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What Does Parent Alienation Syndrome Mean?


When divorcing parents have children, it is important for them to try and maintain open communication when it comes to their children’s well-being. After all, this is part of prioritizing their children’s best interests. Unfortunately, in some cases, one parent may intentionally try to turn the child against the other parent. This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as Parent Alienation Syndrome (PAS).

There is controversy around the idea of PAS. To determine if discussion of PAS is something that could support your end goals or not, connect with legal counsel. An Orlando divorce lawyer will listen compassionately to your situation and then share next steps with you, including ways to keep communication between divorcing parents productive and avoid arguments.

History of Parental Alienation Syndrome

PAS is a relatively new concept, it was first introduced by psychiatrist Richard Gardner in the 1980s. Gardner described it as a condition in which one parent, typically a custodial parent, manipulates the child into rejecting the other parent. He believed that this behavior on the part of the alienating parent was potentially harmful to the child’s mental health, including the possibility of the child developing feelings of hatred or fear towards the alienated parent.

In the past, PAS was a concept used in custody disputes. However, it is not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and is not recognized as a legitimate disorder by the American Psychiatric Association, so in recent years, the validity of PAS has been called into question.

While PAS is not recognized as a disorder, it may still be used in some Florida child custody and visitation matters. If a parent is found to be intentionally alienating the child from the other parent, it could impact their custody rights.

However, it’s important to note that allegations of parental alienation should be carefully considered and supported by evidence. In some cases, accusations of PAS can be used as a tactic to gain an advantage in a custody dispute.

How an Orlando Attorney Can Help

To prioritize the well-being of the children involved in a divorce, there are ways an attorney can help:

  • Explore communication paths. Attorneys can encourage divorcing parents to collaboratively make decisions about their children.
  • If communication between parents has broken down, an attorney can arrange for mediation to resolve conflicts and find solutions that work for everyone.
  • Focus on the kids. An attorney can help divorcing parents keep the focus on their children’s well-being.
  • Gathering evidence. If one parent is intentionally alienating the child from the other parent, an attorney can help collect evidence to support the allegations.

An experienced Orlando divorce lawyer will work to bring parents through the divorce process in a way that avoids conflicts that can lead to accusations of parental alienation.

Could you use support as you navigate custody discussions? Conflicts between parents can harm their relationships with their children. If you’re going through a divorce and need help navigating the co-parent or child custody process, contact the seasoned family law attorneys at Donna Hung Law. Schedule a consultation today, call 407-999-0099 or contact the office online.