What are the signs of Parental Alienation?

  • Parental alienation expresses itself through various signs and behaviours displayed by children, towards a specific parent. Therefore, usual signs of alienation include a child’s refusal to visit a parent and/or expressing negative views towards a parent.
  • Common patterns of alienation include:
    • extreme loyalty to one parent;
    • anger, fear or hostility towards one parent;
    • unwillingness to communicate or see a parent;
    • the communication of strong negative comments about a parent, that come from the other parent;
    • demonstrating a lack of empathy towards a parent;
    • showing a clear preference for spending time with a specific parent
    • an overestimation of a parent’s negative traits;
    • denying any desired action from the other parent;  
    • the refusal to share important information about the child with the other parent;
    • the child begins to demonstrate a false sense of maturity, and can create false or exaggerated stories about the targeted parent;
    • The time the children spend with the alienated parent is kept to a minimum

What is Parental Alienation?

  • Parental alienation is a process by which a child is estranged from one of their parents, with the other parent willingly or unwillingly creating an environment of repeated negative messages, views, and behaviours about the other parent. This environment can have serious long-term mental and emotional effects on the child and both parents.

What are the options for alienated parents?

  • An Alienated Parent may bring their case to court by starting an Application for parenting time and decision making authority. The Alienated parent can bring this Application within the Superior Court or Ontario Court of Justice.
  • Along with legal action one can participate in reunification therapy. Reunification therapy is designed for families dealing with estrangement and/or alienation. This form of therapy allows a parent to create strategies that will help them in reducing the potential for continued estrangement with their child, and hopefully reunite them.
  • Parenting assessments can also assist in resolving difficult disputes when attempting to mediate a parenting agreement. Assistance from an objective third party, such as court services or the services of an experienced child and family mediator; can provide insight and resolution to difficult issues surrounding parenting time and decision making.
  • Support groups, individual and family counselling, therapeutic services, and parenting classes can also prove to be very helpful.

What is reunification therapy?

  • Reunification therapy works on restoring healthy family dynamics after a prolonged separation or conflict between a parent and child. The goal of this type of therapy is to improve communication, build trust and understanding, and foster reconciliation. The goal of Reunification therapy is to heal family members from the traumatic effects of separation.
  • Reunification therapy can include individual, group, or family sessions with a counsellor. This form of therapy involves discussing past events related to the separation. It is by having a neutral third party, that constructive conversations can occur and the mediation of any unresolved issues.

What are the consequences of Parental Alienation?

  • A court can impose serious legal consequences resulting parental alienation in Ontario. These consequences can include:
    • The legal requirement to attend parenting courses,
    • being prohibited from making decisions on behalf of the children,
    • being restricted from speaking to the children, and even parenting time being restricted or supervised.
  • In serious cases, a court can find a parent who alienates their child in contempt of court or even imprisoned. Parental Alienation deprives the child of the love and support of both parents, which can result in the child developing trust issues, low self-esteem, and other mental health problems. The economic burden of parental alienation on the family can also be of major consequence, as legal fees, counselling services and other costs build up.

Next Steps

  • If you are going through a separation and have concerns with respect to conflict in the home, or stability for your children, exclusive possession may provide some relief. Contact Unified LLP for more information or if you require assistance with a separation or divorce. Fill out the request below or call us at 416-639-7651.

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