Accused of alienation

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Whiteheron

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Accused of alienation
« on: December 23, 2019, 03:31:25 PM »
I wrote about this previously (I think!) but it seems things have escalated a little bit.

A few weeks ago stbx found out through an innocent third party something DS didn't tell him. It's not a big deal, nothing worth making a fuss over, and nothing stbx needed to know, but to a PD...

stbx complained to his L, who complained to my L. They had resolved this issue, but then stbx's L brought it up in front of the judge, accusing me of parental alienation (me ordering the kids to keep things from stbx). My L counters with "did it ever cross your mind that DS had his reasons for not telling his dad, and that DS likely blamed his mom so he wouldn't get into trouble for "keeping secrets" from his dad? Crickets.

The way I initially found out was when DS said to me, "well dad found out about ___" I was shocked. I said to DS (in the presence of DD) "I thought you had told dad about this a while ago." DS's response was "I was going to, but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a bad idea."

I thought that was the end of it.

Kids were with stbx last weekend when I receive a text from DD saying "DS lied." I was completely confused, but she refused to text anything else. When she got home she told me that DS had told his dad directly that he didn't tell him about ___ because mom (me) told him not to. stbx, eager to get anything on me he can, believes DS. (now he's likely thinking there's a conspiracy) DD was beside herself that her brother would try to get me into trouble. I reminded her that I had told both of them that if they felt they were being pressured to do/say something they were uncomfortable with, that they could use me as an excuse and blame me. She nodded that she remembered. Then she went on to say that her dad kept pestering her about secrets and how it was wrong that I was asking them to keep secrets from him. She replied "there's nothing." He kept pressing and asked if there was anything else I had told them to keep a secret from him. DD again replied "there's nothing."He kept pushing and DD's response remained the same. stbx then said "I feel excluded when you keep secrets from me." DD said "what happens at mom's house is none of your business" and left the room.

On one hand, I'm thrilled DD is comfortable standing up to her dad. DS isn't and this causes a lot of tension between DS and DD.
On the other hand, I'm appalled that stbx keeps pushing and probing to know what goes on at my house and insisting I'm instructing the kids to keep secrets from him. He is quite paranoid, but I thought that was only with me.

I've done nothing wrong (hopefully the court sees it this way_, things are theoretically close to being over, and now this. He just can't help himself, he will never stop. I really wish he would leave the kids alone and focus on his gf.

Has anyone out there been accused of alienation by your PD when it's not the case? How did it turn out?
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Penny Lane

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Re: Accused of alienation
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2019, 07:12:59 PM »
BM does something very similar which is that she accuses us of "disparaging" her. There is never any proof of this, she just drops it into conversation like it's an accepted fact that we are constantly talking badly about her at our house. I probably don't have to clarify, but this is NOT true, we work so hard to not talk badly about her even when we're frustrated.

For example, when she let the kids' insurance lapse and then lied about it for months, and H took her to court, she finally had to acknowledge it. And her reasoning for not telling DH was that it would let him and me disparage her to the kids. In the latest round of discussions about right of first refusal, she sent him a long email about how she doesn't follow it and it's because she doesn't want the kids to be around someone who "disparages their mother." Stuff like that. What I have found is that these statements usually coincide with an uptick of HER disparaging H. Shockingly, it's all about projection. My guess ... your stbx is heavily pressuring the kids to keep secrets from YOU.

The other thing is that I've noticed this always comes up when she's been caught doing something really bad, like not paying for health insurance or flagrantly violating the court order. It seems like your stbx has been caught in the extreme, the judge is onto his bad behavior and he basically has no options. This is his version of a Hail Mary pass. He thinks that your made up bad behavior will negate his actual documented bad behavior. The good news is, the judge is onto him, the GAL is onto him, it sounds like your lawyer doesn't even BLINK she just points out the ridiculousness of his stance. An accusation of alienation is really scary. But it doesn't seem like in this case his excuses and accusations are going to fly with anyone.

I think him fighting this case is so much more about control than actually wanting to see the kids. And I do think that when it's over you'll get your wish and he will focus on his gf. That's certainly the pattern we've seen with BM.

The best thing to do, I think, is exactly what you did here - support the kids, find ways to help them stand up to their dad if necessary, and just keep doing the right thing (and documenting it for court if necessary). Although his goal is probably to delay the case, it seems that you're still in a good spot to push forward with or without his agreement.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2019, 07:37:44 PM by Penny Lane »

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athene1399

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Re: Accused of alienation
« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2019, 08:33:15 AM »
When BM's older kids wanted nothing to do with her, it wasn't becasue she acts badly, it was becasue her ex was "alienating" them against her. I feel a lot of cluster B pd's have fragile egos (like BPD and NPD) so it's easier for them to come up with "my kids are being alienated against me" instead of "I've done mean things to my kids and now they want nothing to do with me".

In our case, the law guardian knew BM was alienating SD but we were told to leave that alone because it's difficult to prove. In your case, stbx's abuse has been well documented. I think it will be difficult to prove that your kids want to stay with you, not because of stbx's abuse, but becasue you're alienating them from him. Also, it sounds to me and probably a lot of others that DS kept the secret becasue he was afraid of stbx's reaction. DS basically said that, but I also think there's a lot of proof that stbx does some questionable things when he doesn't like what he's hearing from the kids. I don't think stbx accusing you of alienation is going to do anything to help him out. And as PL said, this could be his way of trying to distract everyone from the real issues or he's projecting what he does.

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Stepping lightly

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Re: Accused of alienation
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2019, 01:35:28 PM »
Oh- I'm sure DH was accused of this at some point, because well, he has been accused of pretty much everything (it all starts to blur together).  Like the others have said, it's really hard to prove, and I would imagine it has to be like jaw dropping evidence.  We had jaw dropping evidence of BM basically forcing her BF in as the father figure to my SKs, like- couldn't be more clear....the judge's jaw literally dropped.  But....BM has full custody now because that judge went out on sick leave and the new judge fell for BM's poor victim act.  So....I honestly wouldn't worry too much.  Especially in your situation where there is a lot of documentation regarding what happened to DS, it will just look like a desperate attempt to smear you. 

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Whiteheron

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Re: Accused of alienation
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2019, 05:23:16 PM »
Thanks for all of the replies. I guess my issue is that I've repeatedly been required to prove I haven't done the things stbx has accused me of. The burden of proof has fallen on my shoulders, right or wrong. So if he comes at me again with the alienation claim and his proof is now "DS told me directly." Then what proof do I have to counter? DD's word? She won't speak to the GAL. I thought my L had nipped this in the bud, but in typical PD fashion, stbx insists it's true and won't let it drop.

stbx has always been resentful of the relationship I have with the kids. He's admitted to his T that he's jealous, and also mentioned it to the psych evaluator. His way of explaining to himself why the kids are closer to me is that I must be talking badly about him to them (this happened in his FOO). I must be doing something to turn them against him. In his mind, there is no other logical explanation.

I guess the only thing I have to fall back on is my behavior over the last three years. I've advocated for the kids, kept my head down. stbx is the one who has been hurling accusations at me and trying to shape the story to be what he wants. I just hope someone, aside from my L, has noticed.
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Penny Lane

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Re: Accused of alienation
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2019, 05:35:26 PM »
Are you talking about having to prove it in court? Like his lawyer goes to the judge and says "WhiteHeron is alienating the kids by telling them not to tell their dad XYZ"? And you're asking what do you say in response?

In that case I think you say exactly what happened. You have never told the kids not to tell their dad something. However, as the court has recognized, he has been pressuring them and alienating them. You don't know what DS said to his dad when you weren't there, but it it was likely borne out of fear. The way your ex is acting is EXACTLY what the court has been trying to get him NOT to do. If he files some kind of motion, I don't think it'd be crazy to turn it around on him and file a motion of your own asking that he not interrogate the kids about what they do at your house. At this point it seems that the judge might be inclined to grant it.

If you mean another nonsensical letter from your stbx's lawyer to yours, I think you can play hardball. Your lawyer says: "Look, whiteheron has repeatedly proved to you that she has not done this. It is time for your client to stop blaming my client and start looking for solutions. We have an agreement, is your client going to sign it or not?" Give him a deadline after which point you push the court case toward trial. You don't have to get sucked into "proving" another ridiculous accusation, unless the court requires you to.

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Whiteheron

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Re: Accused of alienation
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2019, 08:20:37 PM »
Thanks Penny. You're right. I just don't have the mental headspace to look at this clearly. I feel like I'm at my wits end with just about everything and the majority of my focus is on helping the kids. stbx is an unwanted distraction that I am completely sick and tired of. I want the agreement signed, but it's not going to be the end of stbx and his wild accusations. I have a feeling that once it's signed he will get worse, since no judge will be looking over his shoulder. Was that the case with your DH and BM?

I so badly wish I could just go NC. I am exhausted. The kids are requiring so much energy from me, that I feel adding stbx's crap on top of it might just burn me out.
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Penny Lane

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Re: Accused of alienation
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2019, 11:44:26 PM »
I would actually say that things got a lot better in the short term after they settled, at least in terms of the things that are stressing you out the most right now. And that gave H a breather, which gave him a chance to heal, which meant that when things got bad again he was in a much, much better headspace to deal with it. I really think the exact same thing will happen with you - you will be amazed at how much energy you have when you're not fighting a court battle.

Bigger picture, I found that court was so incredibly stressful. BM's behavior was awful and made it worse, for sure. But even beyond that the stress and uncertainty hung over us like a cloud. Once they settled, it felt like an IMMEDIATE weight lifted. Like, I thought, "oh right, this is how it feels to be happy." So even beyond the question of whether his behavior will improve, I really feel that your life will get better, and immediately.

To answer your specific question, yes her behavior got worse after a judge wasn't overseeing it, but it also got better in some ways. I think both times he settled with her and ended the court case (divorce and modification) there was an immediate decrease in her interest in the kids. He was subjected to less of those wild accusations, she stopped coming to sports games on his time (and often skipped the ones on her time), there was just way less communication overall. She also basically stopped paying any bills or reimbursing H for any expenses, which she had done diligently while the judge was overseeing them. So the problems changed their flavor, so to speak. In the long term these behaviors created bigger problems. But in the short term DH just had to interact with her way, way less for a good while.

So I do think you're in for a little relief because he won't be trying to bully you to do what he wants in court. I think you'll also feel less pressure to respond or to respond quickly, without a judge telling you you try to work it out. The flip side is that he'll probably immediately start testing the boundaries of how he can get away with violating the court order, but that's more like a slow burn in terms of stress rather than the acute issue of court.

I don't want to give you the impression that wild accusations went away completely because they definitely did not. I will say though that they have way decreased in frequency and aggressiveness over the course of several years. I think after the divorce DH slowly stopped responding to her accusations or would just respond in a way that she found unsatisfying. (He'd wait a week and then give her a one sentence answer, and only when she asked him a direct question. He'd also hang up the phone if she started swearing or name calling, and eventually stopped phone calls altogether and directs most text to email instead). So she wasn't getting whatever attention she wanted from the accusations. Again they didn't go away completely but 95% of them have stopped.

I'll tell you exactly what happened after the modification (I wasn't around for the divorce so I know a lot less specifics), in case that helps you understand what's next:
Right toward the end, when they were in settlement talks, she got really insistent that our house is so unclean that it's not safe for the kids. She demanded a detailed explanation of our cleaning process and pictures of the house to show that it's not filthy. She wouldn't sign the settlement agreement until DH provided this to her. (I think this came from a similar place of the accusations you're getting from your ex now.) He complied. Then right after they settled there was one day of a sort of extinction burst of awfulness - she tried her hardest to keep the kids on H's parenting day and he almost had to call the police in order to get the kids. Then after that we had a relatively long period of quiet. It seemed that she was keeping a low profile because she was unhappy about losing in court and scared that H might take it back to court. She also met a guy who took up a lot of her attention around then. That lasted at least a few months and it was glorious. Since then (it's been less than a year) she's cycled through more and less involved phases but nothing nearly as bad as it was during court. But basically as soon as they settled she stopped following right of first refusal, I guess because she doesn't think DH will take that issue to court. And she's steadily gotten bolder about not reimbursing him for expenses or paying her share of bills. I know that if/when he addresses the ROFR issues or the bills issues in court she will likely be as bad as she was last time - but we've had almost a year of peace to recover as well as strategize. So the next round of court, if/when it comes, will be easier on both of us than the last one, which was easier on H than the divorce.

In your case though I think you're much closer to NC than us. Your kids are older, which means they can handle more stuff on their own. And if nothing else you can go NC when DD turns 18, right? Unlike DH, I think you might not ever need to go back to court - your agreement is much better than H's (and I think you will get a pretty good order if you go to trial, too) and you have less time to have to live under the agreement.

All this is why I keep saying that although you're in the worst of it right now, you are so close and it's going to get so much better.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2019, 11:55:54 PM by Penny Lane »

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athene1399

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Re: Accused of alienation
« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2019, 10:18:43 AM »
Quote
So I do think you're in for a little relief because he won't be trying to bully you to do what he wants in court.
I agree with this as well. While we were in court, BM was constantly sending nasty messages to SO to try to scare him into giving in to her petition. Once court was over, she sometimes threatened with court, but as soon as we said "OK, bring it" she dropped it. But that was maybe a couple times a year. The bullying while in court was daily, sometimes constantly over the course of the day.

After court, we really only had the crazy accusations as things came up and it wasn't anything like what was coming from BM while we were in court. Usually we could laugh it off. The messages while in court were so cruel, we couldn't find any humor in them. Or maybe it was just the pressure of court and everything else that  had us worn down at the time so couldn't see the humor in the ridiculousness of it all.

I hope things calm down for you guys soon.

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Stepping lightly

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Re: Accused of alienation
« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2019, 04:41:38 PM »
Hi WH,

It really is frightening when the PD starts launching these accusations.  One of the things I realize looking back at some of our tougher times, those accusations would throw us into a tailspin, the "what if's" were debilitating.  What if someone thinks it's true? What if the kids start believing these things? What if she takes it to the next step in severity and we didn't push back now?   It makes the ground shake beneath us, it makes us question our own actions, "am I actually doing what they say I'm doing?".  You know what really happened, and it's not what he's trying to portray.  I would recommend documenting it all, include your decision making for each of the things you've said or done and then.....move on.  I mentioned on another post recently, we had a T that told us to log our decisions when we made them and why we made them.  If you need to defend them later, you can see why you chose the path you walked.  It's really hard to remember the context and reasoning when you have to go back to these events.  Once you have it written down, you can release it from your mind and move on to more productive tasks.

You can't control what other people say or think, now or in the future- all you can do is put one foot in front of other and do the best you can do.

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D.Dan

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Re: Accused of alienation
« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2019, 04:53:56 PM »
I would recommend documenting it all, include your decision making for each of the things you've said or done and then.....move on.  I mentioned on another post recently, we had a T that told us to log our decisions when we made them and why we made them.  If you need to defend them later, you can see why you chose the path you walked.  It's really hard to remember the context and reasoning when you have to go back to these events.  Once you have it written down, you can release it from your mind and move on to more productive tasks.

 :yeahthat: I second this idea!

 I write down my decision making process in my journal to remember why I make certain choices. I also find it helps with my resolve when questioned about my choices later. Lessens the doubt that I'm making the wrong choices.