How Does PAS Affect My Relationship With My Kids?
Divorce and separation is hard on everyone, especially children. Children naturally feel closer to one parent or the other one. Strong feelings usually subside. If they don’t, or if there’s evidence the other parent encourages such feelings, even indirectly, parental alienation syndrome may be an issue. Left unchecked, PAS quickly erodes the emotional bond between a parent and a child. Once that happens, the bond is gone forever. These parents and children may be able to patch things up when the children become adults, but that’s unlikely.
Because so much is at stake, PAS demands a swift and decisive response. Only a Jupiter family law attorney can offer that kind of response. The earlier a targeted parent acts, the more legal options are available. The longer a targeted parent waits, the more those options diminish. Some major options, along with their pros and cons, are outlined below. Whichever approach you and your Jupiter family law attorney select, successfully addressing PAS is the key to a healthy emotional future not only for your relationship with your child, but for children themselves. Whether alienating parents acknowledge it or not, most kids need both parents in their lives.
As mentioned, some parental alienation is inevitable. So, there’s no need to sound the alarm at the first sign of trouble. Some possible signs of trouble include:
- Intentionally scheduling events, like sleepovers and campouts, during the other parent’s parenting time,
- Allowing a child to stay up later, have more screen time, or otherwise granting special privileges,
- Unexpected permanent schedule changes, such as altering a pick-up or drop-off location, without consulting the other parent, and
- Making rude comments about the other parent in the presence of the children or on social media.
Parental kidnapping is an extreme and rare form of PAS. The alienating parent honestly believes it’s in the child’s best interest to sever ties between the child and the targeting parent.
James Bond author Ian Fleming wrote that “one is happenstance, twice is coincidence, and thrice is enemy action.” That’s a pretty good rule which helps targeted parents tell the difference between parental alienation and parental alienation syndrome.
Enforcement of an existing court order is usually the best anti-PAS strategy. Since the targeted parent is only enforcing the judge’s current orders, which the other parent usually agreed to follow, this strategy is straightforward and does not throw gasoline onto a smoldering fire. Frequently, before a Jupiter family law attorney files an enforcement motion, an attorney sends a polite but firm letter to the alienating parent.
A demand letter is often a good standalone strategy. Many alienating parents legitimately don’t realize their behavior is emotionally damaging. Once they know more about PAS and its effects, they often stop on their own.
If an enforcement action is unavailable and a letter doesn’t work, a motion to enforce parenting time is usually the next option. Judges usually order social services investigations in these matters. Social workers are highly attuned to PAS and know very well how damaging it is. So, even if the social worker doesn’t recommend a residential parent change, the social worker usually notes the PAS in the report.
That notation usually triggers a verbal admonition from a family law judge. These judges also understand what’s at stake in PAS situations.
Reach Out to a Savvy Palm Beach County Lawyer
Divorce and related matters almost always involve financial and emotional issues. For a free consultation with an experienced Jupiter family law attorney, contact Caroline Olson, P.A. We routinely handle matters throughout the Treasure Coast area.