Parental alienation after a divorce refers to the instance where one parent intentionally or unintentionally interferes in the child’s relationship with the other parent. As a result, the child feels a level of disconnection with that parent and affects the way he/she communicates and behaves with the parent. Parental alienation is an important topic of discussion in Singapore, especially when the court puts the well-being of a child as the top priority during a divorce.
If you are going through or have been through a divorce in Singapore and are now co-parenting with your soon to be ex-spouse/ ex-spouse, you must be aware of how you behave and speak to your child about the other parent lest it has a significant impact on the child’s mental and emotional well-being.
Types of parental alienation
It is necessary for children of divorced parents to receive the love, nurture and care from both parties while growing up. That said, it is not easy to ensure that the child is raised in a peaceful post-divorce environment unless both parents make conscientious efforts to make sure that the child’s upbringing is not affected by their personal acrimony. This is especially so after a contested divorce.
Divorced couples in Singapore can find themselves committing three types of parental alienation – knowingly or unknowingly. Understanding each type is necessary to recognise and avoid potential alienating behaviour while co-parenting your child.
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Naive alienators are characterised as those who make passive-aggressive comments that were not intended to alienate the child from the other parent. For instance, a mother can remark that the child’s father has more money so the child can ask him to buy a scooter as a birthday gift. On the other hand, a father may suggest that the mother should have more time to help the child in his/her schoolwork since she had been granted care and control. While such comments may seem trivial at first, it can still put pressure on the child who will have to figure out how to navigate the situation without causing hurt to either parent.
However, parents who are naive alienators recognise the need for the child to grow up in the presence of the other parent after the divorce. They also avoid creating situations that will actively impact the child’s happiness and well-being. This is in line with the opinion held by the Family Justice Court when handling divorces in Singapore. As such, they typically do not require the court’s assistance to guide them in co-parenting, but will benefit from being made aware of the risks of parental alienation and what they can do to avoid exhibiting such behaviour.
While active alienators usually want the best for their children too, they often have problems managing their hurt and anger following a divorce. These emotions pour onto the relationships with their children during co-parenting and the parent portrays the ex-spouse in a negative light. Being innocent and naturally gullible, the child will take in the information seriously and this may affect the way he/she perceives the other parent as a result of parental alienation.
Nevertheless, active alienators behave as such due to a lack of self-control and not with an agenda of malice. They come to terms with their behaviour after they calm down and try to repair the damage they have caused. They are also sincere in working towards recovery so that their child can enjoy the presence of both parents in his/her life. They want the child to be free in maintaining a relationship with both parents after the divorce and not be a victim of parental alienation. Parents who find themselves in a similar situation can learn how to manage their emotions through the mediation sessions advised by the court in Singapore. Such sessions will help to ease the tension between both parents and take charge of their new relationship as ex-spouses to focus on the well-being of their child.
Unlike naive and active alienators, obsessed alienators behave with a motive of destroying the relationship between the child and the ex-spouse. This is often a result of one parent’s extreme bitterness towards the other for reasons such as abuse or adultery. The problem arises when such feelings do not heal after the divorce and they are forced to maintain a connection with the ex-spouse due to the needs of co-parenting. As a result, the obsessed alienator ensures that he/she enmeshes the child’s perception of the other parent as their own and distances him/her from that parent. While the child’s interest is of utmost priority for the obsessed alienator, the level of hurt and anger felt makes the parent determined to protect the child from harm and thus finds ways to alienate the child from the ex-spouse.
As such, the court’s authority does not intimidate them, but rather they work hard to ensure the court punishes the other parent – a drastic form of obsessed parental alienation. Nonetheless, the court in Singapore makes decisions in the child’s welfare and best interests and will ensure that mediation and other forms of methods are recommended to reconcile the parents to the best of its ability. Should the court find that either parent poses a threat to the child physically or mentally, strict actions will be taken to ensure that the child is brought up in a safe environment, even if this requires the need to place the child in a foster home.
If you feel that your ex-spouse is showing signs of parental alienation after the divorce and you feel helpless in protecting your child, reach out to our lawyers in Singapore to get a better sense of the situation and know what you can do to help your child.
Read more: 5 Tips To Prevent Child Alienation