Parental Alienation vs. Estrangement


If you are having trouble maintaining a healthy relationship with your child after your divorce, you might be wondering if the Pasadena family law court system can help. While it's true that the court does intervene in cases of parental alienation, it is important to make sure you understand the difference between being the victim of genuine alienation or estrangement that is caused by your own poor choices.

Parental alienation occurs when one parent is making a conscious effort to sabotage the child's relationship with the other parent. For example, the alienating parent may tell the child that the other parent no longer has time for him anymore, share inappropriate details about the divorce, and create a high-conflict environment that forces the child to "take sides" in the fight between his parents.

Estrangement occurs when one parent is no longer enjoying a relationship with the child because he or she is too busy focusing on other things. For example, a man who leaves his wife because he is having an affair might move in with his new lover and her children. If he focuses too much on starting a life with his "new" family, his child may become estranged. The child feels rejected and will pull away from his father until steps are taken to repair the relationship.

Parents who are estranged from their children often blame their ex and claim to be the victims of parental alienation. But this is seldom the case. The hard truth is that a parent must take responsibility for his or her own actions before attempting to repair the relationship with the child.

The easiest way to tell the difference between parental alienation and estrangement is to see how the affected parent is reacting. A parent who is the victim of parental alienation is frustrated by his or her ex's behavior, but continues to fight to repair the relationship with the child. They try to attend school functions, make an effort to communicate regularly with the child, and will go to counseling if asked. A parent who is estranged from the child takes a "wait and see" approach. He or she does nothing to repair the relationship and might say it's the child's responsibility to fix the situation.

How Can We Help?

If you are need in of assistance relating to child custody and visitation issues, please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at Our skilled Pasadena family law attorneys can help you take the legal actions that are necessary to preserve your relationship with your child.