Understanding the Impact of Parental Alienation on Children

Parental alienation is a troubling family dynamic where one parent turns a child against the other parent. This attempt to create a hostile rejection of a parent can negatively impact a child’s emotional and psychological well-being. Understanding the impact of parental alienation on children is an important step in addressing this harmful behavior during your custody case. 

Defining Parental Alienation

During parental alienation, a parent can use words or actions to encourage their child to reject time or bonding opportunities with their other parent. The alienating parent may use emotional manipulation and toxic language to distort the child’s view of the targeted parent. Parental alienation can also include the following behaviors.

  • Limiting contact between the child and the targeted parent
  • Interfering with visitation between the child and the targeted parent
  • Pressuring the child to choose one parent over the other

Often, the goal of parental alienation is to turn the child against the other parent in an attempt to gain control over custody or visitation arrangements. This behavior can be extremely damaging to the child’s development and can lead to long-term emotional and psychological difficulties.

How Does Parental Alienation Impact Children?

When it comes to understanding the impact of parental alienation on children, knowing the effects on the child is paramount. A parent may fabricate information that can warp a child’s sense of reality, identity, and self-worth. 

Moreover, alienation can cause a child to develop depression or anxiety. The hostile home environment and distorted family dynamic can result in lifelong trauma. In turn, it may be harder for the child to form relationships with either parents or other individuals. The effects of parental alienation can be lifelong for a child, and undoing the impact may require the care of a therapist.

Rejection of a Parent

Additionally, parental alienation can lead to a child’s rejection of the targeted parent, which weakens what could be a healthy bond. In addition to weakening a parent-child relationship, alienation also reinforces negative behaviors in the parent pressuring the child.

Does Parental Alienation Impact Child Custody Cases?

Colorado family courts can look at parental alienation as a form of abuse that endangers the child’s best interests. If the Court agrees that a parent behaved this way, the parent who engages in alienation may have custody or visitation rights affected.

Detecting and addressing parental alienation early is critical to help avoid escalation and long-term damage to the child. Jones Law Firm, PC, has Denver child custody lawyers who will advocate to protect you and your child. Our team works closely with each client to help them achieve their legal goals. 


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).