The question about the legitimacy of parental alienation has been a issue for custody evaluators and California family court judge for quite some time. Almost an urban legend, parental alienation syndrome (PAS) has been claimed by many frustrated parents (particularly non-custodial parents), but it has never been legitimized as an actual personality disorder.
Despite the skepticism from the medical community, there are elements of PAS that are well-defined, especially in regard to what is said to children to turn them agaisnt a parent, and how kids may react to being with that parent.
For instance, making disparaging statements about one parent (e.g. we live like this because daddy doesn’t care about us) could be seen as a form of alienation. It essentially makes an impressionable child believe that a parent actually does not care about the child, which can breed a sense of resentment that can be difficult to break.
Also, making (or supporting) false allegations of abuse can be seen as a plot to prevent a parent from having a relationship with the child. The reasoning is that if a parent is convicted of a crime or is under constant supervision when visiting with the child, a relationship cannot foster.
The elements often overlooked in PAS claims are the amount of control exerted by the alienating parent, as well as their motivations. Some alienating parents are motivated by revenge and seek to punish the other parent. Others are driven by a sense of control.
Regardless of the motivation, actually proving PAS can be a difficult endeavor. An experienced family law attorney can help you through a custody battle where alienation is affecting your relationship.