Parental Alienation(27 Posts)
DP and I have been together for 3 years and have 1 yr old DD. DP has a DD (6) from a previous relationship. DP and his Ex split over 3.5 yrs ago. They are currently still married as the divorce process was just too expensive for DP to pursue.
His ex has been difficult from day one. She told DSD that when she was with her Dad that "mummy would miss her too much and be upset", when we got our dog she told her dogs bite, when I was pregnant said that babies were horrible and cried all the time. This has got better and worse over the years in waves. She will be fine with contact for months then all of a sudden stop. We haven't seen DSD since the beginning of September. DP has been there EOW as arranged previously to pick up DSD but there has been no answer to the door/texts/phone calls. He didn't even get to speak to her on his birthday.
When we did have regular contact with DSD she was fab. Had so much fun with us and her sister. She would get upset for a few moments before she went to sleep because she missed mummy which is totally acceptable in a young child but after cuddles and reassurance she was fine and would go to sleep. DSD has become "apparently" very anxious all of a sudden to come and visit us. This has happened suddenly and we have no idea what's happened. She apparently doesn't want contact with DP, our DD, me, her paternal grandma/grandad and great grandma. No one has seen her for months. When DP did get a reply from ex it was to say DSD was anxious and adamant she didn't want to say anything. However we've been told that she has mentioned to DPs younger brother (who is only 9 and at same school) that she misses us all and wants to see her.
DP is seeing his solicitor and she is sending a letter telling Ex to reinstate contact. We think she has been planning for contact to stop for a while as she recently contacted CSA to arrange maintenance payments, whereas before hand they just sorted it between themselves.
We are all devastated. DP will be going for as much custody as he can, we would love 100% but realise that as the father the chances are slim. So hoping for 50/50. But if ex has poisoned DSD against us and she doesn't want to come to ours there isnt much we can do. I don't know much about court atrangement and was hoping for some help. Thanks.
My DH has had some success by involving the school - ensuring that they are aware of the cessation of contact and the apparent reasons why. They should know that a DC in their charge is experiencing such significant anxiety it has led to the rejection of immediate family members.
While schools won't "take sides" they are often willing to support the DC to overcome the cycle of anxiety that develops when there is a period of no-contact. Some schools will even facilitate meetings between the DC and the parent.
I would also suggest seeking advice from social services - not in an accusatory way, but in a a way that highlights his concern about his DDs anxiety, what may have caused it, and what he should do about your younger DD. All social services calls will be reported by CAFCASS if the case goes to court - which was invaluable to my DHs case.
My DH got the most support from professionals when he "believed" what his exW was saying about the DCs, and accepted her behaviour at face value, rather than expressed frustration, disbelief or anger at what his ex was doing.
Often, the professionals would decide for themselves that his ex was hostile or unreasonable rather than him suggesting it. For instance, when he asked the school for help to support his DS at hand overs because his DS was struggling to cope with his mums emotions when they left, it was the HT who told exW that she should keep her emotions under control and not cry on front of the DCs, and offered to facilitate hand over at school instead - which of course was the last thing ex wanted to happen but she couldn't say no without appearing unreasonable to the HT.
Involve as many professional people as you can; tell the family Dr, see if they or the school will refer to play therapy, anything you can. If your DHs ex resists, or is reluctant to confirm to the professionals what she has said to your DH about their DD, then it begins to expose her as hostile, rather than having her DDs best interests at heart.
Let's be honest - what mother wouldn't want to know why her DD had suddenly begun to show anxiety at the thought of seeing her dad, her grandparents and great grandparents? In a nuclear family, it would be ringing very strong alarm bells. She should welcome professional involvement to ensure her DD is safe. If she doesn't, then it brings into question her motives and the validity of the anxiety your DSD is apparently displaying.
Thank you so much. That echoes much of what we have discussed over past few days. DP is going into school on Monday hopefully to chat with teacher. We hadn't thought about social services and will look into that route. It's heartbreaking at the moment. Especially with Christmas coming up. Which we suspect could be reason for lack of contact.
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply.
I can't even tell you the nightmare were having with my DP's ex. She is absolute poison. Tells their children (8 and 12) all the financial details, all about her dating life, how much she dislikes me, my dp. (she left him incidentally). Any time something happens shes not happy with she tells the kids then says theyre getting stressed (because of what shes sharing) and it must be because of whats happening at our house (?) and withdraws access...this has been going on for the last three years. Even accused my dp of leaving their daughter with a potential paedophile... (me) because I played barbies when she was in the bath at her request. (bearing in mind not only do I have three children myself i'm also CRB checked enhanced because of my job) He had to sit in the corner of the bathroom for 6 months after that and if he didnt she got her eldest to report back. even had his eldest leave the phone on loudspeaker so she could hear the conversation he was having with his daughter. We had no idea then suddenly at the end of the conversqation she picked up the handset and said 'was that ok mum?'
We are absolutely at our wits end with it and looking at court proceedings now. Proving parental alienation is really difficult because the kids often have been primed to say whatever supports the alienator...You are not alone!!
One thing to make sure you are clear on is that children are actually often "happier" or at least presenting as happier during the period where they are no contact. This is due to the relief of having pleased the alienated parent and the little unexplained rewards they will get, not to mention the reduced stress. This makes it harder to look to school for help as school may even think the child is better off with the alienating parent. It doesn't help much - but please be aware of it for any conversations.
In my experience of not really knowing my DSS was being alienated until he was a teen, I would say that you need to act on this right now. Don't wait until they give your DSD too much of a say in what happens to her and who she lives with. Make sure our husband really knows what alienation is and how it is affecting his DD.
Why would you go for 100% ? That's just vindictive! Why 50% even, who wants to constantly shuttle between houses
And for his daughters sake it would be fairest to just ask for court ordered contact in his usual weekends?
Um, I'm not sure it's the OP being vindictive here
I would recommend that the Father check Karen Woodall's blog, you are in for a long journey.
Do not pay any attention to the unbelievably ridiculous post by throwingpebbles.
The father would 'go' for the child living with him to prevent the mother from emotionally and psychologically abusing the child any further, it is the mother's behaviour that is vindictive and abusive toward the child and the father.
My exH is attempting to alienate the children from me and it is horrible. He says nasty comments and undermines me at every opportunity. I had a court order stopping him speaking to me for a while but as soon as that expired he was being abusive on the doorstop. But I do think
he also adds value to their lives in other ways. Ideally I would not want to stop him being in their lives! I just want to stop his behaviour! I guess that is where I am coming from. Ideally both parents should be in a child's life. But maybe I am hoping for too much! I do get really distressed by his actions but try and just still be positive about him to the kids and never do anything myself to make them feel torn
We echo sonnys post. The reason DP wants to go for 100% is to try and protect his daughter. His ex is basically alienating her from her family, her father, sister, grandparents. She actually saw DPs brother in the street and bounded up to him. So the alleged adamance she won't see us, and emotional problems when thinking about seeing this side of the family is obviously false.
We still have had no contact, despite solicitor sending letter requesting Ex to reinstate contact. Nothing. He's turned up every single morning at the normal agreed time to pick her up, no answer at the door.
Thanks so much to everyone who's replied. Will get DP to check that blog. Next step, mediation.....
We are going to court. Still no contact with DSD, since August last year. Solicitor letters ignored, Two mediation sessions set up in November time which ExW didn't attend. Court application is in. It's so sad.
We attended her nativity play at Xmas and she refused to go on stage. Have been having regular contact with school who don't have any worries regarding her supposed anxieties. Spoke to teacher after nativity as was obviously upsetting. Teacher comfirms DSD did play on the Monday/Tuesday no problems yet the Wednesday arrived at school nervous and anxious (first time they've witnessed this). We told nobody we were going to the nativity so DSD had no way of knowing we would be there. We always attended previous plays on the Wed Pm so assuming ExW told her we would be coming and whatever else she wanted to use to upset her. She waved at us from behind the curtain but her mum spoke to her and we didn't see her again.
Our DDs birthday was January, invite was posted before Xmas (through letterbox so we knew it had arrived). Didn't hear anything so wrote a letter. A mutual friend of DP and Ex gave Ex the letter (again to ensure it was recoeved). Ex read it , screwed it up and said she had plans and she couldn't possible attend.
DP has seen Ex running up the path with DSD being dragged behind to avoid her seeing her dad. It's heartbreaking.
Court application is in, as said before, just waiting on a date. PA is so hard to prove and we are still heartbroken that a lovely confident little girl has been turned into an recluse!
Thanks to all who gave advice before. It's really helped us.
I can actually see Throwing pebbles point - going for 100% contact and alienating the mother is vindictive by the father.
50:50 and steps in place, this is about the child knowing both parents not one winning.
If she does not see her mother because the father has 100% contact then who is the winner - the child is the loser on both sides.
She needs both parents
She does but alienation makes 50/50 very difficult. Karen Woodall is an expert in these matters and she and other experts know that sometimes removing the child from the care of the alienating parent is the safest choice for the child.
Good luck OP. I'm in a similar position, it's not nice. Look after yourself.
Good luck OP.
We were in a similar position to you although some contact was maintained throughout. We were constantly told that DSD didn't want to see us. After one particular incident we initiated court proceedings. The CAFCASS officers saw through the behaviour of the DSCs mother and we now have proper contact with the children.
Now that the DSCs mother has to comply with the court order, the children are far more happy and relaxed.
DH self-represented. He used the phrase "parental alienation" and got bollocked by the judge as it's apparently an American term.
He used the phrase "parental alienation" and got bollocked by the judge as it's apparently an American term.
It isn't actually but judges can be behind the times with it, sadly. There is case law where it is used in the family courts in England and Wales. Parental Alienation Syndrome is a discredited piece of research by an American.
Implacable hostility is more widely accepted.
This is also the judge that laid into DH and then ordered everything he asked for ... So I'm not surprised he got it wrong.
The weird and wonderful world of the family courts..!
Good luck with court. Poor girl.
To a lesser degree we've experienced the same thing but as dsd is 12 we get told that dsd doesn't want to come here, dsd is stressed. Dp sees dsd on occasion when we drop my dds off at an activity she also attends and she won't come over to talk to him. He will go over to her and she's just dismissive of him.
Older dsd says his ex has spent the last three years bitching about us constantly, tells dsd we have loads of money and should be spending it on her so get comments about us buying dd school uniform but why haven't we bought her any new clothes or taken her out. It's awful. Dp already had to fight to see his eldest (ironically when with his ex and All her posts on that are here on this site to read where she's stating how unfair that dp never gets time with his dd etc, yet is doing it herself now) and after two years out of work recovering from serious injuries, losing the house and most of the money in the divorce, we now live in extortionate rented housing, he's on minimum wage, we pay more maintenance for his dd that I get for both of mine and I'm registered disabled. We have neither the money or energy for a court battle.
I think you have no choice but court and you shouldn't fear it.DH's ex would withhold contact or just make it very difficult.Each week DH would be on hold waiting to be told when he could see dsd.
Court was a quick and relative painless process and the judge awarded regular contact which dad's mum has mostly adhered to.She was however absolutely furious and there was backlash with dsd which we didn't anticipate.She represented court to dsd as a process where she was bullied into submission.The reality is that each side spoke for a few minutes via solicitors and the judge made the order for regular contact.It was all very civilised.
I'm so glad we did court, dh had tried every avenue and if it had failed he would have known that he tried every avenue.The court order helped dh to see his daughter and they now have a good relationship.It was worth all the stress.
Thanks for all the replies. I've just managed to catch up (busy few days). We are going for 50:50 as we decided (as PP have said) that taking her away from her mother isn't the best thing for her. She needs both parents.
Thanks for all your kind words! And to everyone going through the same.
We have recently gone through similar and went through court with very good outcomes. DP represented himself in court and it was fine.
Luckily, we had a judge who could see through all of DPs ex's lies and was very hard on her. We have had 4 years of contact being disrupted when ex feels like it (seemed to be at times that was crucial to DPs and DSDs relationship developing, ie increase of time/ overnight stays introduced) The most recent was when she stopped contact for 3 months and told DSD that her dad had moved abroad and that's why she wasn't seeing him. Throughout that process SS were involved and reported a change from the start of when contact stopped where DSD was saying that she wanted to see DP to the end when she wouldn't talk about him and said that he was naughty to mummy.
Contact was ordered to be reinstated immediately even before final hearing. During this time, DP actively involved SS and made sure that they saw DSD with him as well as just with ex. This really helped his case as SW could not believe that she had believed all of ex's lies and reported that some of what DSD had been saying was clearly what she had been told to say by her mum. also reported how much more relaxed/natural she was with him. Apparently she had been nervous and anxious when with her mum and wouldn't leave her side (obviously scared that she would say the wrong things..) Definitely helps to show that you are cooperating with all local authorities and actively seeking their help and advice on the situation. Ex would claim DV and then refuse help from local authorities.
We originally went for 50:50 as well but were advised that this was very uncommon and for good reason as was extremely disruptive for the child. In the end the judge ordered for a 'shared care' arrangement which increased DPs time with DSD considerably - EOW from fri - mon, one weekday over night stay fortnightly and holidays split 50:50. There was also stipulations that if ex did not make necessary changes required of her then custody would be given to DP with ex having visitation.
Must admit, resuming contact has been hard and we have had to deal with DSDs occasional anxiety and comments made about both of us and her paternal family. However, they do seem to be just recited at random times. This has got less and less as time goes on.
It really helped that drop off/pick up now happens from school. It makes such a difference! DSD has not had DPs ex in her ear before contact telling her what to say while with him. When it has been during school holidays and we have picked DSD up straight from her mother it is a different story and it takes a while for us to reassure her that she can whatever she likes.
Just wanted to let you know my DH got 50:50 and an SRO fairly painlessly a few years ago OP.
He's so glad he did. Aside from the regular and consistent contact it was absolutely invaluable for DSD's Mum to be told by a judge that she did not have the right to stop contact whenever DH didn't do exactly as she said and that she could not dictate what happened during contact. The SRO doesn't mean much but the piece of paper it's written on has proved invaluable nonetheless if you see what I mean! He's gone from having weekly battles and dramas to possibly one or two a year.
What a PP has said about picking up / dropping to school has been equally beneficial for DH and means he's been able to have involvement with school, which DSD's Mum had previously tried to prevent.
Personally I'm not sure 50:50 contact is ideal once a child starts becoming an adolescent so maybe have a bit of a think about that. It worked very well for DSD as a child but isn't so much now she's a teen.
Does SRO = Shared residence order? Is this something that you can still apply for?
We are still experiencing some difficulties with ex, although I feel that this is just an attempt by her to regain 'control' (her words not mine). Recently she has booked a holiday during DPs contact weekend and said that she is not in breach as she gave 2 weeks notice, even though he had previously offered to miss the overnight weekday so that she would have over a week to arrange a holiday in the Easter holidays.
The contact order states 'child is to live with both parents as follows..' is this the same as SRO? I think she feels that as she is the 'RP' she does not need DP to agree to changes such as these. Would be a different story if he decided to keep DSD for an additional day even if he had given 2 weeks notice.
Just wondering what could help minimise these dramas as much as possible when you do not have 50:50. I have a feeling that after every time DP gets additional time over the holidays she will just disrupt contact on his next weekend..
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