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Is parental alienation a good defense against child sexual abuse?

On Behalf of | Jul 26, 2021 | Child Custody

Custody battled between ex-spouses in Tennessee can sometimes go beyond animosity. It’s not uncommon for one spouse to claim alleged domestic violence or child sexual abuse to get full custody of one’s children. In such cases, one spouse may allege that the other has been involved in parental alienation with the couple’s children to get them to turn against the other parent.

What is parental alienation syndrome (PAS)?

In criminal law, the definition of parental alienation syndrome is manipulation or coaching by one parent to show how the other parent is “bad.” Characteristics of children affected by PAS include:

  • The belief that the targeted parent can do nothing right.
  • Frivolous, absurd or weak reasons for targeting.
  • A lack of guilt about targeting one parent.
  • Automatic support for the alienating parent.
  • Insistence that the targeting is independent of parental beliefs.

What if my ex-spouse is involved in parental alienation syndrome?

Some ex-spouses will do anything to get sole custody of their children. PAS is not currently recognized as a syndrome by psychological professionals, as no empirical studies on the phenomenon with definitive results have been released, yet PAS is often used as a defense in child custody cases where abuse is alleged. However, parental alienation has been used as a defense since the 1980s in alleged abuse cases.

Fighting abuse allegations

Any type of abuse allegation is a serious offense under criminal law. No court will allow anyone who has been convicted of abuse to have joint custody or unsupervised visitation.

Claiming PAS against an ex-spouse immediately puts that parent on the defensive and gives you a chance to prove that the abuse never occurred. Working with an attorney experienced in false allegations may help you disprove the allegations and retain custody of your children.

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