Parent Alienation Syndrome
What is Parent Alienation Syndrome?
Parent Alienation Syndrome refers to the diagnosis of a child who is exhibiting behavioral abnormalities due to parental alienation. Parental alienation occurs where one parent deliberately attempts to distance the other parent (or guardian/significant other) from their child or children.
In doing so, the parent basically destroys the emotional and familial bonds that may have existed between the parent and the child. This is frequently the case in many divorce settings.
Thus, a child who exhibits parent alienation syndrome may manifest various difficulties in adapting socially and emotionally to family or school settings. In addition, the child may come to believe the parent’s negative claims about the other parents. They may even feign a dislike or aversion to the other parent, when in reality they may be seeking contact with them. As a result, parent alienation syndrome has often been likened to a form of “brainwashing” of the child or children.
Parent alienation syndrome is also known as “Parental Alienation Syndrome”, or PAS.
Is Parent Alienation Syndrome Different From Parent Alienation?
Yes- Parental Alienation Syndrome or PAS refers to the diagnosis of the child as well as the various symptoms that they may manifest psychologically. These can include:
- A false or feigned aversion to the other parent
- A sense of distrust towards one or both parents
- Inability to adjust in various social settings
- Various clinical symptoms such as depression, anxiety, or mood disorders
- Learning disabilities and other mental difficulties
On the other hand, Parent Alienation or Parental Alienation refers to the conduct of the one parent in undermining the other parent’s emotional ties with the child. These can include:
- Refusing to let the other parent visit or contact the child (often in violation of court visitation/custody orders)
- Making disparaging or demeaning remarks about the other parent in the child’s presence
- Basically teaching the child to dislike the other parent or partner
- Never referring to the other partner by name, or never referring to them at all
- Casting the other parent in an overall negative light
- Accusing the other parent of abuse, especially physical or sexual abuse
This last factor can be very damaging for the child. If the parent falsely accuses the other of abuse it can lead to legal consequences for the parent. Also, the child may have to undergo several medical and psychological tests, which can be very damaging for the child’s normal development.
What are the Legal Effects of Parent Alienation Syndrome?
While parental alienation is generally not yet held to be a crime, a parent can still face criminal consequences for false accusations of abuse. In terms of the child, diagnosis of Parental Alienation Syndrome can have various legal effects, including:
- Major effects on the outcome of a child custody or child visitation hearing
- May subject the child to rehabilitative measures such as counseling, family educational courses, etc.
- In serious cases, the child may be subjected to additional medical or psychological diagnoses, which can affect other areas of life
Thus, PAS and related subjects have become a growing interest in the field of family law. While many jurisdictions are still incorporating PAS subjects into their legal rulings, the topic has already become the focus for many divorce and child custody cases.
Do I Need a Lawyer if I Have Legal Issues Involving Parent Alienation Syndrome?
If you or a loved one is having legal issues involving PAS or parental alienation claims, you should contact an experienced family law attorney right away. Your attorney will be able to provide you with legal counsel and guidance when it comes to the effects of PAS on family law hearings. Occurrences of parental alienation may sometimes overlap with criminal laws, and are treated very seriously by the courts.
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Last Modified: 07-05-2012 02:13 PM PDT
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