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Parental Alienation Syndrome – Case Law

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parents rights on August 21, 2010 at 6:50 pm

The purpose of this page is to provide the visitor with an overview of important PAS case law. The citations are in Blue Book format and are followed by a short explanation of the case.

Need for Proof in PAS Cases

Coursey v. Super. Ct., 194 Cal. App. 3d 147; 239 Cal. Rptr. 365 (Cal. Ct. App. 1987).

Alienated fourteen-year-old daughter refused to visit her father pursuant to the terms of a stipulated order. The mother was found in contempt. On appeal, the court found that absent evidence of intent, it could not be inferred that failure of visitation was willful on mother’s part.

Constitutional Rights and PAS

Schutz v. Schutz, 581 So. 2d 1290 (Fla. 1991).

Alientor mother appealed order to do everything in her power to create in the minds of her children a loving, caring feeling towards their father, claiming a violation of her First Amendment rights. Court found any burden on those rights to be merely incidental.

Best Interests of the Child and PAS

In re Violetta B., 210 Ill. App. 3d 521,524; 568 N.E.2d 1345 (Ill. App. Ct. 1991).

Court reversed decision to transfer custody of four-year-old from foster mother to paternal grandmother based on psychologist’s expert testimony that a transfer of custody would cause irreparable trauma. Court concluded that best interest of the child should control the decision.

Spurious Allegations of Child Abuse

Karen B. v. Clyde M., 151 Misc. 2d 794; 574 N.Y.S.2d 267 (N.Y. Fam. Ct. 1991).

Mother’s allegations of sex abuse of child by father found baseless after court considered trained validator’s testimony as to no abuse and verbatim similarity between mother and daughter’s statements. Court likened mother’s behavior to that of Medea.

Abusing Visitation

Zigmont fka Toto v. Toto, No. 62149, 1992 WL 6034 at *2 (Ohio Ct. App. Jan. 16, 1992).

After considering the appellant’s erratic behavior in exercising his visitation, and the resulting psychological problems of the children, the court found it both just and reasonable for trial court to limit visitation to a specific schedule.

Court’s Discretion re PAS and Custody

Wiederholt v. Fischer, 169 Wis. 2d 524; 485 N.W.2d 442 (Wis. Ct. App. 1992).

Despite psychologist’s testimony that PAS was the worst he had seen, the court concluded that the evidence was not strong enough to be cured by placing children with father, noting that the cure was controversial and the success of the treatment was limited.

Using PAS as a Defense

Truax v. Truax, 110 Nev. 437; 874 P.2d 10 (Nev. 1994).

Father claimed that because of PAS, the testimony of the court-appointed special advocate (CASA) was skewed in favor of mother. CASA recommended that custody be changed to mother, citing abuse by step-sister. Bite mark on son tipped the scales for the court.

Attacking the Validity of PAS

In re Marriage of Rosenfeld, 524 N.W.2d 212 (Iowa Ct. App. 1994).

Father severely alienated children from mother. The court found the only way to correct the situation was to place children with mother. On appeal, father attacked validity of PAS and testimony of mother’s expert. Court focused instead on parties’ behavior.

Rebutting PAS through Child Testimony

White v. White, 655 N.E.2d 523, 526 (Ind. Ct. App. 1995).

Psychologist on whom mother had insisted testified that she was engaging in PAS and that she excessively hostile toward father. Mother attempted to rebut expert’s testimony by putting 10-year-old son on stand. Trial court refused to subject son to the process. Affirmed on appeal.

Placing Children with an Alienated Parent

Tucker fka Greenberg v. Greenberg, 674 So. 2d 807 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1996).

In a trial arising over a visitation dispute, court noted that former wife was obsessed with making shared parenting as difficult as possible for father. Both trial and appellate courts decided best decision was to place children with the alienated parent.

PAS not Gender-Specific

Williams v. Williams, 676 So. 2d 493 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1996).

In Williams, the court took custody from an alienating father and vested it with the alienated mother. Williams demonstrates the non-gender-specific nature of PAS.

PAS and Extreme Tactics

Hanson v. Spolnik, 685 N.E.2d 71 (Ind. 1997).

Father and mother were awarded joint custody. Mother then engaged in extreme tactics that included false allegations of sexual abuse and comments that father had AIDS and that he had hired a hit man. On appeal, court found modification of joint custody was necessary.

Contesting Concept of PAS in New York

In the Matter of J.F. v. L.F.,181 Misc. 2d 722; 694 N.Y.S.2d 592 (N.Y. Fam. Ct. 1999).

By order to show cause against mother, father applied for custody. Annexed to order was psychiatrist’s affidavit recommending custody change. Mother bitterly contested concept of PAS. The court nonetheless found that mother had alienated children from father.

Court-Appointed Experts and Bias

Pathan v. Pathan, No. 17729, 2000 WL 43711 (Ohio Ct. App. Jan. 21, 2000).

Court-appointed psychologist showed significant bias against Pakistani father, who asked for an independent evaluation. The court noted that mother was the primary offender. Nonetheless, the court merely opined that if mother did not mend her ways, custody might change.

Mutual Alienation

Spencley v. Spencley, No. 219801, 2000 WL 33519710 (Mich. Ct. App. Apr. 7, 2000).

Parents engaged in mutual alienation made complaints against state for its determination of abuse and neglect. On appeal, mother challenged concept of PAS; however, the court found ample evidence of emotional injury, and that PAS was used in an explanatory manner.

Need to Show Change of Circumstances

Chambers v. Chambers, No. CA99-688, 2000 WL 795278 (Ark. Ct. App. June 21, 2000).

Trial court concluded that prolonged alienation was so successful that there was no hope of re-integration between father and children. On appeal, the court found that father had failed to show requisite change of circumstances to warrant the court’s intervention.

Ignoring Expert Testimony

Kirk v. Kirk, 770 N.E.2d 304 (Ind. 2002).

In Kirk, the Indiana Supreme Court overturned an appellate decision, ignoring copious expert testimony regarding parental alienation syndrome and the spurious nature of mother’s sexual abuse claims.

Parental Alienation Syndrome.

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