Parental Alienation from a Child’s Perspective in Illinois

Posted by Erin Birt | Apr 15, 2019 | 0 Comments

Recently the DuPage County Bar Association's Family Law Committee focused on Parental Alienation from a Child's Perspective in Illinois which we will highlight in this post. In a previous post, I focused on the Illinois case law that further explains Parental Alienation and in this post I will highlight the definition commonly used by mental health professionals and Illinois divorce attorneys, a child's susceptibility to Parental Alienation, and what can help a child and parent experiencing Parental Alienation.

Illinois Parental Alienation Video

Parental Alienation Definition

Gone are the days when courts and divorce attorneys only focus on a child's ambivalence toward a parent. Today, divorce professionals and courts focus on Pathological Alienation, a focus on behaviors, and whether there is a good valid reason for a child's strong preference for only one parent. In 2001, authors Kelly and Johnson in the Alienated Child defined Parental Alienation as:

An alienated child is defined here as one who expresses, freely and persistently, unreasonable negative feelings and beliefs (such as anger, hatred, rejection, and/or fear) toward a parent that are significantly disproportionate to the child's actual experience with that parent.”

Child's Susceptibility to Parental Alienation

A child might ask why is Dad so mean because Mom always asks the same question, or why won't Mom leave Dad alone because he always asks that question. Children listen to everything and they internalize how or what is being said by a parent. A younger child is not as susceptible to Parental Alienation whereas an older child that often adapts the feelings of other people, can be more susceptible to Parental Alienation.  Seeking help early, at the first sign of possible unjustified rejection, is highly recommended to repair the parent-child relationship.

What can help a child and parent experiencing Parental Alienation

Rejecting a parent is not normal. A divorce professional must analyze whether a child, given the unique fact pattern, is expected to be alienated and reject the other parent. It is important to get help for the child early.  Reunification therapy referrals early in the matter can greatly improve the relationship for the child and both parents. Caution must be used to select a professional that is knowledgeable and willing to work with divorcing or separated parents experiencing Parental Alienation. Contact us today to meet with our attorney to assess Parental Alienation within your family and how we can appeal to the other parent to seek help as soon as possible and how best to manage your case while in court or while a Guardian ad Litem is appointed during your matter. Reunification Therapy, Court, and a Guardian ad litem involvement and greatly increase your chance of helping your family if you have expired all other options.

Note, it is very rare and difficult to prove Parental Alienation in our current court system. A great alternative to expensive and often unsuccessful litigation, is to work on complex parenting issues systematically and separately through mediation. We offer a unique Restorative Divorce process for our child centered mediation. Have the access to the same litigation resources and team at a fraction of the cost and time. Book a free mediation orientation call today. 

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About the Author

Erin Birt

Since 2003, Erin N. Birt, J.D., CADC has focused her practice on parenting time, divorce, mediation, and substance abuse issues. Ms. Birt's unique background in both family law and addictions counseling help her clients successfully navigate the complex issues of coparenting and divorce. Ms. Birt also devotes her time to presenting at continuing education seminars for attorneys, mediators, and counselors.


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