Parental Alienation

All too often children are in the middle of parental conflict that is chronic and extreme. High conflict cases are multi-faceted and complex.

According to Perkins J. in S. (C) v. S. (M.), [2007] O.J. No. 787:

Children who are subject to the parental alienation syndrome (I will call them PAS children) are very powerful in their views of the non-alienating parent. The views are almost exclusively negative, to the point that the parent is demonized and seen as evil. […] PAS children feel empowered and are rewarded for attacking the other parents and feel no remorse or shame for doing so. […] PAS children have a knee jerk, reflexive response to support the alienator against the targeted parent, often on the basis of minimal evidence or justification. PAS children broaden their attacks to encompass members of the other parent’s extended family. […] PAS children are recruited by the alienating parent and alienated siblings to the alienating parent’s cause. […] With PAS children, you cannot be sure who you are listening to — is it the child, is it the alienating parent, or is it Court Watch [an advocacy group supporting the father]?

Even if the Court determines that alienation is either the complete or partial cause of the child rejecting one of the parents, the Court is still left with a complicated balance of considerations that keep the best interests of the children as the sole focus in any order that is made.

In relation to children the following signs can be an indicator that a child is being alienated by one parent against the other parent:

  • View of parents is one-sided, all good or all bad, idealizing one parent and devaluing the other parent
  • Vicious vilification of target parent, campaign of hatred
  • Trivial, false and irrational reasons to justify hatred towards a parent
  • Reactions and perceptions unjustified or disproportionate to a parent’s behaviours
  • Talking openly to anyone who will listen about the rejected parent’s shortcomings
  • Extending hatred of one parent to that parent’s family (i.e. father/mother/siblings/aunts/uncles) and pets
  • A lack of guilt or ambivalence regarding malicious treatment or hatred towards a parent
  • Child develops a stronger bond with the parent engaging in parental alienation than with the rejected parent
  • Feelings of anger towards the alienating parent for what the child perceives as abandonment by the alienating parent
  • Blaming the rejected parent for being the cause of their parents’ divorce
  • Child’s speech is brittle and uses swear words when the rejected parent’s name is mentioned
  • Child displays obsessive behaviour
  • The child acts in an unchildlike manner, uses adult language that has a rehearsed quality to it
  • The child’s stories are repetitive and lacking in depth and detail
  • The child begins to mimic what their siblings say is happening rather than  explaining to others what they are experiencing
  • The child begins to display a denial of hope of reconciliation with the rejected parent and refuses to acknowledge any desire to reconcile with the rejected parent
  • The child begins to express worry about the parent they prefer most. They express a desire to care for the preferred parent or a defensive denial that they are worried about the parent.

For more information, please contact:

Shawyer Family Law
504-2300 Dufferin Street
Toronto, ON  M6A 3B2
416-398-4044 ext 25
[email protected]