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What is parental alienation syndrome?

Divorce is difficult for all involved but especially for the children of divorcing parents. During the process of divorce, a child’s life is completely changed. Their home life and schedule may change drastically, leaving them feeling frustrated and out of control. The last thing a child of divorcing parents needs is to have their mother or father’s anger and resentment placed on their shoulders. Unfortunately, it is common for divorcing parents to say hurtful things about each other in the presence of their children. When these comments directly impact the feelings or thoughts a child has for a parent, it is commonly called parental alienation syndrome.

Parental alienation syndrome is not seen by the medical community as an actual disorder. It is, however, suggested by many in the family court system as a possible condition. In cases of parental alienation syndrome, a child may have unexplained or unwarranted anger or hatred for one parent because of what the other parent says about them. The child may feel completely unattached from one parent and rely solely on the other. While there can be many plausible reasons for a child’s emotional state during a divorce, parents may argue that their previously normal relationship with their child has suffered because of negative comments from the other parent.

While the medical and psychological community may not recognize parental alienation syndrome, the outcome of this condition may pose a very real threat to the emotional and mental well-being a child. Some children may develop such anger and hatred for one parent that they falsely accused the parent of abuse. A parent may claim that their child has been programmed to hate them, which can lead to even more resentment and anger. It is understandable to assume that children who are put in the center of their parent’s divorce battle may suffer long term emotional damage.

If you are facing divorce and have concerns about how your custody battle may impact the relationship you have with your child, you may benefit by speaking to a trusted family law attorney.


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Litigation is a journey. This is a journey we have taken with our clients a countless number of times. If you face the uncertainty, risk, fear, anger, or disbelief that comes with the prospect of going through a legal dispute, the law firm of Ciancio Ciancio Brown, P.C. will help you through it.