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Part IV: Understanding parental alienation

As regular readers of our Ann Arbor legal blog know, we have in recent posts delved into the complex issue of parental alienation - a phenomenon in some high-conflict custody disputes described by Attorney Ashish S. Joshi as a "mental condition in which a child . . . allies himself or herself strongly with an alienating parent and rejects a relationship with the 'target' parent without legitimate justification."

In our previous post, we noted that in cases of extreme parental alienation, knowledgeable mental health professionals will often recommend a no-contact period of three to six months between the favored parent (the one responsible for the alienation) and the child. That period allows the child a period to recover emotionally and reestablish a relationship with the rejected parent.

Contrary to what some legal and health professionals assert, separating a child from an alienating parent is not traumatic, Joshi writes, noting that "research demonstrates that alienation abates when children are required to spend time with the parent they claim to hate or fear."

Regardless, there are advocates for the alienating parent who will argue long and loud (usually citing "undocumented anecdotes" and "irrelevant research") that a no-contact order will cause harm to both the alienating parent and the child.

Joshi writes that "a court, when presented with such 'sky is falling' predictions should remember the following":

  • No peer-reviewed study has shown harm to severely alienated children when custody is reversed from the alienating parent to the rejected parent
  • No study shows that adults who were required as children to repair relationships with estranged parents regretted having had to do so
  • Studies show that adults who, as children, disowned a parent later regretted having done so 

Please check back soon for our final post on Attorney Joshi's paper on no-contact orders.

 

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