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Family law: Parental alienation and its effects on children

Divorce can be particularly difficult to process for children, no matter what their ages. Alberta has distinct family law rules in place that protect children from disturbing circumstances. Parental alienation is when one parent vilifies the other in front of their children, so much so that the children start believing what they're being told about the parent. This often happens when parents are fighting over the custody of their children.

Parental alienation, in its most severe form, can actually be looked upon as abuse by the courts and may be considered a criminal offence. Manipulating a child's affections could include making numerous promises, making negative comments about the other parent, and giving the child untold numbers of gifts. It could also include coaching children what to say to experts if they are questioned.

When one parent believes his or her child is the victim of parental alienation, he or she has some recourse. A letter could be sent to the alleged offending parent asking they stop, asking a family court judge for supervised visitation with the alleged offending parent, or talking to a family court judge about the situation and asking him or her to have the alleged offending parent to stop the criticism. It could also mean asking a judge for more time with the children and less with the alleged offending parent.

Alberta residents who believe parental alienation is being used to manipulate their children may seek the advice of a family law lawyer. A lawyer will always provide advice according to what is in the best interests of any children involved. Many children already have a hard time when their parents divorce, let alone having manipulation be part of the situation.

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