Parental Alienation Syndrome

The term parental alienation syndrome was coined by the late Columbia University Professor Dr. Richard Gardner, in 1985. He used this phrase to describe the process by which one parent socializes his or her child against the other loved parent. He noted that the condition or disorder occurred exclusively in situations of high-conflict divorce and child custody cases.

Typically, a custodial parent actively blocks access, including phone calls and online connection between the absent parent and the child in question.
There are several ways that the parent will do this, including explaining or through actions intimating that:

  • a.The other parent is not a good parent and the child suffers after a visit.
  • b. The other parent abused or is abusing the child physically, sexually, or emotionally when with the child.
  • c. It's just not good for the child to see other parent as the child is adjusting to a new living situation, as if the other parent is not a parent but rather just someone who is a bother that the child is bound by law to see occasionally.
  • d. Visitation with the other parent is inconvenient, like a chore, and if there is any need to deviate from the schedule, the parent in question uses it as a reason to cancel visitation on that occasion or altogether.
    Another identifying marker of PAS is that the alienating parent de facto is acting as if he or she is better than or superior to the other parent, who should not be involved in any integral way in the child's life.

If these sorts of things happen over a long period of time, and bear in mind that younger child have no sense of time, the child in question gets a clear message that the other parent is "bad" or "wrong." They also are often afraid that if they do want to be with the other parent, the custodial parent or alienating parent will also reject or abandon them.

In regard to false accusations of abuse, over half of these involve allegations of sex abuse that occur as the parents are in conflict and divorcing or in a post-dissolution issue.

Physical abuse allegations are less common, because they actually leave a mark. More common allegations include those of emotional abuse when the alienating parent charges that the other parent is abuse to the child. Common examples include differences in parental judgment, which the alienating parent calls out as emotional abuse of the child.

Another marker for Parental Alienation Syndrome may include the deterioration of a parent-child bond since the separation from the household. For example, if the nonresidential parent had a good and involved relationship with the child in question, but the bond has deteriorated badly despite the parent trying to maintain involvement and connection, it could be a callout for parental alienation syndrome.

When you are dealing with these types of issues that involve your beloved children, it is critical to retain the guidance of an attorney who understands the how's and the whys of PAS, and how to fight for your rights and for your children's best interests.

Contact Pfister Borserine & Associates

At Pfister Borserine & Associates, we have protected the rights of people across north Texas for more than 20 years. Board-certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, attorney John J. Pfister, Jr. understands that every case is different and will take the time to learn the details of your situation. We will then carefully craft an individualized approach to help you get the outcome you want.

For an appointment with an experienced divorce and child custody lawyer, contact our office by e-mail or call us at 972-712-6700.

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