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Parent Alienation Syndrome is Real; Legal Solutions Exist in NJ

There are plenty of people who refuse to acknowledge “parental alienation syndrome” or PAS as a real condition that can have harrowing effects on children involved in custody battles. However, whether you believe PAS should be classified as a true psychological disorder, it’s impossible to turn away from the fact that some bickering parents – before, during or after a divorce — can and do take actions to create animosity in the child against the other parent.

We aren’t talking about situations where there is parental abuse or neglect. In these cases, while vilifying a parent to a child may be bad judgment, it doesn’t fall into the category of PAS. Dr. Richard Gardner, a psychologist who coined the term for the condition, says: “The parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the target parent.”

There are many ways to inflict PAS on a child but, experts say, three main messages that the behavior sends:

  1. You need me because the other parent doesn’t love you
  2. The other parent doesn’t want you/isn’t around for you and they are dangerous
  3. If you want a relationship with the other parent, you won’t be able to have one with me

Dr. Gardner believes that PAS is a sort of brainwashing, because the child comes to believe the three messages to be true and actually comes to participate in the alienation of the other parent – refusing to see them, acting out toward them, and becomes very protective of the parent who is creating the alienation.

Be aware that some forms of PAS don’t get to the critical stages. The alienating parent doesn’t have to go all-out in trying to destroy the other parent’s relationship entirely. However, active behavior that casts doubt in the child’s eyes is considered alienation, as well. This includes something that may seem rather passive such as calling the other parent bad names.

If you feel you are a victim of parent alienation syndrome, you do have legal rights in New Jersey. Talk to an experienced family lawyer who will take the time to understand what’s going on and may be able to help. Contact Ron Graziano at Graziano & Flynn today about your family law case.

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