Parental Alienation

Awareness of parental alienation has increased greatly over the last few years. Learn about what parental alienation is and how the courts view it, through articles by prominent Canadian family lawyers.

That Toxic Tug-of-War

by Harvey Brownstone

In a custody battle, making peace is more important than being right. Indeed, the very notion of ‘parental alienation’ glosses over whose rights are at issue — namely, the child’s.

Several recent court cases have focused on the serious problem of parental alienation. Although many are hearing about it for the first time, it has always been a prevalent concern in high-conflict custody litigation.

Mental-health professionals debate the definition of parental alienation, and whether it is a clinical “syndrome,” but few would disagree that the problem exists. In simple terms, “parental alienation” refers to a parent’s persistent … more »

Clarifying Gender Differences in Alienation

by Nicholas Bala and Suzanne Hunt

Parental alienation cases have been receiving a great deal of public and professional attention in the past few months in Canada. As with so many issues in family law, there are two competing, gendered narratives offered to explain these cases.

Men’s rights activists claim that mothers alienate children from their fathers as a way of seeking revenge for separation, and they argue that judges are gender-biased against fathers in these cases. Feminists tend to dismiss alienation as a fabrication of abusive fathers who are trying to force contact with children who are frightened of … more »

How Spouses Use Alienation Syndrome as a Weapon

by Alison Brewin and Carla Lewis

Parental alienation syndrome (PAS) can be used as a tool in the most adversarial of approaches to family law: Some parents allege it in order to control the other spouse or the children.

History of PAS

PAS originated with child psychiatrist Richard Gardner in 1985. He used it to describe cases involving what he believed were false allegations of child sexual abuse. Gardner defined PAS as “a child’s campaign of denigration against a parent that results from ‘programming’ of the child by one parent to denigrate the other parent and self-created contributions by the … more »