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Study finds parental alienation often used against mothers

When Texas couples are going through a divorce, it might involve a custody battle in which one parent claims that the other parent is guilty of parental alienation. However, some experts say that this claim is not scientifically sound and that it is a way to distract from an abusive parent.

The concept of parental alienation was developed in the 1980s by a child psychiatrist who felt the numerous claims mothers made during divorce that fathers were sexually abusing their children were often false. However, a law school professor did a study that looked at what happened when parental alienation was a factor in custody battles in cases from 2005 to 2014. She found that mothers were disproportionately likely to lose custody compared to fathers. The study found that fathers who claimed parental alienation was taking place took custody away from mothers more than 40% of the time. For mothers, this happened less than 30% of the time. The study also found that mothers were more likely to lose custody than fathers even when the court considered claims of abuse to be true.

This can leave women in a difficult position in which they may be concerned about following up on abuse claims because they might lose custody. The professor is working with lawmakers on reforming custody laws to better address abuse claims.

Parents who find themselves in this situation may want to talk to an attorney about how to proceed. A court may expect documentation, such as police or medical reports, to support abuse claims. Depending on the nature of the parent's concern, one parent might get sole physical custody while the other parent might not be permitted access to the children at all.

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