When you get divorced, you are leaving a marriage, breaking up with a spouse and choosing to adapt to a new lifestyle. As a parent, however, you are not abdicating your obligations and responsibilities to your children. In short, spouses divorce spouses, parents do not divorce children. However, parental alienation is a big problem in many Pennsylvania divorces.
If your ex is doing things to try to turn your kids against you, it can not only make your life highly stressful but can impede your parent/child relationships. The damage such situations can do is often irreparable in many ways. When the court issues a custody order, both you and your co-parent are legally bound to adhere to its terms. Parental alienation often involves disregard of an existing court order. However, it's not always overt; sometimes, it's quite subtle.
Parental alienation is a child protection concern
Most Pennsylvania judges would agree that the average child fares best if he or she continues to have an active, healthy relationship with both parents after divorce. If one parent is scheming to alienate the other, the child is the one who can suffer the most. Alienating a parent can cause severe emotional trauma for children. Sadly, such situations often involve abuse, and the abuser may want to alienate the other parent so that children are less able to reach out for support.
Why shared custody is typically best
As mentioned earlier, when the court hands down a custody ruling, both parents must adhere. Therefore, if the ruling states that co-parents are to have equal, shared custody of their children, it reduces the possibility that parental alienation can occur. A parent may still try to turn kids against a co-parent; however, it's difficult to physically keep children away from their other parent without defying the court's instructions. The court can hold a parent in contempt for doing so.
Reunification isn't always easy
Depending on how long alienation went on, reuniting parents and children can be quite challenging. The emotional scars are often long lasting. Also, a parent guilty of trying to alienate a co-parent may tell children lies about their other parent. It can take a long time to sort through all the misinformation and convince children that their own mother or father has misled them. Seeking licensed counseling may be the best way to handle such situations.
Children's best interests
What is best for the children involved? This is the question the court always has in mind when making custody-related decisions in a Pennsylvania divorce. If you believe someone is trying to undermine your parental rights or that your ex is turning your kids against you or refusing to let you see them in defiance of an existing court order, you can seek immediate intervention from the judge overseeing your case to rectify the problem.