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Understanding parental alienation

Family courts in Texas may maintain the hope that when parents divorce in San Antonio, they will still be able to act amicably towards each other for the best interests of their children. Unfortunately, this may not always be the case. Recent years have seen the rise of a new issue related to child custody known as Parental Alienation Syndrome. This refers to the potential negative view a child may develop of one parent due to the influence of the other.

Parents looking to alienate a former spouse from their children may resort to actions such as:

  •          Interfering with the other parent’s visitation.
  •          Leading children to believe that the other parent abused them.
  •          Restricting contact between the other parent and the children.
  •          Blaming the other parent for breaking up the family.
  •          Making major decisions without the other parent’s involvement.
  •          Intentionally withholding important information from the other parent.

Until recently, parents who feared that their children were experiencing PAS had little legal recourse to fight against it, given that it was not officially recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. However, according to the National Parents Organization, the most recent edition of the DSM does include related diagnoses that could serve as indicators that one parent may be attempting to ruin his or her children’s opinion of the other. These diagnoses include “parent-child relational problems” and “child affected by parental relationship distress.”

The Texas Family Code has guidelines in place that may mandate feuding parents to seek family counseling. If a couple has demonstrated a history of conflict over custody issues, the court may order either one or both of the parents to seek counseling from a licensed mental health professional with a background in family therapy and, if necessary, experience in dealing with cases of domestic violence. 

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