what is parental alienation

What is parental alienation?

Dr Maree Livermore
Founder & CEO

There are a developing set of cases in family law about parental alienation: where one parent acts deliberately to spoil the child’s relationship with the other. 

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for one parent to try to ‘take down’ the relationship that a child has, or might have, with the other parent. They might minimise the time the other parent spends with the child, or frustrate communication between them, or cancel a lot of arrangements, or simply criticise the other parent in the child’s presence. Some parents are passively destructive by not preparing a child for spending time with the other, or by letting the child decide whether they will go with the parent.

The concept is highly relevant to the assessment of the child’s best interests by the court, and the consequences of a finding of parental alienation can be very serious.  If the court decides that parental alienation is a factor, the child can be removed entirely, and with no notice, from the care of the parent doing the alienating.

Definitely easier to say than do, but parents should try to avoid communicating to the child any negative attitudes they may privately have about the other parent, or about the child spending time with the other parent. 

To learn more about parenting issues in Family law, make sure to read Tribe’s Guide to Parenting Agreements.