My ex is turning the kids against me

When parents separate it is important that the children continue to have a good relationship with both parents.  Whilst you may find it hard to get on with your ex, the two of you will always be your children’s parents.

It’s a challenging time for everyone involved, particularly if your separation has been difficult or if there have been issues agreeing how often the children get to see you both.

Sometimes one parent tries to turn their children against the other intentionally and sometimes they are just so negative about the other parent it impacts on the child’s opinion of the other parent.

Known as parental alienation, there is growing awareness about the issue in the Family Courts. The emotional impact this has on children  can be extremely detrimental to their well-being.

So, what can you do if you think your ex is turning your child against you?

Possible signs of parental alienation

The issue is very complex because your children are experiencing a huge change in their life.  This may well leave them feeling very angry and upset. As a result, they may end up lashing out at you. It doesn’t necessarily mean your ex is trying to turn them against you.  However, sometimes they are being manipulated by a parent and it is important to watch out for any signs that may indicate this so that you can do something about it.

Possible signs may include:

  • Your ex-partner reduces your parenting time without good reason
  • Your children make excuses about why they don’t want to visit
  • Only receiving limited information about your children
  • Your child may be reluctant to show you affection
  • Your child’s behaviour towards you is different when the other parent is present

Supporting children through a divorce

It’s helpful to think about the ways you can best support your children through separation. It’s widely agreed that children are far better off maintaining a positive and healthy relationship with both parents.

It can be a confusing and unhappy time for everyone and children can even blame themselves for the break-up.

The NSPCC offers the following advice for helping children deal with divorce:

  • Remind them that they are loved by both parents.
  • Be honest when talking about it but keep in mind the child’s age and understanding.
  • Avoid blame – don’t share any negative feelings the adults have about each other.
  • Keep up routines such as going to school and specific meal times.
  • Let them know they can talk about their feelings with you – explain that it’s okay to be sad, confused or angry.
  • Listen more than you speak – answering questions will help them to open up.

Why legal help is needed quickly

  • The can children end up in the middle of conflict between their parents being used as weapons.
  • If one parent is prevented from seeing the children for a period of time this can become the new “normal” and it can become more difficult to reinstate contact arrangements the more time that passes.
  • The parent being denied contact with their children will feel frustrated but if they tackle it on their own the other parent may well make allegations of harassment or abuse which they may use to help justify their decision to reduce or stop contact.

Cases of this kind can be extremely difficult, and our team at Harrogate Family Law are experienced in dealing with all the issues, resolving disputes and supporting parents. It is vitally important to take the right approach from the outset in issues over the care of your children.  We recommend you take advice as soon as possible to obtain guidance to avoid making the situation worse.

To find out how we can help you, give us a call today on 01423 594680.

Andrew Meehan is an experienced family lawyer specialising in complex divorces involving significant or hidden assets, as well as cases involving children.

He is recommended for family law by both Chambers 2018 (York, Hull and surrounding regions) and the Legal 500 2017 (Leeds/West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire region).

Everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be replied upon.  If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing