Parental Alienation in PA

If you're divorced or broken up from an ex that you have a child with, you probably wonder what's being told to your kid when you aren't around. Small children process a split between their parents differently than a mature teenager would, so they'll have a lot of questions about your situation. How these matters are explained to your child could influence the way your child perceives you, especially if your ex blames you for the split and makes you out to be a bad person. This psychological phenomenon is referred to as “parental alienation syndrome” (PAS).

If your Pennsylvania child custody case involves parental alienation, the first thing you need to do is contact an experienced family law attorney. A legal professional can help you gain control of your situation before it's too late. But if you aren't sure about what parental alienation is, if it's happening in your family, or why it matters in child custody cases, read on.

What is Parental Alienation Syndrome?

Psychology Today defines parental alienation as the “programming of a child by one parent… to undermine and interfere with the child's relationship with [the other] parent.” It's emotional manipulation that encourages the child to one parent over another, resulting in the rejection or “alienation” of the targeted parent. When a child is being manipulated, they'll perceive the targeted parent as the source of their and the favored parent's problems.

Parental alienation syndrome is a term that was coined in 1985 by a psychologist named Richard Gardner. In his study, he noted that the increasing prevalence of this phenomenon was due to the skyrocketing number of child custody battles in the United States. 

This syndrome often occurs in families in which one (or both) parents have developed a personality disorder, like borderline or narcissistic types. If your partner has been diagnosed with a personality disorder or displays of one, it's important you remain aware of what they could be capable of.

Indicators of Parental Alienation

Here are some behaviors that a manipulated child will exhibit:

  • They come up with silly or unfounded reasons as to why they have chosen to reject the targeted parent
  • They will attempt to justify the mistreatment of the targeted parent
  • They will think in absolutes - the favored parent is all “good” while the targeted parent is all “bad”
  • They will give unwavering support to the favored parent

Why It Matters

In Pennsylvania family court, the preferences of a child generally influence a judge's decision when determining custody. How heavily these preferences influence an outcome depends on the child's age and maturity. The effects of emotional manipulation will undoubtedly prompt a child to exhibit their prejudices in court. 

There isn't much empirical evidence to date on parental alienation and its use in court, but some research has found that it is frequently claimed when allegations of abuse arise in custody cases - and judges have been receptive. 

But what you're probably most concerned about is where you stand with your child. Unfortunately, once your child's perception of you is tainted, it may take years of therapy to mend your relationship and heal completely. 

Need Help With Your PA Child Custody Case? Call Joseph D. Lento Today

Parental alienation is a form of child abuse, and should not be condoned. Children who are victims of emotional manipulation by one or both parents are susceptible to serious trauma, causing destructive behavior and trust issues down the line. Don't let this unacceptable behavior play out without a fight.

Joseph D. Lento is an experienced family law attorney who sees examples of parental alienation often. He understands just how much this phenomenon can wreak havoc on your relationship with your child and your custody. To ensure your parental rights are protected, and that your contributions are considered, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.

Contact a Family Law Attorney Today!

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has unparalleled experience practicing Family Law in Pennsylvania. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you and your family, contact our offices today. Family Law Attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs for any client and fight for what is fair.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1500 Walnut St, St 500
Philadelphia, PA 19102
(215) 535-5353
Mount Laurel, New Jersey
3000 Atrium Way - Suite 200
Mount Laurel, NJ 08054
1 more location

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.