What is Parental Alienation and Restrictive Gatekeeping?
With the rise in divorce rates the term”Parental Alienation” has become more and more popular term in Family Law. Parental Alienation occurs when a parent alienates one or all children from the other parent. The rejected parent, naturally, reacts very negatively when the child resists spending time or communicating with them. Once the children begin rejecting the alienated parent, conflict begins which is typically followed by legal action.
The theory that many researchers have developed states that a parent’s gatekeeping attitudes will lead to what is called “gate closing behaviors” which closes off a parent completely from the child. For example, examples of gate closing behaviors are ending any and all forms of communications between the alienated parent and the child.
Does the term Parental Alienation hold up in court?
Depending on the state, Parental Alienation can have serious legal ramifications in court. Here in the state of Florida, specifically Palm Beach county, the majority of judges and magistrates are aware of Parental Alienation and its serious effects on children. The destructive behaviors can cause a great deal of damage to the children involved as well as a loss of parental rights.
In extreme cases, children can be removed from the restrictive parent’s home and moved to the other parent’s home or guardian for safety. In other extreme cases, a judge may rule that the parent is only allowed to interact with the child through supervised visitation programs. Although these are all extreme cases, the outcome of parental alienation shows the negative outcome most, through children and how they begin to view the outside parent. The most important factor that contributes to healthy development in a child being raised in a divorced home, is the support of both parents without constant conflict and litigation.
Is there treatment for Parental Alienation?
The child’s view of the other parent can negatively change which will only further conflicts and litigation between co-parents. The treatment for parental alienation involves intense therapy for children to be reintroduced to the adult from which the child was alienated from known as reunification therapy. Once the child has been re-introduced, the parent who was doing the alienating must be treated as well with intense therapy to halt the behaviors as well as attitudes to allow participation from the other parent.
When a parent has be alienated from their child for a long period of time, reunification therapy made be required as an intervention to reintroduce the parent back into the child’s life. Reunification Therapy is typically a very long process as it involves meeting with all members of the family involved in the parental alienation, including children, to reunify the family in a therapeutic environment. Once reunification therapy is complete, a judge may order for the alienated parent to have up to six months of uninterrupted timesharing. During the uninterrupted timesharing, the parent at fault for doing the alienating may only be allowed to communicate with the child via telephone.
For additional information regarding Parental Alienation, please feel free to contact our office for a consultation: 561-419-2140