1 out of 4 children involved in divorce undergoes Parental Alienation Syndrome

Armine Hareyan's picture

Children undergoing PAS are manipulated by their custodial parent, who tries to turn them against their father/mother, arousing in them feelings of hatred and contempt for the other parent.
Children usually not only reject the non-custodial parent, but also his or her family and close friends.

One out of four children involved in a divorce and custody litigation undergoes the so-called Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), consisting of the manipulation of children by the custodial parent, who incessantly tries to turn them against the other parent by arousing in them feelings of hatred and contempt for the target parent, as explained in the book Marital Conflicts, Divorce, and Children’s Development (Conflictos matrimoniales, divorcio y desarrollo de los hijos, edited by Pirámide), by professors José Cantón Duarte, Mª Rosario Cortés Arboleda, and Mª Dolores Justicia Díaz, from the Department of Evolutionary and Educational Psychology of the University of Granada

In the 1980’s, PAS was defined by scientist Richard Gardner of Columbia University. Men are usually the target parent, since in most cases the mother has custody of the child.

According to Mª Rosario Cortés, “the so-called alienating parent is the one who has custody and uses it to brainwash the child, turning him or her against the alienated parent”. In most cases, the process is very subtle the custodial parent stating such things as “if I just told you some more things about your father/mother…”, or by making the child feel sorry for “abandoning” every time he or she visits the alienated parent.

As pointed out by the group of researchers of the University of Granada, there are many other factors which influence PAS apart from the unacceptable attitude of the custodial parent, such as children’s psychological vulnerability, the character and behaviour of parents, dynamics among brothers, or the existing conflicts between the two divorced parents. Very often children not only reject their father, but also his family and close friends. Grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins, and the new partner of the non-custodial parent are also affected by this syndrome, and children undergoing PAS can even “expel them from their life.”


Among other symptoms, Professor Cortés points out that children tend to find continual justifications for the alienating parent’s attitude. They denigrate the target parent, relate negative feelings unambivalently towards that parent, deny being influenced by anyone (pleading responsibility for their attitude), feel no guilt for denigrating the alienated parent, or recount events which were not experienced but rather came from listening to others.

The authors of Marital Conflicts, Divorce, and Children’s Development, which was first published in Spanish in 2000 and is coming soon in a new updated edition, state that PAS is more frequent among children aged 9 to 12 than among teenagers, and that there are no relevant gender differences in PAS.

According to Mª Rosario Cortés, the Parental Alienation Syndrome occurs most frequently in cases where parents are involved in divorce litigation, while it is not usual when the decision to seek divorce is mutual. The professor of the UGR underlines that in every case of SAP, “the family must be provided with a family-mediation programme for equal treatment of all members affected by this problem, which is increasingly more frequent.”-Universidad de Granada


I was very pleased to see the topic of parental alienation and parental alienation syndrome discussed in this article but feel compelled to comment that there are really no data available to indicate that this is something that is mostly done by mothers to fathers. This was possibly the case a few decades ago when Richard Gardner first wrote about the problem but my research shows that many many mothers are also victims of this horrible, painful, and tragic problem. I have conducted two surveys of 100 targeted parents each on this topic and have found equal numbers of mothers and fate hrs participating. I have also conducted in-depth interviews with adults who were the child victims of PAS including those whose fathers were the alienating parent. There is simply no data at this point to confirm or refute the gender bias (what proportion of alienating parents are mothers) and to continue to present this problem as something that primarily happens to mothers does a disservice to all of the mothers out there who are suffering from this problem. Amy J.L. Baker, Ph.D. author, Adult children of parental alienation syndrome: breaking the ties that bind, W.W. Norton, 2007.

Submitted by Robert Gartner (not verified) on
I am one such victim as a father to my oldest and to my youngest. My oldest was removed form me by the likes of Justice for Children (JFC) www.justiceforchildren.org. Allow me to tell the reader a thing or two about this group. While thier name may sound flowery they and it possesses a couple of fundamental flaws. One is that they refute and rebuke any effiecay of Parental Alienation. If that were not inane and arrogant enough they go on to claim that any father making the allegation against a mother is a child sexual predator. Care to doubt that amazing assertion? Just read the Houston Chronicle of May 2, 2007 where Alene Levy went to work for them from the Hanynes And Boone law firm. Read what she said! Now if that were not all bad enough and of the DEVIL, this group along with Stop Family Violence, Legal Momentum aka a litigious branch of National Organization of Women, and others, file a lawsuit with the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights in commemoration of Mothers Day 2007 of all things! In it they make the same allegations, that the nation's children are being sent to the households of male sexual predators by the family courts. Today my daughter oldest is 21 years old and still cannot reconnect with me. She dropped out of high school and made a baby. She is already separated form the father of this child. If she had remained with me she would probably be graduating from college. No, Justice for Children is sick and delusional. it and Randy Burton its founder destroyed me and my daughter. They facilitated to the control by a diabolical, narcissistic, borderline personality disordered mother. Funny how a devil works. When it gets into a space with a crack in it, it just keeps working and working and working it. And the family courts do need to be abolished nobody can afford their brand of justice.

Judges took my right away to love my daughters in the year 2001. The damage to my family has been fatal ( RIP Mum ), and my four children have suffered so much pain and trauma because of false allegations of sexual abuse and domestic violence . It has all been a pack of lies . My two daughters are extreme victims of a cruel and callously corrupt de family court . The heartbreak and frustration of PAS is overwhelming and tragic !!! In solidarity d4j

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Goldberg & Associates--the Parental Alienation Specialists If you're the target of Parental Alienation, the Parental Alienation specialists at Goldberg & Associates can help. They operate throughout the U.S. and Canada and assist family law attorneys and targeted parents needing medical-legal consulting services related to Parental Alienation. Call them at 905.481.0367 or visit their website www.parentalalienation.ca

Submitted by PARENT, Stephan... (not verified) on
I am a parent. I am a mother who has a daughter. Our daughter is alienated away from me. I have health struggles. My daughter has health challenges. Areas of neglect and damage include: physical health care, mental health care, academic, including the ability to attend school or to advance successfully. We are in KS. Our child is now 17. My experience is helpless terror. I am helpless to Try, for Knowledge it Will be Damaging to her, as it has been for Years. [She is suffering and Tells people she suffers from not being able to Know her mother. Help Us, if you can.] the Mother. Stephanie Smith 913.713.2064

Submitted by Rowan on
It doesn't really surprise me that PAS is usually directed at the parent who doesn't have custody, or only limited custody. Therapy can go a long way, especially since I don't see how <a href="http://www.singleparentcenter.net/">single parents</a> can not subconsciously influence their children in some way or other considering how much they will have on their plates after a divorce.

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Submitted by rever20 on
Children should always be out first priority, that is for sure. Divorce is really bad for a young child. <a href="http://medicalbillingclassesguide.com/">medical coding</a>

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the children suffers fthe most in situations like divorce. <a href="http://thehousingforum.com/">free standing closets</a>

Submitted by Halloween Town (not verified) on
It's always a shame when parent manipulate children


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