Earlier this month, a Michigan judge sent three young children to a juvenile detention center after they refused to have lunch with their father. The children, who have been caught up in their parent's highly contentious divorce case, were ordered by the judge to develop a healthy relationship with their dad. After failing to do so, the judge found the three children in contempt of court and sent them to a juvenile detention center for the summer. In support of her decision, the judge accused the mother of alienating the children from their father and creating this situation. Although the judge's decision has been heavily scrutinized in the media and amongst family law practitioners – it has had the positive effect of bringing to light the egregious issue of parental alienation.
Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is defined as a childhood disorder that arises almost exclusively in the context of child-custody disputes. It occurs when one parent attempts to brainwash a child in order to interfere with or destroy the child's relationship with the other parent. Parental alienation generally involves behaviors that degrade the alienated parent, reduces contact between the child and the alienated parent, and ultimately causes the child to reject the alienated parent. These behaviors have become a serious problem for children of divorce or unhappy relationships.
Parental Alienation can occur in many different forms, however, techniques often employed by the alienating parent may include:
- Restricting the other parent's access to information about the child
- Refusing telephone contact or visitation with the other parent
- Criticizing the other parent in front of the child
- Destroying pictures of the other parent
- Changing the child's last name to disassociate the child from the other parent
- Encouraging conflict between the child and the other parent
- Using the child to deliver messages to the other parent
- Blaming the other parent for financial or emotional problems.
The use of any of these techniques can have severe effects on children, including emotional distress and adjustment difficulties. A child affected by parental alienation might experience guilt, confusion, fear, powerlessness, anger, anxiety, hopelessness, depression, or diminished self-esteem. It is best to prevent parental alienation from the start, as it can have lasting effects on the child and the alienated parent.
Karp & Weiss has handled many cases involving parental alienation over the years. We understand and utilize the best methods to combat these issues and protect your interests. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you or someone you know is facing parental alienation.
Bill Laitner, Judge jails kids for refusing lunch with dad http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/07/09/judge-jails-kids-refusing-lunch-dad/29940397/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter&dlvrit=206567
Kelly Schwartz, The Kids Are Not All Right: Using the Best Interest Standard to Prevent Parental Alienation and A Therapeutic Intervention Approach to Provide Relief, 56 B.C. L. Rev. 803, 804 (2015);
Douglas Darnell, Ph.D., Symptoms of Parental Alienation, http://www.parentalalienation.org/articles/symptoms-parental-alienation.html
Jayne A. Major, Ph.D., Parents Who Have Successfully Fought Parental Alienation Syndrome, http://www.breakthroughparenting.com/PAS.htm