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No, You Don't Always Need to Use the Term "Parental Alienation" in Court

If you are like other targeted parents you have probably had a light-bulb moment when you first realized that there is a name for what you are going through. It is so impactful to realize that you are not crazy and that you are not alone; that other parents have gone through this and there are professionals out there who can help. That being said, it does not mean that you need to or should use the term "parental alienation" when you speak with legal and mental health professionals and when you file motions with the court. As a targeted parent, you must be strategic when you use the term. Otherwise, you may lose credibility (see my prior post on the importance of credibilty). If you are filing a motion requesting a custody evaluation (or whatever it is called in your state), for example, there is usually no need to present to the court what you believe the underlying cause of the parent-child conflict is. Courts are usually happy to order custody evaluations and it is cleaner and easier to simply explain to the court that there is a breach in the relationship and you want the court to appoint someone to determine what the underlying cause is. You may want the order to specify that the evaluator should consider whether parental alienation is present. But that does not require you to make the case in your motion that it is parental alienation. There are other things you might be filing a motion for where mentioning parental alienation -- even when you believe it is occurring -- is not necessary. The reason you want to avoid the term -- when you can -- is that the term has become a lightening rod of conflict and distraction. Unless you need to prove that parental alienation is occurring (which you must do when you are filing a motion for a parental alienation intensive treatment) you can avoid that uncessary distraction by saying (if you need to say anything) that you beleve the other parent is undermining and interfering in your relationship with the other parent. Just because you believe something to be true does not mean that you need to share that with the legal and mental health professionals you are working with. At all times you must be strategic! These are the kinds of careful decisions you can make with your attorney and your coach, if you have one.

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