Understanding The Signs Of Parental Alienation Syndrome In A Divorce

Understanding The Signs Of Parental Alienation Syndrome In A Divorce

After a divorce, one or both parents may cause one or more of their children to feel alienated from the other parent. This is called parental alienation syndrome.

It's simply inevitable that a divorce will have an impact on any children involved in the marriage. However, the extent of that impact - whether positive or negative - depends on the couple and situation.

In some instances, because of the hostility of the situation, the actions of one parent or both and the irreconcilable differences of the couple, the effect on the children can be detrimental.

A case in point involves a parent with parental alienation syndrome.

What Is Parental Alienation Syndrome?

Parental alienation syndrome, or PAS as it's known, is characterized as a disorder in which one parent, during or after a divorce, alienates the child from the other parent and extinguishes the positive relationship the child previously had with the other parent.

Situations when the parent belittles, insults or just talks bad about the other parent in front of the child so the child thinks upon the belittled parent in a negative way, are common PAS examples. As a result, the child then becomes emotionally distant from the other parent and, in some cases, may no longer want to see the other parent.

The syndrome is known to take effect when he or she simply wishes to retaliate for any number of reasons against the other parent. It may also happen as a result of issues that have laid dormant for years and not addressed.

Skeptics And Believers

Some experts in the family law arena, however, dismiss PAS as typical activity that happens during any divorce, particularly divorces involving high conflict or stress situations. Further, research on the syndrome has been questioned and criticized and PAS has yet to be recognized as a real disorder by the medical community.

However, others disagree and say that PAS is very real. Believers argue that when a child is deliberately estranged from the other parent, there is PAS and it affects the emotional state of the child. According to research from a study conducted by the American Bar Association, PAS in varying degrees happens in approximately 60 percent of divorces in the United States.

Additionally, believers say that some family law courts consider PAS important enough to use as a factor in child custody determinations.

Mitigating The Effects Of Divorce On Children

Regardless of whether PAS is real or not, it's likely children of a divorce will be affected in some way.

If you are experiencing a divorce and recognize that there may be signs of PAS or other high conflict instances, speaking with a knowledgeable attorney or therapist to mitigate the problems and alleviate the stresses involved as much as possible is advised.

Contact Burch, Coulston & Shepard, LLP

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