Parental Alienation and Family Violence in Context of Shared Parenting in Croatia

Session : Workshop 4-1: Interventions II

  • Time : 11:30 am PDT To 1:30 pm PDT on
  • Venue : Parental Alienation and Family Violence in Context of Shared Parenting in Croatia

Full Abstract

Newer trends in family custody court processes in Croatia show a slight increase in shared legal and physical custody of children among separated parents, yet still the majority of children stay primariliy with their mothers. Shared residence for children is a relatively new phenomenon in Croatia, and as such has not been widely analyzed. Promoting shared residential custody is motivated by the best interest of the child, as well as its need of maintaining a close relationship and as much contact as possible with both parents after a divorce or a dissolution of a non-marital union. It is believed that shared custody and care of a child has a lot of benefits for children and very little downsides. Still, this is a largely unacknowledged and unpreferred practice in Croatian courts. In this context, we will explore the occurence of alienating behaviors of parents towards children in these circumstances. Parental alienation in general is a poorly acknowledged and researched form of family violence in Croatia. This article will describe specific elements of parental alienation as a form of abusive and aggressive behaviour, how it is manifested and what consequences it has on a child and family dynamics. Also, we will describe the continuum of alienating behaviors and how to distinguish them from other specific behaviors that can occur in high conflict divorces. In recent years Croatian family practitioners, clinicians, social workers and other experts working with disrupted families have gained more knowledge of these problematic behaviors. Considering that alienating behaviors usually occur in single-custodial situations, where one parent is in a position of power, it is believed that distribution of power evenly among both parents in a shared residential custody situation helps prevent occurrence of such behaviors. Hence, some experts and parent associations heavily promote the benefits of shared parenting. Finally, we will explore what options are there to raise more awareness of parental alienation as a form of family violence in Croatia, to educate practitioners working with families and therefore provide support for families facing this form of family violence.