Even though PAS may not be universally recognized as science, “parental alienation” is a term frequently used in Court to describe systematic and specific actions of one parent intended to alienate a minor child from the other parent. Judges across the country approach this subject very differently with some dismissing the argument even when presented by a medical expert while other Judges appear open if not to the syndrome then at least to the idea of “parental alienation.” It is important to discuss with your family law attorney how your Judge may react to allegations of parental alienation whether being presented by you or the other parent. Keep in mind that some parents raise allegations parental alienation whenever they have been accused of abuse or when they feel they are not receiving adequate visitation. That being said isolation of a minor child from a non-custodial parent does give ample opportunity for a primary caregiver to unduly influence an impressionable minor child regardless of age.
Signs of parental alienation
Case Law on “PAS” and “Parental Alienation”
State v. Fuller, 160 N.C.App. 250 (N.C.App. 2003)
Allowed expert testimony of PAS without ruling on its admissibility or validity as a scientific theory.
C.J.L. v. M.W.B, 879 So.2d 1169 (Ala.Civ.App. 2003) (Dicta)
PAS was not generally accepted in the scientific community.
Snyder v. Cedar, 2006 Conn. Super. LEXIS 520 (2006)
PAS did not have “any scientific basis” and that the syndrome was not part of credible scientific studies.
People v. Fortin, 705 N.Y.S.2d 611 (N.Y. Crim. Ct. 2000)
Testimony of expert on PAS was rejected, holding that it was not shown to be a theory generally accepted in the scientific community and thus was inadmissible.
Kilgore v. Boyd, 13th Circuit Court, Hillsborough County, FL, Case No. 94-7473, 733 So.2d 546 (Fla.2d DCA 2000); Boyd v. Kilgore, 773 So.2d 546 (Fla.3d DCA 2000)
Court ruled PAS has gained general acceptance in the scientific community and thereby satisfies the Frye test criteria for admissibility.
Barton v. Hirshberg, 767 A.2d 874, 891 (Md.App 2001)
The Court found the child was at risk for parental alienation syndrome and upheld the lower court decision to award joint custody.
In re Marriage of Kajazovic, 2002 WL 575713 (Iowa Ct.App. Mar. 13, 2002)
The court overturned the lower court’s decision to award an abusive father custody of the child based in part on his attempts to alienate the child from the mother.
Proving Parental Alienation
Tortious Interference with Custody Rights
This is essentially a civil action for money owed due to harm to a parent who is deprived access to their child or children. A related cause of action could also potentially be alleged for Negligent or Intentional Inflection of Emotional Distress. A good starting point for research on this issue includes Recognition and Application of Common Law Action for Tortious Interference with Parental Rights, 103 A.L.R.6th 461 (2015) and, for North Carolina specifically, Hinton-Lynch v. Frierson, 2016 N.C. App. 182, 716 S.E.2d 440 (unpublished 2011).