Parental Alienation

Highly Experienced Ontario Child Custody Dispute Law Firm

Parental alienation is a delicate issue that, unfortunately, is becoming more prominent in divorce and custody disputes in Ontario. One parent’s view of parental alienation is another parent’s view of parental estrangement. Either situation exemplifies at least one parent acting outside of what would be considered the best interests of the children. Parents acting outside of the best interests of their children could lose custody or parenting rights as a consequence imposed by the court.

Our family law firm, Thomas J. MacLennan, Barrister & Solicitor, provides knowledgeable and highly experienced legal representation to parents who believe they are being alienated as well as parents who are facing wrongful allegations of parental alienation. We work to resolve these emotionally charged family disputes with as little trauma to the children as possible.

Parental Alienation and Parental Estrangement

Parents in some cases are so full of anger, hurt and frustration, that the children are used as pawns to hurt the other parent — either during the divorce, following separation or post-judgment. While parental alienation can come in many forms, some examples include:

  • The parent speaks poorly about the other parent in front of children
  • The parent verbally blames the other parent for breaking up the family
  • The parent makes accusations or tells lies about the other parent’s behaviour
  • The parent intentionally intervenes with the parenting schedule and then makes the children believe the other parent did not want to spend time with them
  • The parent indicates that it is up to the children to decide if they want to have a relationship with the other parent, but only after “brainwashing” the children so that they do not want to

The courts respond severely to parents who intentionally alienate their children from the other parent. Such actions not only harm the parent being alienated, but also harm the child. However, the court is also cognizant that there are many situations where parents claiming to be alienated against may have caused the harm due to their own actions. Parental estrangement may involve:

  • Parents who fail to make an effort with their children
  • Parents who repeatedly refuse to participate in parenting
  • Parents who fail to share in life experiences of their children (such as attending sporting events or other extra-curricular activities)
  • Parents who nurture a drug addiction or alcohol dependency

In these instances, the parent may estrange him or herself from the child without any wrongdoing by the other parent.

Resolving Parental Alienation and Estrangement Disputes

It can be difficult to use the law to address situations involving emotional issues, particularly when those issues impact children. With over 25 years of family law experience, Toronto child custody dispute lawyer Thomas J. MacLennan has extensive resources with expertise in mental health issues for the benefit of clients and their families. We guide our clients to useful resources, and for those seeking alternative approaches to managing emotional well-being, you can try Then, our law firm works to resolve the complex legal issues at hand, typically securing more time with the children in order to establish a meaningful parent-child relationship. This often involves court appointment of child care assessors to investigate whether alienation exists and to make recommendations to the court.

Our law firm approaches every case with a strong focus on our clients, treating them with attention, respect and providing them with regular information updates. Contact an experienced Toronto child custody dispute lawyer through our online form or call 416-591-1354 to arrange a consultation.