In many post-divorce families, parents work together and maintain open lines of communication regarding the care and well-being of a minor child. Even though the marriage may be over, they are still sensitive to the needs of children regarding custody and visitation issues. Unfortunately, there are also some parents that struggle with their roles, taking advantage of their rights and using ulterior motives to impact family relationships. The term used to describe this situation is “parental alienation” and it may impact custody and visitation under Virginia law. Some general information can help you understand and recognize the signs of parental alienation.
Parental Alienation Under Virginia Law
Determinations regarding custody and visitation hinge on Virginia’s law that requires consideration of the child’s best interests, one of which is the inclination of each parent to support the child’s bond with the other parent. According to the statute, it runs contrary to the child’s best interests if one parent unreasonably denies access or visitation. This type of conduct amounts to parental alienation, and it often takes the form of manipulation, bullying, or intimidation. In some situations, a parent may engage in such behaviors to “punish” the other parent for initiating divorce.
Left unaddressed, parental alienation can have serious emotional and developmental consequences for the child. He or she is robbed of having a proper relationship with one parent. Some studies have even shown that parental alienation can increase the risks of a child developing a psychological disorder.
Indications of Parental Alienation
If the other parent is attempting to negatively affect your relationship with your child, there are a few signs you may start to see:
- Extreme changes in your child’s interactions with you, such as hostility when he or she was usually excited to see you;
- Interference with the visitation schedule, such as your child skipping visits without explanation or the other parent’s outright refusal to produce the child at the designated time;
- Your child seems to know divorce details that are inappropriate;
- Your child blames you for the divorce, for money troubles, support issues, or other woes.
Consult with Virginia Child Visitation and Custody Lawyers
If you spot the early signs of parental alienation, it is critical to discuss your situation with an attorney right away. The lawyers at Shannon & Associates, P.C. can help you get back on the right track with your child, so please call our Chesapeake, VA office at (757) 228-5529 or visit us online for more information.