Fraud Blocker

Parental Alienation in California 2024 – All You Need to Know

By Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP | Aug 19, 2023

When parents separate, it’s often very difficult for their children. Custody cases and final custody orders can be complicated situations for the entire family, and children can react to divorces in many different ways. Ideally, both parents are able to work in their child’s interests, and the family can work toward a new future.

When parents have especially contentious relationships, this can lead to disputes, damaged relationships, and even parental alienation. Parental alienation can hurt everyone in a family, especially children. If you believe that your co-parent is manipulating your child or children to be alienated from you, it’s essential to learn the signs and how to handle parental alienation. An Orange County, CA, Divorce Attorney can help you make informed decisions about parental alienation.

Parental Alienation

During divorce and separation, parents may disagree about how custody should be assigned, and children may distance themselves emotionally during this difficult process. These behaviors and actions don’t always indicate something as serious as parental alienation.

Parental alienation is a deliberate manipulation tactic used by one parent to get a child to fear or dislike the other parent. While a divorce or separation is ongoing, this may be done to attempt to win more custody, as California courts may take a child’s wishes into account. After custody is decided, parental alienation may be used to modify the court order or simply to get back at the other parent.

A parent engaging in parental alienation may say and/or do some of the following:

  • Tell a child lies about the other parent.
  • Prevent contact and communication between a child and their other parent.
  • Talk negatively about or criticize the other parent.
  • Undermine the other parent’s parental authority.
  • Ignore custody orders.
  • Plan enjoyable activities with a child to interrupt or ruin the other parent’s visitation or custody time.
  • Share the other parent’s personal information with a child.
  • Keep important information about the child and their activities from the other parent.
  • Refuse to cooperate when creating a parenting plan.

Parental alienation can happen even when the parents are still living together, and it can lead to psychological harm for the child involved. When these actions are adopted by a child, it can have a long-term effect on them.

How Parental Alienation Impacts Children

A parent’s negative actions are not the only impact of parental alienation. The effect on children can be startling and upsetting for an alienated parent, who may see their relationship with their child change very quickly. It can be difficult to determine when a child distances themselves because of their normal reactions to the situation or actions caused by the other parent.

A child who is harmed by parental alienation may exhibit behaviors such as:

  • Strongly criticizing the parent who they have been alienated from, without clear reason or evidence supporting those criticisms
  • Constantly supporting the parent engaging in alienation in any circumstance
  • Repeating terms and language used by the alienating parent when talking to or about the alienated parent
  • Having only a negative outlook on the alienated parent and only a positive outlook on the alienating parent
  • Having no guilt about their negative feelings or actions towards the alienated parent
  • Creating negative and untrue stories about the alienated parent
  • Disliking the alienated parent’s extended family

Parental alienation harms an entire family, and it has an especially damaging emotional and psychological effect on children. It can hurt their relationships with both parents and result in developmental harm. A child may refuse to see the alienated parent entirely.


Q: Is Parental Alienation a Crime in California?

A: In California, parental alienation is not considered a crime. It can still impact a custody and visitation court order, however. If a parent can prove to the court that parental alienation is occurring, this may enable a modification of a court order or alter an active custody case. State courts hold the child’s interests as a priority and do not rule favorably for parents who engage in parental alienation. The court order may alter custody, limit visitation, or require counseling.

Q: How Do I Prove Parental Alienation in Court in California?

A: Proving parental alienation may be done with evidence such as:

  • Witnesses, such as friends, family, and others, who have seen alienating behaviors by the other parent or can offer other objective testimony
  • Communication and evidence, such as texts, voicemails, or social media posts, that show a parent’s negative behavior regarding the alienated parent or how a child acts similarly
  • Professional testimony from a mental health provider who can speak on a child’s emotional state or changes in behavior

Q: Can I Call CPS for Parental Alienation in California?

A: Child Protective Services (CPS) may be necessary to protect children from parental alienation, but it is not always the ideal call. The involvement of CPS could potentially cause your children further stress, but if the situation is severe, CPS may be necessary. Modifying or enforcing a court order may be another option. An experienced family law attorney can help you review your options and your family’s situation. Then, they can determine the ideal solution for your family.

Q: How Do I Fight Back Against Parental Alienation?

A: If you see potential signs of alienation from your co-parent or child, the first step for some families may be to talk about it. If you can discuss the situation with your co-parent, you may discover that they were not trying to alienate your child and need to reevaluate their behavior around them. However, this is not possible for every relationship. If you feel that parental alienation is occurring, work to maintain consistent contact with your child and uphold your strong relationship. Be sure not to engage in the same actions, and note evidence of parental alienation.

Approach Your Legal Options With Confidence

Addressing the difficulties after divorce or separation is already complex, but it can be made much harder when there is parental alienation involved. If you are a parent dealing with the effects of parental alienation, it can be difficult to know how to address and prove the issue in custody court. The experienced attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, can help you review and gather evidence of alienation. Contact us today. Our team has 40 years of collective legal experience in family law, and we want to aid you during this sensitive and highly emotional case with effective and caring legal support.

Schedule Your Case Strategy

"*" indicates required fields

I Have Read The Disclaimer*
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

© Copyrights 2024 Quinn & Dworakowski LLP. All Rights reserved Disclaimer|Site Map|Privacy Policy

Digital Marketing By rize-logo