What You Can (And Should) Do About PAS
In one way or another, Parental Alienation Syndrome affects almost all post-divorce relationships between parents and their children. Knowing how to recognize PAS, and knowing what to do about it, can make a tremendous difference in a relationship with one’s children.
PAS is an umbrella term for a wide range of situations. In all of them, the alienating parent (who is usually the mother) tries to disrupt the relationship between the couple’s children and the targeted parent (who is usually the father). Because this family dynamic is so common, PAS was once known as “maternal brainwashing.”
The diagnosis itself is controversial. Some practitioners stubbornly refuse to acknowledge that PAS exists. The nuts and bolts of PAS is even more controversial.
Types of PAS
Sometimes, blatant PAS is a problem. For example, Mother might tell the children that Father abandoned them and no longer loves them. Typically, the judge enters temporary orders which include prohibitions against this kind of talk. Even if words like these are mostly true, they are obviously emotionally devastating to the children.
Typically, however, PAS is much more subtle and perhaps even unintentional. Consider the following scenarios:
- Mother arranges for Daughter to attend a Girl Scout camp during Father’s scheduled weekend visitation.
- Father constantly makes last-minute changes to the pickup or drop-off schedule. Some such alterations are part of life. But as James Bond author Ian Fleming once wrote: “Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, and thrice is enemy action.”
- Mother gives the children special privileges, such as later curfews or more screen time. She often says something like “I bet Dad doesn’t let you stay up this late.”
Subtle PAS is every bit as destructive as blatant PAS. Let’s return to the first example. Father is in a no-win situation. He can either insist on his weekend or he can allow Daughter to go to camp. So, Daughter will either get mad at him for nixing her plans or believe that Father does not want to spend time with her.
What To Do About PAS
If you suspect that PAS is a problem, it’s best to file a motion to modify the divorce decree asking for a greater share of parenting time. Such an action accomplishes at least two objectives.
As mentioned, subtle PAS is often unintentional. The alienating parent may honestly be unaware that alienating actions can seriously and permanently damage a parent-child relationship. The motion itself may serve as a wake-up call.
Additionally, most judges order social studies in these situations. Licensed social workers know how to recognize PAS and know how dangerous it is. Therefore, the social worker’s report is likely to contain a reference to PAS. That language brings the problem to the judge’s attention. So, even if the judge does not alter the parenting time split, the judge may enter orders that prohibit the alienating parent from unintentionally or intentionally driving an emotional wedge between the targeted parent and the children.
Reach Out to Assertive Lawyers
If PAS has infected the relationship between you and your children, you need an aggressive attorney who knows how to contain the damage. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.