There are a lot of feelings that come along with divorce. Depending your situation, you may feel relieved or even excited. You might also feel angry or resentful toward your former spouse. All of these feelings are perfectly natural when ending your relationship, and working through them is part of the process of moving on from a relationship.
However, sometimes parents let their negative feelings toward a former spouse affect how they talk about an ex to their children. Depending on the nature of the comments, these statements might amount to parental alienation.
What Is Parental Alienation in Illinois?
Under Illinois law, parental alienation occurs when one spouse does not just make the occasional derogatory statement about an ex, but goes out of his or her way to manipulate the child’s feelings toward the other parent. This may include telling the child false stories about the other parent, or attempting to convince the child that he or she is the superior parent. Other family members, such as grandparents or aunts and uncles may also be involved in incidents of parental alienation.
Signs of Parental Alienation
While the occasional negative comment about your ex is not the best thing to say in front of your child, it does not necessarily amount to parental alienation. Parental alienation usually manifests when a child suddenly begins treating one parent differently for no apparent reason, or constantly acts angrily toward one parent without any real explanation. A child may also blame one parent for causing problems in the life of the other parent, or just flat out refuse to see a parent.
Modifying Parenting Time Orders Because of Parental Alienation
Following the 2016 overhaul of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, Illinois courts now refer to visitation with a child as “parenting time.” However, the former laws of child custody largely remain the same.
To modify a parenting time order, a parent must show a change in circumstances warrants a modification. Typically, a court will not consider whether a change of circumstances has occurred until at least two years after an order has been entered. However, a modification may be granted sooner if it can be shown that keeping the current order in place would damage the mental, emotional, or physical health of the child.
It can be difficult obtain evidence showing parental alienation, but if the proof is there that one parent is acting in a way to purposely harm the child’s relationship with the other parent, it may be grounds to modify a parenting time order.
Contact an Experienced Illinois Family Law Attorney
Even if you and your former spouse can no longer get along, there is no reason for either of you to take it out on your children. Long after a divorce, children need to see their parents are on good terms so that they can have a good relationship with both of them. If your spouse seems to be manipulating your child’s view of you, you may have a case for parental alienation. For more information, contact our office today to talk with a compassionate DuPage County family law attorney about your situation.