Parental Alienation Is Real but Can Be Hard to Prove
Introduced by Richard Gardner in the 1980s, Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is the name for a condition where a child turns against one of their parents. This is often associated with a divorce and involves much more than standard backtalk or impudent behavior. Rather, a child who is said to be afflicted with PAS engages in a steady campaign of denigration against their father or mother.
Serious conflict exists as to whether PAS is an actual condition. Some claim that parties to a divorce and their lawyers cite the syndrome in an attempt to gain an advantage during child custody proceedings or to push back against an allegation of abuse. Whether a person agrees or not with Gardner’s conclusions or modern voices who rely on them, there is no question that in certain divorces, a parent will badmouth their ex to the child they share. While some grumbling is a part of every breakup, psychologist Amy J.L. Baker has identified specific behaviors that indicate parental alienation has reached an unhealthy level, including:
- Denigration of the victim parent
- Lack of a coherent explanation why they are rejecting the victim parent
- Failure to show remorse for their behavior toward the victim parent
- Always taking the alienating parent’s side in disputes
- Disavowing any suggestion that they have been influenced by the alienating parent
- Adopting a completely polarized mindset where the alienating parent is always good and the victim parent is always bad
- Referring to the victim parent with the same negative language as the alienating parent
- Displaying hostile behavior toward the victim parent’s family and friends
Even when these behaviors are present, parties to a divorce who believe they have been victims of parental alienation often find it difficult to prove their claim in court. While some judges might dismiss the concept of PAS altogether, even those who are open to such a claim could deny it because of a lack of sufficient evidence. A mother or father who is coercing their child into rejecting their other parent rarely does so with anyone else around. Victimized parents could find themselves caught in a vicious circle where the only real witness to support their case is the child who has been goaded into hating them.
If you believe that your ex has engaged in improper acts designed to get your son or daughter to reject you, it is essential to retain an attorney with a track record of success litigating parental alienation claims.
Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C. has extensive experience handling these cases, including a landmark victory in a divorce action before a New York Supreme Court judge involving a parental alienation allegation. To speak with an attorney from the Long Island divorce leader regarding parental alienation or any other facet of your New York divorce, please call 1.631.479.3839 or contact us online.