Parental alienation can be devastating for a divorced parent in Michigan. It can lead to their child deciding to no longer live with or visit them. To understand and combat parental alienation, it can be helpful to understand its roots.

In a case of parental alienation, one parent manipulates the child until the child turns against the other parent. The emotional terrain in which parental alienation flourishes is generally established well before the divorce, usually when the child is born. The alienating parent uses the child to fulfill emotional needs rather than the roles being the other way around. When the divorce occurs and the alienating parent begins to pressure the child to abandon the other parent, the psychological stress on the child is intense.

The targeted parent may turn to the legal system for help, but the necessary knowledge and resources may be unavailable. There might not be a counselor with a background in parental alienation, and individuals in the legal system might lack the expertise in interpersonal relationships to understand the syndrome. Courts might also struggle to distinguish between genuine claims of abuse that involve the child no longer wanting to spend time with the other parent and parental alienation. If a targeted parent can get a court order to maintain custody, parents and children may need therapy to resolve the issues.

Parents who believe they are being targeted for parental alienation or who feel their children are unsafe with the other parent because of abuse or neglect might want to discuss how to proceed with an attorney. While many parents are able to negotiate a child custody agreement during divorce, in these cases, litigation may be necessary. A parent can work with an attorney to determine a strategy for the child custody hearing and discuss what documentation a court may need.