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Parental Alienation Syndrome

Injustices in family court can deepen existing family fissures and fractures. PAS (Parental Alienator Syndrome) is a widely used litigation tactic used to cast the abuser as the victim which pits children against the protective parent by making false allegations in custody cases. Controversial since its inception in the early 90’s in the family court system, many legal experts purport that while successful in litigation, it is merely a theory that is “largely considered by authorities as scientifically unsupportable.” (DAILY NEWS ARTICLE)

Nonetheless, it is a tactic that is widely used by abusers to gain custody of children where the protective parent suffers secondary victimization and continued abuse of children.

It’s important for the alienated parent to understand it is not a reflection of their competence as a parent or a question of their love and devotion for their child. It is a deliberate conflict inflicted from the abusive parent to gain control by manipulating the system to continue abusing.

Parental alienation undermines and interferes with the relationship between parent and child. Because children are young and their vulnerability exploited, they eventually align themselves with the alienating parent. Unfortunately, awareness and proper diagnosis by mental health and legal professionals lags in intervening cases where PAS is present. (PARENTAL ALIENATION BEHAVIORS)

Because judges are notably slow to place sanctions on the alienating parent such as fines, jail time or remanding custody to the targeted parent, the cases of parents that have successfully fought against a PAS situation and gained primary custody of their children are few and far between.

But there are actions that parents who find themselves in a PAS situation can do: (PARENTS WHO HAVE SUCCESSFULLY FOUGHT PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME)

  • Do not retaliate, keep even-tempered. That will only be used as proof of instability from the alienator

  • Find a skilled Family lawyer versed in Parental Alienator Syndrome

  • Learn how the courts work and how the law applies to your specific case

  • Provide the court with a parenting plan showing how the child would be cared for in their custody

  • Document document document. Keep a detailed written account of key events and admissible evidence for court

  • Don’t violate court orders, pay the court ordered child support to show cooperation with the law

  • Find support in friends, family and if needed, seek out a mental health professional to manage stress

Working with alienated parents and children is complicated and painful. High-conflict divorce or separation causes areas of concern for social workers, mental health professionals, lawyers and judges who may not initially recognize the misrepresentation of the alienating parent. (PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME — THE PARENT/CHILD DISCONNECT)

And even after a long battle of reversing parental alienation, there remains the challenge of parent-child reunification that requires specialized service providers to help overcome the barriers that blocked the parent-child connection. Easier said than done as both the alienated parent and child may be emotionally fragile from the experience of prolonged alienation. (PARENT-CHILD REUNIFICATION AFTER ALIENATION)


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I have been a single parent twenty two years now. Single parenthood is filled with tears , loneliness, and holding my breath to survive.

This piece was submitted to our 100K STORIES PROJECT by Alana K. Haase. Alana has been a nurse for 27 years and a Mom for 18.

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