by Mia Poppe | Jan 28, 2023 | Custody & Parental Access, Family Law |
Is your child’s other parent using negative manipulation to turn your child’s relationship with you against you? This type of behavior common during the pendency of a divorce action or in post-divorce situations is what is known as parental alienation. One of the most difficult theories to prove in a child custody proceeding, this two-part series shares the tactical and legal steps you can take if you are the target of parental alienation.
What is Parental Alienation?
Parental alienation is an event in which one parent actively weakens the relationship between the other parent and their child or children. At one end of the spectrum, is the parent who is the custodial or the primary parental figure in the child’s life. On the other end, is the parent who is not the primary figure, but is rather the seemingly powerful figure, who possibly holds all the money but definitely has the ability to invoke fear in the child.
One of the problems with parental alienation is you can only say it happened when the outcome is already there, such as your child rejecting your phone calls or refusing to visit. Typical manipulation of the alienating parent includes:
- Bad-mouthing the other parent to the child.
- Bad-mouthing the other parent to the community or other third parties.
- Constantly telling the child how the divorce is hurting them, causing the child to feel judgmental or parental toward the alienated parent.
These purposeful and calculated attempts to estrange the child from the other parent are a form of emotional abuse of the child and may constitute parental alienation.
But know this, parental alienation is very hard to prove. It requires significant documentation, third-party evaluations, and showing the course of action that created the alienation. It is not in the best interest of any child to uproot them from the home they are settled in, so what can you do?
How to Counteract Parental Alienation
If you believe you are the subject of parental alienation, there are tactical steps you can take to mitigate the alienation. It is worth repeating that parental alienation is difficult to prove in our overburdened family and divorce courts. Prior to considering legal action, you must take every effort to counteract the alienation outside the courtroom.
Detachment: as counterintuitive as it sounds, parental alienation is mitigated when you detach from the emotional attack that’s being launched against you and your child. Some therapists call the withholding “narcissistic supply”. Narcissistic supply generally refers to the energy that certain manipulative people need to continue on with their course of the manipulation. They must achieve a payoff to succeed at their manipulation.
Validate and accept your child’s feelings: validate that the fear and confusion they feel are both real. After you validate their feelings, disarm their fear by reassuring your child absolutely everything will be okay. Give your child words of encouragement and voice your acceptance of your child’s feelings. Ignoring their feelings will only push them closer to the alienating parent.
Team up: work with a therapist and surround yourself with friends and family who strongly support you. And if a divorce is necessary, find a divorce attorney who is qualified to handle child custody and parental alienation.
Other Steps to Mitigate Parental Alienation
If, and only if, you have exhausted every effort, taken every avenue, and tried every tactic to mitigate parental alienation without success, it may be time to consider legal assistance. You must understand that the court will require concrete evidence of parental alienation before making any order.
In part two of the parental alienation series, we discuss the various legal steps that may be taken by the court depending on the situation. Ultimately, the court will always consider the best interests of the child as the main priority before making any decision.
Let Me Be Your BraveIf you or someone you know is going through parental alienation, I encourage you to act now. As an experienced attorney in divorce litigation and child custody, contact The Law Firm of Poppe & Associates to schedule an appointment today.
Let Me Be Your Brave!
Mia Poppe, Esq.
Law Firm of Poppe & Associates, PLLC.
by Mia Poppe | Oct 25, 2022 | Divorce, Family Law |
You’re married to a narcissist and ready to break free. First, congratulations on empowering yourself to take this next, crucial step toward your new life. Second, it is critical that you take time to find the right attorney to represent you. Divorce is painful but divorcing an abusive spouse can be downright scary. The abuser will come at you and come at you. Make sure you have the proper support in your corner.
The Silence of Narcissistic Abuse
Narcissistic abuse is often silent to the outside world, but for those living in a narcissistic relationship, it is an everyday abuse that destroys self-esteem, confidence, and personal identity. Every week in our office during conference calls with incredibly smart, beautiful, and successful clients just like you, they share their stories:
“No one understands me.” “I’m terrified every day.” “I’m being gaslighted.”
“I’m financially and emotionally drained.” “I feel isolated.” “What about my children?”
These are women (and men) who to the outside world appear to be confident, successful, and strong individuals; active in the community and surrounded by friends. But internally these individuals have been torn down, degraded, and left not knowing what to do. They are highly intelligent and capable individuals who do not know how to untangle themselves from their never-ending entanglement with their narcissistic spouse.
Finding A Divorce Attorney
The bridge over these very troubling waters lies in your selection of the right divorce attorney for you. How do you do that? How do you make sure that you are hiring or retaining a divorce attorney who will best represent you? Here are three must-take steps:
1. Interview Several Attorneys
Do not hire your attorney simply because your neighbor or best friend used them as their attorney. Every relationship is different just as every divorce is different. Their needs with their attorney are not the same as yours. Interview multiple attorneys to gain an understanding of their expertise, knowledge about your type of situation, practice style, and even personality.
2. Ask for Referrals
This is your life! This is your child’s life. When interviewing an attorney don’t be shy and ask for referrals from other former clients. Tell them you’d like the name of one or two clients that would be willing to speak to you about their experiences with the law firm. A well-regarded attorney will not hesitate to provide referrals.
3. Trust Your Gut
No one knows how to take care of you like you. Trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right during the interview with a potential attorney, trust your gut and walk away.
Narcissists carry an air of superiority, even believing they are above the law. Facing divorce can cause a significant shift in the narcissistic personality as they fight to maintain control of their spouse and their fake reputation.
If you are in a situation where you’re trying to find your way to a divorce with a narcissist, know this – you are not alone. Our team brings significant legal acumen and personal experience in matters of narcissistic abuse and divorce. We are here to help.
Interview us to learn more about our team, culture, and process. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
Let Me Be Your Brave!
Mia Poppe, Esq.
Law Firm of Poppe & Associates, PLLC.
by Mia Poppe | Sep 6, 2022 | Custody & Parental Access, Divorce, Family Law |
Now that you’ve read part 1 of this 3-part series, KEEP READING because divorce is challenging and cannot be addressed in one blog. Even “amicable” divorces can be difficult to navigate. In high-conflict divorces, tensions are high, and the gloves come off, but it’s your child that suffers most because of the continued animosity between you and your child’s other parent. Using your child as a pawn is undermining and manipulative behavior that puts children into a dangerous psychological tailspin. Control your emotions purposefully and model your emotional management skills for your kids.
DON’T USE YOUR CHILD AS A PAWN
Listen up parents, your children are not a negotiation tool. You may not realize you are putting your child in the middle, but it is an all-too-common occurrence. Can you identify with any of these damaging divorce behaviors?
The Blame Game
There’s a dangerous pronoun in divorce – ‘Your’.
“Your father did this to me.” “Your father is a cheater.”
“Your mother told this lie.” “Your mother gave up.”
The problem with ‘your’ is it’s possessive. You have shifted the blame to include your child. Airing your grievances to them is selfish and hurtful. Your child is half you and half the other parent. When you speak against your spouse you are putting your child down as well. Hold your tongue and save the venting for your inner circle.
You do not need to buy your child’s love. Do everyone a favor and skip the special treats, the new puppy, and the randomly purchased gifts given with intention of buying their love. These behaviors teach children how to manipulate others, deceive, and use material things to get what they want.
Who Do You Like Best
Are you really expecting your child to pick one parent over the other? Did you really ask them to say who they want to live with? Children caught in a contentious divorce often feel pressure to choose, and you might be surprised to find that putting this decision on them will only make them resent you.
If your soon-to-be ex wants to go on vacation will you manipulate your schedule to prevent it? Do you alienate your children from your former in-laws and relatives? You may think your actions are only hurting your ex, but the reality is that you are punishing your kids as well.
CREATING AN INTENSE HOME ENVIRONMENT
Divorce is difficult for children, and your behavior will impact their physical and mental well-being. Let me ask this, are you guilty of any of these behaviors in front of your child?
- Arguing with your spouse
- Spousal silent treatment
- Discussing adult matters
- Physical altercations
- Needlessly calling the police (the lowest of the low!)
Children dealing with a tense home environment due to parents going through a divorce can lead to:
- Depression, social withdrawal, regression
- Troubles concentrating in school
- Anger, bullying, defiance
- Loss of sleep or sleeping too much
- Inability to handle conflict
- Physical pain from anxiety or stress
Children with positive co-parents experience less depression and anxiety. Manage your intentions and your emotions. Your sole focus during the divorce should be your child’s best welfare. Be a team with a superpower for good, not a team set on being destroyed by divorce. An empowered parent raises empowered children.
At The Law Firm of Poppe & Associates, our focus is relentless advocacy for our clients. If you or someone you know is considering divorce, reach out to schedule a consultation: (212) 792-9501.
Mia Poppe, Esq.
Are you considering divorce and think mediation may be the right option for you and your family? Contact the Law Firm of Poppe & Associates today to schedule a consultation to talk with an attorney about whether mediation or litigation is the right fit for your situation.