Parental Alienation in High-Conflict Divorce Cases


Parental Alienation in High-Conflict Divorce Cases

Most people are aware that the sensitive subjects raised in divorce have the potential to create hostility. Relationship dynamics with a history of abuse, neglect, or ethical disagreement often foster an environment unconstructive for making decisions. It is important to remember the number one priority in the midst of a divorce is the well-being of the children. Parental alienation is a phenomenon where a child begins to feel fear, disrespect, or betrayal towards one of their parents because of the other parent badmouthing or disgracing their spouse in front of their child.

Parental alienation often happens in high-conflict divorce cases and is largely damaging to the parent-child relationship. Although children often don’t have anything to do with a couple’s decision to divorce, the child may feel like they need to choose sides. A child will then ally themselves with one favored parent—often after this individual communicates all the ways the other parent wronged them—while rejecting the targeted parent without hearing their side of the story. To preserve the integrity of your child’s relationship with both parents and affect children as little as possible in a divorce, you can take some simple steps.

  1. Don’t badmouth your spouse in front of your child.
  2. Leave the dirty details of your divorce between adults.
  3. Avoid implying your spouse’s faults affect their ability to be a good parent.
  4. Do not try to change your child’s image of your spouse.
  5. Limit contact and discussion of your spouse if tensions are too high.

Parental alienation often severs one parent-child relationship in what many divorce counselors call “psychological warfare.” No matter what issues came between you and your spouse, the healthiest course of action is to leave the children out of parental matters and do what is best for their happiness and safety.

Contact a Child Custody Lawyer in Austin

Just because your marriage is ending does not mean your children have to sacrifice their relationship with a loving parent. Knowing how to address, discuss, and negotiate a high-conflict divorce is essential to protecting a child’s well being, but learning which boundaries to leave uncrossed is tricky. At [firm-name], our child custody lawyers are well versed in the best ways to approach divorce with children and can guide you through navigating these complicated matters. Don’t hesitate to contact our Austin offices at [phone-number] for support in your case.


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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by Co-founding Partner, Chris Kirker who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a personal injury attorney.

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