As we discussed in a previous blog post, Maryland law now requires divorcing parents to establish a parenting plan.
Taking this step encourages parents to put their child’s best interests first as well as define specific rules and guidelines they should follow as they move forward in their parenting journey after divorce. However, even if parents have a parenting plan in place, some might still ignore the terms and attempt to undermine the other parent.
These actions are not always signs of parental alienation, but this behavior is not something that parents should take lightly.
What is parental alienation?
The term parental alienation often refers to one parent’s actions and attempts to undermine the relationship the children have with the other parent. They attempt to make children favor them over the other parent and – as the term suggests – essentially alienate the other parent. This often can occur as a result of the anger or guilt stemming from the divorce or even an intent to punish the other parent after the divorce.
It often takes the form of:
- Regular criticism or badmouthing of the other parent to the child
- The deliberate failure to communicate with the other parent
- Interference with the other parent’s parenting time or visitation
There certainly can be negative feelings between spouses after a divorce. But if these feelings begin to disrupt parenting strategies and jeopardize the child’s best interests, it could be a sign of parental alienation.
How common is this alienation?
Some research indicates that nearly 11% to 15% of divorces involve some level of parental alienation. However, there is really no way of telling how common it is.
This is because there are many levels of parental alienation. For example, it is common for some parents to badmouth the other immediately after the divorce. This can often be remedied by addressing the matter privately. However, some parents might go to great efforts to try and turn the child against the other parent.
Understanding this issue is not meant to make parents afraid, but to help them be proactive to prevent these issues in their own divorce proceedings.