When the parents of a minor child get divorced it is never easy for the child. The parents, however, can make the situation better, or worse, depending on how they act toward each other and how they choose to approach the issue with the child. When one parent chooses to disparage the other parent, it clearly has an impact on the child. In extreme cases, it can cause parental alienation. If you are a divorced parent who may be the victim of parental alienation, the Fort Worth child custody attorneys at The Law Offices of Jon R. Boyd urge you to read the following information about parental alienation.
Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a term coined back in the 1980’s by child psychiatrist Dr. Richard A. Gardner. PAS occurs when one parent attempts to turn the couple’s children against the other parent. A parent who is angry at the spouse or ex-spouse accomplishes this estrangement by painting a negative picture of the other parent, makes derogatory comments about the parent, blames the other parent for the marriage not working, and making false accusations of all kinds that are shared with the children. The goal is to discredit and sabotage the target parent in the eyes of the child in the hope that the child will eventually turn against the target parent. Unfortunately, the efforts of the alienating parent are often successful. An alienating parent may also hoard the kids, doing all they can to thwart the other parent’s attempts to have parenting time.
Sadly, parents frequently say things they shouldn’t about the other parent in front of the children and/or use the children to “get back at” the other parent. While conduct such as that is certainly not good for a child, PAS occurs when a parent takes that conduct a step further. Through systematic alienation, the alienating parent may slowly brainwash a child against the targeted parent to the point where the innocent child wants nothing more to do with the targeted parent at best, or grows to actively despise the parent at worst.
Behavior that can lead to Parental Alienation Syndrome can run the gamut; however, there are some common signs, including:
Interfering with the target parent’s parenting time with the child.
Depriving the target parent of information relating to educational, medical and social activities of the child and excluding or not informing the target parent of all of the school, medical, social activities of the child.
Discussing the marital relationship with the child in an inappropriate way, including providing false information to the child, all the while claiming it is in the interest of being “honest” with the child.
Blaming the target parent for breaking up the family and/or inferring that the target parent did not love the child enough to stay, the goal being to make the child angry at the target parent.
Interfering with, or not supporting, contact between the child and the target parent. Listening to telephone conversation or reading all emails, texting, or correspondence between the child and target parent.
Making major unilateral decisions regarding the child without consulting the target parent.
Refusing to let the child take his/her possessions to the target parent’s residence.
It is crucial to understand that when a child suffers from PAS is frequently creates lifelong emotional scars. The child may grow to distrust both parents and have problems trusting all adults as a result. If you suspect that your child’s other parent is subjecting your child to more than the occasional snide comment or juvenile response to issues or situations, it is in your child’s best interest, as well as yours, to act swiftly and strongly. Courts struggle with situations where PAS is present because although it is widely recognized as a legitimate problem, it has yet to be officially recognized by the psychiatric community. The impact on a child, however, can be recognized and diagnosed by a mental health professional. Do not wait in the hope that the situation will get better – it rarely does. On the contrary, it is likely to continue to get worse without intervention. Talk to an experienced child custody attorney right away about how you can get help for yourself and for your child.
If you have additional questions or concerns about Parental Alienation Syndrome, contact the experienced Fort Worth child custody attorneys at The Law Office of Jon R. Boyd to schedule your appointment today.