Parental alienation is not a term that's used often, but it goes on in many households throughout New Jersey. In fact, you probably know at least one family in which one parent constantly attempts to make the other parent look bad in the eyes of their children. The parent may do this through various actions, including making up lies, criticizing the other parent's choices, and limiting contact between the children and the other parent. Most individuals who engage in parental alienation have considerable resentment against their spouse, especially if they divorced over adultery or some other sensitive circumstance. However, some parents struggle with fears or insecurities that make them overly possessive of their children. They may also be afflicted with psychological conditions that affect their judgment.
Regardless of the cause, parental alienation is extremely unhealthy for your children. Many children end up blaming themselves for driving the other parent away, or spend the rest of their lives hating the other parent for deserting them. Even if they find out the truth later, it may take psychological counseling in order for them to reconnect with the other parent. Relationships, in general, are a struggle for these children as they grow into adulthood. Fears of abandonment, coupled with their own parents' divorce, may leave them insecure to the point where they simply cannot make healthy connections with intimate partners.
If you suspect that your children are being turned against you, speak to a family law attorney right away about your legal options. Although former spouses are often advised to work things out on their own, this is not a good idea in the case of parental alienation. After all, it's unlikely that you will be able to have a civil discussion with a spouse who clearly has something against you. It may also lead you to argue, which if it gets bad enough, could result in police involvement. Depending on how the incident is viewed by your children, you may end up looking like the bad guy, thereby making your relationship with them even worse.
Another reason for going to an attorney is that parental alienation cases are very difficult to try. Although the courts exist to protect children from physical and emotional abuse, they also recognize that no parent is perfect. In addition, situations such as busy work schedules and moving to another state can make it difficult to stick to a parenting plan, even under the best of intentions. Finally, the courts must consider how the trial process would affect the children. For example, if the children are asked to testify, they may be left feeling that they betrayed one parent on behalf of another. However, deliberately canceling visits, cutting visits short or failing to return the children at the scheduled time may be seen as custodial interference. As you can see, there are a lot of factors to consider, which is why you should speak with a family law attorney about your best course of action.