In divorce cases in Texas that also involve the element of parental alienation, one person may use his or her child as a weapon against the other parent. The individual is usually so angry about the divorce that he or she wants to punish his or her spouse, and as a result, attempts to turn his or her child against the other parent.
However, parental alienation usually does not manifest once a divorce is underway. There are deep-seated psychological reasons for parental alienation, and it generally starts when a child is born. The parent uses the child to fulfill his or her emotional needs, and this becomes a psychological dynamic to which the child becomes accustomed. When divorce enters the picture, the alienating parent begins to badmouth his or her ex, and the child feels intense pressure psychologically to go along with this. Eventually, the child may say he or she no longer wants to live with or visit the other parent because he or she feels that there is no choice but to give in.
Ideally, a targeted parent would be able to get a court order to have the child live with him or her and therapy for the entire family to resolve the issue. Unfortunately, courts often lack the knowledge or resources to deal with parental alienation effectively. In some cases, it can be hard for them to distinguish between cases of abuse and alienation.
Parents who are in this situation might want to discuss it with an attorney about how they should proceed. Even if they cannot convince a court that parental alienation is taking place, they may be able to ensure that they can retain their parental rights and time with their children. In less contentious situations, parents may be able to reach an agreement about custody and visitation without going to court. Mediation may help them resolve conflicts and move ahead as co-parents.