During the crisis of divorce, most parents do their utmost to protect their children. Parents reassure their child they are loved and the divorce is not the child’s fault. Most parents seek a healthy relationship between both parents and the child.
By doing so, both parents are truly engaging in the best interest of the child. When one parent makes a decision about the child’s well-being and the other parent is not present, that parent who is not present should support the other parent’s decision. When one parent is not present, the other parent should talk kindly about the absent parent in front of the child, and keep their divided loyalties and negative feelings about the absent parent being absent from the child. When both parents are seeking the best interest of the child, both parents try to strengthen their relationship with their child. This is the goal of the attorneys, Family Courts, and parents (in theory) as well.
“However, any number of events can destroy the fragile balance of peace between parents. If this happens, an injured parent may seek comfort by aligning with the child, especially since [h]e or she may feel threatened by the children’s love of the other parent” (Darnell, D., North Dakota Law Review, 1999)
Divided loyalties occur when competition between the parents concerning the child’s well being is involved. The reasons for the competition could be almost anything from minor to severe. As an example, one parent may feel they are loosing “total care custody and control over their child. When in fact the parent is very controlling and over attached to their child and will not share parenting with the absent parent. The competition is based on the parents psyche and their own reality of the existing family dynamic between the parents and the children. Custody litigation or struggles for parenting time [and favor] creates unavoidable competition between the parents.” (Darnell, D., 1999) “Afraid of losing custody, a parent may feel an urgency to align with the children to help ensure victory. The other parent may retaliate with an insurgence of passion for winning their cause.” (Darnell, D., North Dakota Law Review, 1999)
Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) Introduction
Parental Alienation Syndrome also known as (PAS) is a disorder that arises primarily in child custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the visible [parents] (Darnall, D., 1999) …campaign of denigration against the other parent, a campaign that has no justification.
It results from the combination of programming (brainwashing), parent’s indoctrination’s and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the targeted parent. (Gardner, R., 2001) PAS concepts and dynamics include a complex network of involvement and motives on the part of all members acting in this PAS family dynamic.
Each family member that engages in PAS usually develops his or her own role in PAS relationships prior to the dissolution or separation of the family. Early identification of a child suffering from PAS can diminish a child’s psychological damage. Early identification will allow a child to recover their true relationship with the targeted parent. There is a point of no return for the child psychologically. Enough psychological damage can be done to the child, wherein the child may never recover from the indoctrination of falsehoods and vilification of the targeted parent. Early Identification and treatment diminishes the harm caused psychologically to their child and the targeted parent. PAS primarily manifests itself in divorce and family separation cases.
There has been frequent professional and academic writing on PAS. Currently, “The Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders” does not recognize Parental Alienation Syndrome; therefore, some of the professional and academic writings on PAS may or may not be professionally and academically accepted. There is some disagreement between expert authors in this area of behavioral science, as to the definition of PAS. However its presence is still unmistakable. There are two levels of case law that “expert” witnesses are required to meet, before they may be examined and considered as “expert witnesses”. “First they must meet, Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 113 S. CT. 2789 (1993), wherein an expert has to have a sound understanding of their expertise. Secondly, Fry v. United States, 293 F. 1013 (D.C. Cir.1923), The expert not only has to have a sound understanding of their expertise; the expert also needs to be well published in their area of expertise, and be well accepted in their professional and academic community”. (Hillaker, F., THESIS, 1999) “In a longitudinal study of 700 “high conflict” divorce cases followed over 12 years, it was concluded that elements of PAS are present in the vast majority of samples” (Bone, J., Walsh, M., Florida Bar Journal, Family Law Column, March, 1999) and (S.S. Clawar and B.V. Rivilin, Children Held Hostage: Dealing with Programmed Brainwashed Children, A.B.. (1991).
PAS Introduction to Behavioral Investigative Methods
PAS investigations can be divided into two main areas: Adversarial and Non-adversarial. Non-adversarial investigations are those investigations that Friend of the Court conducts pursuant to statutory law. Friend of the Court interviews whether both parents have retained attorneys or not.
In adversarial child custody investigations, the investigator is hampered with one dilemma: Both parents (legal parties) are being represented by attorneys; therefore, it would be unethical and illegal to interview both parents. The only parent the investigator can interview is their client.
Children who are affected by PAS may often exhibit behaviors such as … refused visits, expresses unjustified hatred towards of the targeted parent, displays no fear of the court, harbors irrational beliefs shared by the alienating parent, and cannot see any good in the targeted parent. (Darnell, D., North Dakota Law Review, 1999) Dependent on the motives of the child, the alienation is worse, if the child is older. The child may internalize and mimic or copy the alienating parent’s behavioral patterns. With the child mimicking the alienating parent, those behaviors reinforce the alienating parents PAS behaviors. There are actually two personas now engaging in PAS; the parent who facilitated PAS and the child who is interacting with the PAS initiator parent.
Identification of PAS in Child Custody Cases
The eight primary symptomatic manifestations and three stages of Parental Alienation Syndrome:
There are 8 primary symptoms of PAS:
- Campaign of Denigration
- Weak Frivolous, or Absurd Rationalization for the Depreciation
- Lack of Ambivalence
- The Independent – Thinker Phenomenon
- Reflexive Support of the Alienating Parent in the Parental Conflict
- Absence of Guilt
- Borrowed Scenarios Spread the Animosity to the Extended Family of the Alienating Parent. Other Symptoms may include, Transitional Difficulties at the Time of Visitation, Behavior During Visitation, Bonding with the Alienator, Bonding with the Alienated Parent.
The level of PAS is based on the child’s behavior and not on the degree of indoctrination. The indoctrination can be divided into three levels; mild, moderate, and severe. (Gardner, R., 2001, American Journal of Forensic Psychology) The child’s behaviors are learned from their observations of the alienating parent.
Predictors and Evaluators
Parental alienation syndrome varies in severity. There are three levels suggested:
Caution: Generally, No One PAS Identifier Means There Is PAS Within A Family Unit. You Need Several PAS Identifiers To Indicate PAS
“The best predictor of successful alienation is related to the successful [child's] alienat[tion] from the other parent” (Bone, J., Walsh, M. Florida Bar Journal, March 1999, *44 Parental Alienation Syndrome: How To Detect it and What to Do about It, page 5) If child custody is highly contested, any number of these PAS behavioral elements may be exhibited; however, no one PAS behavioral element indicates PAS. You need to identify several PAS elements to identify that PAS is active within a family dynamic.
First , naive alienators are parents who are passive about the children’s relationship with the other parent, but who occasionally do or say something to alienate or reinforce alienation. Most well meaning parents will occasionally be naive alienators.
Second, active alienators are those who know better than to alienate. Their difficulty is that the hurt and anger they feel continues to fester. They are very vulnerable to triggers, usually pushed by the ex-spouse, causing the parent to lose control over his or her behavior or what he/she says to the children. After they have calmed down and see reason, they may feel very guilty about how they behaved.
Third, obsessed alienators have a fervent cause to destroy the targeted parent and any vestige of relationship the children may have had with the targeted parent. Rarely does the obsessed alienator have enough self-control or insight to recognize how his or her behavior is hurting the children. In fact, he or she feels justified: His or her crusade is to protect the child from evil of the court and the targeted parent. A qualified evaluator may observe the obsessed alienator’s beliefs are irrational and even decisional. The obsessed alienator is always looking for support and affirmation that his or her cause is justified from so-called experts. These are usually the parents who bring an entourage of supporters, including the child, to court without being asked to do so by the court or attorney.
(Darnell, D., North Dakota Law Review, volume 75, (1999 1-3)
Child custody cases that may exhibit PAS are usually heavily litigated. Accusations, counter accusations, allegations of physical and or sexual abuse have seriously eroded the family dynamic, causing the family court to search endlessly for an answer.
By looking beyond the accusations, allegations and hysteria, by examining the family dynamics in depth a behavioral investigator will be able to identify consistent deviant behavior over time. Those family dynamics are those interactions, you may begin to identify PAS indications. It is important to conduct a systematic thorough inquiry, starting at the beginning, before the family separated. By comparing that interaction to the review of the PAS literature you may be able to identify PAS.
In child custody cases where a disposition is agreed upon by parents, attorneys and or ordered by the family court, placement is usually decided by the adults and not the children.
This is generally because of the developmental stages of the minor children. When the family court order includes visitation of the child, for a non custodial [alienated] parent, the child who has been exposed to PAS, and is brain washed, the visiting child in the non-custodial home may experience an extreme disturbance, while in the non-custodial home.
Behavioral Issues And Testing for PAS Investigationaly
Criteria Necessary To Detect PAS
Criteria 1: Access and Contact Blocking.
- Blocking access or contact between the child and the visiting, absent, or non custodial parent.
- One reason the visits are being blocked or refused, is because of a protection issue. The alienating parent may give various reasons why they are protecting the child from the other parent.
- One parent may argue the parental judgment is inferior, and the child is worse off, by the other parent visiting.
- Physical and or sexual abuse may be suggested by the alienating parent.
- The alienating parent may be working the legal system to revoke the alienated parent’s parental rights.
- The alienating parent may refuse visits because the child needs time to adjust from the last visit.
- The alienating parent may feel superior to the alienated parent.
- Mental illness may cause the alienating parent to be paranoid of the other parent.
- The alienating parent may claim this visitation is an inconvenience.
- The alienating parent seems to be targeting the alienated parent for no apparent reason.
- The parents may be in contention over dissolution of the child custody case.(Bone, J., Walsh, M., *44 Parental Alienation Syndrome: How To Detect It and What To Do About It, Florida Bar Journal, March, 1999)
Behavioral Identifiers: A separated family or divorced family unit is still a family, based on past family relationships; therefore, if the family is divided the family dynamic is changed, but still remains intact for life. The alienating parent is acting as the gate keeper to the alienated parent for their child’s contact or visits. If the child has been exposed to PAS, and a substantial period of time goes by and the alienated parent has not visited their child.
There is a strong likely hood the child will be negatively affected by the alienating parents introduction and engagement of PAS. The younger the child the more severe the psychological damage can be to the child, if PAS is not identified and treated early. If the parental dynamic is not engaging in a co-positive parental relationship, PAS may be working within the family dynamic.
Criteria II: Unfounded Abuse Allegations
- The alienating parent may make false allegations of physical or sexual abuse. (see false allegations of physical and sexual abuse)
- There are small children involved in the family dynamic, who are vulnerable to psychological manipulations by the alienating parent.
- When a Child Protective Services or Police report of physical, neglect and or sexual abuse is unfounded.
- Sexual abuse may be more prevalent, because physical abuse leave more signs than sexual abuse, per sae.
- The alienating parent accuses the alienated parent of emotional abuse.
- There may be motives for false allegations based on other behavioral indicators such as one parent introducing the children to a new significant other.
- A parent normally accusing another parent of physical, sexual abuse, would be cautious for the allegation. The alienating parent on the other hand will vigorously pursue the allegation.
- If parents are engaging affirmative support for one another probably are not engaging in PAS.
- If the parents are giving each other the benefit of the doubt, PAS is probably not present.
- Lack of remorse or concern by the alienating parent to the absent parent about the allegation.
(Bone, J., Walsh, M., *44 Parental Alienation Syndrome How To Detect it and What To Do About It, Florida Bar Journal, March, 1999)
Criteria III: Deterioration in Relationship Since Separation
- Was there a positive relationship between the minor children and the absent parent?
- Since the separation has the relationship with the absent parent deteriorated?
- If, so what caused the relationship of the absent parent to deteriorate?
- Is the absent parent attempting to maintain a positive relationship with their child?
- Does the alienating parent want the absent parent involved in their children’s lives?
- Children do not naturally lose interest in the absent parent. If the child is alienated from the parent, what is causing the child’s lost interest?
- If the relationship between the child and the absent parent was strong and healthy and it is now eroded, something is causing it.
- Identify the parents and children’s relationships pre and post dissolution of the family.
- Thoroughly examine the family dynamics pre separation
(Bone, J., Walsh, M, *44 Parental Alienation Syndrome: How To Detect It And What To Do About It, Florida Bar Journal, Mach, 1999)
In phase III of the family dynamic, if PAS is not thoroughly investigated prior to the separation of the family, the consequences can be psychologically devastating to all of the family members.
Criteria IV: Intense Fear Reaction by Children
This criteria is more psychological than the other three criteria.
- Is the child experiencing fear when going to visit an absent parent? If so, why?
- Is the child afraid of displeasing the alienating parent by going to visit the absent parent?
- Is the child obedient to the alienating parent and not the absent parent?
- Is the alienating parent placing the child in a position of having to act as their agent, and having the child inform on the absent parent.
- Does the child seem to choose one parent over the other?
- If the child expresses fear when visiting or talking about the absent parent?
- Does child express fear they will be abandoned?
- Does the child indicate they are in a constant state of being upset, or being threatened? If so, by whom?
- Is the child exhibiting acting out behaviors by defying the absent parent?
- When the child is given a choice of visitation, the child will choose the alienating parent, because of loyalty.
- Does the child feel abandoned, if so why? The why has to be thoroughly explained, because the child may feel this, but does not know why.
- Does the child opt out of making a choice of who they might visit?
- Is the child manipulative?
- Is the child attached psychologically to the parents? If so who?
- Does the child seem to be expert in reading other people behavioral indicators? (please keep in mind the child’s maturity development)
- Does the child lie, or tell partial truths, and act out their lies?
- Does the child seem to be in survival mode psychologically?
- Does the child seem to mimic the alienating parents actions and/or feelings?
- Does the child vilify one of their parent(s) if that parent is absent, if so which one, and why?
- Does the child join with a parent and verbally attack the other the absent parent?
(Bone, J., Walsh, M., *44 Parental Alienation Syndrome: How To Detect It and What To Do About It, Florida Bar Journal, March, 1999)
Parental Signs of PAS
- Supporting the child’s refusal to visit the other parent.
- Allowing the child(ren) to choose who they want to visit.
- Telling the children about why the marriage failed.
- Refusing the other parent access to medical and school records or schedules of activities.
- Blaming an ex-spouse for not having enough money, or other inadequacies in the child’s and alienated parents life.
- Refusing to acknowledge the child has personal property and denying the child control over taking their own personal property to the other parents residence.
- Ridged enforcement of the visitation schedule for no good reason other than getting back at the other parent.
- Assuming the ex-spouse is dangerous because they had made threats during an argument
- False allegations of sexual abuse, drug and alcohol, or other illegal activities.
- Asking the child to choose one parent over the other.
- Suggesting adoption or name changes, should a parent re marry.
- Giving children reasons for feeling angry toward the other parent, even when they have no memory of an incident that would provoke the feeling.
- Special signals, secrets, words with unique meanings.
- An intention to use the child as a witness again the other parent.
- Asking the child to spy on the other parent.
- Setting up temptations to interfere with visitation.
- Asking the children about the ex-spouses’ personal life.
(Darnell, D., Parental Alienation: Not In The Best Interest Of The Children, North Dakota Law Review, Volume 75, 1999)
Children’s Signs of PAS
- Hatred towards the target parent.
- Parroting the alienating parents comments about the absent parent.
- Refusing to visit or spend time with the absent parent.
- Having similar beliefs as the alienating parent about the absent parent.
- Having decisional or irrational beliefs about the absent parent.
- Not being intimidated by the courts authority.
- Reasons for not wanting to have a relationship with targeted parent, based on what the alienating parent tells them.
- Difficulty with the targeted parents visits by the child.
- Hatred exhibited from the child to the targeted parent, and the child can not give a good reason for the hatred.
- The child does not feel guilt about their behavior towards the targeted parent.
- Sharing the alienating parents cause to destroy the targeted past relationship with the child.
- Hatred towards the extended family of the targeted parent.
Darnell, D., North Dakota Law Review, Volume 75, 1999, Parental Alienation Not In The Best of The Children)
Sexual [Abuse] Allegations In Divorce, “SAID”
A secondary Syndrome In divorce, that has emerged in the last twenty years, is Sexual Allegations In Divorce or SAID. SAID, is false allegations of sexual abuse against a parent for sexual abuse of a child ” … [SAID] is often used by women to engage in consistent deviant behaviors over time. PAS is used more often than allegation of physical use, inasmuch as there is often no physical violence. (www.falseallegations.com/parental.htm) In many states, “physical evidence is not required for proof of child rape”. A parent who is working exhibiting a combination of PAS and SAID behaviors, may expand parental alienation syndrome to include false sexual allegations. False sexual allegations are often made by the alienating parent, through vilification of the alienated parent. False allegations of sexual abuse by the alienating parent make it easier to maintain, a complaint against the alienated parent. The alienating parent engages police or a governmental agency to carry out the SAID and PAS vilification damage to the other parent. It is actually easier and less time consuming to make false allegations complaint of sex abuse, involving a minor. Government, with their police, child protective services workers, foster care workers, and victim’s rights workers have more resources than does a alienated parent. Making it difficult for an alienated parent to legally fight against these mounting accusations and government. It seems that the alienated parented is a butterfly fighting against a gorilla.
Motivations of parents who engage in SAID can be fear of losing their parental identify, loss of family structure, envy, revenge (www.false allegations.com/parental.htm), mental illness. Austin also claims that the false allegations coupled with leading questions or suggestive counseling result in children; Developing false memories; Being Fatherless; Becoming depressed; Becoming suicidal; Losing self-esteem. (www.falseallegations.com/parental.htm) The literature suggests, that females engage in SAID more than males, [or mothers, rather than fathers].
This may be because in a sex crime an accuser needs no motive. The mere allegation of sexual abuse and having a penis may be the only thing that gets you convicted of criminal sexual conduct (CSC). Children who have been subconsciously engaged in SAID and PAS may engage in acting out behaviors in adolescents and early (adult hood) and have psychological problems for a life time.
Allen Cowling, Clinical Behavioral Investigator, of Cowling Investigations Inc., who specializes in SAID Investigations states:
When a sexual allegation of any kind is made, a very necessary beginning strategy for professionals is to regard their role as clinician investigators, not clinician – therapists. If they perceive that their first and foremost task in intervention[,] is to therapeutically deal with the impact of the experience upon the child, they are then focusing their behavior on treatment processes are not constant with investigative behavioral habits that demand objectivity skepticism, and open-mindedness in gathering data from all sources involved in the situation. (www.allencowling.com/false17.htm)
An important beginning strategy in the SAID phenomenon is the question of behavioral sequence in the family dynamic. Of necessity, this consists of an immediate and complete conversation with the custodial parent or presenting adult. A structured interview with this person should initially and specifically focus on the following:
- Dysfunctional family elements[,] such as a family in the verge or martial break up.
- Divorce activity that has already been started.
- Divorce activity that has been unsuccessfully in progress for some time.
- Unresolved visitation or custody problems.
- Unresolved money issues as it relates the divorce.
- The involvement by the parent(s) in ongoing relationships with others.
Any evidences of the aforementioned ‘red flags’ dynamics are the professionals’ first clues to the potential of a SAID case. While phenomena such as this is identified behaviorally as SAID. Ignoring the prima facia evidence that a child custody case maybe a SAID case. The professional who disregards the red flags is potentially in error in his/her conclusions in other portions of their child custody investigation.
Normally, there is a most typical pattern that exists in the SAID Syndrome. This included one or more of the following dynamics.
- The allegation almost always surfaces only after separation and legal action between the parents has begun.
- There is a history of family disjunction with resultant unresolved divorce conflict. This usually involves “hidden” Underlying issues both spoken and unspoken.
- The personality pattern of the female parent often tends to be that of a hysterical personality.
- The personality pattern of the male parent tends to be that of the passive-dependent personality.
The child is typically female under the age of eight who controls the situation. Additionally this child may show behavioral patterns or verbal exaggerations, excessive willingness to indict, inappropriate affective responses, and inconsistencies in relating the incident(s).
- The allegation ids first communicated via the custodial parent, usually the mother.
- The mother usually takes the child to an “expert” for further examination, assessment or treatment.
- The expert then often communicates to a court or other appropriate authorities a concern and/or “conformation” of apparent sexual abuse, usually identifying the father as the alleged perpetrator.
- This typically causes the court to react to the “experts” information by acting in a predictably responsible manner, e.g., suspending or terminating visitation, foreclosing on custodial arguments, or in some other way limiting the child-parent interaction.
The Use Of Behavioral Witness Lists In PAS.
Within the child custody investigation, many witness may be identified who have knowledge of PAS behavioral elements. A behavioral witness list should be written in a systematic manner. The behavioral witness list should include the correct spelling of the witnesses full legal name, including middle initial or name. Aliases [aka's] should also be included if known. A date of birth, current address, telephone umber, cell phone number, email and any other means to remain in contact with the witness should also be included. Remember, don’t get lazy about up dating the witness list with newly obtained behavioral information. The identifying information you omit or miss today, may come back to haunt you, when the attorney wants you to re-interview or subpoena a witness, and you are unable to locate that witness. A short narrative should be included at the end of the identifying information to explain behaviorally how each witness is involved in the case and what relevant behavioral issues the witnesses are relating to the case. After the witness list is completed, review all witnesses and theoretically analyze which witnesses may be most willing to cooperate and agree to be interviewed. The witnesses generally fall into two categories, cooperative and non-cooperative. Witnesses can be divided into many behavioral identification elements. An example of a few behavioral identification elements are as follows.
If a family member of a PAS alienator has been cooperative or friendly with the alienator, more than likely, that witness may be hostile to your investigation and interview. That witnesses name should be identified as a “HOSTILE WITNESS”, in your witness list.
A witness such as a school teacher of a PAS child probably will be willing to be interviewed, and that witness should be identified with “INTERVIEW” next to their name. Most witnesses need to be contacted in a “cold call format”. The witnesses should not know you are coming unless they are professionals, such as school teachers, principals, counselors. More than likely these witnesses will cooperate and be successfully interviewed. All other witnesses need to interviewed in a cold call format and the witnesses should be interviewed as soon as possible so that, witnesses who know one another can not get together and talk about their interviews or the case.
Other witness list identifiers should include the next court date. A witness list revised date at the top of the witness list should indicate when the last witness list revision occurred. All of these behavioral variables and questions need to be analyzed to keep your behavioral witness list organized. A witness list can change day to day, hour to hour. It just depends on the behavioral dynamics that are going on in the Child Custody PAS Investigation at the time.
The Use Of Behavioral Chronologies And Time Lines In PAS And Consistent Deviant Behaviors Over Time In Child Custody Investigations.
Within the PAS investigation PAS behaviors may be numerous and repeating. There should be a behavioral theory of one or both of the parents as engaging in PAS. “An investigator should be hypothesis testing, rather than hypothesis confirming. A systematic thorough behavioral inquiry must be made when investigating child custody [PAS matters], (Hillaker, F., Delta College, 93-02, lecture) and the facts of [PAS] need to be examined and analyzed with “New Eyes”. (Fritz Pearls) The investigational focus should be consistent deviant behaviors over time in PAS and the Child Custody Act [in Michigan], and how those deviant behaviors interact behaviorally with your admissible physical evidence. The investigator can testify as to how the behavioral chronology was written, which salient events occurred, and what professional standards they followed.
Consistency of [PAS] can be demonstrated in a chronological order, and should be quoted and properly cited by naming your source when quoting. Showing a pervasive pattern of [PAS] behavior that is contrary to the best interest of the child will positively influence the court. Liability may be limited providing the quotes were verbatim and properly cited.
Your chronology should have the date, time, and identify what type of physical evidence you are citing, such as: video-tapes, police report(s), recorded statements, testimony, etc. Evidence in a PAS investigation should be relevant to PAS based on experts professionally published in the area of PAS.
The chronology should indicate what the evidence is, and the references should be quoted verbatim, because you are not the witness and the witnesses statement, should be cited under APA recommendations. To avoid hearsay problems, a true copy of the governmental record has to be exhibited. If it is a recorded statement, a true copy of the recorded statement has to exhibited, and the witness has to be present in the court room and prepared to testify in court.
Examples of evidence that may indicate PAS through past behaviors are: recorder statements, video-taped interviews, video-taped forensic interviews, police reports, or governmental records, etc. The question of creditability arises with behavioral chronologies. To avoid creditability arguments, citing has to exact and verbatim.
Behavioral chronologies are an important tool to better explain the PAS time line. When a parent is engaging in PAS, they are also engaging in “behavioral events” that can be considered consistent deviant behaviors over time. Vilification of a family member should be an investigative focus in every child custody case. If vilification is discovered, a PAS investigation should be conducted. If vilification is occurring, more than likely PAS is in its infancy. Behavioral chronologies and time line may produce alienator’s hidden agendas by using PAS as a resource to gain care, custody and control over their minor child. Any revision of the behavioral chronology needs to include a revision date at the top of the document.
PAS Psychological Effects on Children
Introducing PAS [to] a child is a form of emotional child abuse. Emotional abuse is of course psychological abuse, which can be more damaging than physical abuse. When the child grows up, they may not realize what actually happened, and how PAS affected them and the alienated parent psychologically. The PAS child/adult may have life long psychological problems. Children may not able to out grow their own pain and the humiliation they experienced as a PAS child. If PAS existed for a long period of time between the PAS child and alienated parent, the PAS child may experience life long psychological problems. PAS children who have experienced PAS more than likely will have relationship problems with their children, significant others, and in their private and professional peer group. The normal bond and psychological attachments between a PAS child and their parent has been altered and possibly destroyed.
The PAS child, now adult, will have a relationship between the alienating parent and the alienated parent. If that PAS child/adult can recognize previous PAS issues in their prior relationships, it may put them on a recovery path, to discover what actually happened to them in their childhood. Childhood memories of family dynamics of pre and post family separation can be fluid and disposed of memory errors. Though the child will have varying memories, their true memories may never come out. The only mental health answer is therapy.
Investigative Recommendations and Conclusionary Comments
In child custody cases where a disposition is agreed upon by parents, attorneys and or ordered by the family court, the disposition is typically decided by the adults and not the children. This is usually because of the developmental stages of the minor children. When the order from the court includes visitation for a non-custodial parent and if a child who has been exposed to PAS by an obsessed alienator. The visiting child in the non-custodial home will cause an extreme disturbance in the non-custodial home.
Thus We Should Consider
Upon the intake of a child custody investigation, both parents have to be psychologically scrutinized for indications of engaging in PAS, SAID or any other Constant Deviant Behaviors Over Time. All Family Court files need to be examined. In Michigan, the Family Courts and Friend of the Court, “has two court files. The main working file the public may review through FOIA. There is a secondary file, including the Friend of the Courts notes and internal investigative file. That file must also be reviewed to obtain vital and discoverable information. A FOIA request for this file will be refused. The file will have to be subpoenaed by an attorney representing one of the parents. All attorney’s records, interrogatories, depositions, correspondence between the attorneys and the court, court orders, complaints made by either of the parent, and files need to be reviewed, and the attorney(s) interviewed. Any witnesses who have had contact with the family before and after the parents split up need to be interviewed in depth.
If this is an investigation by third party, an Invesigational and Research General Durable Power of Attorney has to be obtained by your client or one of the parents who has legal standing. The Investigational and Research General Durable Power of Attorney will open the door for professionals who have privileged communication or have confidentiality issues. Secondly, the Investigational and Research General Durable Power of Attorney will give the investigator power to review, demand, seize and collect any information that is relevant to the child custody PAS investigation. When the investigator is working down their behavioral witness list, and the investigator suspects PAS is present within the family dynamic. Generally, most witnesses may not recognize PAS. The witness list should include all witnesses that have direct knowledge about the family dynamics pre and post dissolution of the family. Neighbors, teachers, other school staff, counselors, police, parental co-workers, friends of the parents, relatives especially grandparents, any one who may have direct knowledge about the “total family dynamics” pre and post dissolution of the family dynamics. Other areas of investigation should include “other” court files, ie. background searches to review previous behavioral patterns of the parents.
In Michigan, Probate Court(s) where parents may have been tried civilly for child abuse or neglect, you may discover PAS behaviors in the Probate Courts file, including previous PAS family dynamics. More than likely, one of the alienating parent(s) may have a Probate Court child neglect or abuse case. PAS may be located here as well. The Michigan Probate Court records are not available by computer data base. The court records have to be manually reviewed in person at the particular jurisdictional venue. Conformation of PAS behaviors can be made by identifying consistent deviant behaviors over time, and can be developed through a behavioral chronology.
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