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Avoiding parental alienation in Ontario separation and divorce

One of the reasons a couple might forge ahead through an already shattered marriage is fear of parental alienation. Ontario society is familiar with cases in which an embittered spouse seems to launch a campaign to estrange a child's affection from the other parent. In all that can be said about the challenges of separation and divorce, nothing may be as pernicious as trying to turn a child against a parent.

Family law practices have direct experience regarding the emotional upheavals that sometimes render parents blind to how their own anger or anguish affects their children. In some cases, a parent may be completely unaware -- not so much of what they're saying -- as of how they're saying it. In all cases, the influence of a parent's opinion is formidable and will permeate a child's perceptions, for good or ill.

Some scenarios end with adjudication by a judge, but not before other options may have been exercised. A client who has reason to believe that the other parent has indoctrinated their child with false or negative views may request by letter that it stop. Direct communication with the court or a court order may be sought. Even an interim mediation process may be requested.

There is no way to foresee whether ex-partners will continue to parent in ways that bolster their child's development, rather than damage it. However, certain indicators do exist. In such cases, an experienced Ontario family law lawyer may offer resources toward minimizing -- if not, pre-empting -- a fall-out from separation and divorce in which the greatest loser is a child.

Source: findlaw.ca, "what is parental alienation", Accessed on Jan. 16, 2018

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