The negative impact of parental alienation on children

On Behalf of | Sep 18, 2023 | Family Law

Parental alienation occurs when one parent tries to undermine a child’s relationship with the other parent. This manipulation can take many forms, including lying about and limiting contact between the child and the targeted parent.

The consequences of parental alienation can be significant and long-lasting.


Children subjected to parental alienation often experience emotional distress. They may feel confused, anxious or guilty about their relationship with the targeted parent. This emotional turmoil can lead to psychological issues.

Parental alienation can damage the child’s relationship with the targeted parent. This effect can extend to other aspects of his or her life, affecting his or her ability to form relationships and trust others. Alienated children may also struggle academically and socially.

Custody modification

In Massachusetts, family courts prioritize the best interests of the child when determining custody arrangements. Parental alienation is not explicitly mentioned in the law as grounds for custody modification. However, it can seriously harm the child and contribute to a negative environment. A judge may consider the detriment to his or her overall well-being enough reason to modify the custody arrangement.

Preserving evidence of parental alienation is integral to obtaining a custody change. This may include text messages, emails, phone messages or social media conversations with disparaging comments about the alienated parent.

According to Psychiatric Times, 11 to 15% of divorce cases involve parental alienation. It puts children at risk of serious mental and emotional harm. A custody modification can help remove them from a damaging environment and salvage their relationship with the targeted parent.