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What does parental alienation mean in regards to child custody?

The first thing to understand is that parental alienation is not a legal term. Rather it is a by-product of an often bitter and contentious divorce. Parental alienation usually involves putting some kind of distance between a child of divorce and the other parent. Unfortunately, some spouses turn to this unethical and harmful practice as a means of punishing his or her ex. However, using a child as a weapon—consciously or subconsciously—can be extremely damaging to the child instead.

Parental alienation can take place in several forms, each one creating conflict in any children of the divorce. Some of these alienation strategies include:

-- Limiting physical contact with the other parent

-- Removing photos of the other parent

-- Forbidding conversations about the other parent

-- Saying negative things about the other parent

-- Coercing a child to choose between the two parents

-- Coercing a child into rejecting the other parent

-- Keeping the child away from the other parent's family members

According to an article published in Psychology Today, at least 1 percent of divorces in North America involve some form of parental alienation. In a continent this large, that is far too high a figure. Children not only need both parents to improve the chance of growing into a well-rounded adult, they want both parents in their lives.

Making decisions about child custody is difficult enough without one or both parents attempting to alienate one another. Divorcing Connecticut parents who suspect parental alienation should consider exploring their options under the guidance of a local divorce attorney. It is nearly impossible to exercise control over what your ex may be telling the children, but you can find support and advocacy through the state's legal system.

Source: Psychology Today, "The Impact of Parental Alienation on Children," Edward Kruk Ph.D., accessed Sep. 10, 2015

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