Custody Preparation for Moms

A support site provided by those that have been through the process.


How to Defend Against Parental Alienation Allegations

Accusations of parental alienation against a protective mother are very difficult to defend against.  Why?  Because the syndrome was designed to be a Catch-22--a no-win nightmare.  Simple and logical actions such as hiring an attorney or using a therapist are deemed to be evidence of parental alienation according to Richard Gardner's self-promoting theories.  

Awareness of this abuser's defense tactic is essential for protective moms.  Do not be fooled just because the term "syndrome" is not used to label you.  If you are being labeled in any way as an "alienator/alienating", "not supportive of the father's relationship with the children", etc. it is all the same animal.  Further, be wary of words used to label your child, "estranged", "alienated", "oppositional/defiant", etc.  If the estrangement and alienated condition is correctly applied due to abusive, neglectful or absentee actions of the father, this is appropriate.  But if the father is a poor parent and caused the deterioration of his relationship with the child, yet you, the mother are being offered up as the scapegoat, beware. 

There are some simple steps that can be taken to minimize some of these allegations during custody litigation without jeopardizing safety:  These suggestions are not meant to imply that you should deny evidence of poor parenting, neglect, or abuse.  These are strategies for custody litigation--to help you maintain custody of your child when dealing with untrained court personnel who do not understand domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, or simply elevate a father's rights of access, custody and visitation over the mother and child's rights to safety.

--  Do not hand opposing counsel your head on a platter by actually bad-mouthing the father in front of the children or directly to the children.  Keep your thoughts to yourself during custody litigation.  Kids are smart.  They will eventually figure out what kind of a parent your former husband/partner is.  Set a good example and teach them non-violent, respectful ways of treating others and resolving conflict.  They know more than you might think they do.

--  Maintain a few photographs of your former mate, preferably in photographs with the children within your home until the litigation is over.

--  Never refer to the children as "my children".  Although this is a natural, first-person way of speaking, some court personnel have construed it to be a unconscious sign of feelings of ownership and unwillingness to share custody or acknowledge the father's role.  Use the term "our child/children".  Refer to the father by his name when possible.

--  Provide the father copies of school records:  newsletters, progress reports, report cards, maybe even some work samples or artwork done by the child.

--  List the father on school enrollment records.

--  Advise the father of medical and therapeutic appointments and treatment plans.

--  Encourage the children to acknowledge their father on special occasions.

--  Maintain relationships with the father's extended family, i.e. grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins if safe and possible.  Caution:  do not discuss the case with them.

-  Provide the father information on the child's/children's extracurricular activities

--  Learn tactful and non-inflammatory ways of presenting the facts of the father's poor parenting to court personnel

--  Learn to support the father's role in your child's life in a way palatable to you and that you can relate to court personnel.  This is difficult if the father is dangerous to you or the child.  Realize that your child will carry some of your former mate's genetic material:  appearance, personality characteristics, mannerisms, etc. In order for your child to love themselves, they can not hate those traits that are a non-severable part of them, and it is important that they know their father.  This is not to say that they need to have frequent, unsupervised contact, or any contact at all if the visits are harmful to them.   But you must work within the framework of the legal system.  Remember, the ultimate long-term goal is to retain primary custody of your children.

-- Teach your children to think for themselves, tell the truth and follow their conscience.

Must-Read Links on PA/PAS:

Parental Alienation Syndrome and Alienated Children -- Getting it Wrong in Child Custody Cases - Professor Carol Bruch

Resources for Mothers Who are Charged With Junk Science

Other-Than-Gardner Versions of "Parental Alienation Syndrome"
Friendly Parent Provisions

Parental Alienation Syndrome Frye & Gardner in the Family Courts -  Jerome H. Poliacoff, Ph.D., P.A., Cynthia L. Greene, Esq., and Laura Smith, Esq

Casualties of a Custody War

American Prosecutor's Research Institute - Conclusion:

"PAS is an unproven theory that can threaten the integrity of the criminal justice system and the safety of abused children. Prosecutors should educate themselves about PAS and be prepared to argue against its admission in court. In cases where PAS testimony is admitted, it is a prosecutorís responsibility to educate the judge and jury about the shortfalls of this theory. As more criminal courts refuse to admit PAS evidence, more protection will be afforded to victims of sexual abuse in our court system. "

Malpractice & Licensing Pitfalls for Therapists:  A Defense Attorney's List - Use of Inappropriate Syndrome Testimony:

"The PAS label "has lived a lot longer than the data that supports it".        "I expect people to come up with crackpot theories.  But then I expect scientists to do their jobs." Alan Scheflin, professor at Santa Clara University Law School

Editor's note:  Some moms and their advocates have expressed the need to read father's rights materials on PAS.  We have made a policy decision not to post any links to such information on this website.  It is not surprising that you can type this topic into any search engine and find hundreds of father's rights sites promoting PAS as a legal defense or strategy for fathers in custody litigation.  It is our position that if we were to link to father's rights sites promoting PAS, we would lend credence to those sources and enable them to advertise their products.  We do not endorse in any way purchasing their materials.  If you are curious or think it will help your understanding of the issues, we hope you will use you local library or the Internet to do so instead of furthering the father's rights agenda with your families income.


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