Although the family laws in Illinois have changed, there is still great risk of parental alienation – a process in which one parent negatively influences their child’s relationship with the other parent. Sadly, there is a severe lack in data on this common issue; to rectify this, Colorado State University researchers have initiated a study to better understand its impact and prevalence.
Understanding Parental Alienation
Parental alienation may seem like an issue sanctioned only for divorces with domestic violence, or in situations where the child already had a strained relationship with one of their parents, but it is far more prevalent than most people realize. The issue is so common, in fact, that the researchers deemed it a “social problem” that, like domestic violence, is highly misunderstood and rarely discussed.
Different from estrangement, which is what happens when the other parent is actually dangerous to the child’s physical or emotional well-being, parental alienation occurs when an emotionally wounded or angry parent discusses, exaggerates, or even outright lies about the actions of the other parent. This can be seen in many forms, from outright blaming the other parent to making generalized statements about the other parent’s character. All forms are damaging to the other parent, but they are also extremely damaging to the child.
The Impact of Parental Alienation
Regardless of how or why parental alienation comes about, children are the ones to suffer from its effects. They are deprived of the emotional bond they desire with the other parent, and they can start to suffer from distress that can range from mild anger to anxiety or depression. Some psychologists believe this happens because the child essentially is at war inside, wanting to please one parent but feeling like they are constantly betraying one or the other.
Illinois Family Law Changes Seek to Combat Parental Alienation
At the start of 2016, Illinois’ state law sought to work against parental alienation with amendments to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Now the focus is placed on the best interest of the child, rather than who has “sole” or “joint” custody. Yet, there is still great potential for emotional parental alienation through the use of negative comments and the intentional damaging of parental bonds.
Preventing Parental Alienation in Your Divorce
Most couples struggle with feelings of anger, resentment, depression, and rage after a divorce; it is part of the grieving process. However, it is crucial for parents to remember that they are the adults, and that the children are children. As such, parents should seek out support from their peers, rather than their children. A therapist or psychologist may also be able to help. Most of all, parents must work together to provide the child with a safe, nurturing, and healthy environments, regardless of whatever the issues are between one another.
If you believe that you are dealing with parental alienation during a separation leading up to divorce, it is important to speak with an attorney to ensure your rights are protected. Mulyk Laho Law, LLC can help. Our skilled DuPage County divorce attorneys consistently go the extra mile to ensure our clients have the quality representation they deserve, and they work hard to ensure that all proceedings stay focused on the best interest of minor children. Schedule a free initial consultation to learn more about how they may be able to assist with your case. Call 630-852-1100 today.