Understanding Parental Alienation in Nevada

Parental alienation negatively impacts parent-child relationships and can cause profound psychological problems for the child. Fortunately, alienated parents may have grounds to modify existing child custody orders.

What Is Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation is when one parent attempts to turn a child against the other parent. Considered to be a form of family violence by many psychologists, parental alienation can happen on a variety of levels and may take many forms including:

  • Criticizing the other parent in front of the child
  • Badmouthing the alienated parent to the child
  • Encouraging the child to disrespect the other parent
  • Interfering with visitation or other parental rights
  • Attempting to make the child feel guilty when he or she displays positive feelings about the alienated parent
  • Encouraging the child to lie to or be secretive with the other parent

When the manipulating parent uses words or actions to interfere with the relationship between the other parent and the child, it can cause the child to develop misconceptions about the alienated parent over time. In addition to damaging the parent-child relationship, parental alienation can cause severe psychological problems for the child

Children who are victims of such alienation often suffer from relationship and trust issues, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. In many cases, victims must undergo intense therapy treatments to help them heal. To minimize the damage caused by this abuse, it is important to identify parental alienation in its early stages and take action to prevent it from progressing. 

Dealing with Parental Alienation

In Nevada, the courts generally presume that children benefit the most when they are allowed to maintain a consistent relationship with both parents. When one parent interferes with parenting time, decision making, or the relationship between the child and the other parent, the following tips may help alienated parents protect or rebuild the parent-child relationship. 

Raising Concerns with the Other Parent

If parents are still on somewhat good terms, it may be possible to discuss concerns about parental alienation and the negative effects these behaviors have on the child. Oftentimes alienating behaviors are unintentional and simply addressing them may help the alienating parent pay closer attention to the things he or she says and does. 

Seeking Professional Counseling

A professional therapist may be able to help heal the damage that has been caused by parental alienation. Additionally, seeking professional help will help demonstrate that the alienated parent attempted to remedy the problem and repair the relationship with the child. 

Seeking Court Intervention

A family law attorney can provide guidance and legal advice to alienated parents if court intervention becomes necessary. To help support the case, the alienated parent should document disparaging remarks through email or text, record incidents in a journal, and screenshot and save social media posts. 

Kimberly Surratt served for eight years on the executive council and has been the vice chair and then chair of the State Bar of Nevada Family Law Section. In addition, she is the President-Elect of the Nevada Justice Association and the chair of the domestic lobbying committee. She has lobbied with the Nevada Justice Association since 2004.

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