Parental Alienation in Toronto: Understanding Prevention and legal remedies

I. Introduction

Parental alienation is a complex legal issue that affects many families in Toronto and Ontario. The behaviour known as parental alienation occurs when one parent undermines the other parent’s relationship with the child. Parental alienation can result in a child losing their relationship with one of their parents. This behaviour can be considered a form of abuse and can have negative impacts for the parties involved, especially the child.

Therefore, to protect the parent-child relationship, it’s important to understand how alienation works. A parental alienation lawyer can be critical in combating parental alienation.

Explanation of Parental Alienation

Parental alienation arises in the context of decision-making responsibility and parenting disputes. Critically, these high conflict cases pose significant risk of harm to children.

In some cases, the conduct of one parent negatively influences their child to the point of fracturing the parent-child relationship. The conduct of the parent seeking to alienate the other takes many forms. For example, it may include denying communication between parent and child, speaking poorly about the other parent, and encouraging the child to reject the other parent.

If there are concerns of parental alienation, it is important act early. Therefore, be attentive to the signs early and create an effective strategy to ensure the parent-child bond remains strong.

Recognizing Signs of Parental Alienation

A child who is alienated from a parent may expresses unreasonable negative feelings and beliefs of anger, hatred, rejection, and/or fear toward a parent. Furthermore, the child’s negative feelings often appear disproportionate to the child’s actual experiences. Ultimately, the child may become unwilling to spend time with one parent.

Therefore, professionals often look at concerning attitudes and behaviour of children, which may include:  

  1. The child expresses constant hatred for the particular parent. 
  2. The child’s language parrots that of the alienating parent. 
  3. The child vehemently rejects visiting the targeted parent. 
  4. Many of the child’s beliefs are aggressively inline with the alienating parent. 
  5. Many of the child’s beliefs are delusional and irrational. 
  6. The child’s reasons are not from direct experiences but from what has been told them by others. 
  7. The child’s feelings are all hatred with no ability to see any good or allow for mixed feelings;  
  8. The child does not feel guilty about their behavior towards the parent. 
  9. The child and the alienating parent are in lockstep to denigrate the targeted parent. 
  10. The child can appear as normal, but when asked about the parent, they are triggered towards it hatred. 

Effects of Parental Alienation on Parents and Children

The most obvious effect of parental alienation is the potential loss of the parent-child relationship. However, it is also important to remember that parental alienation is a form of emotional child abuse, which can have lasting negative impacts. Some of the frequently listed effects of parental alienation that have been reported in the child welfare literature, include: 

  • an impaired ability to establish and maintain future relationships; 
  • a lowering of the child’s self-image; 
  • a loss of self-respect; 
  • the evolution of guilt, anxiety, and depression over their role in destroying their relationship with a previously loved parent; 
  • lack of impulse control (aggression can turn into delinquent behavior); and 
  • educational problems and disruptions in school. 

Strategies for Overcoming Parental Alienation

There are a variety of strategies that can be used to deal with parental alienation, including legal strategies, therapeutic, and collaborative approaches. A parental alienation lawyer in Toronto can help to develop the best plan and approach to address your specific concerns. 

Legal strategies may include filing with the court to have primary parenting with the child or seeking to enforce rights to both parenting and decision making. It may also be beneficial to seek to have the Office of the Children’s Lawyer appointed to represent the child within any court proceedings and obtain a report from the Children’s Lawyer.

Therapeutic approaches may involve counseling, family and/or reunification therapy, or other forms of support. Further, the parent who has been alienated may attempt parenting classes in order to provide support with respect to the quality of parent they are. 

Collaboration may involve working with the other parent to develop a parenting plan that will addresses the best interest of the child and facilitate the parent-child relationship. Whether collaborative approaches are possible will depend on if the parents are able to communicate well with each other. 

Importance of Hiring a Parental Alienation Lawyer in Toronto

In cases where parental alienation behaviour has caused a child to resist contacting a parent and impacted the parent-child relationship, timely recognition of the alienation and an effective legal response are needed. A parental alienation lawyer in Toronto can ensure that a parent’s rights are protected and the parent-child relationship remain intact. 

Lawyers are able to develop effective strategies while also enabling parties to initiate court proceedings. They can help a parent to establish and enforce their rights to have parenting-time with their child.