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Understanding Parental Alienation Laws in Denver, Colorado
Colorado Law & Parental Alienation
Breaking ties with your former spouse is never easy. As a family drifts apart, it can be emotional and frustrating for everyone involved, especially your children. When children are part of any divorce, legal separation or uncontested divorce, it is natural to wonder how well they will settle into a different way of living with their parents.
Because cases concerning child support, child custody or visitation agreements can be tumultuous and argumentative, there is no guarantee that a former spouse will be able to maintain an amicable relationship with you after the divorce or separation.
It is in just such an emotional climate that parental alienation can easily occur. (This sentence should be reworded) At Jones Law Firm, PC, when we take on a case like this, each Denver family attorney carefully listens to all the client has to say. We then educate the client on parental alienation and develop a personalized strategy for protecting the family.
What is Parental Alienation?
Parental alienation is the term used to describe the efforts of one parent to sour a child’s relationship with the other parent, referred to as the target parent. It can be consciously or unconsciously done, but the effect is the same.
If conducted over a long period of time or if criticism of the other parent is particularly severe, the effects can be heartbreaking. The child will eventually begin to express strong and unreasonable hatred or dislike toward the target parent, emotionally rejecting that parent. Over time, they completely lose that source of parental support.
Parental alienation is actually considered a form of child abuse because it is alienating parent’s attempt to manipulate a child into turning against the target parent. In regular child abuse cases, the child will begin to reject the abusing parent to protect themselves but with parental alienation, the opposite is true. Parents who use parental alienation tactics often seem to see everything as part of a giant battle with their ex-spouse and cannot focus on the needs of their child.
What Are the Signs of Parental Alienation?
Regardless of whether the abusive parent is turning a child against their former spouse deliberately or subconsciously, there are signs and indicators that can help you identify parental alienation behaviors.
Warning signs of possible parental alienation include:
- Destroying mail or presents from the target parent
- Making the target parent the scapegoat for every problem
- The child shows excessive disrespect to the target parent
- The target parent is not informed about school events and other activities in the child’s life
- The child feels guilty when expressing love toward the target parent
- The child displays fear of rejection by the alienating parent
- The child appears to no longer know the truth from lies
- The child rejects their counselor or therapist
- The child gives frivolous reasons for not wanting to see the target parent
- The child calls the target parent a liar or other hurtful names
- The child suffers paranoia and unwarranted hatred
Often, the alienating parent may try to effectively erase all signs of the target parent and refuse to tell the child when the target parent calls or reaches out in other ways. Or the alienating parent may invade the target parent’s time with the child by making excessive calls and texts. In many cases, the alienating parent confides detailed information about the relationship, playing the victim, and the child ends up feeling the need to provide counseling and support as if they were the parent.
Is Parental Alienation Illegal in Colorado?
Despite the often subtle nature of parental alienation, courts in Colorado do recognize the tactics and they take the problem seriously. In fact, legislators considered the potential effects of parental alienation when they enacted Colo. Rev. Stat. §14-10-124 which requires courts to consider “the ability of the parties to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other party” when making a determination about parenting time. If a judge decides that an alienating parent is interfering with the relationship between the child and the target parent, the judge can use that finding as the basis to modify parenting time.
What Can I Do If I Am Experiencing Parental Alienation?
If you even suspect that parental alienation tactics are being used against you, it is important to take protective measures right away. When you are able to prevent the abuse from getting out of control, you can save your child and your family considerable pain in the future.
One of the first steps is to keep track of any evidence that could reveal parental alienation. While one example on its own may not carry much meaning, when you can show a pattern of alienating conduct, you build a strong case to support legal action. Try to:
- Save voicemail messages
- Write down details about episodes, phone calls, and encounters
- Keep screenshots of text messages or social media posts
- Save email messages, letters, and other records of contact
- Write down or record your child’s behavior when it shows the effects of parental alienation (I would ask an attorney about record, often times Judge’s do not like that.. but check)
All these records should be kept together with dates, times, and other information about each incident.
While you are building your collection of evidence, you can also take legal action to enforce your rights and protect your family. You might ask the court to have a Child Family Investigator conduct interviews and report findings to the court. In situations where an alienating parent refuses to allow you to see your child, you can work with a family law attorney to file a contempt or enforcement action. You could also work with an attorney to seek a modification of the parenting plan to gain more time with your child.
Dedicated & Effective Advocacy in Denver from Jones Law Firm, PC
If you know that your child is suffering from parental alienation and you are slowly losing their love and respect, you must take immediate legal action to reverse this abusive behavior. A dedicated Denver parental alienation lawyer could help you prevent parental alienation from ruining your relationship with your child.
Our legal team cares deeply about families, including fathers’ rights, and we strive to help preserve a stable environment for children long after a divorce. Contact Jones Law Firm, PC and see what we may be able to do for you to save your relationship with your children.
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