Parental alienation is usually inevitable in divorce proceedings. Parental Alienation Syndrome, however, is different. Parents usually have little to do with parental alienation, which is usually emotional detachment. 

PAS is much more severe and usually intentional, as well. The alienating parent, who is usually the mother, deliberately or recklessly tries to drive an emotional wedge between the children and the targeted parent, who is usually the father.

Emotional detachment is usually rather easy to address. Furthermore, detachment comes and goes. Some children feel closer to either Mom or Dad at various points in their lives. PAS, on the other hand, severely damages the parent-child relationship. Unless something is done, that damage might be permanent.

If PAS has disrupted your family, a Rolling Meadows family law attorney is in a good position to evaluate your situation. Attorneys can help you effectively recognize and effectively respond to Parental Alienation Syndrome.

Recognizing Parental Alienation Syndrome

Physical injuries, like cuts and broken bones, are easy to recognize. Emotional injuries, like depression and parental alienation, are much more difficult to identify. 

As mentioned, there is a difference between parental alienation and PAS. James Bond novelist Ian Fleming wrote that “Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, and thrice is enemy action.” That formula worked for this dedicated spy, and it is a pretty good PA/PAS formula, as well. Some symptoms include:

  • Changing the pickup, dropoff, or other parts of the parenting time schedule at the last minute with little or no notice.
  • Granting special privileges, such as a later bedtime, to children when they visit. Frequently, the alienating parent also says something like, “I bet Mom/Dad doesn’t let you stay up this late.”
  • Intentionally scheduling activities for the child, such as a sleepover, knowing the event falls during the other parent’s parenting time.
  • Making disparaging remarks about the other parent, either directly to other people or on social media, knowing or suspecting that the children might overhear such remarks.

Generally, divorce temporary orders ban some of this conduct, such as disparaging remarks. However, aside from belittling social media posts, these orders are usually difficult to enforce.

In extreme cases, PAS escalates to parental kidnapping. These cases are rare, and attorneys usually intervene long before things get to that point. However, if necessary, an attorney can file a writ of habeas corpus requiring the other parent to bring the child to court. Then, a judge usually makes a determination on the spot.

Responding to Parental Alienation Syndrome

Some alienating parents honestly do not understand what they are doing. In reckless PAS situations, a letter from an attorney often resolves the issue. Reckless alienating parents usually back off once they know they are on the targeted parent’s legal radar.

Intentional PAS situations are more difficult to resolve. Usually, it is best to file a motion to modify the parenting plan. Cook County judges almost always order social services investigations in contested cases. Generally, social workers are very aware of PAS and its dangers.

Even if the motion to modify is unsuccessful, judges frequently issue additional injunctions and order make-up visitation. These additions, along with a stern judicial lecture, usually at least stop the bleeding.

Contact an Experienced Lawyer

PAS must be promptly and properly addressed to prevent long-term emotional damage. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Rolling Meadows, contact the Law Offices of Martin A. Delaney III, Ltd. We routinely handle matters in Cook County and nearby jurisdictions.