Simply put, parental alienation occurs when one parent plots to negatively affect the other parent's relationship with the children. In many cases, it comes about because one parent is still upset with the other about things that happened in the marriage or divorce and is using the child as a pawn to upset the other parent.
Parental alienation can occur at any point in a custody or divorce situation. In some cases, the alienating parent may start attempting to turn the child against the other parent before divorce papers are even filed. In others, the alienation may not start until much later, such as when the other parent gets remarried.
While many parents make accusations of parental alienation, there are specific actions that are usually present. These include trying to limit the child's contact with the parent, refusing to discuss or otherwise acknowledge the parent to the child, speaking negatively about the other parent in front of the child or telling the child that the other parent is not safe. In some cases, the alienating parent may make the child think that he must choose between the parents or will be rejected by the alienation parent if he refuses to end his relationship with the other parent.
Parental alienation is very serious and can have incredibly detrimental effects on the child. If it is ongoing, it can also sometimes damage the child's relationship with the other parent permanently. If you are a victim of parental alienation, talking with a family law attorney is the first step in understanding what your rights and legal options are.
Source: Psychology Today, "The Impact of Parental Alienation on Children," Edward Kruk, accessed Jan. 15, 2016