Parental Alienation in New Jersey

Posted on August 12, 2012. Filed under: story | Tags: , , |

 Information Provided by: Gruber & Colabella, P.A.

“The parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a childhood disorder that arises almost exclusively in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the target parent. When true parental abuse and/or neglect is present, the child’s animosity may be justified and so the parental alienation syndrome explanation for the child’s hostility is not applicable.” – Richard A. Gardner

The following is a list of symptoms and types of behavior, as defined by Douglas Darnell, Ph.D., that are common in cases of parental alienation:

  • Allowing a child to feel as if they have some choice regarding visitation when the schedule has already been set forth by the court;
  • Disclosing details about the marriage or break up of the marriage to the children;
  • Failure to allow the child to transport belongings between the parents homes;
  • Failure by one parent to allow access to the children’s medical records or school records to the other parent;
  • One parent blaming the other parent for financial problems, breaking up the family, changes in lifestyle or having a boyfriend/girlfriend;
  • One parent refusing to be flexible with the parenting time to accommodate the child’s schedule;
  • Assuming that a spouse who has been abusive, will also be abusive toward the children;
  • Asking the child to choose one parent over the other;
  • The child becoming exceptionally angry with one parent;
  • A parent or step parent raises questions about changing the child’s name or suggests adopting the child;
  • A child being unable to express why they are angry with a parent;
  • One parent having secrets, special signals, private rendezvous, or words with special meaning to communicate with the child;
  • One parent uses the child to spy on or gain information about the other parent;
  • Giving the child temptations that might interfere with the other parent’s parenting time;
  • One parent acting upset or hurt if the child enjoys spending time with the other parent;
  • One parent asking the child about the other parents personal life;
  • A parent will physically or emotionally rescue the child when there is no threat to the child’s safety;
  • One parent making demands on the other parent, which conflicts with the court order;
  • One parent eavesdropping on the child’s phone conversations with the other parent;
  • A parent can alienate their own child by continually breaking promises to the child.

Dr. Darnell believes that parents may exhibit the above symptoms and types of behavior in varying degrees. He has therefore characterized alienating parents into three categories:

  • The Naive Alienator

    “A naive alienator generally means well and recognizes the importance of children having a healthy relationship with the other parent,” but will occasionally disagree with or have a brief conflict with the other parent. A naive alienator does not usually require continued trips back to court, as he or she is able to communicate with the other parent and work out differences.

    A child is usually not harmed by the behavior of naive alienators, because the child is able to cope; “either by talking out their feelings to a receptive parent, ignoring the argument or trusting that the skirmish will pass and all will heal.”

    A naive alienator has the ability to put the child’s needs before their own.

  • The Active Alienator

    Active alienators have a difficult time controlling their frustration, bitterness or hurt. The active alienator usually means well and wants the child to have a healthy relationship with the other parent, but is often unable to make that happen because of the old feelings that they continue to harbor. As a result, the active alienator often finds him or herself returning to court to over problems with parenting time.

    According to Dr. Darnell, active alienators are usually receptive to receiving professional help if they have difficulties that will not resolve themselves, as the parent is concerned with helping the child deal with the divorce.

  • The Obsessed Alienator

    The obsessed alienator is a parent whose sole purpose is to align the children to his or her side and destroy the child’s relationship with the targeted parent. The child of an obsessed alienator develops the personality and beliefs of the alienator.

    The behaviors of an obsessed alienator usually begin to surface after the divorce becomes final. The obsessed parent is often angry, bitter, or feels betrayed by the other parent. These feelings are often justified because of what the non-alienating parent did during the marriage, the difficulties arise when the alienator’s feelings do not heal, but worsen by being forced to continue a relationship with the ex-spouse because of the children.

    There are no successful treatments for the obsessed alienator or the children of obsessed alienators. The only hope is that the symptoms can be identified early on and prevented.

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