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What is Parental Alienation Syndrome?

Parental alienation syndrome (PAS) occurs when one parent attempts (consciously or unconsciously) to brainwash a child to interfere with or destroy the child’s relationship with the other parent. In severe cases, the child will be very reluctant or even attempt to refuse to see or talk to the alienated parent.

Warning Signs of Parental Alienation

Douglas Darnall, Ph.D. created a list of the following warning symptoms to help identify whether someone’s conduct is alienating, which includes:

  • Letting the child choose whether to visit with the other parent (when the child really has no choice about visitation because it’s set by a court order)
  • Telling the child details about the marital relationship or reasons for the divorce
  • Denying the other parent access to school or medical records and schedules of activities
  • Blaming the other parent for money problems, splitting up the family, or having a girlfriend or boyfriend
  • Refusing to be flexible with the visitation schedule or over-scheduling the child with activities so the other parent isn’t given time to visit
  • Asking the child to choose one parent over the other
  • Encouraging the child’s anger toward the other parent
  • Suggesting changing the child’s name or having a step-parent adopt the child
  • The child is unable to give reasons (or only vague ones) for anger toward a parent
  • Using a child to spy or secretly gather information for the parent’s own use
  • Arranging “temptations” that interfere with the other parent’s visitation
  • Reacting with hurt or sadness when the child has a good time with the other parent
  • Physically or psychologically “rescuing” the child when there’s no threat to their safety

If you suspect that parental alienation is taking place with your child, contact one of our family law attorneys at 800-797-LAW1 (5291). There are steps that can be taken to protect your child and your interests.

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