Parental Alienation

Parental alienation is a phenomenon in which a child refuses to maintain a relationship with one of his or her parents. It needs to be distinguished from parental alienation syndrome (PAS), a term that was coined by psychologist Richard A. Gardner in 1985. PAS is defined as one parent’s attempts to deliberately turn a child against the other parent, while parental alienation can have different causes.

While PAS is not recognized as a formal diagnosis and has been widely debated in the psychiatric community, parental alienation is a recognized dynamic in some families. If you are concerned about maintaining your rights as a parent during your divorce hearings, the San Diego child custody lawyers at Fischer & Van Thiel, LLP can help. Call us at 760-722-7646.

Parental Manipulation or Justified Fear?

A child who is experiencing parental alienation will generally fight to avoid spending time with the alienated parent. The child may also insult or criticize that parent, either to others or in the parent’s presence. If the child is old enough to speak at the custody hearing, he or she may request that the preferred parent receive custody.

The main controversy lies in the different potential reasons behind this alienation. It may be deliberately or accidentally provoked by one parent. For example, some parents will insult their ex-spouses, leading their children to share their negative opinions. In extreme cases, parents may try to convince their children that the other parent abused them as a tactic to win custody.

However, some children have good reasons to feel anger or fear towards their parents. A child who is genuinely being abused may understandably do whatever he or she can to avoid his or her abuser. The challenge for family law judges is to distinguish between children who are being manipulated by one parent, and children who are trying to escape real abuse.

Whether you have been accused of alienating your child from his or her other parent, or you are trying to protect your child from abuse, our experienced San Diego child custody attorneys will fight for you.

Contact Us

Child custody hearings can be extremely complex, both legally and personally. For the knowledgeable, effective legal assistance you need, contact the San Diego divorce lawyers of Fischer & Van Thiel, LLP at 760-722-7646.

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