commit, parental alienation may be present.
3. Your Former Spouse Speaks Badly of You in Front of Your Children
Your former spouse may make certain comments that incite anger towards you in front of your children. He or she may say something such as, “We can’t have a family Christmas because your mother/father is spending time with his/her new friend” or similar statements to make your children cast anger and blame in your direction.
4. Your Former Spouse Uses Negative Body Language
If you and your former spouse are in the same room, your spouse may use body language to communicate his or her dislike towards you in front of your children. Crossed arms, rolling eyes, shaking heads, and angry faces are all forms of negative body language that could send a negative message about you to your children.
5. Your Children Are Angry with You
If your former spouse is saying bad things about you at home, these negative attitudes will come out when you spend time with your children. If your children say that they hate you, that they don’t like you, or talk about the reasons they don’t like you, parental alienation may be at play at your spouse’s home.
6. Your Children Feel Guilty After Spending Time with You
A parent who is engaging in parental alienation does not want his or her children to enjoy spending time with the other parent. If your children refrain from saying they had fun with you or liked being with you, your spouse may be making them feel guilty about having an attachment to you in private.
7. Your Former Spouse Pries About Your Private Life
After their visits, your former spouse may ask your children uncomfortable and inappropriate questions about your private life. The children may feel uncomfortable and conflicted since they want to be loyal to both of you. If your spouse suddenly knows details about your life you did not share with him or her, he or she could be using the children to gain that information.
8. Your Former Spouse Keeps Your Children Away From You
Your custody arrangement may say you can only see your children on certain days, but your spouse may sign them up for certain activities that take place on those days or your children may be unwilling to see you. The less time your children spend with you, the less of an emotional bond you can develop.
9. Your Former Spouse Gives Your Children Choices About Visits
Depending on your custody agreement, you may have scheduled visits with your children mandated by the court. Your former spouse may ask your children if they want to go visit you – even if they don’t have a choice. You may not see your children or when your children have their mandated visits, they may blame you for making them go.
10. Your Former Spouse Asks Your Children to Choose One Parent
Your children cannot choose between two parents, but your spouse may ask them to make that decision. Your children may experience considerable distress as a result, and experience resentment towards you if your spouse convinces them to choose him or her.
Parental alienation is an unfortunate reality for many divorced parents, but it does not have to be. If you believe your former spouse is alienating you from your children, speak to your Indianapolis parental alienation lawyer as soon as possible.