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Separations can be difficult, and it is often the case that parents reach a point that they can no longer speak about each other positively. This can lead to children being exposed to bitterness and negative comments that can have a long-lasting effect on their emotional well-being. Parental alienation can be unintentional as well as intentional.

There are no specific laws that deal with parent alienation, but the family court can and often does step in when it feels that the child’s welfare is in jeopardy.

What is parental alienation?

Parental alienation is often characterised by the resident parent psychologically manipulating a child against their other parent, which in turn, results in the child aligning themselves with one parent’s views and taking their side. This can give rise to rejection of a parent or resisting spending time with one parent after a separation. A child aligning themselves with one parent over the other can be emotionally damaging to the child.

Examples of parental alienation

  • Prohibiting contact or cancelling pre-arranged contact sessions
  • Belittling, bad-mouthing and undermining the other parent
  • Forbidding the child talking about the other parent whilst in the alienating parent’s care
  • Restricting information provided to the other parent e.g. restricting medical information or communication from the child’s school
  • Blocking indirect contact by making the child unavailable
  • Undermining the authority of the other parent
  • Not passing on gifts from the parent
  • Making important decisions about the child without consulting with the other parent
  • Convincing the child that the other parent does not love them
  • Blaming the other parent and making the child believe that the parent was the reason for the family break up
  • Coercing a child into making false allegations about the other parent


What can I do?

  1. Be aware of the signs – is you child talking about you in a way that seems like an adult rather than a child or making frequent comments that seem like they have come from someone else?


  1. Do not act out in anger – It is understandably upsetting but it is important not to act impulsively and embroil the child in the conflict. It is natural to want to speak to the child about things but putting the child in the middle of conflict can have a lasting impact upon their wellbeing.


  1. Keep a diary – Keep a note of any concerning behaviours and document the day, time and what has been said. It is always better to note things down at the time rather than recall things from the past.


  1. Take legal advice – If you believe that your child is being alienated against you, it is important to seek legal advice from legal practitioners with expertise in family matters.

Lyons Davidson solicitors have a dedicated team specialising in Family Law and would be able to advise you on the options that are available to you.  Please contact us on 0344 251 0070. You can also email us at [email protected].