What can I do if my ex turns my child against me?

Separation and divorce can be difficult for children to navigate. Understandably, they will feel confused and upset and it is perfectly natural for them to behave in an antagonistic way towards their parents. Yet, if you feel your ex-partner is actively trying to turn your child against you, it’s important to act. This behaviour is known as parental alienation and can have a negative affect the child’s mental and emotional wellbeing.

Signs of parental alienation

While it can be difficult to uncover the motives for a child’s behaviour, signs of parental alienation can include:

  • A parent making contact time difficult or impossible
  • A parent not passing on gifts or messages from the other parent
  • The child expressing opinions about a parent based on false information fed to them by the other parent
  • The child expressing unjustified and negative views of a parent’s wider family
  • A parent not being told about events in the child’s life and prevented from being able to share in decisions about the child’s welfare


What can you do if you suspect parental alienation?

It is important to act quickly as the longer a child is subject to parental alienation the harder it can be to overcome. If both parents are willing, working with a Family Consultant or Parenting Co-ordinator can help to repair the situation. Where this is not possible, you should take legal advice from a family lawyer, as it is possible to make an application to the court to resolve the issue.

The court will always rule in the best interests of the child’s welfare and start from the assumption that children benefit from spending time with both parents. However, they will conduct a careful and nuanced investigation into why the child has been behaving in such a manner, before deciding the best way to rebuild trusted relationships with both parents.


How to cope with parental alienation

Having to deal with an ex-partner who is feeding your child lies about you is extremely distressing. The NSPCC recommend the following, which can help you to deal with the situation:

  • Ensure the child knows that they are loved by both parents
  • Do not engage in parental alienation yourself by bad mouthing your ex-partner to your child
  • Understand that the opinions and behaviour of your child are not their fault, they have been given a false impression of you and the wider situation
  • Maintain regular contact as much as possible
  • Keep to set routines where possible to maintain a sense of stability
  • Understand that ultimately, the child needs strong and healthy relationships with both parents to thrive.

More information can be found here https://www.nspcc.org.uk/keeping-children-safe/support-for-parents/separation-and-divorce/


If you are struggling with separation, divorce, and childcare issues, we offer a no obligation 60-minute initial consultation for £100 (incl. VAT) with a family lawyer. This will give you a chance to receive legal advice relevant to your personal circumstances. To book a meeting, please call us on 01444 472700, email info@tisshawssolicitors.co.uk or complete the form below.

There has been some debate on how parents returning from abroad with a 14-day isolation requirement impacts any child Contact arrangements.

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