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What Does PAS Mean to You?


Parental Alienation is a normal and transient aspect of most Florida divorces which involve minors. Children often gravitate to one parent or the other one at different times of their lives. Parental Alienation Syndrome is different. PAS is abnormal and permanent, mostly because it is intentional. The alienating parent, who is usually the residential custodian, drives an emotional wedge between the children and the targeted parent, who is usually the nonresidential custodian.

PAS was a controversial concept when it was first introduced, mostly because many professionals called PAS “maternal brainwashing.” Even today, some psychologists do not formally recognize PAS, even though the emotional damage it inflicts on a family is quite obvious. Once the alienating parent effectively poisons the children, the emotional distance remains, often even after the children become adults.

If PAS is developing in your relationship with your children, a Clearwater family law attorney probably needs to take immediate action. Such action cannot undo the damage which has already occurred. But such action can limit the damage and keep PAS from completely destroying the parent-child relationship.

Recognizing PAS

The difference between PA and PAS is not always easy to recognize. Although they have different effects, both diseases have basically the same symptoms. These symptoms include:

  • Knowingly scheduling children’s activities, like a sleepover, during the other parent’s weekend visitation time,
  • Making unilateral and unannounced schedule changes, such as altering a pickup/dropoff routine or cancelling plans at the last minute,
  • Giving children special privileges during their stays, often while saying something like “I bet Mom/Dad doesn’t let you stay up this late,” and
  • Disparaging the other parent on social media, within the presence or hearing of the children, or directly to the children’s faces.

Frequently, incidents like these indicate the presence of PAS if they are repeated. For example, everyone vents on social media from time to time. But if disparaging posts are directly aimed at the other parent and occur with any frequency or regularity, PAS is more than likely an issue.

Responding to PAS

Parental Alienation Syndrome is always intentional, but it is not always malicious. There is a difference. Some parents do not understand the full consequences of their actions. In these situations, a letter from an attorney, perhaps along with a scholarly article on the subject and a subtle threat of future adverse action, might be enough to deter future misconduct.

However, in most cases, PAS is both intentional and malicious, at least on some level. Therefore, a letter might do little or no good. A motion to modify is a much better alternative.

Most judges ask social workers to conduct investigations in contested modification matters. These professionals know how to spot PAS, and they know how dangerous it is. As a result, social workers usually account for PAS in their custody and visitation recommendations.

Even if the judge’s final order does not alter the children’s primary residence, the motion alone often achieves the desired result. Many alienating parents change their behavior when they know the targeted parent is aware of the situation. Judicial oversight frequently enhances this effect. As a result, PAS’s damage is minimized, and that was the point of the motion in the first place.

Connect with a Compassionate Lawyer

If PAS is threatening your relationship with your children, you have legal options. For a consultation with an experienced Clearwater family attorney, contact Cairns Law, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.


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