Parental Alienation Syndrome After a Divorce

Divorce brings with it a whole range of emotions and reactions. When the resolution of a marriage also involves the lives of children, it becomes increasingly more complex.

The term Parental Alienation Syndrome, or PAS, refers to a child’s psychological condition brought about when one parent purposely or inadvertently sabotages the child’s relationship with the other parent. Typically, PAS emerges during child custody disputes, and can have long-lasting implications.


There are different reasons and purposes parents have for alienating an ex-spouse. One parent may be trying to make the other appear to be the bad guy, or try to blame them entirely for the divorce. Regardless of the reason, it is ultimately the child who suffers by losing a relationship with the other parent.

The rationale used by an alienating parent may include:



There are a variety of ways in which one parent can alienate the other. They include:

  • An inability to separate marital issues from parenting issues manifested as unresolved anger toward the other spouse for perceived wrong-doings during the marriage.
  • A personality disorder, such as paranoia or narcissism, which blinds them to the fact that they are harming their child, and prevents them from empathizing with the child.
  • Insecurity in their abilities as parents projected onto the other parent.
  • Being so entwined in their child’s life that they have no separate identity, and feel intimidated by the child’s relationship with the other parent.

    These are just a few of the ways in which one parent can alienate the other. When a parent has been successful in alienating the other, a child may not want to visit with the other parent, claiming to be angry at them, but having weak justification for the feelings. A child may feel especially protective of the alienating parent and not want to visit with the other one.

    Early warning signs that alienation is taking place include blaming the other parent for the break-up of the family, encouraging a child’s resentment of the other parent, or asking the child to choose between parents.

    Parental Alienation Syndrome after a divorce could potentially ruin a child’s relationship with the alienated parent. If you suspect your ex-spouse is trying to alienate your child from you, keep a detailed journal of events as they happen, including the when, where, and what was said. Keep your attorney and the other professionals involved in your custody situation informed about the happenings.

    Failing to address the matter will not make it go away.

    • Condemning the other parent’s character or lifestyle
    • Talking with the child about details of the divorce and asking them to side with one parent or the other
    • Causing the child to fear their other parent, or lying about the way the other parent treats the child
    • Telling the child that he or she can choose whether to spend time with the other parent, regardless of the set visitation schedule

If you believe that your ex is trying to alienate you from your children, it is important to speak to one of our experienced and skilled Boulder child custody lawyer. Contact the Boulder child custody attorneys at Goff & Goff, LLC today for a free initial consultation.

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