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Study examines parental alienation claims in custody cases

Some people in Pennsylvania may be familiar with the term "parental alienation syndrome". However, some experts say that it has been misused in custody battles and that it is not scientifically supported.

PAS was first described by a child psychiatrist in the 1980s when he was surprised at all of the allegations of sexual abuse that arose in custody trials. His theory was that many of these claims were inventions by mothers. While PAS is used today against both mothers and fathers, research by a law professor has found that it has different outcomes for mothers and fathers. Overall, fathers were more likely to win custody by claiming parental alienation. They took custody 44% of the time overall with this claim while mothers only did 28% of the time. Even when abuse was proven, mothers often lost custody. Out of 51 cases in which mothers reported sexual abuse and a father claimed parental alienation, the court only took the mother's side in one.

This puts mothers who believe their children are being abused in a difficult situation. They may be worried that if they accuse the other parent of abuse, they could lose access to their children altogether.

Abuse, false allegations of abuse and attempts by one parent to turn the child against the other parent are all things that occur, and courts do make an effort to get to the truth and make a decision that is in the best interests of the child. Parents who are concerned about a child's safety with another parent or who have been falsely accused of abuse may want to consult Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, child custody and support attorneys about how to protect their children.

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