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It can be frustrating when you are trying to do what’s best for you child when you feel your ex is using your child as a pawn. Unfortunately, in many situations, it’s the children who often experience the greatest emotional toll when custody is in dispute.

The court is clear that children should not be involved in divorce cases any more than necessary; in fact, Utah law requires spouses who have children together to complete a parenting course before a divorce is finalized. You may feel alienated by your child due to things your ex has chosen to disclose to your child.

Bottom line: Involving a child in a custody case can be very detrimental to their emotional and mental well-being.

Warning Signs of Alienation

If you are feeling alienated by your child and concerned that your child is being brainwashed by your ex, you may want to research additional information. Several good articles are available on BrainWashingChildren.com. Not only is parental alienation harmful to your relationship, it can be harmful to your child’s mental health.

Some warning signs that your child may be under the attack of such “brainwashing” from a parent are:

  • Your child is flat, monotoned, or sad when he or she gets your phone call.
  • Your ex is often heard speaking to your child in the background.
  • Your phone calls or texts are not returned.
  • Cellphones you buy for your child are rarely used to call you but used routinely by your ex to contact your child when he or she is with you.
  • No calls on your birthday or Father’s/Mother’s Day, and rarely or never a card or e-card.
  • Your child asks you questions inappropriate for their age.
  • Your child is used as a messenger by your ex.
  • Your child complains about his or her last visit.
  • You rarely get a call, email, or text out of the blue from your child.
  • Your child claims out of the blue that “I don’t want to see you.”
  • Your child seems unable to echo any “I love you’s.”
  • Your child echoes the words of your ex.
  • Your child refers to you by your first name, either to you directly or at home while away from you.
  • Your ex refers to you by your first name when speaking to your child in the background.
  • Your child will say “Why haven’t you called me” when in fact you’ve tried.
  • You rarely get an acknowledgment of any cards of presents sent.

If you feel your child is being swayed to parental alienation by brainwashing, it may be a good idea to seek a professional counselor to help them work through the situation. Many decrees state that parties should not discuss adult issues in front of the child, so if your ex isn’t abiding by that, make sure to carefully document any instances.

Though it may seem tedious, the court will look for specific examples if you decide to challenge your ex on the matter. If you are seeing signs of parental alienation, or your ex isn’t abiding by your decree, contact Burton Law Firm today to speak to one of our knowledgeable attorneys.


Peter is one of the top up-and-coming young lawyers in the state. Raised in Layton, Utah, Peter was named by the Standard-Examiner as among the top 2% of Utah’s high school seniors.

In addition to his current practice, Peter’s practical experience includes serving as extern corporate counsel for Shiseido, one of the world’s largest cosmetic corporations, and clerking for federal criminal appellate counsel. He has extensive experience in family law matters.

He enjoys feeling like he has made a difference helping his clients with their domestic case needs.

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