Judges and the Development of Parental Alienation Syndrome

Saturday, November 24, 2007

David Heleniak

As I defined it in "False Domestic Violence Accusations Can Lead To Parental Alienation Syndrome," "Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a pattern of thoughts and behavior that can develop in a child of separated parents where the custodial parent causes the child, through manipulation and access blocking, to unjustifiably fear and/or hate the other parent. PAS is more than brainwashing, in that the child comes to actively participate in the degradation of the target parent, coming up with original (often ludicrous) reasons to fear/hate him or her." Dr. Richard A. Gardner (1931-2003), who coined the term "Parental Alienation Syndrome" in 1985, believed that family court judges, rather than impede the development of PAS, often facilitate it. In two important articles written near the end of his life, "Should Courts Order PAS Children to Visit/Reside with the Alienated Parent?: A Follow-up Study" (2001) and "The Judiciary's Role in the Etiology, Symptom Development, and Treatment of the Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)" (2002), Gardner drew on his many years of experience with custody litigation to point out, by my count, five problems with the current system.

According to Gardner, one way judges facilitate the development of PAS is through their undue delay in resolving custody disputes. "I have not once seen a speedy trial in the context of a child-custody dispute. I have seen speedy issuance of restraining orders, often without proper collection of evidence.... But I have never seen a speedy decision made in a child-custody dispute. The usual duration of such cases that have come to my attention has been two to three years between the time of the initiation of the dispute and the time of the court's decision. By that time, the children are significantly older and the decision is made on the basis of data that may no longer be relevant. All this works for the alienator, because the more time the alienator has access to the children, the more deeply entrenched will become the PAS campaign of denigration. By the time the children do come to the attention of the court, they will protest vigorously any kind of a court-imposed program that might lead to reconciliation with the alienated parent."

click here to read more.

This article explains a lot about pas and how is it used in court.

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