Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer

Parental Alienation Syndrome in Family Law Cases

A recent news article highlights parental alienation syndrome (PAS) and its increased frequency in divorce cases in the UK, as well as in the U.S. and Canada. PAS has become a regular characteristic of the most acrimonious of divorce cases, and, as a result, the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) now will be offering special services to families in this situation through a government-funded therapeutic pilot program.

Defining Parental Alienation Syndrome

Psychiatrist Richard Gardner developed the concept of PAS about 20 years, and described it as phenomenon primarily occurring in custody cases, in which a child unjustifiably denigrates one parent, typically as a result of brainwashing by the other parent. Some research has shown that PAS occurs in about 11 – 15% of divorce cases, and there is some evidence that this figure is increasing. Some of the key characteristics of PAS include the following actions taken by one parent:

  • Constantly badmouthing and belittling the other parent
  • Taking extreme measures to prevent any contact between the child and the other parent
  • Prohibiting the child from mentioning the other parent or keeping any pictures or items that came from that parent
  • Cutting off all forms of communication between the child and the other parent
  • Creating the false impression that the other parent is dangerous or does not love the child
  • Asking the child to spy on the other parent and report back to him or her
  • Encouraging the child to outright reject the other parent in every way possible

Ways to Fight Back Against PAS

Being involved in a contested custody case with your spouse takes a toll on everyone involved, especially your child. Recognizing and combatting PAS is not an easy proposition. If you are in this situation, you need to have an attorney who is aware of PAS as a possibility in your case and can take the steps to appropriately handle the situation. For instance, psychological testing and examinations for all parties involved is essential in properly identifying PAS. If your case does involve PAS, directed therapy will be necessary in order to repair the relationship between the child and the alienated parent.

Call Your Fort Lauderdale Family Law Attorney Today for Legal Assistance

If you are facing a divorce and have children with your spouse, you are likely to be most concerned about issues related to your child, rather financial concerns. While both aspects of a divorce are certainly important, timesharing arrangements with your child usually will be paramount in your mind. When a contested custody case gets to the point that parental alienation syndrome is a possible factor, it is essential that you get legal help in order to combat this very difficult situation. You should immediately consult with an experienced Florida divorce attorney who can guide you through all aspects of your divorce case, including matters related to child custody, both during your divorce and beyond. Contact Vanessa L. Prieto Law Offices, LLC, today and see how we can help.