Divorce & Annulment 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

  • I have been unable to find and secure any legal representation throughout out entire divorce and I have paid dearly for it. I live on a fixed disability income and cannot afford to pay for services. I have gone through local channels such as AZ211, AZLAW.COM & COMMUNITY LEGAL SERVICES twice and I am still not represented. Any help would be more than appreciated! Thank you, Diana Berne
  • If I owned my house before getting married, can I sell it before we're divorced without having to split the money I make from selling it?
  • I cannot seem to find the forms for a covenant marriage divorce.
  • Can i have my fathers rights teminated in the State of Arizona if im under the age of 18?
  • My wife and I are living separate and have divided all of our assets and financials. Also we signed a contract to protect one another. Will this hold up in court if we decide to get divorced later?
  • Is Arizona a no-fault state?
  • My Name is Rose Smith. I been married almost 7 years. my husband is becoming so aggressive is like he can be super nice next time his mad over nothing is he has custody of his 2 kids i help him raised them 7-9 but his never around. He said he wants me out of the house can he do that? i don't no what to do i don't work i just finish my school he says he work but we are always with no money kids needs blanks stuff or food he don't buy them please help with the money the we are getting from the taxes he says his not giving nothing.please help
  • Is there any free legal help in AZ for stay home moms that have no income?
  • My husband and I are in the process of getting a divorce, am I able to purchase a house before the divorce is final?
  • is annulment legal in az

STORIES

  • He told me that I could actually get all the money I needed by using my home as collateral. . .
  • 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!. . .

LegalLEARN

YOUR FEEDBACK IS NEEDED

FIND LEGAL HELP

  • Please select your county of residence below.

    County:
     

OTHER LEGAL RESOURCES

  • State Bar of Arizona
    www.azbar.org
  • Maricopa County Bar
    www.maricopabar.org
    Referral number 602-257-4434
  • Pima County Bar
    www.pimacountybar.org
    Referral number 520-623-4625
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline
    800-799-7233
  • Bankruptcy Court Self Help Center
    866-553-0893
  • Certified Legal Document Preparer Program
    Link

ORGANIZATIONS