Parental Alienation Defined

Parental alienation is a social dynamic which occurs most often during a divorce or separation.  During this stressful time in a family’s life, one parent can become so angry or fearful, that they begin a conscious or unconscious campaign of alienation against the other parent.  The alienation can be as subtle as making a passing derogatory comment about the other parent or a full-blown campaign to turn the child(ren) against the other parent. 

Parents are not the only individuals who can contribute to the alienation of a child.  Step-parents, grandparents, family friends, and even attorneys and therapists can cause children to feel that they must “pick a side” or “choose a parent.” 

When a child experiences alienation, they may not wish to speak with or visit with the other parent.  They may harbor feelings of anger or sadness directed at the other parent.  They may begin to act out towards the other parent. 

Men's rights attorney in FloridaSam R. Assini is a member of the Florida Bar, practicing Family Law in Lee County, Florida. His firm’s focus is on Men’s Rights, aggressively representing the interests of husbands and fathers involved in divorce and other family law matters. He can be reached at (239) 829-0166, View his Divorce Magazine Profile.


  1. Nic says:

    It is sad that divorce may turn your child to hate you.But it is more sad that it might be your partner, step-parents, grandparents, family friends, and even attorneys and therapists who causes it,conscious or unconscious.

    Alienation should not happen.And people should not force a child to alienate his dad/mom.

  2. Lissa Curry says:

    Is it “parental alienation” when the other parent agrees not to contact or support the children (because he didn’t want to adopt them in the first place, or later changed his mind after the adoption was final)?

  3. Once the adoption is finalized the person who adopted the child(ren) is considered to be, and has the same rights, as a natural parent. The facts that you are alleging are more of an abandonment of parental responsibilites than parental alienation. Abandonment of children is more of a dependency court issue under Florida Statute Chapter 39. The child support issue can be cured by filing a motion for contempt and enforcement if there is an order in place for the support of the child(ren). Parents cannot agree to have their parental rights terminated by agreement. The only way to terminate a parent’s rights is through an adoption or Chapter 39 dependency proceeding.

  4. Good point. The parent who alienates the child must consider the long term ramifications on the child. Those ramifications can affect the child for a lifetime socially and psychologically. In a lot of the parental alientation cases that I see it backfires on the parent who engages in the alienation. The parent who is being alienated will be able to prove to the child, once that child reaches an appropriate age, what actually happened during the time that he or she was alienated. In some cases the child(ren) wind up angry at the alienator as they realize that they have been deprived of the love and affection of the alientated parent. If you are involved in case of parental alienation it is a good idea to get an expert involved in the case, such as a parenting evaluator, so that they can investigate. This should be a mental health professional that is familiar with parental alienation syndrome. After the investigation the expert will file a report and make recommendations to the court.

  5. dave a says:

    Here is my personal experience with Parental Alienation. Warning, strong language. I’d be interested in any feedback. I hope this video helps other people in similar situations. Thanks.