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What to Do If You’re Being Alienated from Your Child

by | Sep 12, 2023 | Child Abuse, NY, Child Custody NY

One of the most heartbreaking things that can happen to a parent during a divorce is becoming alienated from their children. Sadly, this alienation often caused by the actions of the other parent in an effort to “get back at” or enact retribution for perceived prior transgressions of the alienated parent. Not only does this hurt the alienated parent, but it can have serious negative impacts on a child’s emotional and mental wellbeing, especially when they become unable to connect to either parent in a meaningful way.

If you suspect you’re becoming a victim of parental alienation, it’s important to understand what to look for and how you can get legal assistance to help you protect your family.

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#1. Justifying Alienating Actions

Usually, the parent doing the alienating will go through a period of justifying their actions to anyone who will listen. They’ll give reasons as to why they’re trying to keep the kids away from the other parent, even if they’re not true. Their reasoning also tends to be vague, without specific incidents to back it up, like “I just don’t trust them,” or “they’re not acting right.”

#2. Acting as Though Their Ex Is Abusing The Children

A parent doing the alienating will often start to project the things they are doing to harm the children onto their ex, suggesting that it’s actually the ex that’s engaging in troubling behaviors.

For example, they may become hypervigilant and convinced that the children are being abused in the alienated parent’s care. They may examine the children for signs of physical abuse and can become overly protective of where the children go or what they’re doing at any given time.

And even when there’s no evidence to corroborate the claims, the alienating parent maintains their position, potentially even going so far as to suggest that other people are covering for the ex.

#3. Convincing the Children As Though They Are Being Abused

Once the alienating parent is thoroughly enveloped in their beliefs, they begin to convince their children that they’re being abused. Children going through a divorce or the breakup of their parents are frightened, angry, and unsure of how to keep themselves safe. They often pick up on the emotions of their caregivers and mirror their behaviors.

And when a parent believes that their children are being harmed, whether there is evidence for it or not, children become in tune with that experience. Soon, they start to believe that the other parent is abusive too, even if the alienated parent hasn’t done or said anything of the sort.

#4. Reinforcing the Alienation

As the children start acting fearful and upset on their own, the alienating parent doesn’t realize that it’s their own behaviors that are influencing them. Instead, they think that their own emotions are justified and the children are responding to the actions of the “abusive” parent.

This acts as a reinforcement mechanism, perpetuating the emotions and beliefs of both the alienating parent and the child as they feed off and mirror each other.

#5. Ignoring Reality

In the final stage of parental alienation, the beliefs have become ingrained and any evidence to the contrary is ignored. Alienated parents who continue to try to have relationships with their children are often demonized no matter what they do. Any good they accomplish is written off or twisted to appear abusive or self-serving.

Reality essentially doesn’t matter at this point and the damage is nearly completely done. It can be difficult to repair relationships with your children once alienation gets to this stage, but it’s not impossible.

When To Get a Qualified Long Island, NY Divorce Lawyer On Board

If you suspect your child is being alienated from you by your ex, it’s important to talk to a family law attorney who can help you better understand your rights and what you can do to protect yourself and your relationship with your children. At Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C., we can provide you with the aggressive and zealous legal representation you need to stand up to someone trying to alienate you from your kids.

Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more about your parental rights, especially if you’re a father getting a Long Island, NY divorce. Dial 631-923-1910 now or fill out our short online contact form and our team of family legal professionals will get back to you as soon as we can to schedule a free consultation and case evaluation.

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About the Author

Robert E. Hornberger, Esq., Founding Partner, Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C.

  • Over 20 years practicing matrimonial law
  • Over 1,000 cases successfully resolved
  • Founder and Partner of Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C.
  • Experienced and compassionate Long Island Divorce Attorney, Family Law Attorney, and Divorce Mediator
  • Licensed to practice law in the State of New York
  • New York State Bar Association member
  • Nassau County Bar Association member
  • Suffolk County Bar Association member
  • “Super Lawyer” Metro Rising Star
  • Nominated Best of Long Island Divorce Attorney four consecutive years
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee Contributor
  • Collaborative Law Association of New York – Former Director
  • Martindale Hubbell Distinguished Designation
  • America’s Most Honored Professionals – Top 5%
  • Lead Counsel Rated – Divorce Law
  • American Institute of Family Law Attorneys 10 Best
  • International Academy of Collaborative Professionals
  • Graduate of Hofstra University School of Law
  • Double Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy, Politics & Law and History from SUNY Binghamton University
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Melissa Rappa
Melissa Rappa
18:09 08 Feb 24
At one of the hardest and most stressful times of my life, it was so comforting to have a team at Hornberger and Verbitsky who ALWAYS responded in record speed to my questions, phone calls, emails or texts and who I felt really cared about helping me through this difficult time. It was a long few years and I am grateful to all of you. Thank you so much Rob, AnneMarie, Christine, Patty, Joan and Lawrence. Your guidance, professionalism and expertise is appreciated beyond measure.
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Paul Carmichael
16:21 11 Dec 23
I would give 6 stars if I could. I can't say enough good things about Robert and his firm. We were in a situation for over 2 years and I could have never made it through without Robert's experience and knowledge. He guided me through tough times when needed and his expertise could "read" the situation and make the next best move for me. He was tough when he needed to be tough (thankfully) and at the same time guided me through the process to make me feel comfortable in an uncomfortable situation. I would not want to go through this process without Robert and his team having my back. he helped move the case along and not waste any time or money. One last time, I 100% endorse Robert and his expertise.

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