My ex-spouse is turning my child against me!

It is a common misconception that the right to maintain personal relations with the child is the exclusive right of the separating parent. The child has the right to have contact with both parents, and maintaining a healthy relationship is not only a parental right but also an obligation. But this can often be made very difficult, or even impossible, by the cohabiting parent. This right can only be restricted in the child's own best interests - never at the arbitrary discretion of a parent. The legislator and the courts always put the child's interests first: the interests and rights of the child are always better protected in family law than parental rights.

The effects of divorce on children

The best thing for a child is to grow up in a healthy, loving family environment: a possible divorce with major disputes can cause serious damage to the child's mental health. As a result of prolonged divorce proceedings, it is not uncommon for children to suffer from depression, self-doubt and, in extreme cases, post-traumatic stress or borderline syndrome.

In order to avoid these problems, it is extremely important for parents to divorce in a dignified, amicable way and to continue to work together in order to raise their children. We often recommend the involvement of a mental health therapist/psychologist to achieve this level of cooperation. You need them just as much as you need a good lawyer!

Parental alienation

Unfortunately, peaceful divorce and cooperation between divorced parents cannot always be achieved. Parents tend to complain to their child about their ex-spouse. In more radical cases, they make up stories, using untrue or exaggerated characteristics to portray the other party in a negative light in front of the child. This is intended to manipulate the child's thoughts and feelings towards the other parent. This often puts children in a loyalty conflict, a situation where they feel like they have to choose between parents. This will not benefit neither the parents, nor the child.

In law and psychology, this phenomenon occurs so often that its most serious form has its own name. When a parent speaks negatively about their co-parent in order to influence their child emotionally, it is called parental alienation.

The Hungarian Civil Code states that the best interest of the child must be taken into account during the entire divorce process. A parent who repeats insulting expressions in front of the child, especially baseless accusations, indirectly prevents the child from maintaining a healthy relationship with the other parent, and often violates general principles of civil law such as the prohibition of abuse of rights and the requirement of good faith and honesty.

However, an irresponsible parents can cause an even more serious problems: a child who grows up in a lie and is raised by a single parent because the other parent has successfully "alienated", can suffer such a breakdown that hinders the child's healthy intellectual, emotional and physical development.


What should I do in such a case?

First of all, we recommend negotiation between the parties with the involvement of an independent mediator. The mediator can be a mutual, confidential friend, or even relative, but in most cases it is better to choose a professional mediator, or a mental health professional.

If peaceful negotiations with the ex-partner are unsuccessful, it may worth requesting legal advice and representation.

In case of further disputes, it is necessary to warn the other party that if he does not refrain from such and similar expressions in the future, the behaviour can result in a change of custody. Parental alienation can also be considered a form of child abuse.

It is therefore important to draw attention to the serious dangers of this behavior and to look for the real reason and motivation that leads to the use of children as tools in the battle of adults. In such situations, family members and friends also have an extremely high responsibility. In any case where it is suspected that a child is being exposed to parental alienation, immediate steps are needed to prevent any harm.


If you have any questions regarding custody, parental rights and obligations, or other family law topics, please feel free to contact us!


My ex-spouse is turning my child against me!
2024-01-25, Family