Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been in the news lately, and it’s not just for the warped claims he makes on his website and television show “Info Wars.” (Outlets which regularly disseminate Jones’ claims that “9/11 was an inside job”; the school shooting in Newtown, CT was a hoax; and that the government can control the weather and use it against its people.) Instead, Jones has been making headlines because of a custody battle with his ex-wife, Kelly Nichols, who is the mother of his three children.
Earlier this year, Nichols asked a Texas court to award her custody, claiming that Jones’ bizarre behavior, both on and off the air—and his ongoing campaign to alienate their children from her—showed he was an unfit parent. She claimed he was emotionally unstable and incapable of providing a nurturing home, and that he was purposely instilling deep emotional abuse upon the children by “erasing positive memories” of their mother. For his part, Jones claimed his on-air persona is a character, that many of his theories are sarcastic, and that it was Nichols who was an unfit parent.
After a grueling nine-day trial, a jury found that Jones was indeed alienating his children from their mother—a significant issue in some divorces called parental alienation—and that Nichols should be awarded custody.
With a name like “parental alienation,” it sure sounds like a deliberate act, but the reality is that not every parent who is accused of parental alienation is as conscious about it as Alex Jones was found to be. Parental alienation is frequently achieved through subconscious acts—and either way, children who are turned against one parent suffer an increased risk of developing mental health and addiction problems later in life.
Some examples of ways in which parents alienate their children against the other parent include:
- Badmouthing the other parent directly or indirectly to the child;
- Interfering with the child’s contact with the other parent;
- Doing things that cause the child to reject the other parent;
- Sabotaging the relationship with the other parent; and
- Undermining the other parent’s role in the child’s life.
Alienation can also occur by what a parent is not doing:
- Not encouraging an angry child to spend time with the parent who moved out;
- Not supporting the other parent’s request that the child attend therapy; and
- Not letting the other parent be a part of planning important milestones in the child’s life.
Co-parenting after a divorce is not always easy, and even the best meaning parents can end up saying and doing things that can turn a child against the other parent. There are many excellent therapists and other specialists who can help children and parents deal with the hurt and anger that can consciously or unconsciously lead to alienation. For more information about how to keep your divorce from permanently harming your children, contact me.
If you are seeking to creatively resolve your traditional or non-traditional family issues in a non-adversarial manner, contact us.
Vacca Family Law Group
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60 East 42nd Street, Suite 1420
New York, NY 10165