Courts are sometimes hostile to the use of PAS in family law litigation.
Some jurisdictions are still very reluctant to use PAS as a means for determining issues of custody and visitation, but most family law judges do understand that Parental Alienation is a reality. In my home state of New Jersey, PAS is not often accepted by the courts. However, when Parental Alienation is identified as a root cause of visitation refusal (the custodial parental blocking the non custodial parent from access to the child(ren), then the most important strategy is to point out to the Court the degree to which the parent is consciously alienating the child and how damaging the parent's pattern of behavior is affecting that child.
The Value of a Parental Alienation Consultant (usually from the mental health professions)
An experienced family law attorney should encourage the client to secure the services of a Parental Alienation Consultant, as soon as there is a belief that parental alienation may be the undermining problem in a child's refusal to visit, or in any divorce where the high-level-conflict marital issues lead into into high-level-conflict parental issues.
New York law and Parental Alienation Syndrome
New York tends to use Parental Alienation Syndrome as a deciding factor in awarding custody: As stated in several NY cases: "Interference with the relationship between the child and the noncustodial parent is an act so inconsistent with the best interests of the child as to raise a per se probability that the offending party is unfit to act as a custodial parent (see, Matter of Gago v Acevedo, 214 AD2d 565, 566; Matter of Wolfer v Wolfer, 183 AD2d 903, 904
Frustrations for the PAS Advocates in Family Court
Judges are often reluctant to reverse existing custodial arrangements, and not enough emphasis is placed on the penalties for the non compliance of court orders. Alienating parents too often do not follow court ordered instructions because they are aware that enforcement is unlikely, and it is easy to ignore, because the alienators know there are normally large intervals of time between court hearings.
Some Effective Legal Strategies
As I often advise my clients the litigation strategy should be to build a case that proves the conscious pattern of alienation and to use doctors that have expertise in Parental Alienation. It is important to conduct psychological evaluations. The help of a PA consultant is critical to saving litigation expenses and in building an effective case to present to the Court.
Pro Se Parents and the Use of PAS in Family Law litigation.
Pro se parents can often fail in their attempts to convince the court that PAS exists. The targeted non custodial parent can go to jail if child support payments are missed, but an alienating parent can often destroy the reputation of the targeted parent and seemed to do it with no consequences. Pro se's can also get very emotional as they watch their children become more and more hostile to them, have their visits blocked, and deal every day with a barrage of criticism. Legal representation is critical to rescue the child from further mental abuse.
PAS Parent: Choosing the Right Lawyer
Most family attorneys have the strength to deal with this type of hostile opposition and are usually better at letting facts speak for themselves rather than resort to emotional outbursts. Sadly, we must admit that few family law lawyers have successfully litigated cases. Parental Alienation often makes it difficult for the public to find the right professionals that can help. Clients should ask their lawyers what their strategy is to litigate a case of Parental Alienation, and if they don't offer one, then I suggest the client look for a PA consultant to assist the lawyer, or on the other hand, find a lawyer that does have this unique legal experience.
Additional resources provided by the author
You might benefit from these legal guides which I have posted in avvo:
Parental Alienation Syndrome: An Introduction
Divorce, Separation, and Annulment in General and in New Jersey.
Child Abduction and International Law
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