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Divorce and Parental Alienation - A Deadly Combination

Updated on September 12, 2012

Parental Alienation is the Ultimate Hate Crime

There are hundreds of thousands of divorces every year...

Wow, what a sad statistic and topic that is all by itself. But the numbers don't even come close to reflecting the pain and heartache that divorce brings with it. Most of the time, both partners feel hurt, angry and possibly even betrayed. If not by their spouse, then by the hopes, dreams and commitment that they once shared.

If you have ever "survived" a divorce you know exactly what I mean. If you haven't experienced one then you are most fortunate. The emotions, demands and the decisions that need to be addressed while going through and after a divorce are staggering in scope and importance. It's a wonder any of us survive. My heart goes out to anyone that has ever had to rebuild a shattered life and dreams because of divorce.

The difficult scenario that I've just shared describes a husband and wife navigating through this life changing event. I think we would all agree, when children are introduced into the equation the stakes go up considerably for everyone involved. That's where the potential for "Parental Alienation" rears it's ugly head. And PA is ugly folks...

In fact, Parental Alienation is so ugly that very few people even want to admit it's existence. They would much rather debate whether it should be classified as a "syndrome" or not. Or assign self-serving motives to anyone who dares to shed light on it's deadly impact on children.

Let me be clear, I am NOT attempting to address every issue "surrounding" this topic. I want to get right to the heart of the matter. Let's cut through all the posturing and game playing here.

No matter what you "label" Parental Alienation, it comes down to this. Any parent that deliberately and maliciously attacks their child's other parent, and does everything they can to destroy the relationship their children have with that parent is abusing that child. In my opinion, Parental Alienation is "The Ultimate Hate Crime"!

Now I'm not talking about occasionally venting about your ex-spouse (although even that is not healthy for your children), I'm talking about a willful desire to use your children to "hurt, control or attack" your ex-spouse by turning the children against him or her.

Most of the time these attacks are hidden behind the guise of "protecting" the children from their "father or mother. In reality there are very few situations (although there are some) where the children are in need of protection at all.

What about the children? Do they deserve to be caught up in a deadly game of hate and manipulation just to make one of their parents feel better about themselves or meet their needs? What about our God-given (or at the very least our humane) responsibility for their welfare?

The sad fact is that the same parents that would probably fight to the death to shelter their children from harm, end up being a perpetrator that inflicts some of the deepest wounds their child will ever receive. It boggles the mind and daunts the spirit to even consider such a thing! Doesn't it?

The statistics are bleak concerning children of divorce to begin with. The incidence of depression, fear, anger and feelings of pain directly related to divorce and a "broken" family are significant by anyone's standards. The statistics for children that have successfully been alienated from a loving parent is even more staggering and alarming!

Can you imagine how horrible it must be for a child to be torn from the arms of a parent that has loved, protected and provided for that child since the day they were born? Someone that comforted them, spent time with them and nurtured them for as long as they can remember. Now for reasons they can't comprehend, that parent is suddenly "the enemy".

What must it be like to be told (or at the very least strongly encouraged) that they must "hate mommy or daddy" to keep the alienating parent's love and acceptance. What must go through their fragile little minds when they are taught to call the parent they once looked up to and respected by their first name, essentially taking them out of the role of parent in that child's life?

How does a child feel when every reference made about one of their parents by the alienating parent to others, is demeaning and cruel. I would speculate that it makes them embarrassed by and resentful of the targeted parent. It makes them hate a part of themselves...

I could go on for a lifetime. I am still living the nightmare of being separated from sons that I love for over 9 years now. They were 4 and 7 years old at the time they were taken. I wish that my case was unique but I receive similar stories every day from people around the world at our website. Our site is designed to help bring healing to parents and children that have been separated by alienation and the family courts (the family court system is a topic all by itself).

I do what I can to make a difference. My goal is to help parents realize that they are abusing their children when they engage in alienation tactics, and the payoff is just not worth the price their child will pay. I am also committed to work toward changes in our family court system that will promote shared parenting, instead of tearing families apart by creating an antagonistic environment between parents. I hope that in some small way my story will make a difference for those precious children affected by divorce and alienation. Our children need us to be the "adults" and protect them from our own emotions and baggage just like we would any other threat to their safety and well-being.

Thank you for investing the time to read this article. Please pass it on to anyone that might benefit from it.


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    • Rick Nischalke profile imageAUTHOR

      Rick Nischalke 

      3 years ago from Oregon

      Hi Sharon,

      I am in total agreement with everything you have said with one important distinction being made. Your statement about trusting our internal guidance system does not apply to everyone. It should but it doesn't.

      Many alienators are damaged individuals that display characteristics of being mentally ill. Common examples of mental illness that could result in alienating behaviors would be Borderline Personality, Histrionic, Narcissistic or Anti-social Disorders.

      Individuals with these type of disorders place their own needs above everyone and anything else. Their needs and goals are all that matters. Interestingly enough though, these type of personalities almost always insist that their selfish motives are "in the best interest of the children" that they are abusing.

      Thanks for your insightful comment.

    • SharonBallantine profile image


      3 years ago

      Parents must strive to be the adults in family relationships, both in marriage and in divorce.

      When we learn to tap into and trust our Internal Guidance System it will clearly let us know what is the correct course to take for ourselves and our children, including how to treat our ex, who of course is not our child's "ex."

      Parents who attempt to alienate their children from their other parent may be acting out of hurt or anger, but they are certainly not acting in their child's best interest or even their own.

      While it is not always easy for divorced parents to peacefully blend their lives together, it is worth the effort and teaches kids that even when two people can no longer live together, they can get along.

    • Rick Nischalke profile imageAUTHOR

      Rick Nischalke 

      5 years ago from Oregon


      You are most welcome.

      I wish your friend the best.


    • profile image


      5 years ago

      thank you rick, you know my friend story needs to be heard and I know that there are other mother's who stay at home to raise there children and are losing them and there homes and any sort of income to provide for these children for a BIAS judge who is making calls that are not in the BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILDREN I know that I don't know much about the law but this is awlful.


    • Rick Nischalke profile imageAUTHOR

      Rick Nischalke 

      5 years ago from Oregon


      I wish that your friend's experience was just some bizarre and random incident. Unfortunately it is not. That type of outcome is all too common.

      Most people are absolutely clueless about how the family court system really works. And by the time they get "educated" about the realities of court it's already too late. That is exactly what happened in my case. I was so naïve that I thought "once the judge knows the truth of what's really going on in our home, I know they will do what's best for my sons". I couldn't have been more wrong.

      Several years ago my wife & I started an organization called Keeping Families Connected. We have been involved with thousands of people that have experienced similar treatment in the family court system.

      Because of my personal experience as well the experiences of all of the other families that we have helped, I wrote a book to help people before it is too late to do anything about it. The book is called Fatal Divorce Mistakes. What you don't know could cost you everything!

      I am sick and tired of hearing about the atrocities committed in family court every day that are all supposedly done in "the best interest of the children".

      I have also started a divorce consulting firm to assist individuals that need more help than a book can provide. This is an in depth service that assists the client from the preparation before the paperwork for the divorce is ever filed, all the way through the financial, emotional and practical aftermath of the divorce proceedings.

      Most people (like your friend) have no idea how crucial it is to prepare before they ever walk into the courtroom. I am very sorry for her but especially for the children involved. It's tragic.


    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I recently sat in a court room observing a relocation case. This divorce dragged on for 3 years and after 2 years of standing before a judge the mother was kicked out of her home along with the father of 2 minor children. This case had no domestic violence no drug abuse or any other negligence. This case was nothing but a vicious ex husband seeking revenge on his former wife and trying to alienate the 2 young children from her. the mother whom was a stay at home mom for 7 years of marriage went before a judge to obtain residential custody and after 3 years was throw out on the street with no job no health insurance no car no savings while losing residential custody to a man who makes over $100,000 a year and played the sympathy card of being daddy of the year. It was later found out that the judge allegedly could have been bias to the case due to his own personnel situations. This Judge has no respect for stay at home moms or tolerance for keeping accurate notes during testimonies given because his decisions are always in favor of the men. This mother had a well know attorney no criminal record her only crime was being a loving nurturing mother who spent the last 7 years raising her children. A judge who could recommend cutting out food and therapy for the children vacations and utilities by living in a one bedroom shack that was provided for the mother to live with her small children through the court recommendation while the father remains in the residential home in a 5 bedroom 3 1/2 bath should be removed from the bench. Plus, the residential home is in forecloser. Sorry to say this case had nothing to do with the best interest of the children it had to do what was best interest of an ex husband who had enough money to convince a judge and his lawyer.

    • Rick Nischalke profile imageAUTHOR

      Rick Nischalke 

      6 years ago from Oregon


      You are most welcome.


    • Jennifer Fry profile image

      Jennifer Fry 

      6 years ago

      Dear Rick,

      Thank you for your kind words.

      We plan to write a book about William's life. Our family is very dysfunctional - as many families are who have alienation issues. The dynamics of families can be so tangled and people like us, quite frankly, don't know where to begin to try and explain how people who had always been so close, could suddenly become estranged.

      We want to tell William's story so he can help children break free from this abuse. When William was younger, he did so many things to help children - without realizing he was making a big difference in their lives. He was such a wonderful young man.

      Thank you again,

      Jennifer and Jimmy Fry

    • Rick Nischalke profile imageAUTHOR

      Rick Nischalke 

      6 years ago from Oregon


      I am so sorry for your pain. And even more for William's.

      As I try to help people to understand the impact that this type of abuse has on a child, I always use the following analogy.

      When one parent targets another parent to alienate them from their children, it's no different than if that selfish parent were to put the child directly between them and the other parent. And then take a spear and thrust it right through their child's heart just to punish, control or inflict pain on that other parent. Although it may well inflict pain upon the intended target, the child's heart (if they survive) is damaged by the impact of their hate forever.

      One redeeming thought comes to me out of all of this. No one can hurt your son ever again. The reign of terror and manipulation is over. I will pray for your healing. William already has his...


      I made a video about what this process might be like from a child's perspective:

    • Jennifer Fry profile image

      Jennifer Fry 

      6 years ago


      We have posted messages on various Parental Alienation websites over the years. Parental Alienation often has devastating effects. In our case, it has had a fatal consequence.

      It is with great sadness that we write to say that our 22 year old son, William Tyler Huber, died tragically in a swimming pool on August 23, 2012. William was alienated from us, by his father. Although we had a (strained) relationship with William, it was clear he was never able to break free from the emotional clutches of his father. William was made to feel guilty for loving us. As William's Mom, we were very close, always. I have many happy memories and photos of him. When I divorced William's father after 25 years of marriage - his father turned William, and all of our children - against me. William was the youngest.

      No child – no matter their age – should be forced to choose which parent to love. William’s father obviously never knew the meaning of love – because he could never have hurt William the way he did, if he truly loved him.

      William was self medicating with an over the counter cold medicine, which was found in high doses in his system. We did not know to what extent his problem was until after he died. Our daughter Natalie told her father she was going to tell us earlier in the summer, but her father said "Don't tell your Mom!" William's father knew about his addiction and even admitted to the police the night William died that he knew. Yet he did nothing to help him. We sent William's father an email several months before his death, asking him to help William. We have an email response from William's father that reveals he knew about the problems William had, but said he was not going to help him.

      We asked every member of the family as well as the extended family, to help us, help William. No one did. All emails and postal mail were ignored. We even had the phone hung up on us!

      This abuse needs to be brought out into the open and it needs to be recognized for the killer that it is.

      To illustrate William's father's personality - he refused to contact us when William died. Our daughter Natalie finally made the call, three hours later. William's father was still alienating William from us even after his death.

      We love and miss William, dearly.

      Jennifer and Jimmy Fry

    • Rick Nischalke profile imageAUTHOR

      Rick Nischalke 

      6 years ago from Oregon


      I'm very sorry to hear about your situation. It is painful for everyone involved. I wish I could give you an easy course of action to follow to make things better but there are no easy answers when it comes to this type of situation.

      My wife & I help people from around the world from our site at We have spoken with thousands of people that share similar stories. Unfortunately, the biggest recurring theme with these type of stories is this. The targeted parent never suspects that their ex-spouse could ever be so vindictive and self serving as to take their children from them until it is too late.

      And although I agree with you that ultimately the people responsible for alienating your children from you will be the biggest losers, it pains me deeply to think about your children losing a parent that loves them. Although our pain as a targeted parent is deep, our children lose more than anyone every time this happens.

      Bless you my friend...

    • profile image

      Emeka Ben 

      6 years ago

      I write from Nigeria.I like your article especially because it mirrors my own situation.despite the efforts my ex wife and her parents have made to garnish me in the mould of a devil for my 3 kids who they have siezed till now,I have decided to ignore all of them.I want my kids to grow up and make their personal impressions of me.because the justice system here is weak I decided to move on with my life knowing that one day my kids will come for me on their own.then my ex and her parents will be the real losers

    • Rick Nischalke profile imageAUTHOR

      Rick Nischalke 

      7 years ago from Oregon


      Thanks for your feedback on the article and sharing your own experience.

      I'm sorry that your family is going through this. It's a horrible thing for anyone to experience but especially the children.

      It doesn't seem possible that there are so many broken and wounded people that would destroy their own children just to get back at or control their ex-spouse. And yet it's true. Countless families are being destroyed every day by a selfish and wounded ex-spouse that wants to control everyone and everything in their life.

      And unfortunately the courts, judges and attorneys are capitalizing financially on our families pain.

      I wish you, your boyfriend and those beautiful children healing. Thanks for doing what you can to make a difference!

    • scarlettdragonfly profile image


      7 years ago from Newman, CA

      Greetings Rick, I just published a post on this topic and read yours. You really nailed it! I am so sorry you suffered this. My boyfriend is going through the same thing. His wife's attorney obtained some of my personal info such as the house my husband and I shared, and changed the names on the documents to further her case for monetary reasons. I have the paperwork which the court accepted as fact even though they were fraudulent. We feel your pain. More fathers and mothers need to realize just what they are doing to their children. To get help takes a lot of money just to get to see your children, and many cannot afford it. It is a very sad situation for the children involved. Thank you so much for this hub, I hope many more read it, and spread the word. God Bless, Joan

    • Rick Nischalke profile imageAUTHOR

      Rick Nischalke 

      8 years ago from Oregon


      Thanks so much for your kind comment. I will be sure to check out your hub when I get back into town.

      I'm very sorry that you have personal experience with parental alienation. I wouldn't wish that on anyone, not even an alienator...

    • CarolanRoss profile image


      8 years ago from Midwest USA

      Rick, prayers and support to YOU! This is very well-written and obviously from the heart. Keep up your great work about PAS and know that many others out there (like me) appreciate what you are doing, so much.

      I popped out a quick hub this morning about parent alienation and the Wizard of Oz that I think is an interesting perspective. Nothing fancy yet, will be adding to it as I have time but please visit and let me know what you think. MUCHOS Gracias!


      Amputated Mom

    • Rick Nischalke profile imageAUTHOR

      Rick Nischalke 

      8 years ago from Oregon


      My dear friend. I am really sorry to hear about your situation. It's horrible isn't it.

      Go to

      There are a ton of resources there to help you through this. There are also tangible ways to communicate your love and commitment to your son regardless of what your ex or the courts do.

      Our system is so broken. Most people can't even begin to imagine the pain and injustice that you are describing. I am still waiting to hear from my sons. It has been 11 years so far...

      I know that nothing I say can take away the pain, or bring justice to our court system, but take heart in this, you are not alone.

      Our site has been visited by families from 50 states and over 120 countries around the world. Every single one of those people know what you are going through.

      We are with you brother.

    • profile image

      Rob Weber, Jacksonville, Florida 

      8 years ago

      "In the best interestof the child", What a joke. I feel like I am being alienated from my son, who is going to be 5 years old soon. His mother and I are still waiting for the judges decision on a modification of visitation.

      She is a Jacksonville Sherrif's police officer, which only worked in her favor. The judge we have is a woman. She is a woman's advocate and pro-law enforcement. And we all know that all law enforcement officials or representatives are honest and forthright, right.

      I sat there in the judges chambers begging for a 40/60 split in shared parenting. I was previously maried and have two children with her. My relationship with those two boys is so fractured and just about non-existent. I don't fel they love me or even care about me. I am trying so hard not to let it happen with my youngest son. Do I dare I say the judge who resides over the case has all the power, to do the right thing according to their experiences. With that being said "the system" or "the judges" is definitely broken.

      I sat their in awe that someone woh said they once cared about me could say so many bold face lies in the court room, just to get what they want. She keeps my son from me every chance she gets to include my weekends, observed as well as all non observed holidays(which are not listed in the divorce decree) and any special occasion that she see fit. She does not answer the phone when I call to speak to my son. Her and her fiancé insist that I do not call "his" landline even though they live together. The only means I have of communicating is her cell phone, should she decide to answer it. On an occasion I will receive an email response a day or two later.

      I don't know, I feel like screaming. There is nothing I can do to have an equal relationship with my little boy. She has all of the power and as you stated earlier, whenever she says she is doing something in "Rylan's best interest" it in actuality is doing what she wants, nothing else.

      I have spent almost 20 thousand dollars on a lawyer thinking I would get results. Wow, was I wrong. I have cashed in retirement money trying to fight it, borrowed money from family,...... for what? As you say "the sytem", I say the "judges disgretion" is broken. Is there any hope? I fell so defeated and beat down. I don't know what to do. I

    • Rick Nischalke profile imageAUTHOR

      Rick Nischalke 

      9 years ago from Oregon


      I am really sorry to hear yet another story of abuse to children and a loving parent. These tactics are all too common during and after divorce proceedings.

      Parental Alienation is one of the sadistic forms of child abuse. The alienating parent and their attorney always use the rhetoric that what they are doing is "in the best interest of the children", regardless of the obvious and irreparable damage to the children.

      I am so sorry...

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Boy, sure wish you had been around when my divorce happened. My ex immediately established enemy camps and went after separating not only me from my youngest daughter but separatng her from her older sister too. Eventually my youngest came around for me but the damage between the two sisters is irreparable. they don't know or trust each other and they are now in their 30s. Such a shame...and he'll never admit or acknowledge his part in it. No one would help me stop it - all authoritiy figures just kept saying he was just a concerned parent. How do you get through to the attorneys and judges when one parent is adult and rational and the other refuses to be?

    • Equality For Men profile image

      Equality For Men 

      9 years ago from USA

      Great and Informative page about PAS.

      Thank you for taking the time to write this.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I know I haven't seen you in many years, but I will always remember your wonderful demeanor,and a smile that lite up a room. I am so sad that you have been going through this. I have an 8 years old grandson that is with my daughter and gets nothing from his father. They see each other other every weekend but it all in spite. The kind that "I'm better then you an one day your sons going to know just what you are like" Not nearly what you are going through. I can only add to your prayers and know deep in my heart that one day soon those boys are going to come knocking with the same wonderful smile and bright eyes that they inherited from their father. I think what you are doing is not only helping you, but one day will show Josh and Nick what a wonderful father they have. If you need anything, remember you have family back in Michigan. I love you

    • Rick Nischalke profile imageAUTHOR

      Rick Nischalke 

      10 years ago from Oregon


      It sounds like you survived what could have been a really bad situation. Glad to hear it for you and your children.

      I'm glad you liked the article. Thanks for the feedback!

      It's really odd, we have had quite a few people from over 15 different countries visit our site and watch our video. We have had countless emails, comments on You Tube, and direct contact from people that have been involved in Alienation in one way or another. This is the first comment we have received here...

    • tkoppel profile image


      10 years ago from Port Charlotte, FL

      Good article, I'm sure it hit home with many as it did with me. Sign me , one who wouldn't play the game and won by default!


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