Parental Alienation Syndrome and Parental Alienation:
Getting It Wrong in Child Custody Cases
34 Pages Posted: 9 Feb 2002
Date Written: Fall 2001
As courts and legislatures continue their enthusiastic ventures into family law reform, they make frequent use of theories and research from the social sciences. This essay focuses on developments in child custody law stemming from "Parental Alienation Syndrome" (PAS), a theory propounded in 1985 by Richard Gardner, M.D. that became widely used despite its lack of scientific foundations. The discussion highlights theoretical and practical problems with PAS, provides a similar review of more recent proposals labeled "Parental Alienation" (PA), and concludes with recommendations for lawyers and judges who must evaluate these and similar developments.
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