STOP Parental Alienation Syndrome before It Gets a Chance to START

Parental Alienation Syndrome was probably first identified and codified by Dr. Richard Gardner in his book of the same name. He first laid out his thesis in 1985 in an article, "Recent Trends in Divorce and Custody Litigation." He expanded this into the book "Parental Alienation Syndrome," and since then, PAS has been written about, studdied, debated, denied, and - of course - has had dozens of websites and forums dedicated to it.

A brief overview of PAS will be helpful and will explain more about this condition than quoting from the hundreds of articles written about it. PAS has 4 components, and all 4 must be present (otherwise the situation is called "Parental Alienation"):

(1) --parent acting as gatekeeper to the children

(2) --unfounded allegations of abuse

(3) --deterioration in the relationship between child and parent from once-healthy to fearful

(4) --fear reaction of the child to the alienating parent

In other words, the alienating parent (usually the custodial parent) falsely accuses the non-custodial parent of an act of abuse against the child (2), makes these allegations to the child (2), uses these false allegations to restrict the contact between the parent and the child (1), which deteriorates the relationship between that child and the parent (3). During this process, the custodial parent is instilling fear in the child of opposing the false allegations (4), which - if it is effective enough - can make the child convince himself that the allegations are true.

PAS must be dealt with IMMEDIATELY. Sometimes the custodial parent may not be doing this consciously (custodial parent likes the power from (1), but if challenged, invents an abuse allegation (2) to continue, enjoys seeing the child turn away from non-custodial parent (3), which is reinforced by the custodial parent (4)), which is all the more reason that it must be challenged before it gets a foothold in the mind of the child.

Most states have petitions (a form of injunctive relief) to force visitation to occur IF the non-custodial parent is current in supoort AND there is no justifiable basis for the unilateral suppression of visitation. This is an extremely powerful weapon for the non-custodial parent, and the relief is immediate. The problem is that, for some reason, they are not as familiar with attorneys or judges. Youu may have to press your lawyer to file this.

Most states also have petitions to hold the custodial parent in contempt of court for violating court-ordered visitation schedules. These petitions are more familiar, but they seek to enforce visitation by making its denial painful to the custodial parent.

These petitions may not work the first time, but repeatedly bringing them may convince the judge to address the problem before the children actually hate the non-custodial parent, without any basis other than spite and meanness of the custodial parent.

Erik Carter is an experienced family law litigator. He has created a website to help non-custodial fathers at He has also written two books: "Aggressive Pleadings For The Non-Custodial Father" and "Six Temptations Of Jesus Christ" ations

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