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Is the other parent sabotaging your relationship with the kids?

The news media would encourage you and the other parent to get along for the sake of the kids in the event of a divorce. Stories regarding celebrities and other couples who can live together, vacation together and otherwise have a friendly relationship with the other parent fill the internet.

Perhaps you tried this, but it just didn't work. You ended up going to court in order to have a judge decide what your post-divorce parenting time would look like. As you embark on this court-ordered journey, you may wonder whether your former spouse will attempt to sabotage your relationship with the kids since his or her anger at you seems to outweigh that parent's love for your children.

Signs of parental alienation

When one parent attempts to make the other one look bad to the kids, it's more than likely parental alienation. It often begins with subtle, yet powerful, derogatory statements about you designed to demean, denigrate or berate you. Considering how susceptible children are, these comments could undermine your relationship with your children. The following signs could indicate this is what your ex-spouse is doing:

  • Your children ask you not to go to parent/teacher conferences.
  • Your children ask you not to attend sporting events or other extracurricular activities.
  • Your children begin challenging you as a parent. They may even become combative and/or argumentative.
  • Your children can't seem to identify any fun or positive things you've done together.
  • Your children believe they are the ones who originated the idea of not spending time with you.
  • Your children become obstinate when they used to be compliant.
  • Your children view you as someone who can't do anything right.
  • Your children exhibit a sense of entitlement when you give them gifts or do things for them.
  • Your children stop telling about school functions and you stop receiving notices of them. The other parent may even remove you as a point of contact.

If you notice any of these warning signs, you could have a serious problem on your hands.

The first step may be to discuss the matter with the other parent. He or she may still harbor ill feelings toward you but not intentionally share them with the children. The other parent may simply not be expressing his or her opinions out of the earshot of the children. The resolution could be as simple as you and the other parent talking to the children together, and the other parent stopping negative talk in front of them.

On the other hand, if there is reason to believe the other parent intentionally turned the children against you, you may need to return to court in order to assert your parental rights. Under ordinary circumstances, you have a right to a relationship with your children, and an Illinois court will not be pleased with the other parent attempting to ruin that chance.

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Courtney ∙ Clark Law, P.C.
104 South Charles Street
Belleville, IL 62220

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