Parental alienation is common after divorce, but its roots often trace to when the parents are still together. Malicious parent syndrome, or malicious mother syndrome, refers to tactics employed by one parent to make the other parent look bad in the eyes of the law, which generally harms the children involved in custody disputes following divorce. Or one parent could fill the child’s ear with hurtful lies about the other. Learn about this and more at FindLaw's Child Custody section. The father has since terminated his parental rights; the mother is sole provider for the child, and is forced to pay the father a weekly deduction from her meager paycheck. Doesn’t suffer any other mental disorder which would explain these actions. The stress of the process can cause parents to act out in ways that are harmful and emotionally driven. Divorce is never easy, but divorce cases that involve children and child custody issues are some of the most difficult. Often these parents engage in this kind of alienation on a regular basis. It’s unclear how common it is, but one study estimates parental alienation occurs in 11-15% of divorces involving children. Characteristics of Malicious Parent Syndrome In his… Parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a term introduced by child psychiatrist Richard Gardner in 1985 to describe a distinctive suite of behaviors in children that includes showing extreme but unwarranted fear, disrespect or hostility towards a parent. Often times persons suffering from Malicious Parent Syndrome have been married one or more times before and have alienated their children from their parents in previous relationships. Malicious Parent Syndrome can include such things as failing to tell the other parent about a child’s game or performance and then telling the child that his or her parent wasn’t interested in attending. How Malicious Parent Syndrome Hurts the Whole Family. In malicious parent syndrome one parent attempts to punish the other parent and can even go to far measures to harm or deprive their children from the other parent by placing the other parent in a bad light. In some cases, the acts are more extreme and even against the law. This psychologist dubbed the phenomenon as “malicious mother syndrome,” but mental health care professionals now refer to it as “malicious parent syndrome.” According to FindLaw, Dr. Ira Turkat, the psychologist who first recognized this syndrome, sought to identify and describe the phenomenon that is malicious parent syndrome. The father then sued the mother in civil court for “malicious prosecution” and received an award of $3.5 million damages, which was upheld despite a vigorous and well-conducted appeal.
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