Parental alienation is a serious accusation, but it is one that the courts have to take seriously. Parental alienation can come in a few forms, but in every situation, one parent is speaking or acting in a way that makes the couple’s children begin to feel hurt, disgusted by or afraid of the other parent. This alienation technique is sometimes used to try to eliminate the other parent from the children’s lives, even when they should still be allowed visitation or custody.

It can be hard to deal with parental alienation, particularly because what the children say may have some sway in court. With enough prompting, a court could even end up eliminating a person’s custody rights or visitation completely.

If children refuse to see a parent, the parent who isn’t helping enforce the custody rules could end up going to jail or being held in contempt. That’s what happened to one girl’s mother, according to a Sept. 4 news report. The girl, now 17, claims she was taken from her mother and forced into the custody of her father against her wishes. She claims he was abusive to her mother. Her mother claims he drank in front of the children and didn’t come to his arranged visitation times.

The girl’s father claims that he was always there for her. He said he never did many of the things that his ex-wife claimed in court, and he believes parental alienation is why his children no longer want to see him. He claims his ex-wife was trying to keep his daughter and son away from him. The teen girl pointed out that she witnessed her father throwing and pushing her mother. She claims hostility was high in the household, but court documents show a picture where both parents were in the wrong. On top of that, both children had allegedly shown they did not want to see their father.

Situations like this are volatile, which is why parents need to get ahead of problems early on. If you believe your ex may use parental alienation tactics to make your children avoid you, you can seek help from a professional psychiatrist or others who can make sure that doesn’t happen.