Portland, Oregon Divorce Attorney Deals with Custody Battles

March 14th, 2014

In our last article we talked about the needs of infants as custody schedules were decided during a divorce in Oregon. Older children can be just as complicated, but for different reasons.

At Ronald Johnston Law in Portland, Oregon, we often hear about children who don’t want to follow a court ordered schedule of visitation with the non-custodial parent. There can be more than one reason.

Children and especially teenagers become heavily involved in sports, friends, school and other activities. Often the child doesn’t want to miss one of these activities to meet with a parent.

As children grow they have commitments and desires that don't include parents.

As children grow they have commitments and desires that don’t include parents.

There are two other reasons divorce attorneys are seeing children resist visitation more and more often.  One is estrangement and the other is parental alienation syndrome.  Let’s define these two.


Estrangement often occurs when there have been multiple conflicts between parent and child. The child has hurt feelings and feelings of betrayal and disappointment. There are various scenarios which cause these feelings of betrayal.  If one of the parents has left the family for another person, children often feel neglected. When a parent takes out his or her frustrations on the child, this can cause estrangement.

Normally an estranged parent is unable or unwilling to see the situation from his or her child’s perspective. This parent often doesn’t see that his or her behavior played a large role in the problem.

Parental Alienation Syndrome

Parental alienation is normally caused when a parent willfully undermines and interferes with a child’s relationship with his or her other parent. According to Psychology Today:

“There is no one definitive set of behaviors that constitute parental alienation but research with both parents and children has revealed a core set of alienation strategies, including bad-mouthing the other parent, limiting contact with that parent, erasing the other parent from the life and mind of the child (forbidding discussion and pictures of the other parent), forcing the child to reject the other parent, creating the impression that the other parent is dangerous, forcing the child to choose, and belittling and limiting contact with the extended family of the targeted parent.”

“Parents who try to alienate their child from his or her other parent convey a three-part message to the child: (1) I am the only parent who loves you and you need me to feel good about yourself, (2) the other parent is dangerous and unavailable, and (3) pursuing a relationship with that parent jeopardizes your relationship with me. In essence the child receives the message that s/he is worthless and unloved and only of value for meeting the needs of others. This is the core experience of psychological maltreatment (emotional abuse) as defined by the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC).”

Parents need to understand that they are not helping their children by alienating them from the other parent.

If you feel that your child is being alienated from you, this is not the time to give up.

If you need to go to court to fight the alienating parent and retain your legal rights to a relationship with your child, contact Ronald Johnston Law in Portland, Oregon. Our experience dealing with parents and youth can help you find the best solution.

Ronald Johnston has a special interest in child custody rights and wants parents to get the rights they deserve and the child deserves. Click here to read more about custody.

Call today 503-226-7986. Or click here to learn more about the practice.

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