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CR15 - Parental Alienation Syndrome in Court

Mental health professionals increasingly diagnose Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) in child custody matters. Critics of this diagnostic label, however, believe that it lacks an adequate scientific foundation and that testimony regarding this diagnosis, its course, and its treatment should be inadmissible.

This monograph, originally prepared as a chapter for a manual on expert witness testimony published in 1999 by the State Bar of Texas, examines the issues behind this controversy from a social science and legal perspective. Though written for attorneys, expert witnesses will also find it valuable in preparing for testimony and anticipating cross-examination. The monograph is free of jargon, so it will also help parents who are the targets of alienation or who have been falsely accused of promulgating parental alienation syndrome.

The monograph begins with a general description of parental alienation syndrome and its symptoms, recommended treatment, and research on the efficacy of alternative interventions by mental health professionals and courts.

The next section presents a critical analysis of such common issues as:

    1. Is parental alienation syndrome a distinct phenomenon?
    2. Has parental alienation syndrome passed peer review?
    3. Reliability and validity of parental alienation syndrome
    4. Does the concept of parental alienation syndrome unfairly blame one parent for family dysfunction?
    5. and, perhaps the most controversial issue: Should children be forced to spend time with the target parent?

A section on case law provides some citations regarding parental alienation syndrome testimony, and discusses statutes and case law regarding sanctions for visitation refusal, and articles by attorneys and judges on parental alienation syndrome. The monograph concludes with specific suggestions for proposing and opposing admission of parental alienation syndrome testimony, and a discussion of seven potential errors in diagnosing parental alienation syndrome.

This document contains 86 footnotes from a total of 58 different references, many of which can be obtained free of charge from the Internet addresses provided. A valuable resource for anyone concerned with parental alienation syndrome issues.

CR15, monograph
Price: $12.75

For a collection of 16 works on parental alienation that includes this item, click here.

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