Mothers Of Lost Children – Indiana

Support for Noncustodial Indiana Moms

Parental Alienation Syndrome and Alienated Children – Getting it Wrong in Child Custody Cases

with 2 comments

This is an article that should be made manditory reading for all court officials.  Here is an excerpt:

As courts and legislatures continue their enthusiastic ventures into family law reform, they make frequent use of theories and research from the social sciences. This essay focuses on developments in child custody law stemming from Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), a theory propounded in 1985 that became widely used (sometimes in a form called Parental Alienation) despite its lack of scientific foundations. The discussion highlights theoretical and practical problems with PAS, provides a similar discussion of more recent proposals concerning Alienated Children (AC), and concludes with recommendations for lawyers and judges who must evaluate these and similar developments.

To download “Parental Alienation Syndrome and Alienated Children – getting it wrong in child custody cases” by Carol Bruch, please click here.


2 Responses

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  1. I am a mother who was “alienated”, so I would like to discuss me experiences with anyone who thinks that PAS is a false syndrom that is only used to protect real abusive men and to discredit legitimate concerns by legitimate women. I was falsely accused of abusing my son and I have not had any contact with him for six years. I believe that the father in fact abused him, and that my son aligned himself with his father in a sort of “stockholm syndrom” mentality. My son violently turned on me, and all of the “symptoms” that are described in PAS literature fit my situation. I did not do even 1% of what I was accused of, and I took a polygraph test and passed it regarding everything. There are professionals who would have testified that they had concerns about the father’s behavior, but, true to “PAS” Form, the father “poisened the well” and none of the people who would have testified against him were ever even contacted. He conned the police, and they never spoke with me! It sounds crazy, but, well, it was a crazy situation. No one believes me. No one will speak with me. I have been completely cut off. My child was brainwashed, and the real abuser (the father) got complete control of the situation. I am a real person, this is a real story. I can be reached at 805-217-8842.

    Elizabeth Kerr

    November 8, 2009 at 3:43 am

  2. Dear Elizabeth, first let me tell you how sorry I am you are going through this. It is horrific to be falsely accused of abuse, and also for so-called “parental alienation syndrome.” What you are experiencing is domestic violence by proxy: your son is being lied to. There is no “list of symptoms.” The American Psychological Association says this about PAS:

    Statement on Parental Alienation Syndrome

    The American Psychological Association has no official position on “parental alienation syndrome.” This concept has been used in contested child custody cases and has become the subject of significant debate. While it may be that in some divorces, children become estranged from their non-custodial parent for a variety of reasons, there is no evidence within the psychological literature of a diagnosable parental alienation syndrome.

    The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges also warned against accepting this in court:

    2009: A Judicial Guide to Child Safety in Custody Cases
    National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Family Violence Department

    Page 12:

    C. [§3.3] A Word of Caution about Parental Alienation34

    Under relevant evidentiary standards, the court should not accept testimony regarding parental alienation syndrome, or “PAS.” The theory positing the existence of PAS has been discredited by the scientific community.35 In Kumho Tire v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137 (1999), the Supreme Court ruled that even expert testimony based in the “soft sciences” must meet the standard set in the Daubert case.36 Daubert, in which the court re-examined the standard it had earlier articulated in the Frye37 case, requires application of a multi-factor test, including peer review, publication, testability, rate of error, and general acceptance. PAS does not pass this test. Any testimony that a party to a custody case suffers from the syndrome or “parental alienation” should therefore be ruled inadmissible and stricken from the evaluation report under both the standard established in Daubert and the earlier Frye standard.38

    The discredited “diagnosis” of PAS (or an allegation of “parental alienation”), quite apart from its scientific invalidity, inappropriately asks the court to assume that the child’s behaviors and attitudes toward the parent who claims to be “alienated” have no grounding in reality. It also diverts attention away from the behaviors of the abusive parent, who may have directly influenced the child’s responses by acting in violent, disrespectful, intimidating, humiliating, or discrediting ways toward the child or the other parent. The task for the court is to distinguish between situations in which the child is critical of one parent because they have been inappropriately manipulated by the other (taking care not to rely solely on subtle indications) , and situations in which the child has his or her own legitimate grounds for criticism or fear of a parent, which will likely be the case when that parent has perpetrated domestic violence. Those grounds do not become less legitimate because the abused parent shares them, and seeks to advocate for the child by voicing his or her concerns.

    To the many women who lose their children because of these claims, it is horrific being accused of so-called PAS, when it is actually their abuser that is using the child as a tool in his toolbox of abuse tactics. I sincerely hope there is a way of connecting with your son again…


    November 27, 2009 at 8:36 pm

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