Parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a mental disorder recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as a form of psycho-social pathology. It often becomes noticeable during divorce because it is exacerbated by legal proceedings, but it is not caused by divorce or limited to those involved in a divorce. In divorce cases, it is especially difficult for mental health professionals, as well as lawyers, to assist families in negotiating terms of divorce and custody.
There is a great deal of psychological and emotional turmoil that is at play in cases of parental alienation, and it causes serious harm to both children and parents. Alienating parents manipulate the child, as well as social and legal systems, to push their agenda, though they may not know they are doing so. They make wild accusations against the other parent (the alienated parent, also called the target parent) to avoid going through the psychological hardships of internal conflict, damaged self-esteem, and other feelings that are otherwise normal responses in grieving interpersonal loss, such as a marriage.
Children rely on their parents and other adults in their lives to shape their cognitive understanding of the world. When a parent shares a distorted and negative perception of the target parent with the child, the child then begins to assume the distorted reality as truth. This is the underlying foundation of parental alienation, which is just the beginning of many short-term and long-term effects on all involved. For this reason, it is a very dangerous behavior. Preliminary signs that parental alienation is occurring are observed as instances including or similar to the following behaviors as observed in the parent suspected of alienating:
Some examples of deeper behavioral interactions between a parent and a child that are observable as parental alienation include:
A: Colorado recognizes that alienating parents may manipulate children. Many times, it is seen as a form of child abuse. While it is recognized, it must be proven for the alienating parent to lose custody of the child. If the target parent can prove that the other parent is alienating, that parent is often deemed unfit to care for the child, and custody is awarded to the target parent.
A: Severe parental alienation can lead to blind hatred of the target parent by the child. More severe consequences occur in children who lose the capacity to give and receive love from one of their parents. Some effects of this include low self-esteem, lack of trust, self-hatred, depression, and substance abuse disorder. Behavior and conduct issues can also arise, as well as feelings of anger, guilt, grief, and overall disconnection in general.
A: The five-factor model for diagnosing parental alienation syndrome includes:
A: Because mothers are typically more likely to be the primary parent or have custody of the child, mothers are twice as likely to cause alienation from the other parent. However, as more fathers are being awarded custody, this imbalance may change in the future.
Parental alienation is a problem across the country and in Colorado family courts, as well. It’s not an easy defense to prove, but it is possible with the right resources and family law attorneys. At Johnson Law Group, we have experience proving parental alienation. If you believe you are the target of parental alienation, the sooner you act, the better. Call the qualified legal team at Johnson Law Group to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.