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Bucks County Divorce Attorneys > Blog > Family Law > Is Parental Alienation Syndrome Still Used in Custody Cases?

Is Parental Alienation Syndrome Still Used in Custody Cases?


When parents find themselves at odds over the upbringing of their children, custody disputes may arise. Custody concerns can be emotionally charged, and in the past, the concept of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) emerged as a concept surrounding parental relationships during a separation and divorce.

To explore what PAS is, its historical significance, and whether it still influences custody cases today, connect with a Bucks County family attorney. A seasoned legal professional can introduce you to best practices when it comes to pursuing the custody arrangement you are seeking. Early legal intervention is often important to obtaining the long-term arrangement you desire.

The History of PAS 

Parental Alienation Syndrome, which was introduced by psychiatrist Dr. Richard Gardner in the 1980s, refers to a situation where one parent allegedly manipulates a child into harboring unjustified hostility against the other parent. After the phrase was coined, it was sometimes used as a legal strategy to sway custody decisions, claiming that one parent’s influence had negatively impacted the child’s relationship with the other parent.

While the concept of PAS experienced some popularity, it has recently faced criticism for lacking empirical support. Over time, courts have become more cautious about accepting PAS as a primary argument in custody cases. Its use has declined. Many courts are now more inclined to focus on the specific behaviors and actions of each parent rather than relying on a potentially subjective diagnosis.

Today’s family courts rely on evidence-based practices and a review of each parent’s ability to foster a healthy relationship between the child and the other parent. Demonstrating a commitment to facilitating a positive co-parenting relationship is typically more impactful than leaning on the notion of PAS.

Best Practices for Securing Custody

If you have a clear idea of what you want your custody arrangement with your soon-to-be-ex spouse to look like, know that there are ways to secure a parenting schedule that align with your parental rights and the best interests of your child. Working with an experienced legal professional is a proactive step toward achieving an outcome you find favorable.

Family lawyers can provide guidance on navigating the complexities of the legal system, helping you gather relevant evidence, present a compelling case, and advocate for your parental rights. Additionally, they can assist in establishing a clear and reasonable parenting plan, fostering an environment that prioritizes the well-being of the child.

While Parental Alienation Syndrome may have played a role in custody cases in past decades, its significance has waned. Courts are now focused on evidence-based assessments. When looking for support during a Pennsylvania or New Jersey custody dispute, lean on the expertise of a Bucks County family attorney.

Where are your children living and what custody arrangement are you seeking? To secure the custody arrangement you desire, engage with the legal team at Kardos, Rickles & Hand as early as possible. Once attorneys are aware of your long-term objectives, they can begin making your goals a reality. Call 215-968-6602 to schedule your consultation today.

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