How can parental alienation syndrome affect my child visitation?

Arizona courts have long recognized the importance of both parents to a child's healthy development. In fact, courts sometimes go to great lengths to ensure that both parents have sufficient access to their children after divorce. Unless there are instances of violence, abuse or neglect, Arizona family courts are likely to allow both parents to be involved in their children's care and upbringing.

Unfortunately, divorces do not always end amicably. Some divorced parents who were victims of an unfaithful spouse or other marital misconduct may hold long-lasting resentment and animosity towards their children's other parent. In fact, some parents actively poison the relationships between the children and their ex-spouses. This condition has come to be known as parental alienation syndrome.

The theory of PAS was first developed over 20 years ago by a psychologist who recognized certain parental behavior adversely affected the way some children of divorce felt about one of their parents. One of the hallmarks of PAS is that children who are affected often exhibit a persistent rejection of the other parent or chooses to support one parent against the other.

Typically, PAS begins when one parent implements a set of strategies designed towards denigrating or vilifying the other parent. For example, concealing phone calls from the other parent to the children or actively excluding the other parent from school events and other scheduled activities. Another common tactic is for a parent to portray the child's other parent as dangerous or incapable of proper parenting.

Whether you are participating in PAS or the unfortunate recipient of this type of activity, there are several things you should know. Psychologists have conducted sufficient research and study into PAS to show that the continued alienation of one parent by another can be harmful to a child's development. You should also know that Arizona laws allow you to avail yourself of the family court system in order to protect your child's best interests.

Source: Psychology Today, "The Impact of Parental Alienation on Children" Edward Kruk, accessed Mar. 03, 2015

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