Divorce is never easy, a cliched yet true statement that may explain why so many people act so irrationally throughout the process and even when it is long done. When parties of a Massachusetts divorce have children together, their irrational behavior may become even more overt or even downright harmful. One type of behavior that is particularly damaging to both the other parent and the child is parental alienation.

According to Real Simple, parental alienation syndrome occurs when one parent encourages the children of the marriage to reject the other parent without cause or justification. This encouragement may be conscious or unconscious. When alienation occurs, the child may become hostile toward the alienated parent and may even express hatred for or fear of him or her. If the child is old enough, he or she may resist visitation with the alienated parent, or may refuse to talk to the parent.

The rejection occurs without justification. According to a nationally recognized expert on the syndrome, the alienation is the result of the emotional manipulation of the favored parent, rather than on actual experiences with the victim parent.

Alienation can occur in multiple ways, and on an active, naïve or obsessive basis. That said, research shows that alienation tactics typically fall into one of five categories:

  • The portrayal of the victimized parent as unsafe, unloving or unavailable
  • Expunging and replacing the targeted parent in the child’s mind and heart
  • Limiting all communication and contact between the child and alienated parent
  • Emboldening the child to betray the trust of the victim parent
  • Routinely undermining the alienated parent’s authority

You should not use this article as legal advice. The contents are for informational purposes only.