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 ex-wife has sole custody of our 14 year old daughter, and i'm pursuing sole custody. She remarried a felon with bad criminal past, and has 2 new babies with him. The 5 of them live in a 2 bed apt. Our daughter is sick all the time with numerous health problems, has excessive absences from school, and failing grades.I'm deeply concerned for her mental, emotional, physical, and moral health. My ex isn't giving her proper visitation with me. I live out of state and feel powerless until a court ruling can be made. I want action immediately. Does this merit an emergency post decree modification?
  • I was never married to my sons biological father who happens to be an illegal immigrant. Paternity and child support have been established by the court and I have sole legal custody. The Order states that father is not to pick up child from daycare. How do I enforce this?
  • my son and his wife have a court order they have joint custody they are not supposed to have the kids around anybody that they are romantically involved in they broke the court order can they get in trouble
  • my husband and I are separated with 2 children. the oldest (almost 18 with a full time job) is living with him on the east coast. our youngest lives with me. we agreed to this arrangement. how do we go about a divorce with this living arrangement?
  • My boyfrhhiend has told me that he does not have any connection to our daughter. He has indicated that he is going to leave and has no interest in seeing her. Should I file for full custody even though he has no interest in any custody? What would I need to do to get it started?
  • My ex-wife left my son with me in August 2007 and moved to San Antonio, TX. On 5/19/2008 she came to my son's school and took him out and put him on a plane back to San Antonio. Even though she has sole custody the law states that she is suppose to give me 60 days notice before he can be considered to be moved to a different state. How do I get a court sanction?
  • I have custody of my 2 girls. I live in Colorado and their Dad lives in Texas. His last visit he had the girls for 8 weeks over summer. He decided he did not want to return them and got a restraining order against me stating that I did not provide medical and dental care for my children. His support payments just went up. I had to hire an attorney in Texas to get my children back. They are home but he continues to cause trouble by calling CPS. They came out and found nothing wrong and left. He wants them again in Nov. how do I protect myself so he does not do this all over again.
  • My sons father doesn't follow the court order in place and he blocks my cell phone number and my fiances from contacting to wonder WHY he's not getting my son. His girlfriend has text me and told me what he is doing and when he has gotten Caleb he teaches him that it's okay to hit women! And there is domestic violence but I do not know how to prove it unless his girlfriend said it to the judge .
  • what is reasonable parenting time for long distant parenting
  • I’m in a disturb with my ex wife right now on visitation hours. She is refusing to let me see my son. About a year ago I was collecting unemployment and was unable to pay her child support. She wouldn’t let me see him till I gave her money. I made $12 an hour before I was unemployed, now I only make 8.50 an hour (still paying 12.00 an hour child support). I can hardly afford rent, I’m already in the process of changing the child support payments but I also need to change custody. I work 40 hours a week and I would love to have him every weekend. Can someone please advice me in a good directio

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