Are You Guilty of Parental Alienation?

When people divorce, it’s normal to have resentment toward one’s spouse. This is especially the case when there has been adultery, emotional abuse, and other issues that caused hostility to build over the years. It’s only human nature to be critical of one’s ex during a breakup, but when there are children involved, it’s important that parents keep their negative opinions of each other to themselves. Otherwise, if a parent engages in “parental alienation,” it not only hurts their kids, but it can harm them.

Parental alienation is the act of badmouthing or criticizing one’s ex to their children. Badmouthing one’s ex to one’s kids is nothing new, however, in the last 10 to 20 years, courts across the country have been coming down hard on parents who do it.

If it comes so naturally to bitter parents, why is it frowned upon so heavily? Because parental alienation has been proven to have long-term psychological effects on children and it can permanently sever the ties between children and their alienated parent. In the absence of domestic violence or severe neglect, the courts strongly believe that children do better when both parents are actively involved in their lives, and parental alienation defeats this purpose.

What Parental Alienation Looks Like

Examples of parental alienation include:

  • Scheduling parties, events, and activities during the alienated parent’s court-ordered time with their children.
  • Intentionally withholding information about the children from the alienated parent.
  • Not letting the alienated parent see their children.
  • Badmouthing the alienated parent to the children.
  • Starting arguments with the alienated parent during pick-ups and drop-offs.
  • Saying bad things to the children about the alienated parent’s significant other.
  • Telling the children that they don’t have to obey the alienated parent.
  • Not letting the children contact the alienated parent anytime they wish.

Parental alienation is not healthy for children and it can destroy their relationship with the other parent. Beyond that, there can be serious legal consequences to parental alienation. The Colorado family courts are keenly aware of it and if it can be proven that a parent is alienating their children from the noncustodial parent, the offending parent can be found in contempt of court, which is punishable by jail and fines. Additionally, a judge can transfer child custody to the alienated parent.

Next: Can I Change a Child Support Order in Colorado?

If you are guilty of parental alienation, it is in your best interests to stop immediately. Otherwise, it could hurt your children and it can hurt you. If your ex is alienating you against your children and you need help with a child custody matter, we invite you to contact Jones Law Firm, PC for a free consultation.


The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

Our team includes attorneys licensed to practice in multiple states including April D. Jones in California, Patrick G. Barkman in Texas, the Cherokee Nation, the Northern District of Texas, and the District of Colorado (United States Court of Appeals 10th and 5th Circuit).