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Grand Rapids Parental Alienation Attorney

If you have been dealing with Parental Alienation (PA) or sometimes called Hostile Aggressive Parenting (HAP), you will likely be reading the pages on our website with a lot of recognition. The themes in parental alienation cases are similar and recognizable. A Grand Rapids parental alienation attorney at Kraayeveld Law can help put an end to the conflict. We will fight to protect your rights as a parent and preserve the relationship between you and your children.   

The particular facts may be different, but the intent of the alienating parent is always the same. The alienating parent has a baseless hatred for the targeted parent and expresses his or her hatred by eliminating the love and a relationship between their child and the target parent.

The alienating parent can express anger by making little snide comments, sharing adult information such as court proceedings, not allowing the child to express love towards the other parent, not allowing the child to keep things from the other parent, and denying parenting time for no good reason. If parental alienation is not stopped in its tracks, an alienating parent may escalate the narcissistic behavior to the point of making false physical or sexual abuse allegations.

What is Parental Alienation? 

In 1985, Dr. Richard Gardner, a child psychiatrist, mentioned for the first time the concept of parental alienation. Dr. Gardner explained that the highly charged arena of child custody disputes dramatically intensified when abuse allegations were made. Dr. Gardner again repeated the same findings in 1998. Parental alienation syndrome is the brainwashing or programming of a child by one parent to denigrate and alienate the other parent and the child’s willingness to contribute to it. In the 1980s and 1990s, very few judges or attorneys had heard of parental alienation. This was evident in 1997 when our firm encountered its first parental alienation case. Our attorneys had an expert flown in from California, who expertly described parental alienation, but did not use that terminology. Since then, the Kraayeveld Law attorneys have litigated countless parental alienation cases, and through the years information and studies became more widely available, and additional experts were able to provide expert testimony.

Warning Signs of Parental Alienation 

Today most mental health care providers and judges are familiar with the term parental alienation. That does not mean that a counselor or judge views parental alienation as a real or recognized problem. Even so, the signs of parental alienation are unmistakable, and the harm to the child and you, the parent, is significant. Depending on the severity and duration of the parental alienation, the harmful effects of parental alienation are long-term and sometimes permanent. In 1991, Stanley Clawar and Brynne Rivlin published research setting forth the techniques the brainwashing parents use:

  • Denying and not acknowledging the social existence of the other parent;
  • Attacking something about the character, lifestyle, past, present, or future of the target parent;
  • Discussing visitation arrangements with the child, thus pressuring the child to make a choice; failing to inform the other parent of educational, social, and religious functions, thus communicating that the other parent lacks importance;
  • Creating or exaggerating differences between themselves and the other parent in front of the children;
  • Asking the children to ally their sympathies and support with the alienating parent; making moral judgments regarding the target parent’s values, lifestyle, friends, and so on;
  • Implicitly or explicitly threatening to withdraw affection if the child expresses a desire to be with the other parent;
  • Creating the belief that the other parent is not sincere in his or her love for the child;
  • Creating the belief that the other parent is unable to properly care for the child; and convincing the child to doubt his or her ability to perceive reality.

(Clawar and Rivlin (1991). Since 1991, others, such as Dr. Richard Warshak have provided similar findings.

From our two decades of experience, we consistently see similar claims in parental alienation cases. Some of the symptoms of parental alienation that we consistently see our clients deal with are:

  • The child has the choice whether they wish to visit the other parent;
  • The parent shares significant information about the divorce proceedings with the child, especially information such as child support arrearages, the reason for the breakup of the marriage, etc.;
  • The child may not bring their personal property to the other parent’s home;
  • Refusing to allow the other parent access to school and medical records;
  • The parent consciously or unconsciously suggests to the child that the child is not safe with the other parent, and thus, sends the child with a cellphone to visitation and requests phone calls frequently;
  • Special codes to be used between parent and child while the child is with the other parent — “If you call and want to come say the following . . .”;
  • Frequently and without just cause canceling parenting time because the child is ill;
  • Allegations of verbal, physical and sexual abuse that are unfounded, and after investigation, the parent maintains the belief that it occurred;
  • Child is instructed to or rewarded for taking photos or videos of the other parent;
  • Scheduling events or extracurricular activities during the other parent’s parenting time;
  • The alienating parent often has other mental health problems, such as narcissism.

Unfortunately, throughout the years, we have seen many parents act slowly in this regard, and sometimes parents act too late. Many parents visit several attorneys who are not qualified and have no experience in this arena and precious time is lost.  Prompt and substantial intervention is key. If you are being unjustifiably alienated from your child following a divorce or separation, please contact our firm immediately so that we can take immediate action and fight for you and your child’s right to have a meaningful relationship with each other. After more than two decades of experience with parental alienation cases, we have the experience to represent you during these proceedings until a successful conclusion.

The Negative Effects of Parental Alienation 

The sad reality is that parental alienation will not fix itself or go away without intervention. What’s worse, children need the love and emotional support from both parents to become emotionally stable adults. Adults who were brainwashed as children never learn to make rational choices on their own. Research has shown that those children as adults are likely to experience serious psychiatric disorders, have poor social relationships, and may pass similar problems onto their children. For these reasons, it is imperative that an experienced Grand Rapids parental alienation attorney is consulted. 

What Kinds of Problems Do Targeted Parents Deal With?

Parental alienation cases are complex. The first enemy is time. Often, a lot of time passes by before the targeted parent realizes that this is not just your normal nasty divorce stuff. The second problem is to find competent, legal representation. Often clients reach our firm after having struggled through years of incompetent representation. Reasonableness and mediation are not key concepts that can be incorporated in a parental alienation case. Rather, the focus must be on compliance with the judge’s orders and sanctions for disobedience of court orders. Thirdly, research shows that alienating parents often suffer from additional mental health disorders. This often creates additional struggles during counseling sessions and legal proceedings. Lastly, family counselors usually focus on parents to cooperate; to co-parent. Families suffering through parental alienation deal with different dynamics, and often precious time is wasted before an appropriate counselor is court appointed.

So Why Hire a Grand Rapids Parental Alienation Attorney from Kraayeveld Family Law? 

Experience. Our firm handled its first parental alienation case in 1997-1998. Our expert flew in from California; we conducted an eight-day trial, and successfully changed custody, and obtained a period of supervised parenting time and counseling for the alienating parent. Since our 1998 trial, we have handled an increasing amount of parental alienation cases, and we handle several trials or evidentiary hearings annually.

Experts. Although every case is different, nearly all parental alienation cases require the assistance of an expert. Sometimes it’s the child’s counselor; sometimes it’s a forensic expert; sometimes it’s a guardian ad litem; sometimes it’s the investigator. The selection of the right expert and the ability and experience to work with that expertise is key to success.

Team approach. The strength of our team lies in its team approach and experience. Besides having handled parental alienation cases since 1998, our team uses each attorney’s strengths and background, to successfully litigate each case. One of the attorneys on our team has experience as a therapist; one of our attorneys was employed for the state of Michigan and is very familiar with their procedures. Most importantly, our client is always part of our team. You know your case; you know your child; you know the other parent; we always want to litigate each case with our client’s involvement.

Costs. As unpleasant as this subject is, parental alienation cases are complex and costly. Many attorneys will request a low retainer to start the case, but then leave you without representation when the case has barely started. Such action is often more harmful than helpful. The parental alienation attorneys at Kraayeveld Law will take the time to discuss with you a plan of action, the expected cost, and how you can help your own case to reduce fees.

Contact a Grand Rapids Parental Alienation Attorney Today to Discuss Your Options and Protect Your Rights

Because parental alienation cases are so complex and time-consuming, it is extremely important to retain competent counsel with extensive experience, specifically with parental alienation cases. If you would like to know more about our experience or would like to explore your rights and legal options, contact us today to schedule a confidential consultation with a Grand Rapids parental alienation attorney.