Parents who don’t get along well after their divorce will have a long journey with child custody issues. While this is fairly normal, there are some instances in which divorced parents take things to an even worse-than-usual level of conflict. Parental alienation occurs when one parent says and does things to make the children think the other parent is a horrible person. Not only does this make things more complicated for the alienated parent, but it also has a negative impact on the children. 

When one parent continually badmouths the other, the children may begin to take the information to heart. They might decide that they don’t want to have a relationship with the parent who is always being denigrated. This can range from a minor reluctance to speak to the parent, but it can also take more severe forms of outright refusing to have anything to do with that parent. 

Encouraging parental alienation can cost you your custody rights, so it’s not something that anyone should ever consider as a tactic in child custody disputes. The courts look at what’s in the child’s best interests when deciding these cases. It’s usually best for the minor to have contact with both parents, and parental alienation undermines that. Therapy might be necessary so that parents can work out their differences without hurting the bonds they have with their children.

Having terms in your parenting plan that forbid parents from speaking ill of each other might not be enough to prevent parental alienation. Still, it’s important for the document to contain all the information the parents might need to raise the children and to govern their parenting relationship.