What is Parental Alienation and What Can You Do About it? – Part I

What is Parental Alienation?

What is parental alienation and what can we do to help? Contact us today.

What is parental alienation? If you asked a psychologist, therapist and family law lawyer, you may get different definitions. Our California child custody lawyers have seen our share of parents attempting to alienate a child or children from the other parent. Our lawyers have successfully represented parents who fought against alienation of their children and have, on extreme cases, secured court orders to take custody completely away from the alienating parent.

What has that experience taught us about parental alienation?

Quite a bit actually.

Alienation, by definition, means to isolate one thing from another. In the case of parental alienation, it means steps (often planned and malicious ones) a parent takes to isolate the child or children from the other parent through words and conduct and to create a division, estrangement and even hostility between the victimized parent and child.

Our child custody lawyers have learned to see the warning signs of parental alienation and have developed a sound strategy to combat it by not only guiding our clients through communication and documentation of the alienation but also to persuade the court that parental alienation is taking place and the court needs to make proper orders consistent with the children’s best interest and California child custody laws.

Over the years, our law firm has developed a five-part strategy on how to fight against parental alienation. In this article however (part one of a two part article), we are going to share with you the warning signs we have seen that should alert a concerned parent that parental alienation may be taking place. At the end of the article, we are going to discuss what you can do about it.

If you feel your children are being alienated from you, stop and consider for a moment whether you would act if you knew your children were being abused. You would, right? In our view, parental alienation is abuse. Just because it doesn’t leave physical wounds or scars does not make it any less serious. Parental alienation can cause a lifetime of psychological harm to a child and not only alienate a child from a parent but cause to suffer that same child’s future relationships as he or she grows older and well into adulthood.

If you are a parent, dealing with alienation by the other parent and need help, please don’t hesitate to contact our family law firm. We offer an initial, affordable strategy session to discuss your case and answer your questions. Thereafter, once you formally retain us, we will evaluate your case and, together and as a team, put a strategy customized for your facts in place for you.

Parental Alienation and Disparagement

Of the five we have listed, disparagement is generally the starting point of parental alienation and the first warning sign that alienation is taking place.

Disparagement is negative comments about the other parent . It is not limited to direct parent to child comments. Disparagement can come in the following forms:

  • Parent to child comments that insult, scorn or otherwise speak negatively of the other parent. The topics can include the reasons for the separation or divorce (blaming the other parent for it), stating the other parent doesn’t love the child or family, of just open and inappropriate criticism of the other parent’s actions.
  • Allowing others (generally planned) to make disparaging comments about the other parent in the child’s presence. Grandparents and siblings are most often the vehicle for this type of disparagement.
  • Entrenching the child into the divorce or custody case. This happens by the alienating parent sharing details (often distorted or false ones) of the child custody case, the parents’ respective positions and statements in the divorce. The purpose of this entrenchment is to influence the child against the other parent by portraying one parent (the alienating one) as the “good” parent and the other as the “bad.”

Parental Alienation and Undermining Authority

Parental alienation occurs when one parent undermines the authority of the other. In an ideal custodial arrangement, the parents (though living separate and apart), are a united front when it comes to the children’s education, safety, welfare and activities.

Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case and, in alienation cases, one parent influences the child to believe the other parent’s authority is not important and can or should be disregarded.

Undermining authority is a form of alienation because, over time, the perpetrating parent has the child believe that there is a right way of parenting and a wrong way and the “wrong way” by the parent being alienated makes that parent less capable of parenting, the subject of ridicule and far less important in the child’s life. The end goal is simple – If children are made to believe one parent does not act in their best interest, they will often rebel against that parent. Bonding and respect are lost and the result can be disastrous if allowed to fester.

Parental Alienation and Parentification

Parentification is not a word you hear often. I am not sure we invented it but the concept is simple. The alienating parent places the child into a position (and influences the child as a result) of making decisions the child does not have the age or maturity to make. These aren’t just every day decisions but those that are set to undermine or alienate the other parent.

The two most common examples of this within the context of alienating the other parent are:

  • Making decisions as to whether or not the child wants to visit with the other parent: This is part of the parental alienation process because once the disparagement and/or undermining of authority has taken place, the alienating parent then uses the results of his or her misconduct to create the illusion the child can make up his or her mind on whether to see the other parent. The illusion results from the fact the child is not making that decision but has been unduly influenced to do so.
  • Letting the child decide what is his or her best interest: Homework, bed time, creating, once again, an illusion that the child has more “freedom” at one parent’s house versus another and using that rouse as a means to influence the child to believe it is in his or her best interest to spend more time with the alienating parent.

Parental Alienation and Parental Substitution

Parental substitution is exactly what it sounds like. Replacing a parent with another, giving the child the impression (and ultimately, if allowed to go on long enough, the conclusion) that someone other than the child’s parent is really the parental figure.

Before we go further with parental substitution, let’s be clear on what we are not stating. There are unfortunately parents who have abandoned their children and, in such situations, the other parent will eventually bring a significant other into that child’s life.

There is nothing wrong with that. That is not alienation.

That is simply moving forward where the child does not have two parents in his or her life and the involved parent has the good fortune of finding love again and a paternal or maternal figure to help raise the child. Sometimes, it’s not a romantic relationship that causes this. It is perfectly acceptable (and common) for a grandparent to step into that secondary role. Grandfathers and grandmothers can make excellent role models so long as they have the child’s best interest at heart and one parent has been willfully or negligently uninvolved in the child’s life. Under certain situations, Grandparents even have custody rights in California.

Back to improper parental substitution, let me give you an example. Let’s say a mother with the aid of her boyfriend has influenced the child (a son or daughter) to believe he has two dads – her boyfriend and the boy’s biological father. Let’s further assume in our hypothetical this parental substitution has gone on for many years before the biological father got our law firm involved, even though he was actively (though not equally) involved in the child’s life and even though he was weary of what he saw.

Is that improper parental alienation? Yes. Has the biological father waited too long? No, but it will take a lot of hard work to fix the situation.

I bring up this hypothetical because it is not an unusual one and when any parent, father or mother, sees him or herself being replaced in the child’s eyes, that parent must take action and get an experienced child custody attorney involved.

Parental substitution, like other forms of alienation, takes place in many ways. The most common are:

  • Telling a child to call the alienating parent’s significant other “Dad” or “Mom”, depending on which parent is doing the alienating.
  • Allowing the belief that the child has two dads or two moms to become ingrained in this child. This is done by using others (including the supposed second father or mother) to perpetuate this influence on the child.
  • Allowing the non-parent to take on parental roles and functions in various aspects of the child’s life. This includes socialization, activities, education, discipline, etc.
  • Persuading the child that the substitute parent has a greater love for the child than the biological parent.

If parental substitution is allowed to continue, it can become like a virus and even if you are able to show in court that this form of parental alienation is taking place, it may be too late to persuade the child (especially as he or she gets into the teenage years) otherwise.

Parental Alienation and False Allegations

This may surprise you but making false allegations of domestic violence and/or child abuse is often motivated by parental alienation. How?

False allegations are intended to gain more custody time. For example, a finding of domestic violence creates a rebuttable presumption in the law that the parent found to have committed the domestic violence should not have joint legal and physical custody. As another example (I hope an obvious one), false allegations of child abuse are intended to get an order that keeps the alleged abusive parent from spending time with the child.

False allegations of abuse in custody cases are serious and if you don’t take them seriously and intelligently and aggressively challenge them (including asking the court to order the parent who is making the false allegations to enter into counseling, take parenting classes and even obtain an order to take his or her parenting time with the child away), you may find yourself being found to have committed the false acts levied against you.

Don’t think that will happen to you?

Each month, I get at least 1-2 calls from parents who tell me they have been falsely accused and the court has made orders against them, finding them to have committed the abuse. By the time the court has made its orders and the time to appeal has expired, it is very difficult to undo what has been done.

What Can You Do About Parental Alienation?

First, take it seriously.

Second, hire an experienced child custody attorney who has handled such cases successfully. Our custody lawyers fit that mold.

Third, set a specific strategy to combat the parental alienation. You do this with your lawyer.

Parents who engage in alienation too often believe they can get away from it. With the help of our child custody lawyers, we can work hard to keep that from occurring.

For additional reading, check out our articles on father’s rights in California and how to get custody as a father.

Comments

  1. Amy Haimovitz says

    My children are now 29, 26, 23, and 18. My relationships with them have been forever ruined by my family’s parental alienation and undermining, in cooperation with my ex-husband. It’s too late for an attorney to help (In fact, my oldest is an attorney, practicing criminal defense now. She’d be the first to defend against my complaints, as she is the most alienated and estranged from me.) I am isolated, depressed, and helpless at this time due to disability. My children are not even there to care and support me- I never deserved this! No parent ever deserves this PUNISHMENT for giving birth to children they love. The level of disrespect was so ingrained in them, by all surrounding them as children, that I have been unable to get them to even give me a chance to show them who I really am. I am not the person I was made out to be, and never was! My family abused me since I was a child, and their abuse continued in the form of parental alienation, with my ex a willing participant in their games. Their goal was simply to hurt me, by taking away the things that meant the most to me.. My children! I feared this since the day I gave birth to my first- because they had done it all my life, with anyone or anything that gave me pleasure or positive attention. My fears were realized! Any advice you can offer now, besides praying to God (God has sustained me through the loss, when I wanted to give up.)? I am so sick of feeling the sadness and emptiness, which creep back into my mind regularly…..I can’t accept it and I can’t change it- I’m powerless!

    • says

      Amy, I assume your case was in CA because we are licensed here. I cannot give you any legal advice. If the children are all adults now, I don’t think there is anything family court could really do. Sometimes, as children grow older and especially when they become parents, themselves, they start to realize the alienation they were subjected to. Don’t give up hope. With some adult children, it just takes longer.

    • Lynda says

      I am just going through the same thing with an 11 and 6 year old. I married, my parents went ballistic…because they are controlling and manipulating. Their first claim was DV, next they claimed to have raised the children since birth. The latest, and I have absolutely NO idea as to what the claim is., but I gather, the only worse thing is Child abuse. It may end up that I have to sit back and watch these children be raised by lunatics. (welfare even opted out). Then one day, I guess I’ll have to try and “fix” them. x

    • michelle says

      Hello I just wanted to say I am so sorry for your situation and I can totally relate. My kids are 26, 23, 17 and 15. They were wrongly taken from me by a rich aunt and uncle back in 1999. I fought tooth and nail with everthing I had until the time I knew I could do no more. They have been separated from me and each other all these years and here’s the kicker, a few years ago I found out that the uncle was charged and convicted of child molestation in the first degree against my daughter whom I have not seen since she was eight years old. The whole thing was wrong and injustice. My youngest is still living with his abusive father. I am just now finally getting my life together after I have been struggling from the damage from self medicating. I am surprised to see the awareness that is finally starting to surface about this kind of stuff. We have only scratched the surface I’m sure. Thank you for sharing your story. God bless you and may you find peace. Sincerely, michelle

    • anastacia says

      Michelle, God bless you and may love in abundance be your next comment. Wow. I have been in this battle completely alone, in pain, unable to aggressively challenge my situation. I may understand the way you feel. Just to read these posts gives me a glimmer of hope. I hope to see my daughter again. I need help. I have been alienated for three years exactly.. My daughter went to visit with secondary family when she was five, I haven’t seen her since. She just turned 8 yesterday. I have failed. I let her down. I was the one that was supposed to have the power, keep us safe, not let her be hurt. She does not know if I’m alive or dead. I choose to not give up but this has proven to be the biggest, most painful challenge of my life. I intend to contact Mr. Farzad for further advice even if it means finding an Orange County address. It’s the posts that were shared that has influenced me to find out more about this firm.

    • anastacia says

      Hey thank you for posting different kinds of stories. I like the range of well written to pretty informal. . . Reading these i am finding a bit of a second wind to deal with my no win situation.

  2. Sandra says

    If I didnt list the father as the biological father on the birth certificate should i be the first to file for full custody or wait t be served?

    • B. Robert Farzad says

      I am sorry Sandra, I don’t understand what one has to do with the other or if you mean something else. We don’t give advice in comment section of an article. If you are in Orange County, CA, and you are looking to file a paternity or divorce, please call us. Otherwise, please consult with an attorney in your area.

  3. kara says

    A long story short i was taken out of my childrens life cut completely out no reason just that he met someone who couldn’t have children. I trusted him we had a agreement outside of the courts so i never changed my address he filed for full physical legal custody without me knowing and by the time i knew what to do and what papers to file. (I was young couldn’t afford a lawyer) it had been almost two years. Well ive fought tooth and nail for my visitation and im now at the point that i get a nice amount of time. My problem is this he continues to make my children refer to me as kara and his girlfriend as mom they get in trouble if they call me mom instead of kara. I have asked about why he does this and he said because shes their mom i have thos in text messages. We have been in and out of court counless times for his contempt and im just to the point that i keep asking when is it going to end my girls are going to be destroyed by him and he doesn’t even care. Last problem i have my daughter has a eye infection the doctor prescribed eye drops he refused to send them she complained the hole visit that she was in pain all i could give was Tylenol i feel hopeless and lost. Im from Michigan and ive researched layers i don’t feel any understand the severity of this case.

  4. Nichole says

    Thank you Mr. Farzad for explaining in depth what Parental Alienation is…now I can put a name on it, and not allow my husband to make me think I’m crazy. I can tell by how much work you put into your site, you are very knowledgable and passionate about what you do. Thank you for educating and fighting for well-deserving parents out there. Best wishes to you and God bless.

  5. Michael says

    I was charged (in CA) with “Interfering with parental custody” back in 2009. My children refused to return to their Mom. The Court was made aware of this as well. Long story short, I was arrested, extradited to CA, given the option of staying incarcerated for a year awaiting trial by jury, or accepting a plea deal of 4 years probation. Full custody was given to my ex, and I was ordered to have “no contact” with my children. They are 17 and 14 this year. My daughter graduates HS and will return to Texas. I understand that CA has recently passed legislation requiring the Court to formally take a 14 year old minors request for custody preference. Is this so, and would this be a factor in any upcoming OSC I may consider? Thank you.

    • B. Robert Farzad says

      Michael, we don’t give legal advice in the comment section of an article. Given your previous criminal conviction and the family law order you referenced, we would have to be review all of your paperwork before we could give any advice. We do charge a fee for that.

  6. Jean says

    Mr. Farzad,
    Parent Alienation is very real, and I am glad professionals are recognizing it, but in Mobile, Alabama it is not recognized in the court system, I am hoping to bring light to it in March 2015 (on my court date)
    I have been somewhat successful, in holding my ground with My ex-husband and his girlfriend, as they gang up on me. Some people think it is an easy task to counter act the negativity, but it is actually very difficult, I have just started my daughter in therapy, which gives me a bit of leveling assistance, but I still have to hold on until my court date…..I filed Pro Se back in March 2014, so information like this is indeed helpful, I am also trying to disprove/show that the Mclendon Rule/Standard is not relevant in my case, as well as, it isn’t constitutional. Making things more interesting I have also ticked off the GAL, whom I would like to have removed from my case.

  7. Bob says

    Mr. Farzad;

    I wanted to thank you for addressing this on your web site. I had no idea about Parental Alienation Syndrome was until recently. Over the last ten months I have observed substantial negative changes in my teenage daughter, much of it unexplainable, (well until I started understanding PAS).

    Your bullet points are spot on and actually only touch the surface of this syndrome. My ex was a victim of this from her own mother, (which goes to include her two sisters). Over the course of a 17 year marriage I tried to get my ex to identify issues with her childhood that were effecting her as an adult. Even our marriage counselor tried to get her to identify with the fact that the absence of her father in her life as a child was effecting her as an adult. Unfortunately the matriarch that started this, her mother had instilled the belief in all the sisters that no father is necessary in the development and raising of a child.

    I urge any parent that stumbles on this blog to take the time to thoroughly investigate PAS.

    • B. Robert Farzad says

      Thank you for reading and I am glad you enjoyed the article. Be courageous for your daughter and I wish you the best.

  8. G. Moses says

    just this past month (Nov 2014) I was served with a restraining order for physically abusing my child on Nov 7&8. I never touched the kid. A CPS report was also filed for child abuse on me and I was interview this December. The court did not grant a stay away order but a limited restraining order for personal conduct. No striking, harassing, threats, etc. I can only have supervised visits (which I can’t afford) and I must attend a 52 week anger mgt class. I was honest in court admitting that i have slapped my 12 year old in the past but only for discipline and after several verbal warnings. I never hit my 15 year old ever. She listens. The 12 year old is rowdy and is told by his mom he does not have to listen to me. I want the kids to see what their mom wrote about them in the documents. Allegations of me pointing and threatening my children with a gun, punching them in the head causing bloody noses and more lies. The children will know they’re lies because I’ve never done these things to them. How can i get them to read the lies their mother wrote? She has made me out to be an abusive, violent alcoholic. All who know me, know that i am the calmest person who avoids conflict that has never been drunk. The most alcohol i’ve ever consumed was two shots of tequila. I only took those reluctantly playing a game in Mexico. After court, she laughed in my face. My 12 year old when on the stand in court to say, “my daddy only hits me when he says i’m being bad, but i still want to see him”. The mother and grandparents want me out of their lives and has destroyed my relationship with the kids. I’m going through pain and suffering due this. They are wealthy and own several homes in California and Arizona. Can you sue? Sue them for a bazillion dollars and keep it all for your legal services, I just want my expenses paid and life with my children back.

    • B. Robert Farzad says

      Thank you for commenting here. Your situation is pretty complicated. All I can say is you need an experienced attorney to represent you because trying to represent yourself if there are false allegations against you is very difficult for most people. We don’t give legal advice in a comment section of an article. Regarding your lawsuit question, we don’t handle lawsuits. Please consult with an attorney who handles such things.

  9. v.flo says

    Mr.Farzad,

    It has been a year and two months that I have not seen my kid .he is eight years old, plus his father has right now 100% full custody. Unfortunately Under duress & he took my vulnerability & without an attorney by my side, I signed the agreement.Court ordered for the babys father & I to communicate via our family wizard. I miss my son dearly, eventhough my son & I speak most of the time only once a day during his bedtime. Whatcan I do?

    • B. Robert Farzad says

      Thanks for the comment. Certainly, we can review the most recent court order and advise you if a modification is appropriate. If your case is in Orange County or Los Angeles, CA, we offer an initial strategy session for a reasonable fee. It is unusual for one parent to have 100% custody with no visitation to the other parent unless there are serious issues in play about the child’s safety. If you are in OC or LA and you wish to pay for a strategy session, call us. We will need the other parent’s name before we meet.

  10. Tess says

    I’m in WV, not Cali unfortunately. But I came across this when reading up on parental alienation, and this is exactly what my fiancees ex is doing to us with their 6 year old daughter. She does it every year when its almost time for us to pick her up for the summer or school year. His ex lives in Alabama. This time she has gone as far as to make false accusations against me of forms of child abuse, making the child say the things, yet she was confused and upset and was clearly coached.The mother said their daughter told her these things months ago,yet didn’t say anything til my fiancee told her we were getting married. Since she had her say these things over the phone a week ago, she has cut any form of contact with us. That was the first time we had talked to the child in question in weeks because the mother got mad at us for wanting to stick to previous agreements that the child stays with us for school years. That’s when she cut us off and started with the false accusations. We have messages from the mother saying how the child has tried to run away multiple times while in her care, that she is unruley and disrespectful and wanted to send her to us right away. Then changes her mind and wants to keep her,then changes her mind and wants her gone. She constantly “changes” her mind and plays mind games every year and when she gets mad at us,cuts contact for weeks or months til she’s tired of their daughter and wants to send her away and just makes up some self justifying reason to do so,like she,the mother,is the victim. Tomorrow we are setting appointments with family law attorneys to see what we can do. I feel like once she is served papers she will make contact with us to drop it all. I’m just curious if she can get in trouble for falsely accusing and for parental alienation? We have proof the accusations are false,though I’m sure the court process is to have us investigated,which there’s no worry there. Through messages she contradicts and lies about one thing or another,would the messages be feasible proof in court?

    • B. Robert Farzad says

      Tess, I am sorry to hear about your situation. It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to comment on a case or laws outside of California. Your question is for an attorney in your State.

  11. MICHELLE says

    I am from CA, and my ex husband has denied bringing my child home for two days now. We have joint shared custody, and our court orders says he’s to bring her during school periods at 6:30am. We do not have special agreements on days like Presiden’t’s day and Valentine’s Day etc. but we do have specifications such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, Birthday, etc. otherwise, we follow the basic weekly schedule. But throughout the years, there will be those times when he refuses to bring her back. I am just tired of it. He has been putting in her head that the time I spend with my child is an unfair amount and that she needs to stay with him more. I am not afraid of the physical as there is no threat to that. I am afraid of the emotional. He is a psychologist, and when we go to court, he emphasizes on that a lot as to gain weight before the judge, and I feel I am in an invisible battle. How can I portray these invisible but present problems?

    • B. Robert Farzad says

      Hello Michelle. First, you need quality family law representation. That is where it starts. You didn’t say where in CA your case is. We handle cases primarily in Orange County or L.A. I cannot give you legal advice in a comment to an article. That would not be appropriate. It does sound like you are in need of a meeting with an attorney to discuss strategy and budget.

  12. John says

    I would like to seek your assistance. I have been divorced for three years, and have been alienated from all ten of my children. Visitations are refused, and all telephone communication is being refused. Seeking your help.

    • B. Robert Farzad says

      Hi John. If your case is in Orange County or Los Angeles, CA, then please contact us. A comment section of an article is not the place to discuss your situation.

  13. kktharp20 says

    I have a question for you. How is “Neither parent nor any other third party may listen to or monitor the calls.” defined by California Family Law? This is under our “Telephone Guidelines and Other Communication” section of our orders. I understand the first part of the statement, no one may listen to the conversation, however what is the legal definition of “monitoring” phone calls. My step-son is 8 years old and has a hard time talking on the phone. He likes to set it down and walk away, as he gets distracted playing. So, in trying to encourage communication between my step-son and his mom while he’s with us, we would have him sit down on the recliner in the living room. The phone would not be on speaker or anything, we just made sure he stopped playing and helped remove distractions so he would talk with her. This helped quite a bit, his phone conversations with her were more pleasant, longer, and he actually talked, verses saying something like “I did stuff”. Upon finding out that he sits in the living room, she got very upset and stated my husband violated court order. She then continued stating that it’s court ordered that their son be in a separate room, by himself, with the door shut, and if we are not home then we are to put my step-son in the car, with the doors shut, by himself. Neither my husband nor myself is comfortable with the idea that my step-son is to be in a car alone with the doors shut. At home, it’s a bit difficult because he shares a room with his step-brother and her scheduled time to call is right before bedtime, which means my son is in the bedroom getting ready for bed. Is it a violation of our orders to have him sit on the recliner while he’s talking to his mom? Please note, his phone calls are not on speaker phone at all.

    Thank you

    • says

      Thank you for commenting. We don’t give legal advice in a comment to an article. That would not be appropriate. If your husband’s matter is in Orange County, CA and he wishes to have a strategy session with us, we charge an affordable fee for that.

      • kktharp20 says

        I understand you can’t give legal advise through here. I phrased it badly and I apologize for it. I was asking for the definition of monitoring, what is considered “monitoring”? Thank you for replying.

  14. Jason says

    Thank You!!!! I had no idea there was a name to this. Do you know of any attorneys in San Bernardino? Thank You again!

    • B. Robert Farzad says

      We do know attorneys in San Bernardino Jason but nobody we trust enough to refer out. I am sorry we could not be more help.

  15. NATASHA says

    Appreciate your thorough explanation of PAS in all forms and behaviors that may be observed. Your detail to parental substitution was a significant point. I had no idea that my abusive ex-spouse and his new wife would exhibit this behavior but they do consistently with my teenager daughter. I have been at school activities in which the staff appeared shocked that I introduced myself as mother after my ex-husband had only described his new wife as mother. The tones of abusive nature were evident but parental substitution is toxic and just persuades the alienating parent to exhibit more power, control and narcissistic tendency.

  16. NATASHA says

    I must also add that my ex-husband has exhibited PAS for a very long time and uses obstruction, custodial interference and continually stalks me. Recently he came to the school that I worked at to request a meeting with my principal against my restraining order. She did speak with him in her office for over 45 minutes and stated later that he spoke of me in a horrible way and tried to make false allegations against me until she abruptly ended the visit. I was also able to research the fact that these people have no self control and tend to continually disobey court orders. I am filing contempts in regards to all matters.

    • B. Robert Farzad says

      Hello Natasha. Thanks for reading and commenting here. Please share the article with those who you believe it would help. I wish you the best in your child custody matter.

  17. Howard says

    PAS is very real and from what I’ve seen, very insidious. Thank you for your work in this area. Unfortunately, we are not in the SB area or we would seek to retain your services. We are up north in the Sacramento area and desperately need counsel that is as versed in this area as yourself. If you cannot recommend a firm personally, do you have any advice on how one would go about finding the right counsel? This doesn’t seem like an item that is widely advertised.

    • B. Robert Farzad says

      Thank you for reading and commenting Howard. I don’t have any specific referrals yet (I am working on building the right relationships up there) but if one comes to mind, I will let you know.

  18. jose says

    thanks for the information. it is reassuring to hear that i am not the only one dealing with this stuff. question: there has been a court order established in my case in CA since 2010, but am currently back in court dealing with alienation issues… until the judge officially changes the court order, the current order is still in place right?

    • B. Robert Farzad says

      Jose, thanks for commenting and I wish you the best in your custody matter. We can’t give you advice here, in a comment section to an article about your court orders and their enforceability. That would require me to read it and know your facts. Typically, child custody court orders stay in effect until they are changed. What causes that change, whether a new order is required, whether a written agreement is enough, etc. depends on the order. You should have an attorney represent you to advise you on such things.

  19. Val M says

    Dear Mr. Farzad,
    Thank you so much for all the information on your website. I’ve read through the various areas (narcissistic ex, how alimony is determined, parental alienation syndrome). I want to encourage you to keep your articles going. They are spot on and helpful. I am in Orange County, Ca., was married 22 years, and am in the middle of a disheartening, ridiculously combative, divorce. He didn’t see our daughters for the first 5 months after he left excepting for a lunch here or dinner there (they were so crushed), then moved 14 miles away and fought for 50/50 custody causing one daughter to commute them both back and forth to school (so he could be a mile from our shop) while convincing them with presents and puppies that the move was for them, cut me off financially while spending our business’ money however he pleased, moved a former family friend into his rented home with them as she turned out to be his mistress. Anyways, enough of that! My attorney is doing a good job even though she doesn’t understand the psyche of a narcissist. Your understanding sure would have been comforting and I probably wouldn’t of have to take the lead on suggesting actions. Someone with understanding would have known reasoning and settlement meetings are games to a narcissist and I could’ve saved some $$. I wish I had seen your website before. I wish you good success.
    My advice to the heartbroken: Forget about what your ex is doing, it’s a reflection on them, not you. Love,love,love your children. You’re there for them, not them for you. They’re hurting and need your acceptance, listening ear, and encouragement. Get your help from support groups (one called Divorcecare is good) and friends not your children. If they’re estranged, keep praying for them. If a heart can break, a heart can heal.
    Good book: Codependent No More by Melody Beattie.

    • B. Robert Farzad says

      Hi Val, thanks for commenting and reading. Glad you enjoyed my article. Please share it with anyone you think could use it.

  20. Mekiciag says

    This is on behalf of my boyfriend. I have read your signs of parental alienation, and him and I have come to an agreement that this is what the mother of his daughter is doing. She always tells her, “do you want to be uneducated, just like your dad?” Or, “your dad does not care about you, he doesn’t do anything for you. I do it all.” And tells her,” your father is a part time dad.” We even have recordings of her saying these things. Now she wants to move back to california, because she claims she can’t survive in Las Vegas. But we believe she is just coming back out to raise the child support and then she will just move back to Las Vegas. What can we do about that?

    • B. Robert Farzad says

      If I am reading your comment correctly, nobody currently lives in California and the child isn’t here either. Please consult with an attorney in your State immediately.

        • B. Robert Farzad says

          Then I would need to see the court orders currently in place, both on custody and child support. That is obviously not something I can discuss here. He would have to contact me if he lives in Orange County, where our office is and then we can discuss setting up a meeting.

  21. Ana says

    Greetings, I came across this information in google with what I thought was a silly question. My question was…Is it legal for a parent to speak wrongly of another parent , amazing there’s a name. PAS, I’ve been divorced for 9 years and it feels as if though his negative personality will always hunt me. My teenage daughter visits her dad twice a month. I believe he’s conflicted PAS for years. My daughter’s anger issues are only towards me. We live in Miami Florida, I wonder if this can be taken to court? Best Regards!

    • B. Robert Farzad says

      Ana, thank you for commenting. We are licensed in California only so it wouldn’t be appropriate for us to comment on a matter outside of California. Please consult with an attorney in your State regarding your PAS question. I am sorry I could not be more help.

  22. Michelle says

    Hi Mr. Farzad-

    Would you also consider when in a guardianship situation, the guardian not allowing the sibling of the child to call and speak to the child under guardianship a part of parental alienation syndrome? Or, is there another term for this? Our case is out of CA and there is a guardianship order, but we are trying to allow communication between the siblings to occur, but the guardian has subsequently blocked my number and the father is deployed. I do not attempt to talk to anyone, I simply let the brother leave voicemails for her.

    • B. Robert Farzad says

      Hello Michelle. I cannot give you any advice on an out of State matter. The question you ask is a good one but intended for a lawyer who is licensed in your State.

        • B. Robert Farzad says

          Thanks for the clarification Michelle. Our firm doesn’t handle guardianship matters although some family law attorneys do. I wonder what the guardianships orders state and that would be a starting point for evaluating your matter. My suggestion is, whatever county you are in, find an attorney experienced in guardianship cases in your county and go in for a consultation.

  23. CJ says

    Mr. Farzad,

    We wish we had you in Walnut Creek/Concord CA. Do you have recommendations for a lawyer in the area? We’ve been dealing with a narcissist ex (possible sociopath) who has been actively alienating for years, and we have struggled finding good representation.

    It’s so hard to explain to people what he does, and why it’s so detrimental to the children (and stressful on us). He’s filed false allegations with CFS, only to have the CFS worker turn her sights on him and his new wife. Unfortunately, my bumbling lawyer failed to request the CFS worker in time, and only had her report. Somehow, my ex managed to make the trial about school districts instead of abuse. He kicked up so much dust and threw so much mud at me, the court didn’t know what to believe. Sad story is, my lawyer missed a slam dunk and the court awarded this abusive, controlling man primary physical.

    I could write for hours on all the crap he’s pulled. Lately I’ve been storing information and evidence to try to prove a pattern of alienation, abuse, lies, fraud, etc.

    Hope you have a recommendation in this area. I’d consider flying you up here if that was a possibility.

    Thanks for the great article and information. It’s clear you have experience dealing with highly complex situations like mine.

    -CJ

    • B. Robert Farzad says

      Hi CJ, thanks for commenting. Discovery can be a very valuable tool in such cases, especially a deposition and, if the evidence is strong, request for admissions to set up the statutory sanctions capability that comes with them. I unfortunately cannot give you legal advice about your situation because that would require our family law firm to be retained and we generally don’t take cases outside of Orange County anymore. I do not have any referrals for your area. I know of lawyers up there but nobody I would trust enough to refer in a case like yours. I wish you the best.

  24. Tina says

    I am a mother of a 14 year old daughter who is the love of my life, but now with the 12 year alienation by her step mother? I don’t think I will ever see or talk to my daughter again. The step mother has been sending me adoption papers. My daughter left me a horrible vm saying she wants me to sign them! I have been severely effected by this woman and plan on seeking a counselor. I can’t find anyone to help me. This situation is pretty sad and much worse than I can state on here. Maybe signing the adoption papers will make the step mother leave me alone. This woman should be charged with child abuse and thrown in jail for what she’s done for 12 years.

  25. erika says

    I just want to know if the other parent can keep me from speaking to my child the whole time he has the child on his scheduled visitation? There is a summer vacation order in place that states parents alternate having the child every other week for a whole week, does not state there should be no contact with the child and other parent during that week child is with the other parent. He has refused to let me speak to my child and has threatened to get a restraining order if I don’t stop asking to speak to my child. I just want to know if that is something I can take back to the court?

    • says

      Erika, the question cannot be answered in isolation. An attorney would need to know a lot more facts than what you provided starting with the age of the child, the custody history, the purpose of the call and its proposed duration. You are not going to get answers in a comment to an article. You need to actually have a consultation with an attorney and speak privately about these things to get advice. Our firm is in Orange County, CA so if you want to meet with one of our lawyers, we charge a reasonable fee for that.

  26. Jane says

    Mr. Farzad,

    I have been dealing with the issue of parent alienation for years, just didn’t know there was a name for it. For years my ex husband and his mother have been very mean, rude and inconsiderate towards me. They apparently are unhappy miserable people and think I should be the same way. I have recently gotten remarried after a 5 year relationship with this man. I have known him all my life and we grew up together! In the beginning, my son did not have any problems with him. My husband has always treated him with respect and has been welcoming, considerate, respectful and nice to my son. Now my son does not want to come to my house and does’t want to be around my husband. I can only think that he’s being influenced by his other parent and grandma. He is 13 and is going into the 8th grade. I found out from my mother yesterday, that two days ago when school was over he received awards for being on the honor roll, a grant for his good grades and was given a trip to MSU by the science department at his school. I was never informed of any of this. Being excluded and uninformed from these scholastic life events has been hurtful to me. What can I do?

    Sincerely,
    Jane

    • B. Robert Farzad says

      Hello Jane. You didn’t state what your current child custody orders are or what family law question you have. If you have questions about a family law case, and your case is in Orange County, please contact us. We offer an affordable strategy session. Unfortunately, this is not the place to discuss a case or its facts nor to give advice. That comes only in a formal setting like a consultation, due to privacy reasons. If your case is outside of Orange County, please consult with an attorney who practices law in your county.

  27. Jane T says

    I just got divorce and we have 2 kids. I have full physical custody and split legal custody. We have schedule visitation. My kids doesn’t really wants to stay few days with their dad, like a week or more. I talked to my kids to give their dad sometime to spend with them, he is still their dad anyway. On our schedule visitation is noted there as long as the kids agree for visitation. Their dad told me that he is planning to bring the kids outside California, but the kids told us that they do not want to go. He got mad and he will take all the stuff that he bought for them, if they don’t want to spend time with him and he even said that if they are not going with him outside California, he will get them on scheduled visitation and the kids can just stay in their bedroom and not do anything. If he take they kids even they told him that they do not want to go, what can I do? Can I charged him child abduction? My kids are affected with this divorce and him bribing, manipulating, scaring the kids just to go with him, I am scared for my kids what affect in the future will bring this to them.

    • B. Robert Farzad says

      Jane, thank you for commenting. You are asking us to give you advice based on a court order we have never seen. We cannot do that. We need to read the court order and discuss the details with you to be able to give you advice. We are in Orange County, California. We only practice law in California and we are currently not taking any cases outside of Orange County. If your matter is here, please call us. There is a reasonable fee for the meeting.

  28. Traci says

    I have joint and legal custody of my 16 year old son, physical custody has been with me the mother. Information regarding education and medical is equal.

    My son has decided he wants to live with his father at this time because I am the stricter parent. My son has been at his current school and played basket ball 9th and 10th grade but did not make the team for his 11th grade year and wanted to be transferred out of his high school to play basketball at another school. I advised no, basketball is a extra-curricular activity. You are in school to get an education first. He stated to me he was fine with that decision and had a successful year in school. His father has let our son seek legal council so that he can have physical custody to be changed, because our son has stated he wants to play ball his senior year now, and that he needs his father more than ever because it’s his senior year. His father has told him that he has a connection with the coach of the other sibling and he can get him on the team. His father has him every Father’s Day, and is expected to return him Father’s Day evening, but did not and when I inquired about he stated to me maybe I’ll return him, maybe I won’t. Well he has had our son since then, he has without my permission allowed our son to try out for a team without my permission and stated that he will return my son on Sat in which my son will be leaving on Sunday to go on a trip out of state with his school he is currently enrolled in. He has stated to me that after this trip my son will be changing schools will be changing addresses, child support will stop and visitation. I am not in agreement with my son decision to move because I feel he has been persuaded. He recently has gotten his drivers license and they allow him to drive and are not as strict as I am. My child is established at the school where he is currently enrolled in, basketball is extra, no problems at physical custody home and I allow him to go but will not just have him running the streets, like a good parent should. What can I do to keep custody as it is?

    • B. Robert Farzad says

      Traci, your situation is not an uncommon one but we are not able to give you advice on what you should or should not do here. That requires a consultation with an attorney. If your matter is in Orange County, CA, then please call us and we can set something up. If it is in a different county in California, please consult with an attorney who handles matters in your county.

  29. Steven says

    I feel I am involved in a custody/visitation battle in court where I feel like most of what is on this page pertains to my case. I am not a CA resident I live in New York. I was wondering if the laws are different out there?

    • B. Robert Farzad says

      Hi Steve. Since we don’t practice law in NY, I don’t know the answer to your question. Please consult with a NY attorney.

  30. Jason says

    Hi I’m Jason. I have three boys, ages 10, 8 and 5. I’m harassed on a regular basis by my ex-wife about child support, which she has always received on time. She quit her job in order to maximize her award, which the judge knowingly allowed because all three of the boys weren’t in elementary yet. Her and her new husband have made negative remarks about me in front our children. I’m pretty sure it’s not uncommon. I rarely spend money on anything for myself, I have my children 40-50% of the time can’t afford to take them places, yet my credit is destroyed, car payment falling behind, rent or utilities is the next thing to go. A lot of the food I get is from community care at church where the boys and I serve. She knows all this and still harasses me constantly by text or call. Is there anything I can do? I’m in Murrieta, CA

    • says

      Jason, consult with an attorney in your area to see if the unwanted calls / texts amount to harassment and whether or not you can seek a restraining order. We are not able to give you legal advice regarding your specific matter but speaking with an attorney who handles cases where you are is a good start.

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