Parental alienation happens when one parent turns his or her child against the other. This tactic can be considered in court when determining custody arrangements and divorce terms, negatively impacting the alienating parent. In many cases, allegations of parental alienation make the difference between receiving custody rights to your child or losing them altogether.
But what happens if your ex falsely accuses you of parental alienation? Unfortunately, false allegations of parental alienation (FAPAs) are more common than you might think. By understanding the nuances of these allegations and knowing what you can do to combat them, you can keep your children safe and fight for your rights.
What False Allegations of Parental Alienation Look Like
False allegations of parental alienation come in all shapes and sizes. Your ex might make up stories about you, provide false proof to the court, or place your child in the middle of the conflict to “prove” the parental alienation. The overall goal of a false allegation of parental alienation is to make it look like you are turning the children against your ex. If convincing enough, the alleged parental alienation could reflect badly on your ability to parent your children – and cost you your custody rights.
Many times, those making FAPAs spread the word around to family and friends, as well as legal experts involved in the case. They employ the use of emotion, tears, anger and frustration, and other visceral tactics to get others on their side. If you confront them about their behavior, they could become very defensive or act like the victim to cover up their actions.
Some tactics your ex might use to convince others of their false parental alienation claim include:
- Testifying that you are turning the children against them or encouraging the children to fear them
- Bringing in therapists or other witnesses who are on their side (and who may not see the full picture)
- Telling others that you and your new significant other are forcing the children to call you “mom and dad,” etc. and purposely leaving your ex out
- Alleging that you and/or your new significant other are psychologically damaging the children by making up lies about your ex
- Submitting that you are lying to the children about your ex’s abuse, alcohol or drug use, economic withdrawal, psychological or physical brutality, and/or other damaging information
While false allegations of parental alienation can be relatively harmless if confined within your immediate and extended family, issues can arise if your ex tells a wider audience. They could go to their lawyers, health professionals, and other “witnesses” to start arming themselves to make their FAPAs in court.
Why Your Ex Is Falsely Accusing You of Parental Alienation
A common question of those facing FAPAs is if these accusations are always intentional on the part of the ex. The short answer is that no, false allegations of parental alienation are not always intentional. However, accusations of parental alienation that are proven to be untrue are still considered FAPAs – regardless of intent.
If your ex truly believes you are alienating them from your children, they might simply be trying to protect the children from your alleged actions. They might use false allegations of parental alienation without realizing they are just that – false. In this case, it will be up to you to prove that their allegations are untrue. If you are successful, the court may or may not look critically at your ex’s ability to parent, depending on the circumstances.
But if your ex is actively taking a stance against you and using FAPAs in order to revoke your custody rights, this could backfire on them in court. An ex who is making false allegations of parental alienation intentionally usually wants to achieve one or more of the following:
- Harm your relationship with your children
- Alter your access to your children
- Get an advantage in court
- Obtain support from others
- Cover up his or her own misconduct
- Get more control over the custody situation
- Take other advantages
Because of the self-serving intent and dishonesty of those willfully making up false allegations of parental alienation, it is vital to talk to your lawyer about what you can do to combat them in court. If proven false, your ex could face charges or get their own custody rights removed.
How to Prove False Allegations of Parental Alienation in Court
If your ex continues to spread FAPAs until your court date, it’s important to arm yourself with the necessary evidence and legal counsel you’ll need to combat the allegations in court. Be sure to look over the following steps when preparing for your day in court:
- Be proactive, not defensive. If you know your ex is going to try and accuse you of parental alienation in court, don’t get defensive. Don’t continually try to reach out to your ex and provoke them into fights. Instead, focus on proving yourself to be the good parent you know you are. Take care of your children, stay involved with their school and other activities, and focus only on them when you’re spending time with them. Also try to keep your ex as involved and informed as possible about their children’s lives, if applicable.
- Gather evidence of your behavior toward your ex. Save everything when it comes to your ex. If you send them an email updating them on your children’s school projects or make plans to meet up with them to discuss visitation schedules, keep these on record. Also save text messages, voicemails, and other correspondence with your ex to prove that you are making a concerted effort to involve them in their children’s lives – rather than alienating them as they claim.
- Gather evidence of your ex’s allegations. If you can, save any social media posts, photographs, text messages, voicemails, and any other evidence that can prove your ex is lying about parental alienation. For example, if your ex openly admits on social media that they are having a great time with their children one weekend, this can contribute to your case. Any sort of threatening posts, texts, or emails should also be saved.
- Leave your kids out of it. If your ex is falsely alleging parental alienation, it’s easy for your children to get confused or brought into the middle of the conflict. Always work in your children’s best interest, and never vent your frustrations to them. This is between you and your ex; don’t make your children casualties in your custody battle.
- Talk to your lawyer. A child custody lawyer can help you greatly if you are going to court and fighting false allegations of parental alienation. Ask them about strategies you can use to combat the allegations, as well as any counsel they may have.
Always remember that in court, the truth is on your side. Never resort to telling lies in return about your ex, and simply prove your case through action rather than words. If you are not able to involve your ex in your children’s lives or give them information about what they are doing due to safety concerns, then absolutely do not do so. If your ex is a danger to your children, that will factor much more heavily into the court’s decision than their baseless allegations about parental alienation.
While you’re fighting false allegations of parental alienation coming from your ex, never lose sight of the most important thing you’re fighting for: your children. Try to keep an eye on your children to make sure they don’t get confused or hurt in the process. If they show any behavioral symptoms such as acting out, guilt or regret, or elevated aggression, try to talk to them or get professional help. Your family shouldn’t have to suffer for your ex’s actions.
If your ex is spreading false allegations of parental alienation about you, don’t panic and stay proactive. With the right help and commitment to proving your innocence, you can combat these allegations and keep your relationship with your children intact.