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How do San Diego Courts Handle Parental Alienation Claims?

Parental alienation is a difficult issue which often arises in child custody cases in San Diego Courts. Whether you were married or not married, the most important issue in many paternity, legal separation and divorce cases concern where your children live. Child custody disputes are stressful to all concerned including your child or children.

An unfortunate issue which sometimes arises in child custody cases is that of parental alienation especially if the relationship between spouses is severely fractured. For this reason in many child custody disputes expert testimony of mental health practitioners is often taken after an evaluation. Under California law, the test for the parenting plan is the best interests of the child. This includes stability, bonding and also there is a code section which considers which parent is more likely to facilitate visitation. In parental alienation cases, the reverse occurs and one parent does their very best to make the child hate and not want to go with the other parent. If this allegation of PAS can be substantiated to the Court, then there is a possibility of not only a modification of the current parenting plan but also a transfer of primary physical custody.

What Is Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation can be the situation where one parent accuses the other of causing the child to reject him/her. It is a deliberate attempt {or sometimes can even be the unconscious effect} to undermine the relationship the child has with the other parent by continuously disparaging the aggrieved parent before the child or in the absence of the other parent. Some examples of parental alienation which are not uncommon in San Diego Courts include the below:

If a father dins it into a child that 'your mother does not love you or us', or If a mother runs the father down before the children and constantly belittles or derides him in order to inculcate in the children feelings of derision for the father.

These are fairly straightforward examples which are commonly seen but many child custody cases witness instances of parental alienation which are rancorous and especially vicious. This often raises the question of Parental Alienation Syndrome or PAS.

What Is Parental Alienation Syndrome?

Some psychiatrists refer to as PAS is when a child accepts these statements and believes them to be true. Acting on this belief the child begins to reject the parent. PAS develops over a period of time when a parent repeatedly presents a negative view of the other parent to the child till a stage is reached where the child totally rejects, and no longer wants to spend time with the maligned parent. This is the goal of the alienating parent.

PAS can include the negative view of the other parent which has grown in the child as a consequence of the sustained campaign by the other parent to undermine their relationship.

PAS is often the reason cited in disputes when children express negative feelings about their father. Both parents can be held to be responsible for PAS and this is not a gender issue.

PAS is viewed skeptically among some psychologists and psychiatrists because it is not generally recognized as an established mental health disorder nor is it an accepted psychiatric diagnosis. Ask any parent who has been a victim of PAS and they may tell otherwise.

How Do Courts Treat Pas Claims?

Regardless of whether or not PAS is a factual syndrome, Courts acknowledge parental alienation. When presented with such a claim the Court tries to determine the reason for alienation and how the situation can be remedied in a fractured relationship so both parents could play a role in the child's upbringing. Reunification and counseling are two methods and also the San Diego Judge may order a high conflict class for both parents as well as individual and joint therapy for both parents.

The Proper Course of Action

In acute alienation claims swift action is called for. Such claims are always complex and almost always necessitate expert testimony. If you are an alienated parent involved in a child custody case you will want to consult with and consider the services of an experienced family law attorney.

Since 1998

The family law firm of Doppelt and Forney, APLC deals in all child custody issues and has represented clients in many cases which revolved around parental alienation. If you are in need of such services call them to schedule a free introductory virtual consultation.

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