Can Gift Giving Be a Form of Parental Alienation?

Can Gift Giving Be a Form of Parental Alienation?

Posted By R. Gregory Colvin LLC || 17-Feb-2020

Many might say that it’s natural for divorcing spouses to despise each other. They may even argue that it’s normal and socially acceptable for them to speak poorly about each other, especially when such couples have dealt with adultery, emotional abuse, out of control spending, and other actions that have been destructive to the marriage, leading to divorce.

While it may even be perfectly understandable why someone might complain about their ex, when the former couple has children together, they have to watch what they say and do around their children, especially when it comes to actions or behaviors that can influence the children’s opinions (in a negative way) about their parents. You see, when a parent badmouths the other parent to their children, it can be considered “parental alienation,” which is something that the family courts frown upon. It can even affect child custody.

Parental Alienation: It’s More Than Badmouthing

“Parental alienation syndrome, a term coined in the 1980s by child psychiatrist Dr. Richard A. Gardner, occurs when one parent attempts to turn the couple's children against the other parent. A parent who is angry at the spouse or ex-spouse accomplishes this estrangement by painting a negative picture of the other parent via deprecating comments, blame, and false accusations shared with the children. They may also ‘hoard’ the kids, doing all they can to thwart the other parent from spending time with them,” Susan Heitler Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

In addition to the above, gift-giving can be a form of parental alienation. You may be wondering how that’s possible since it’s normal for parents to give their children gifts on their birthdays, during the holidays, for high school graduation, or “just because.”

In child custody battles, family court judges are usually interested in hearing what the children have to say, even though the ultimate decision is the judge’s, not the child’s. Sometimes, a parent will use a gift as a form of manipulation tactic to sway the child to choose him or her.

For example, let’s say that Mom offers to pay half of a used economy car for her daughter’s sixteenth birthday if her daughter pays for the other half. When Dad hears about the offer, he approaches his daughter with a better one: If she chooses to live with him instead of her mother, he’ll buy her a brand-new luxury car and she won’t have to pay a dime. Since the mother can’t afford to match his offer, this is a manipulation tactic, not to mention a form of parental alienation.

If your ex is using gifts to influence your child’s opinions in a child custody matter, contact R. Gregory Colvin, LLC at once for help.

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