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Parental Alienation-Characteristics



Parental alienation is an appalling form of evil which turns children into casualties of the conflict between their parents. Practically speaking, Parental Alienation is not difficult to identify. It is the obvious estrangement of the child from the "targeted" parent by the language and/or actions of a "malicious" parent.

Common characteristics of Parental Alienation can be as follows:

  • The child does not refer to the targeted parent as "mom" or "dad" anymore. The child stops giving hugs, saying "I love you", or showing any demonstrable affection to the targeted parent or anyone close to that parent.

  • Older children with cell phones are in constant contact with the malicious parent, often segregating themselves from targeted parent.

  • When with the targeted parent, the child expresses a desire to go back "home".

  • The child seeks opportunities to degrade and ostracize the targeted parent with words and actions.

  • The child expresses extreme support and protection of the malicious parent, especially if this parent initiated the alienation.

  • The child is not allowed to transport any property or schoolwork to the targeted parent's home.

  • The child expresses to the targeted parent that they do not want that parent at school, sports or extracurricular events.

  • The child no longer shows interest in participating in activities in the targeted parent's home even if it something that the child actually enjoys. The child would rather sit out than have fun with the targeted parent.

  • The child demonstrates little or no reason to dislike the targeted parent, such as frivolous anger and unfounded hatred.

  • The child is confident in his/her behavior and does not show a mixture of emotions toward the targeted parent, only anger.

  • The child shows no guilt regarding his/her unfair treatment of the targeted parent.

  • The child does not attribute his/her anger to "brainwashing" from either parent. The child believes it was his/her independent idea.

  • The child often borrows hypothetical scenarios or scenes to validate his/her anger, even though they are impossible.

  • The child attempts to spread his/her animosity toward the parent to close friends and other family members.

Parental Alienation can serve as a basis for limiting residential time in a Parenting Plan under Washington State law. Referred to "abusive use of conflict", the statute authorizes the imposition of limitations upon a parent who engages in such harmful behavior. RCW 26.09.191(3)(e). Determining whether a malicious parent's alienation efforts rises to the level of "abusive use of conflict" to justify limitations on that parent will depend heavily on the facts.

Family law litigation can be emotionally difficult and complex. Decisions made about each step of the litigation can affect you for many years. At Bains Law Firm, we have decades of experience helping our clients through the difficulty of family law matters, including parental alienation cases and can help you through the process. Contact us today at (253) 838 – 3377 or email at, to talk about your case.

Disclaimer: All materials provided on this website have been prepared by Bains Law Firm for general information purposes only and no representation is made as to their completeness or accuracy. Information on this website is not intended as legal advice, and may not be relied upon as such. Only an attorney who can review the unique facts of each case and apply them to the statutes, case law and court rules can provide legal advice. Nothing in this website shall be construed to create an attorney-client relationship.

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