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Parental alienation is an unfortunate, yet not uncommon, occurrence during a divorce where a separating couple has one or more children. The following considers what parental alienation is, how it can affect your child, your rights to custody, and how to avoid it. If you are separating, divorcing, or have questions about child custody or visitation rights in Illinois, an experienced family law attorney can provide more insight.

What Is Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation occurs when one parent—either intentionally or unintentionally—affects the psyche of a his or her child(ren) to the effect that the child(ren) emotionally rejects the other parent. Typically, parental alienation occurs when one parent continuously disparages the other parent to the extent that the relationship between the other parent and the child is severely affected and impaired.

The Effects of Parental Alienation on a Child

Parental alienation can be extremely detrimental to a child’s mental and psychological health. In fact, many psychologists even consider parental alienation to be abusive to children. Parental alienation may lead to severe negative consequences for the child, including:

· Behavioral issues;

· Self-loathing;

· Depression;

· Anxiety;

· Hesitancy in trusting others;

· Poor self-esteem; and

· Substance abuse and addiction problems.

Parental Alienation and Child Custody

In addition to affecting your child’s psychological wellbeing, parental alienation may also affect your child custody arrangement. This is because, per the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, the court must consider the “the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the parent and the other child” when making a child custody determination.

How to Avoid Parental Alienation

When you are going through a divorce or custody battle, it is likely that you will be suffering from a wide range of emotions, ranging from stress to anger to sadness. While these emotions can feel overwhelming, it is imperative that you do not share them with your child; doing so can make the child feel guilty, depressed, anxious, or as if he or she is to blame for your feelings. Of course, it can also lead your child to believe that your child’s other parent is responsible for your emotions.

In addition to shielding your child from your own emotions and feelings about divorce or custody, it is also important that you make an effort to refrain from bad-mouthing or belittling your spouse in front of your child. You should also never make your child feel guilty about enjoying spending time with the other parent, or loving you both equally.

Never ask a child to make a choice about with whom s/he wants to live with or whom s/he loves more. And, make your best effort possible to always behave civilly with your ex-spouse when your child is present; failing to do so can have extremely negative repercussions for your child.

Consult with a Family Law Attorney in Illinois Today

You do not have to file a divorce or seek custody of your child on your own – an experienced and passionate Illinois family law attorney can help. To learn more about parental alienation and how it may affect your child and your custody rights, consult with the team at Fay, Farrow & Associates, P.C. today. Call us now at 630-961-0060.

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