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.



  • When do the courts allow a child speak on their behalf? My boyfriend's daughter has expressed concerning verbal and mental abuse by her mother whom has primary custody. what can we do?
  • My grandson cannot afford an attorney. Is there a way he can file for custody of his son free of charge?
  • I am divorced and my ex left AZ after. My children are with me but he still has partial custody. He has not contacted or seen the children in 3+yrs. No card, call or anything. My current husband would like to legally become their father. I have no idea where my ex is or how to even contact him. I have an agency searching for him for non payment of child support and they cannot even find him! Could you tell me how to dissolve his rights as father so that my current husband can make them his kids since that is who they call dad. I also want his rights taken away because if anything were to happen to me I don't want him to be able to come in and take them because they wouldn't know him or feel safe with him because of past events.
  • My ex has made it so hard to visit him. All on her terms. I live in phx and she lives in Prescott so I drive up North to see him. She won't let me take him over nights and I'm lucky if I get to see him twice a month. She recently had me served to try to sever my father rights. Next court date was suppose to be November 5. But she was involved in a crime and she is now in jail. She has violated her probation plus new five felonies. I received a letter a couple days ago saying my court date with her had been vacated. Her parents won't let me have my son. What paperwork do I need to file?
  • My wife and I are divorcing and we currently have three adopted children and are currently fostering another- underkinship care. My wife does not want to adopt him and I do. I plan to adopt him. She has stated that she will complain he has molested and beat up the other kids in the home to have him removed. There is only one incident that has been recorded with CPS. She has not told me or the case worker of anything else. Can I adopt him even after we are divorced and how do I protect him against untruths?
  • I live here in az and want to terminate the parental rights of 2 fathers that live out of state that i can't get a hold of and haven't seen the kids ssensethey were babies how do I do this with little money?
  • hi im on cashaid. they want me to renew my cashaid I just had a baby when I renew will I get money for my baby or they wont give money for the baby?
  • 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?
  • The mother of my daughter wants to give me full custody of her. She will remain a part of her life and this had been agreed upon. What do I need to do to have her sign over full custody willingly to me? And are there forms I can download?
  • Back in March 2017 I had a court order joint custody and parenting time with no child support. On 12/05 I received paperwork from the kids mom asking to modify the parenting time custody and support. I need to respond back to her back I don't know what exact form to use. Everything I see if for someone to start up the modification process.


  • He told me that I could actually get all the money I needed by using my home as collateral. . .
  • If you get a divorce, make sure your date of birth is on the Decree if your name is changing!. . .
  • He told me that I could actually get all the money I needed by using my home as collateral. . .



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