It may be one of the saddest types of calls I get in my career as a divorce lawyer for men in New Jersey.
“My ex is trying to turn the kids against me,” is roughly how the calls go. “What can I do to stop her?”
Divorce is scary enough as it is for children. They didn’t ask their folks to split up and when they also are subjected to what psychologists call Parental Alienation, it becomes terrifying. They are made to feel guilty about loving their dad. Just speak to the children who are caught in the crossfire and listen to their story as I have. It’s heartrending to hear them and it takes a terrible toll on the father.
Here are some ways to spot signs that your former wife is trying to alienate your children and some strategies to stop it.
Telltale Signs Your Ex Is Poisoning Your Relationship with the Kids
There are some ways to spot if the mother of your children is badmouthing you to them. The earliest warning sign is on social media. If her Facebook page is filled with derogatory comments about you to her family and friends, chances are pretty good she is making similar remarks to your children. Take screenshots and save them; if she blocks you, ask a friend to continue doing so.
Don’t get into an online war of words with her. Judges do not take kindly to one spouse saying nasty things about the other online. But we can use it as evidence if needed when negotiating visitation, custody and support issues with her attorney, and in court if it becomes necessary.
But even if she isn’t posting anything on Facebook, there are other telltale signs that she may be trying to alienate your children from you. It is marked by a sudden change in the kid’s attitude towards you:
- You or friends overhear her speaking poorly of you
- She tries to limit the children’s contact with you
- She tries to interfere with your communication with the kids
- She emotionally punishes the child when they say anything positive about you
- And the worst is that she tells your children that you do not love them
Sociologists haven’t done studies into how many children are subjected to parental alienation by the mother but reams of anecdotal evidence indicate that it happens to fathers who are the custodial or co-parent of a child even after the divorce is finalized. It is done to children as young as toddlers and pre-schoolers as well as to teens well into their high school years.
Men’s Rights After Separation and Divorce
Regardless of how far along your divorce is in the process or if you’ve been divorced for some time, my divorce advice to fathers in New Jersey is consistent: There are seven key things to remember.
First and most important, call me or one of our family law attorneys for men and fathers in New Jersey. Keep us informed of all attempts by your ex to alienate your children from you. Even if we did not handle your original divorce, we will not only provide you with advice on how to proceed but can develop a strategy to take to a judge to obtain an order to stop her from continuing her destructive behavior.
Here are six additional steps:
- Keep telling your children that you love them unconditionally.
- Keep mind that your kids are a victim of your ex and don’t blame them for her actions
- Don’t speak badly of the mother to your kids.
- Stay true to yourself and don’t try using emotional or real bribes to lure your children away from her.
- Remind the children of the good times you have shared.
- Be mindful of the time you’re with them and don’t be late for visits or cancel time with them except in extraordinary circumstances. If you have to cancel or change a visitation, you should tell the kids yourself and don’t let your ex frame the message the way she is likely to try to do.
Talk to a Divorce Lawyer for Men in New Jersey
As a parent, it’s crucial to not play the game that an angry ex-spouse seems intent on playing. As a divorced father myself, I know that our first instinct is to fight for our children and resort to combat tactics to protect them. But when you stop to think about it, this is a self-defeating strategy. It makes the children victims again of a fight between you and your ex.
If you’re having trouble with your ex-wife trying to alienate your children from you, please feel free to reach out to the divorce lawyers for men in New Jersey. We will help you create a strategy to put a stop to her bad behavior. Reach us at either 973.562.0100 in Nutley or, in Montclair, at 862.245.4620.
You may also find it useful to participate in our Custody and Support Group for Men. You do not have to be a client to participate and it’s helpful to talk with other fathers who have been trapped in the same dilemma. The group meets monthly and is free.