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What Is Parental Alienation Syndrome?

Posted on in Child Custody

parental alienation syndrome, Naperville Illinois divorce lawyerParental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a recognized disorder that affects nearly all child custody cases at one time or another, and to one extent or another. It is normally defined as a series of actions, or inactions, which are designed to poison the relationship between the children and one of the parents. In many cases, the mother launches a campaign to discredit the father in the eyes of the children. PAS has been called “maternal brainwashing” by some, and that label is entirely false. More than likely, the high incidence of maternal-child PAS is not a function of the mother’s animus, but a function of the high rate of maternal custody in these situations. Moreover, PAS is not “brainwashing.” Many times, the parent’s behavior may be indirect and perhaps even unintentional, at least on some level. Some Signs Parental Alienation Syndrome is typically like bricks in a wall. Taken individually, they may be largely harmless. However, when put together, they can build a nearly impenetrable wall between a non-custodial parent (NCP) and their children. Some common examples include the following situations:

  • One parent disparages the other parent, either to the children directly or within their hearing.
  • A custodial parent (CP) may “forget” to tell a NCP about a school play or awards presentation until the 11th hour.
  • The CP may offer special privileges, like an extended curfew or a private bedroom, or be more permissive, in areas like personal hygiene and household chores.
  • If the NCP is unable to exercise visitation, the CP may say that the NCP’s “new family” is getting in the way.
  • The CP may treat a child more like a spouse; for example, the child may become more of a confidant.

What to Do About PAS This disorder can be a basis for a custody or visitation change. If you suspect Parental Alienation Syndrome, ask a qualified attorney about the issue. The attorney may suggest referring the matter to a social worker. These professionals may be more likely to recognize telltale signs of PAS. When you confront your ex-spouse, approach the matter delicately, because even a slightly antagonistic or accusatory posture can make the situation worse. Instead, try affirming non-PAS conduct. Say things such as, “Thank you for giving me Susie’s report card,” or “May I give Johnny a ride to baseball practice?” For assistance in this matter, contact an experienced family law attorney in Naperville, Illinois. At Pesce Law Group, P.C., we are committed to protecting your rights as a parent and looking out for the best interests of your family. Call 630-352-2240 to schedule an initial consultation.

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