Parental alienation often occurs during child custody disputes in a divorce. It happens when one parent attempts to turn a child against the other parent. Specifically, the alienating parent attempts to negatively influence the child’s relationship or opinion about the other parent.

What Is Parental Alienation?

Certain parent behaviors can lead to parental alienation. These may include:

  • Concealing information about the child from the other parent;
  • Making important decisions that affect the child without input from the other parent;
  • Not allowing the child to take personal items to the other parent’s home;
  • Sharing information about the other spouse or the divorce with the child;
  • Interfering with parental visits;
  • Interfering with contact between the other parent and the child; or
  • Telling the child the other parent may harm them.

Parental alienation may not even be based on truth. In other words, the non-alienating parent may not have actually done anything to make the alienating parent say bad things about them to the child. The alienating parent does so on their own to get the child on that parent’s side during a custody battle.

How Does Parental Alienation Affect Your Child?

Parental alienation can have substantial negative effects on a child because the child is usually at an age where he or she will believe what the alienating parent says. For example, the child may refuse to see the other parent or make excuses not to do so. The child may even start to hate the other parent.

Additionally, parental alienation is likely to have short- and long-term psychological effects on the child. These may include:

  • Depression,
  • Low self-esteem, 
  • Feelings of rejection, and 
  • Feelings of guilt.

While parental alienation is not technically a crime in Texas, it is recognized by many as a form of child abuse. The lingering effects of parental alienation have not been classified as any kind of psychological disorder, but courts may involve mental health professionals if they see a need. To protect the child’s best interests, courts may also request assistance from other professionals, including a guardian ad litem.

Contact a Texas family law attorney today if you are noticing any signs of parental alienation exhibited by your child or former spouse.

Examples of Parental Alienation

Signs that parental alienation is occurring during your custody case can be seen in both your child and former spouse. Here are some of the most common examples of parental alienation.


Examples of your child’s behavior which show that parental alienation is occurring include:

  • He or she has become disrespectful toward you or your extended family;
  • Your child throws out things you gave him or her;
  • He or she refuses to see you, even if required by your current custody agreement;
  • Your child talks about your former spouse as if they are always right; and
  • Your child begins making inaccurate or exaggerated statements about your relationship with him or her.

If your child exhibits any of these behaviors, contact a Texas family law attorney today. A lawyer can take steps to help you restore your relationship with your child.


Additionally, your former spouse may be showing signs that he or she is attempting to alienate you from your child. Your former spouse might be doing so intentionally or unintentionally. Some of these signs include:

  • He or she criticizes you or your extended family in front of your child;
  • Your former spouse makes you look like the evil parent through things he or she says about you;
  • Your former spouse removes pictures of you or things you’ve given your child from his or her current home; and
  • He or she doesn’t allow your child to see you.

A Texas family law attorney can help you fight against any alienation tactics your former spouse may be using. 

Relation to Child Custody Battles

Parental alienation commonly arises in Texas child custody disputes during a divorce. In custody disputes, decisions are made based on the child’s best interests.

Under Texas family law, allowing the child to see and have a good relationship with both parents after their divorce is presumed to be in their best interests.  A parent who alienates a child from the other parent is not acting in the child’s best interests because this behavior undermines the child’s relationship with the other parent.

While parental alienation is most common during an ongoing custody battle, it may arise after the divorce has been finalized. If this occurs, a court may revisit the child custody agreement and make changes, depending on the circumstances.

A Texas family law attorney can help you understand the importance of parental alienation and work to reestablish a good relationship between the child and both parents.

How Can a Texas Family Law Attorney Help Me?

You should contact a Texas family law attorney immediately if you are noticing the signs of parental alienation because it can have a substantial impact on the outcome of your child custody case.

A lawyer can strengthen your case by employing mental health professionals and using their testimony in court. Additionally, a lawyer can help enforce or even change your current custody situation so your child is less likely to be alienated by your former spouse.

Ben Carrasco is a successful and experienced Austin, Texas family law attorney. He understands the significance of parental alienation and the effects it can have on your child. Ben will fight to help you regain a healthy relationship with your child. Contact the Law Office of Ben Carrasco today to schedule your consultation.

About the Author
Ben Carrasco is a highly skilled family law attorney based in Austin, Texas, known for his extensive expertise in family law and business litigation. While his primary focus is family law, Ben brings a wealth of experience in litigating diverse business disputes, ranging from breach of contract and collections to business torts, fraud, and real estate matters. In his family law practice, Ben navigates all aspects of the field, including divorce, child custody, support, property division, and more, offering clients expert guidance throughout the litigation process. His legal journey began in complex commercial litigation, initially with a global law firm and later with a prominent Austin-based firm. However, driven by a desire to make a direct impact on people's lives and embrace the human element of the law, Ben transitioned to family law, a decision that has proven to be deeply rewarding. A proud Austin native with roots in California, Ben completed his undergraduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, before earning his law degree at Stanford Law School, where he excelled in legal writing and served as an associate editor of the Stanford Law and Policy Review.