Child Custody Article


What Is Parental Alienation Syndrome and Why Does It Matter?

Children are entitled to a loving relationship with both parents free from judgment or blame from anyone, much less a parent. Parental alienation happens to moms and dads and can be stopped with proper intervention.

What happens when the children do not want to see one parent? In cases where the children have aligned with one parent and are rejecting the other parent, parental alienation may be at play. To determine if parental alienation syndrome is an issue a careful analysis of the facts must be made.

Parental alienation syndrome is not a recognized disorder, but has been extensively studied and documented. The research and findings have revealed extremely negative consequences for the children involved and has influenced courts to award custody to the targeted parent. Hoult, JA (2006), "The Evidentiary Admissibility of Parental Alienation Syndrome: Science, Law, and Policy", Children's Legal Rights Journal 26 (1).

The theory of parental alienation syndrome was developed in 1985 by licensed child psychiatrist, Richard Gardner. Children with parental alienation syndrome develop denigration against a parent without justification. The denigration develops from brainwashing by the alienating parent. Further, parental alienation syndrome occurs “when a child becomes an unwitting ally to the alienating parent and occurs when one parent campaigns successfully to manipulate his or her children to despise the other parent despite the absence of legitimate reasons for the children to harbor such animosity.” Hatch, Rebecca (2012), Proof of Parental Alienation in Action for Modification of Custody of Child, American Jurisprudence Proof of Facts 3d (6).

Children with parental alienation syndrome will have a persistent rejection of a parent, ambivalence, support of one parent against the other, absence of guilt, and spread of animosity to extended family of the rejected parent. Id.

Techniques used by the alienating parent include:
• Not telling the children about phone calls from the target parent,
• Refusing to acknowledge positive experiences between the children and the target parent,
• Attacking the target parent’s family, career, and living arrangements,
• Forcing the child to take sides,
• Manipulating and rearranging the child’s schedule so that the targeted parent cannot see the child,
• Excluding the target parent from information or the children’s important school events,
• Insisting that the child make decisions about seeing or talking to the target parent,
• Rejecting targeted parent from attending school events and activities,
• Makes delusional false statements to the children,
• Does not correct the child’s rude, defiant behavior towards the target parent,
• And over involves the child in adult matters and litigation. Id. at 7.

These behaviors can lead to severe consequences for the child. The children will likely have difficulty forming future relationships. They may also feel guilt, loss, anxiety, and withdrawal. Id. at 9. Courts have found that it is not in the best interests to keep the children with the alienating parent, and have often given full parenting time rights to the alienated parent. Further, it is important for the parents and children to go through an extensive comprehensive intervention.

Contributing Attorney:
Billie Tarascio litigates family law and domestic violence cases at Modern Law.

Comments:

QUESTIONS

  • My husband lives in Texas, I moved out of Texas over a year ago. We have no standing custody agreement for our 2 yr old daughter he is now locked up in Montana. I'm ready to file for divorce and sole custody but my sister in law says I broke the law by taking my daughter out of state with no custody agreement. Did I break the law and does he have a right to take my daughter away.
  • My ex husband filed to modify child support to lower his payment. Before he filed I told him that I wanted to file to have the children during the whole week and modify our current parenting plan. So now he filed the child support modification should I not respond and have a hearing? Or should I file my own paper work to modify the parenting plan?
  • I have a 10 year old daughter that I have sole custody of- I never married her biological dad. I have since married and wanted to know if that would then make him a legal guardian of my daughter?
  • What if I don't agree to court decision in custody/parenting time self representation/ attourney for other party. can I file an appeal or express my reasons for not agreeing
  • Do state minimum disclosure laws ARS 25-403 require a written request for discovery. e.g. 2yrs. Tax return. Paystubs with ytd etc
  • my husband was died one year back and from then am living in my moms home with my child who is 2 year old.but now my in laws want to take custodity of my child totally to them they want only my child they want to seperate my child pls give me solution to apply legally a ccase on them for my child custody wht can i do
  • I received full custody (legal making decisions) for my son but his father, who is on his birth certificate, did not have to terminate his rights. He doesn't make much effort to be in our son's life and is not allowed to have visits unless they are supervised. My husband and I want to move out of state next year, am I within my rights to take him without consent from his father? Hoping for an answer before any big plans are set in motion. Thanks in advance!
  • If the father is out of work, behind on child support and does not have a vehicle, does this effect his rights to decisions and time with the child, of 4 years of age?
  • My children's father and I signed over temporary custody of our 2 children while we were in jail so they could get them medical care and enroll them in school. Now that we are both out and doing well we want custody back. The grandparents are line with us having them back. How do we go about getting custody back? We font know where to begin?
  • x boyfriend and i have a 17 year old son, the father got involved in his life at age 12, last year i agreed to joint custody, because he would be put in a better, our son attened school for approx 2 months his dad felt he was not applying him self so he took him out of school. making my son a drop out, he wants to be in school badly, on top of this our son did something he disagreed with and his father kicked him out of the house, he is so depressed. he's unable to live with with me do to an abusive situation im trying to get away from. is it legal for him to put our son out like that?

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