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Watch for these signs of parental alienation syndrome

Parental alienation syndrome (PAS) occurs when children are manipulated into exclusively favoring one parent over the other -- to the point that they absolutely reject the targeted parent.

Ultimately, PAS is devastating to both the alienated parent and the children involved. The targeted parent is usually heartbroken and confused when the children suddenly refuse to have any contact with him or her despite a previously close and loving relationship. For their part, the children are put through unnecessary emotional turmoil and end up missing out on the love and support of the alienated parent. None of this matters to the parent that's manipulating things behind the scenes -- the children's needs take a backseat to his or her hatred for the targeted parent.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult for an outside observer, like a therapist or a children's advocate, to tell the difference between a legitimately strained relationship and PAS. That's when it's important for the alienated parent and his or her attorney to point out some of the major indicators of PAS:

-- The child's hatred toward or fear of the targeted parent borders on obsession. There's a focus on the targeted parent that seems out-of-balance or extreme.

-- The reasons behind such intense hatred or fear toward the targeted parent seem trivial. Things like, "He can't remember what I like to eat for lunch," or "He yelled at me," are dramatized into much bigger issues than they really are.

-- The manipulative parent is perceived as all good without any flaws, and the targeted parent is perceived as entirely bad without any redeeming qualities.

-- The children insist they have never been influenced -- they believe their fear and hatred is genuinely their own.

-- The children openly disrespect or use the other parent for whatever they can get, and they feel like he or she "deserves" that kind of treatment.

-- The language the children use about the targeted parent seems to be above their developmental level or understanding (indicating they've borrowed the words from the manipulative parent).

-- Everyone related to the targeted parent is also tainted, from formerly beloved grandparents to a once favorite aunt or uncle.

An attorney maybe able to help you recognize signs of PAS. For information on how our firm might be able to help you fight PAS during your divorce, please visit our web pages on the subject.

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