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Most Common Examples of Parental Alienation in Colorado 2023


In Colorado, family courts place a child’s best interests as their highest priority in all legal decisions and define “best interests” as “encouraging frequent and continuing contact between each parent and the minor children of the marriage.” When one parent attempts to turn their children against the other parent through manipulation, bad-mouthing, encouraging disrespect, and interfering in the other spouse’s parenting time it’s parental alienation. Colorado considers parental alienation a form of child abuse and seeks to intervene with professional therapeutic assistance. In some cases, parental alienation in Colorado can lead to the courts making a change in the custody schedule that favors the target parent over the one attempting to alienate the children either intentionally or unconsciously.

Understanding Parental Alienation

After a divorce, some types of child alienation from a parent may occur naturally if children see one of the parents as the cause of the divorce or if one parent is abusive, engages in substance abuse, or abandoned the family for a significant period. This type of alienation self-generates in children due to their own lived experiences. However, when one parent uses a divisive strategy to purposely turn their children against the other parent by aiming unjustified negativity, criticism, and disrespect toward the other parent, it’s parental alienation—a form of emotional child abuse that can result in life-long consequences if unaddressed including:

  • Impaired ability to create, maintain, and enjoy loving long-term relationships
  • Negative self-image
  • Guilt, depression, and anxiety
  • Lack of impulse control and/or aggressive behavior
  • Problems in school

When a parent engages in tactics to alienate the other parent from the children it leads to the children feeling unjustified fear, anger, and hatred toward the target parent due to forms of indoctrination by the other parent. 

In Colorado, the court treats parental alienation the same as other forms of child abuse. After investigating the situation, the parent causing the alienation of the other parent could lose custody or face supervised visitation.

Examples of Parental Alienation in Colorado

While some forms of parental alienation strategies are obvious, others may be more subtle and insidious. Common examples of this behavior include:

  • Bad-mouthing and belittling the other parent, or making them appear crazy or dangerous
  • Encouraging the children to reject the other parent by manipulating them into believing the other parent is unfit, won’t take good care of them, doesn’t love them, or will cause them to be unsafe
  • Interfering with the other parent’s custody or parenting time by being late for drop-off, early for pick-up, claiming a child is sick, has appointments, or doesn’t want to spend time with the target parent
  • Inappropriately sharing negative details of the marital relationship with the children
  • Making negative comments or claims about the other parent’s new relationship
  • Blocking or intercepting calls or messages from the other parent to the child and withholding contact information
  • Withholding the other parent’s gifts from the children
  • Encouraging the children to disrespect or disobey the other parent

Fort Collins Child Custody Lawyer

Signs of Parental Alienation

Children who have been indoctrinated into alienating a parent may exhibit behaviors such as:

  • Name-calling and denigrating the target parent
  • Expressing hatred toward the target parent
  • Parroting the negative comments of the other parent
  • Showing a lack of remorse when hurting the target parent’s feelings
  • Having irrational reasons for disliking or hating the target parent
  • Seeing the target parent as “all-good” and the other as “all-bad.”
  • Always taking the side of the alienating parent against the target parent
  • Mirroring the alienating parent’s beliefs
  • Appearing incapable of feeling guilty for their attitude toward the target parent

If you suspect the other parent may be using these parental alienation tactics to interfere in your relationship with your child or children, speak to an experienced family court attorney about your options to resolve the situation under Colorado family law.

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