The 25 signs of parental alienation

Although there is no proper legal definition of parental alienation, it is agreed that it happens when one separated or divorced parent comes between the other, and damages their relationship with the child.

If you are experiencing issues with your ex and you feel you need legal advice to address matters, contact specialist family solicitor Maria Coster of Stowe Family Law. Maria has an excellent record in child law matters as well as being involved in a number of complex cases involving issues such as domestic violence, substance misuse, and parental alienation.

Parental alienation can occur in many ways, so without further ado we have listed the most common signs to look out for, below:

  1. Repeatedly changing or breaking agreed arrangements
  2. Blocking text messages, calls, or emails
  3. Not consulting the other parent of updated medical or educational matters
  4. Telling the other parent they cannot see their child unless they pay money, whether or not it is owed
  5. Interfering with time, such as making arrangements or plans for a time when the child is due to be with the other parent
  6. Making false allegations, such as calling social services in an attempt to prevent the child being with the parent
  7. Withholding or destroying gifts, letters, or photos from the other parent
  8. Burdening the child with emotional outbursts or anger
  9. Expressing extreme negative views towards the other parent
  10. Children denying any past positive experiences with the other parent and not having any interest in improving the relationship
  11. Siding with the alienating parent despite them demonstrating bad behaviours
  12. Lack of remorse for hurting the other parent’s feelings
  13. Claiming to reject the other parent with no influence from the alienating parent
  14. Repeating the alienating parent’s words without understanding them
  15. Becoming hostile towards the other parent’s family or friends

What are the signs in a child of parental alienation?

Signs of parental alienation to look out for in the child include:

  1. Demonstrating extreme negative views of the other parent and seeing one as good and the other as bad. The alienating parent may then feed off this behaviour and use it to justify their actions
  2. Feeling protective over the alienating parent, taking their side, and showing no compassion for the other parent
  3. Adopting the alienating parent’s way of thinking
  4. Withdrawal of love and affection


What are the signs of alienating behaviour in a parent?

  1. Bad-mouthing the other parent to the child. Although this behaviour is covert, it becomes clear from what the child says or how they show disdain towards them
  2. Referring to the other parent by their first name instead of ‘mum’ or ‘dad’
  3. Forcing the child to choose by offering attractive alternative activities during time meant for the other parent
  4. Telling the child that the other parent is dangerous and not safe to be around
  5. Limiting contact with the other parent and making excuses as to why the child cannot or refuses to spend time with them
  6. Changing the child’s name to remove any association with the other parent

How can I deal with parental alienation?

If you believe your ex is talking inappropriately with your child and this is creating tension between you, it is important to act quickly to prevent alienation. If you delay taking action, then the alienating behaviour may take hold and become harder to resolve and repair the psychological damage experienced by the child. Most legal professionals believe a child needs and benefits from a loving relationship with both parents, even if that means involving the court.

If you have to apply for a child arrangements order, the court will carefully consider any allegations of parental alienation and take proactive measures to help parents build or repair their relationship with the child. In extreme circumstances, where a court has found parental alienation has caused emotional harm to the child, and the alienating parent does not understand the damage they have caused by their actions, it can make an order to change the child’s primary carer.

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