Divorce affects a million kids every year. There is one in two marriages in the United States that ends in divorce. Ten percent of these divorces involve custody litigation. Some children become emotionally estranged from one or both parents during this process. Without an in depth study of the family’s history and dynamics, the cause of this estrangement cannot be determined.
Parental Alienation Syndrome is a theory which explains a child’s estrangement from one parent or the accusations of abuse at the hands of one parent by blaming the other. This theory was developed by the late Richard A. Gardner, M.D., which characterized the preferred parent, usually the mother, as an evil person who is virtually solely responsible in changing a vulnerable child against their estranged parent, usually the father.
The solution is simple, separate the child from the parent they prefer and place them with the parent they reject or report as having abused them. Despite the fact that many of the assumptions underlying theory have repeatedly been disproven scientifically, it is believed that judges should back up Parental Alienation Syndrome trained therapists’ conclusions with the full force of the law. They should impose fines, permanent loss of custody, and jail terms to parents who does not follow.
There may be some child custody evaluators and mental health professionals , attorneys, and judges have been quick to admit and accept Parental Alienation Syndrome as evidence in these arguments. No consistent clinical or empirical evidence that Parental Alienation Syndrome is a valid syndrome or that the so called behavior of the “alienator” is the actual cause of the child’s behavior towards the target parent. A majority of mental health and legal experts who have studied the issue believe that the theory is erroneous and can dangerous to the involved children.