We Are Expert Parental Alienation Attorneys
Why You Should be Concerned about Parental Alienation
If you’re a parent involved in a custody or visitation dispute and you think the other parent might be cutting you out of your child’s life, you should consider the possible effects of Parental Alienation Syndrome on your children. Scientific research explains that PAS can have profound and long-lasting effects. After reviewing 700 cases of family counseling, mediation, and forensic evaluation, Stanley Clawar and Brynne Rivlin (1991) published their research through the American Bar Association.
Parental Alienation In High Conflict Custody & Visitation Cases
High conflict custody and visitation cases are emotionally charged and complex proceedings. During the tug-of-war, some children exhibit emotional detachment from one or both parents. Is it because of brainwashing? Is it because the child exhibits symptoms that can be clustered into a syndrome? Is it because someone has created an unreasonable estrangement? We refer to this phenomena as Parental Alienation Syndrome. Why?
How Can Parental Alienation Be Defeated?
There are five key components to defeating a parental alienation process: Understanding, Documentation, Psychology, Presentation, and Exposing. Not every attorney has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. However, you must have an attorney with a deep psychological understanding and an awareness of scientific literature. If you rely on just any attorney you will almost surely have a defense without the requisite scientific expertise to win your case.
Parental Alienation Develops Over Time
The distancing that occurs in Parental Alienation Syndrome may involve some of the following features:
Blame – blaming the other parent for breaking up the family and for other problems
Spying – using the children to spy on the targeted parent; questioning the children about the targeted parent’s personal life; eavesdropping on telephone conversations between the children and the targeted parent
Interfering with visitation – giving the children the choice of visiting the targeted parent; being inflexible to otherwise reasonable changes in visitation; scheduling activities during the targeted parent’s visitation time
Denigration – one parent speaks badly or demeans the other parent in the children’s presence
Allegations of abuse – allegations of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse of the children are often made against the targeted parent
Does this seem familiar? Someone has poisoned your relationship with your child. They have literally alienated your child from you. The parent-child relationship is sacred. The threat of having that destroyed is disgraceful. What can you do?
Do not rely on an attorney you randomly discovered in the phone book. If these symptoms sound familiar to you, you need the assistance and expertise of specialists. Most lawyers or law firms do not have the science-based and legally based knowledge necessary to defeat Parental Alienation successfully. You need the expertise of our advocates to protect your rights, your children’s rights, and your relationship with your children. Our team is dedicated to protecting our clients and preserving their families. Our results speak for themselves.
HERE ARE THE ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS
What is Parental Alienation?
Parental alienation is a course of conduct in which one parent uses deprecation, denigration, and various degrees of criticism to alienate a child from the other parent. Parental alienation, however, goes far beyond simple brainwashing or indoctrination. If left unchecked, an alienator’s often obsessive, never-ending message of hate can wreak psychological havoc on a child, creating problems that last well into adulthood and possibly alienating the child from the targeted parent forever.
Who first identified Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)?
The term Parental Alienation Syndrome was originally coined by noted psychiatrist Dr. Richard Gardner in mid-80’s. Gardner noticed that changes in legal policy that had started about a decade earlier were having a profound effect on how divorcing parents were dealing with each other. The tender-years doctrine that assumed the mother was always the better choice for custody of younger children was being replaced by the idea of joint custody. Custody therefore became another battleground on which divorcing couples could wage war against each other.
What’s the relationship between parental alienation and Parental Alienation Syndrome?
Okay, let’s get technical – Though the terms are often used interchangeably, parental alienation and Parental Alienation Syndrome refer to two related yet distinct phenomena. Parental alienation refers to conduct designed to destroy a child’s affection for the targeted parent, whereas Parental Alienation Syndrome refers to the effect that such conduct has on a child.
Doesn’t Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) remain controversial in psychological circles?
The American Psychological Association (APA) has yet to take an official position on PAS. The courts, however, have embraced the concept of PAS in varying degrees, and PAS has become an integral concept in custody litigation not only in the United States, but also in courts throughout the world. The concept and differential diagnosis for parental alienation has passed the Frye test, the Daubert test in the United States and the Mohan test in Canada. The new text Parental Alienation – The Handbook for Mental Health and Legal Professionals brings together researchers from around the world and includes over a thousand bibliographic entries and discussion of five hundred parental alienation cases.
What are some of the warning signs of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)?
PAS has quite a few warning signs, yet they can be broken up into a few general categories:
- Blaming the other parent for breaking up the family
- Blaming the other parent for whatever problem or problems may beset the alienating parent
- Using the children to spy on or gather dirt on the targeted parent
- Questioning a child about the details of the other parent’s personal life
- Eavesdropping on phone conversations between the child and the targeted parent
Interfering with Visitation
- Giving a child a choice as to whether to visit the targeted parent (often in violation of a court order)
- Being inflexible to reasonable changes in the visitation schedule
- Scheduling activities that conflict with visitation
- Creating temptations designed to make visitation less appealing
- Refusing access to a child’s medical or school records
- Not allowing a child to transport his or her things between residences
- Acting hurt or sad if a child enjoys his or her time with the other parent
Are there different degrees of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)?
Yes. PAS is generally broken down into three symptom levels: mild, moderate, and severe.
How is mild Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) characterized?
In mild cases of PAS, the alienator parent seeks to strengthen his or her position through subtle programming. In some cases, the parent realizes that alienating the child from the other parent is not in the child’s best interest and therefore engages in no programming at all. Nonetheless, anger can be present, perhaps even some desire for vengeance. Unlike parents in the severe category, the parent in this category suffers from no paranoia.
Kids in the mild category are often motivated to strengthen one parent’s position in an attempt to maintain a psychological bond with that parent. On the other hand, children in this category are often receptive to visitation and are the most likely to express affection for the other parent, even in the presence of the mild alienator.
How is moderate Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) characterized?
Alienators in the moderate category aren’t as fanatical as those in the severe category, but rage is nonetheless an important factor. Consequently, the moderate alienator can wage an intense campaign of deprecation in an attempt to alienate the children from the other spouse. The moderate alienator will often be very creative in obstructing visitation but will usually comply when faced with a fine or possible change in custody. A parent who is a moderate alienator was most likely a good parent prior to divorce, and this differentiates the moderate from the severe alienator. Because of his or her good parenting skills, the moderate alienator often retains primary custody.
Children in a moderate alienation situation aren’t as severe in their criticism of the targeted parent as severely alienated children, and they tend to stop their criticism when alone with the targeted parent. Younger children in the moderate category usually need the lead of an older sibling to maintain their half of an alienation campaign. Therefore, if a younger child develops Parental Alienation Syndrome, it is usually the result of imitating an older brother or sister. Though alienation in this category is by definition moderate, court-ordered therapy is warranted. Only one therapist should conduct the therapy, and he or she must report directly to the judge. For its part, the court must be willing to respond to obstructionism with all the means it has at its disposal, including fines, jail, or a threat of losing primary custody.
How is a severe case of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) characterized?
Severe alienators are fanatics who are obsessed with a hate for their former spouses. Severe alienators are often paranoid, and their paranoia involves projection. The severe alienator sees something in her- or himself and sees the same objectionable characteristic in the targeted parent. This projection allows the severe alienator to assume the role of innocent victim. False accusations of sexual abuse often arise in severe alienation scenarios, and the severe alienator will exaggerate and twist almost anything a child says in order to support such allegations. Severe alienators exhibit the hallmark of paranoid thinking in that they don’t respond to reason, logic, or the obvious.
Severely alienated children are similarly fanatical and often share the same paranoid fantasies as the alienator parent. The mere thought of visiting the targeted parent is enough to terrify them. Severely alienated children are often so fearful and hostile that they will try to run away if placed in the targeted parent’s home. Despite this, however, some severely alienated children may settle down somewhat if required to stay with the targeted parent over an extended period.