A divorce or common law legal separation is a painful, and life disrupting experience. It can take years for adults to recover emotionally and financially from a divorce. When children are part of the equation, a separation and divorce becomes more complicated. Not only does each parent have to navigate the difficult process for themselves, but they have to nurture their child or children through the confusing, upsetting and emotionally traumatic experience as well.
In the most ideal situation, both parents would recognize the importance of protecting the emotional and financial wellbeing of the child, and place that as a top priority. But we know how intense the emotions of divorce are, and how formerly married or common law partners can engage in hostile activities that are a reflection of their anger, disappointment and hurt.
In most circumstances, the Courts in Oklahoma favor granting custody to Mother’s as a default and recognition of the maternal care that young children benefit from. The rights of non-custodial parents are protected by law, by that doesn’t mean that the legal requirements are followed; particularly if the custodial parent did not petition or want the divorce.
Children can be placed in the war zone between combatant divorced or divorcing parents suffer abuse that can have lifelong ramifications on their well-being. Which is why non-custodial parents in these difficult situations, must seek legal recourse and assistance for the benefit of their child.
Hostile Aggressive Parenting (HAP) Is Child Abuse
When a divorce has not been amicable, and when parents are not able to co-parent in a peaceful way after the dissolution of the marriage, the custodial parent may use tactics to turn the child against the non-custodial parent. This is called Hostile Aggressive Parenting, or HAP.
What does this look like in the home and relationship between the child and the custodial parent? Constant denigrating comments shared with the child, about the other parent. It is a personal campaign to alter the perception of the child having two loving parents. Psychology experts identify the damage that this can inflict on a child, both in terms of emotional stress and cognitive damage.
Tactics Used to Alienate Children from the Non-Custodial Parent
1. They can attempt to limit contact between the non-custodial parent and the child. This includes blocking them on the child’s phone or social media, refusal to adhere to scheduled visitation, shorten visitation periods, or remove the non-custodial parent from authorized school pick-up, etc.
2. They can remove all pictures of the alienated parent from the home, refuse to allow gifts from that parent to remain in the home, and limit any reminder of the non-custodial parent in the dwelling.
3. Forcing the child to accept a new stepparent in lieu of the non-custodial parent. For example, “He is your new Dad”.
4. Prohibiting the child from discussing the other parent with siblings, relatives or family friends. Enforcing a hostile ‘persona non gratis’ attitude, where the child is not allowed to acknowledge the existence or their emotional affection for the non-custodial parent.
5. Creating lies and a consistent campaign of true or false facts and evidence against the other parent, that demeans the way the child views the non-custodial parent. Sharing information that is personal regarding the reasons for the divorce or relationship separation and blaming the non-custodial parent exclusively for the problems and consequences.
6. Manipulating the child to position the non-custodial parent as a danger or threat, to either the custodial parent or the child, and encouraging isolation from the parent for safety reasons.
7. Refusal to share medical information, school records and updates on performance, extra curricular events of importance to the child, so as to eliminate the non-custodial parent as a decision maker in the child’s life. Creating distance that legitimizes false claims that the non-custodial parent is not interested in being active with duties of parenting.
8. Reverting the legal name of the child to the mother’s maiden name, to disassociate the child from the father.
9. Preventing close family members like grandparents, aunts and uncles, or cousins (that are related to the non-custodial parent) from spending time with the child. This further isolates the child from anything associated with their alienated parent.
10. Forcing the child to report back on activities they engage in, when with the non-custodial parent. What did you do? Who were they with? How did they look? Are they dating anyone? And then following the line of questioning with derogatory comments about the parent, undermining a child’s need to feel safe with the non-custodial parent.
Building Your Case to Petition for Custody or Court Ordered Intervention
Psychological abuse of children seems difficult to prove, and many non-custodial parents find themselves in this situation for years, before seeking the advice of legal counsel. There are many courses of legal action you can pursue, with an experienced law firm that has successfully helped parents dispute and correct situations of parental alienation.
If you have found yourself in this situation, where access to your child and an ongoing campaign of alienation is being perpetrated by your former partner, you need to take action, rather than wait and hope that the situation will improve in time. In building a case for legal action, or appealing custodial rights, our legal team at Compton Law in Yukon Oklahoma, can help you by:
- Requesting a professional unbiased psychological evaluation of your child to determine the presence of emotional child abuse and the presence of Hostile Aggressive Parenting (HAP).
- Petitioning the court for equal custodial rights for the child, on allegations of emotional abuse.
- Building a case to seek full custody of the child, in the event that the child is displaying emotional distress, neglect, or other signs that warrant a legal evaluation of the current terms of custody.
- Legal action to petition the court to order a cessation of harmful activities against the child, or willful obstruction to legal rights of the non-custodial parents in terms of relationship and access to the child.
Learn more about the rights and protections provided by Oklahoma Senate Bill 1612, and contact our team at Compton Law to schedule a free consultation with our family law experts.