Parental Alienation Syndrome

Parental Alienation Syndrome

Nothing stirs up passions more than the controversy generated when parents are at war over the custody of a child.  In association with this ever-increasing litigation, forensic psychiatrists began labeling “parental alienation” as the creation of a singular relationship between a child and one parent, to the exclusion of the other parent. 

The fully alienated child is a child who does not wish to have any contact whatsoever with one parent and who expresses only negative feelings for that parent and only positive feelings for the other parent.  This child has lost the range of feelings for both parents that is normal for a child. 

Parental alienation is relevant to child custody decisions.  In considering a child custody issue, a Massachusetts court must consider evidence of parental alienation.  In determining the best interest of a child, a court must consider all relevant factors, and attempts by one parent to destroy a child’s relationship with the other parent are certainly relevant to a determination of a child’s best interest.

There are several types of alienation behavior.  Numerous judges have condemned various types of alienation behavior.  For example:

  • A court may consider which parent is more likely to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact with the other parent.
  • A court may consider whether a parent has attempted to turn the child against the other parent.
  • A court may consider whether a parent has demeaned another parent in the presence of a child.
  • A court may also consider whether a parent has encouraged a child to be disobedient and disrespectful regarding the other parent.
  • A court may also consider whether a parent has talked to a child about either the divorce itself or issues revolving around the litigation.
  • A court may consider whether a parent has made unfounded allegations of any type of abuse.
  • A court may consider whether there is any evidence indicating that an alienating parent will stop this behavior in the future.

When parents first separate, there is often parent alienation.  For example, due to the anxiety of a mother, she may likely say indirectly to a child that he or she is not safe with the father.  She may say, “Call me as soon as you get there to let me know that you are okay.  If you get scared, you can call me right away, okay?  I’ll come get you if you want to come home.”  Usually this level of alienation dies down after the separating parents get used to changes brought on by the separation and move on with their lives.

However, in rare cases, the anxiety not only doesn’t calm down, it escalates.  Researchers report that these parents become stuck and are unable to promote independence and encourage continued dependence.

Alienating parent’s hatred can have no bounds.  The severest form will bring out every horrible allegation known, including allegations of domestic violence, stalking and even the sexual molestation of the child.

In some cases, parents say that there have been repeated calls to the Department of Social Services alleging child abuse and neglect.  In most cases the investigators report that they found nothing wrong.  However, the indoctrinating parent feels that these reports are not fabrications, but very, very real.  At the same time, most of the alienated parents are continually befuddled by the lying.  “How can they lie like that?”  What they don’t realize is that these lies are not based on rational thinking.

Alienation advances even further when alienating parents use children as personal therapists.  Here, the child is told about every miserable experience and negative feeling about the alienated parent with great specificity.  The child, who is already enmeshed with the parent because their own identity is still undefined, easily absorbs the parent’s negativity.  They become aligned with this parent and feel that they need to be the protector of the alienating parent.

What can be done about this problem?  First, the alienated parent has to take evidence, and their own affidavit, to a judge who must then be convinced that the child is being alienated and that it is not in their best interest to stay in such an environment.  It often takes several trips to court to point out how badly a child is being treated before a judge is willing to act. 

In one case, Attorney Lucas M. represented a client whose wife filed a restraining order alleging his drug use, tendency to immerse himself in child pornography and how she was in fear of her safety.  At first, the husband was ordered no contact with the wife and was only granted two hour supervised visits with his daughter.

Soon thereafter, Attorney cross-examined the opposition on her questionable allegations.  He was able to demonstrate her inconsistent statements to a point where her credibility was lacking and the judge vacated the restraining order. 

Immediately following his receipt of the report relating to the DSS investigation, Attorney noted how the wife recanted earlier statements, was vague in her descriptions of any events and how she wasn’t answering very specific questions from the investigator.  soon thereafter filed a motion to modify temporary orders and was successful in getting his client unsupervised visitation and a joint parenting plan.

Judges have been slow to place serious sanctions on the alienating parent.  If there is no threat of severe fines, jail time or sole custody to the targeted parent, the chances are remote that the out-of-control parent can be stopped.

It usually takes a dramatic situation where court orders are broken to force a court to modify an existing custody order, however alienation of children can be reversed. Regarded as one of the most accomplished and innovative legal minds with experience in parental alienation cases, Attorney Lucas M. claims those victims of PAS who want their rights zealously advocated share the following characteristics:

  • They certainly thought of giving up but never did.  No matter how awful the harassment got, they worried about leaving their child in that environment but pushed to get the court to understand the seriousness of the issues. 
  • They were willing and able to go to the financial expense of seeing it through.
  • They documented the alienation with evidence that was admissible in court.
  • They never violated court orders.  They paid their support on time and proved that they could live within the letter of the law.


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