When parents are divorcing or going through custody litigation in Massachusetts, there may be conflict and disagreement over with whom a shared child will live and what the visitation rights of the other parent will be. In severe cases, one parent may even revert to unhealthy and immature behaviors, such as name-calling or talking negatively about the other parent in front of the child. Sometimes, this behavior may constitute parental alienation. Here’s what you should know about parental alienation in Massachusetts, how to prove your ex is engaging in parental alienation, and how an attorney can help.
What Is Parental Alienation?
Parental alienation is the attempt of one parent to disparage the other to the point that a shared child is aligned with the former and rejects the latter. Attempts at parental alienation can take many different forms, including:
- Bad-mouthing one parent in front of the other;
- Spreading lies or mistruths about the other parent;
- Implying that the other parent is to blame for the woes of the other, including the divorce;
- Pretending to save or rescue a child from a situation where doing so is not necessary; or
- Telling the child that the other parent is “bad” or has malintent.
Parental alienation goes beyond just being frustrated with one’s ex; it is targeted, ongoing behavior with the purpose of destroying the relationship between the child and the other parent.
How to Prove Parental Alienation in MA
For a parent who is a victim of parental alienation and who is seeking custody of their child, it can be difficult to prove that the other parent is engaging in such behaviors, and that the behavior is not in the child’s best interests. Ways that you may be able to prove that parental alienation is occurring include:
- Record all electronic communications. If you have electronic communications between you and your ex that serve as proof of disparagement, keep these. For example, if your ex sends you a text or leaves you a voicemail in which they call you a name, make sure you keep a copy as evidence. You should also record social media posts and interactions that are telling of parental alienation.
- Keep a journal. Another way to document and prove parental alienation is to keep a journal that records instances of when attempts at alienation occur.
- Talk to witnesses. Are there others in your and your ex’s lives who could speak to the fact that parental alienation is occurring? For example, do you have a mutual friend who would be willing to testify to what they’ve heard your ex say to your child? In addition to personal connections in your life, a psychiatrist may also be an excellent witness in a trial.
How Our Experienced Family Law Attorney Can Help
At the Law Office of Heather M. Ward, our Massachusetts family law attorney knows how devastating parental alienation can be for you the relationship between you and your child. If you believe that your spouse is engaging in parental alienation, our lawyer can help you to gather evidence and present your case before a court. To learn more and request a consultation, please call (617) 903-8955 or send our law firm a message directly at your convenience.