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

  • I am not married but have been dating and living with my boyfriend in his moms basement. We got in a fight and I wanted to leave but he refused to allow me to take the baby. What do I do legally to get temp custody until we figure out custody??
  • My daughter's mom filed for child support this summer. Now she is trying to move away without my consent. What can I do to stop this? I don't have much money cause it's going to child support. Please help ASAP!
  • I live in Idaho and my daughters live in Arizona. I'm still married with my ex and my daughters want to live with me now. I was wondering if her parents could prevent me from taking them back to Idaho. Or do I have to take this to court?
  • Is there a way to find out if I'm filling out my Petition For Modification Of Legal Decision-Making and Parenting Time Form 23 paperwork correctly. My Girlfriend is trying to change custody agreement due to her ex-husbands drug use and issues with the police. He only calls when he wants something from her and its not to see his daughter. He gets high and calls in the middle of the night but never speaks. What can we do to keep him away from her, he can not be trusted by anyone including the police.
  • I am currently expecting a baby. The father of my baby left me when I was 7 months, but has stated he wants to be in the baby's life. He is a habitual marijuana smoker, heavy drinker, and the people he surrounds himself with are not the kind of influences I want around my child. He moved in with his mom, who keeps a very dirty house and has been in and out of the hospital with MRSA for the last couple of years. I do not feel like he can provde a safe and stable environment for my daughter. He believes he will get joint custody. What actions do I need to take to ensure this does not happen?
  • How old does a child have to be to decide on what parent they want to live with?
  • The mother left me off of the birth certificate and now I would like to petition for a paternity test and look into getting parenting time. I was wondering what documents I would need to file at the court and if a trial, where she and I were both in a courtroom in front of a judge, was imminent, or if the court would bring us both in to a judge in an office to discuss things. If we were brought into an office would lawyers be allowed or strictly she and I? Also, what if I file a parenting time petition and the mother does not agree to it? Could the judge agree to it without her consent or?
  • my husband has a 7 year old daughter from a previous relationship we moved here from hawaii to be closer to her. in dec. 2012 she came to live with us, now in 3/2013 her mom wants her back when the school year is over. does my husband have any rights. he loves his daughter and wants her to live with us. his daughter like living with us too what can we do? were do we start? does he have a right to keep her? or does he have to just give her up again? my husband is heart broken Her mom doesnt have a stable job or home. when we got her they were living in a domestic violence shelter WHAT TO DO??
  • I have a 15 month old child with my girl friend. she the mother has been out of state for 3 an a half months I have been supporting and taking care my son sence birth do I have any legal rights
  • Can I move out of state with my 7 year old son? I was never married to his father and he doesn’t pay me monies for my son’s support. The father has been in jail for violating probation for drug use.

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