Parental Alienation Syndrome

Ludwig.F. Lowenstein Ph.D

Southern England Psychological Services

Book Paeophilia published by Able Publishers, 13 Station Road, Nebworth, Hertfordshire, SG3 6AP

Chapter 20

Parent Alienation Syndrome – A Two Step Approach Towards a Solution

Background Literature

The main pioneer in the area of alienation syndrome frequently termed parental alienation syndrome was Richard Gardner (1992; 1995). He drew attention to the gross injustice that frequently occurred mostly in relation to fathers being rejected from the family as a result of separation or divorce. His two books, “True and False Accusations of Child Sex Abuse”, and “Protocols for Sex Abuse Evaluation” are landmarks in the area of parental alienation syndrome. He has worked for many years as a forensic psychologist dealing with cases in the courts in the United States.

He has also written an Addendum UI entitled “Recommendations for Dealing with Parents who Induce a Parental Alienation Syndrome in their children” (1996). Virtually all subsequent work carried out has taken heed of his own investigations and most importantly, his evaluations of the alleged child victim, the accused and the accuser. He broke down the various aspects related to alleged child sexual abuse into various criteria. This has resulted in myself (1993 a, b) developing an inventory and interview procedure based on his work and dealing with the alleged victim of sexual abuse, the alleged abuser and the accuser. Although from time to time matters are reversed and the alienation syndrome refers to the mother being left out of the family conciliation, most often it refers to fathers since the courts and western societies tend to favour mothers as custodians of their children and unfortunately frequently as sole custodians.

Among the evaluation aspects of males accused of sexual abuse (Gardner, 1995) were numerous factors. These included:

  1. History of family influences conducive to the development of significant psychopathology.
  2. Long standing history of emotional deprivation.
  3. Intellectual impairment.
  4. Childhood history of sex abuse.
  5. Long standing history of sex abuse.
  6. Impulsivity.
  7. Narcissism.
  8. Coercive dominated behaviour.
  9. Passivity and impaired self-assertion.
  10. Substance abuse.
  11. Poor judgment.
  12. Impaired sexual interests, in age appropriate women.
  13. Presence of other sexual deviations.
  14. Psychosis.
  15. Immaturity and/or regression.
  16. Large collection of child pornographic materials.
  17. Career choice that brings him in contact with children.
  18. Recent rejection by female peer or dysfunctional heterosexual relationship.
  19. Unconvincing denial.
  20. Use of rationalisation and cognitive distortion to justify paedophilia.
  21. Utilisation of seductivity.
  22. Attitude towards taking a He detector test.
  23. Lack of cooperation in the evaluative examination.
  24. Duplicity unrelated to the sex abuse denial and psychopathic tendency.
  25. Moralism.
  26. Numerous victims.

Studies by Clawar and Rivlin (1991) in a book entitled, “Children Held Hostage”, reviewed some of the methods used, usually by mothers to induce the alienation against the fathers. These include:

  1. Intimidation and threat.
  2. Guilt induction.
  3. The “buy-off’.
  4. Playing the victim.
  5. Suggesting the child or parent will experience loneliness and fear.
  6. Parental promise to change themselves and/or conditions.
  7. Parental over-indulgence and permissiveness.
  8. Telling the “truth” to the child about past events.

The authors emphasise that “brain-washing and programming” are used by parents seeking to alienate their children from another parent.

Other recent literature on the Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) and reaction to separation and divorce were covered under the subject of: (A) Problems associated with divorce and especially acrimonious relationships between parents; (B) the role of mediation by professionals as an alternative to legal sanctions.

We will now look at each of these in turn.

A. Problems Associated with Divorce and Especially Acrimonious Relationships Between Parents

This section deals with those who refuse mediation as opposed to those who accept such approaches. Buchanan et al (1991) examined adolescents’ feelings of being caught between parents to see whether this construct helped to explain (1) variability in their post-divorce adjustments and (2) associations between family/child characteristics and adolescent adjustment. 522 subjects aged 10.5 – 18 years from 165 families were interviewed after their parents’ separation. Feeling caught between parents was related to high parental conflict and hostility and low parental cooperation. Being close to both parents was associated with low feelings of being caught. The relation between time spent with each parent and feeling caught depended on the co-parenting relationship. Subjects in dual residence were especially likely to feel caught up when parents were in high conflict. Feeling caught, was related to poor adjustment outcomes.

Problems associated with divorce and causing legal confrontations were noted by Johnston & Campbell (1993). They reported data on allegations of domestic violence in two samples of high conflict families in child custody disputes. Sample l comprised 80 divorcing parents disputing custody and visitation of their 100 children, aged 1-12 years, and sample 2 comprised 60 divorcing parents with 75 children aged 3-12 years. Five basic types of inter parental violence and corresponding patterns in parent-child relationships were indicated: (1) ongoing and episodic male battering, (2) female initiated violence, (3) male-controlling interactive violence, (4) separation-engendered and post-divorce trauma, and (5) psychotic and paranoid reactions. It was hypothesised that children’s adjustment were more disturbed in divorcing families litigating custody where the domestic violence had been more severe and repetitive and where it was perpetrated predominantly by men compared with women. The results supported this hypothesis. Also the long term effects of parental divorce on parent-child relationships, adjustment and achievement in young adulthood was studied by Zill et al (1993). Longitudinal data from the National Survey of Children were examined to investigate whether effects of parental divorce were evident in young adulthood. Among 18-22 year old from disrupted families, 65% had poor relationships with their fathers and 30% with their mothers. 25% had dropped out of high school, and 40% had received psychological help. Even after controlling for demographic and socioeconomic differences, youths from disrupted families were twice as likely to exhibit these problems as youths from non-disrupted families. A significant effect of divorce on mother-child relationships was evident in adulthood, whereas none was found in adolescence. Youths experiencing disruption before 6 years of age showed poorer relationships with their fathers than those experiencing disruptions later in childhood. Overall, remarriage did not have a protective effect, but there were indications of amelioration among those who experienced early disruption.

The effects of family composition, family health, parenting behaviour and environmental stress on children’s divorce adjustment was considered by Ellwood & Stolberg (1993). The subjects, aged 8-11 years included 18 children whose parents remained married, 46 whose parents were divorced, and 17 whose parents divorced and subsequently remarried. Custodial parents completed questionnaires regarding family functioning, occurrence of stressful life events, and child’s psychosocial adjustment. Children completed the Children’s Report of Parent Behaviour Inventory and a self-perception profile for children. A trained examiner conducted a diagnostic interview of the child. Family composition had a significant effect on occurrence of stressful events and change in income but not children’s adjustment. The most powerful predictors of child adjustment were family competence variables. Higher levels of family functioning were associated with families where parental hostility was low and parents displayed few rejecting behaviours while practising consistent and appropriate discipline.

The parental alienation syndrome was studied in sixteen selected cases by Dunne & Hedrick (1994). They analysed 16 cases of divorcing families in which one or more of the children, aged 0-14 years in the family had rejected a parent after divorce to validate the work of Richard Gardner, previously mentioned. Cases were taken from the caseloads of clinicians working with the families. The cases met the majority of Gardner’s criteria, including an obsessive hatred of the alienated parent on the basis of trivial or unsubstantiated accusations and complete support for the alienating parent. Although the cases showed a wide diversity of characteristics, Gardner’s criteria were useful in differentiating these cases from other post-divorce difficulties. PAS (Parental Alienation Syndrome) appeared to be primarily a function of the pathology of the alienating parent and that parent’s relationship with the children and PAS did not signify dysfunction in the alienated parent or in the relationship between that parent and the child.

Expanding the parameters of parental alienation syndrome was the work of Cartwright (1993). PAS resulted from the attempt by one parent to alienate a child from the other parent. Because PAS was newly recognised and described, it had to be newly defined and redefined as new cases were observed and the phenomenon became better understood. New evidence suggested that PAS was provoked by other than custodial matters, that cases of alleged sexual abuse were hinted at, that slow adjustments by courts exacerbated the problem, that prolonged alienation of the child triggered other forms of mental illness and that too little remained known of the long term consequences to alienated children and their families.

Turkat (1994) studied child visitation interference in divorce. This was to raise an awareness of the problem among psychologists seeking to find solutions to these difficulties. From the clinical and legal literature, there appeared to be at least three types of situations related to child visitation interference: acute interference, parental alienation syndrome, and divorce related malicious mother syndrome. The associated difficulties in handling this problem in the legal system were considered.

Amato & Rezac (1994) tested the hypothesis that children’s contact with non-resident parents (NRPs) decreased children’s behaviour problems when inter-parental conflict was low but increased children’s behaviour problems when inter-parental conflict was high. Data was analysed in 1,285 children aged 5-18 years of single parent families from the National Survey of Families and Households. The subjects, resident parents, reported on the frequency of interaction between the child and NRP and the conflict between the resident and NRP. When the resident parent reported little conflict with the NRP, boys who had a high level of involvement with the NRP were said to have fewer behavioural problems. However, when the resident parent reported to have conflict with the NRP, boys who had a high level of involvement with the NRP were said to have a larger number of behavioural problems. No support for the hypothesis was found among girls, regardless of the family background.

A therapist’s view of parental alienation syndrome was studied by Lund (1995). She explored different reasons why a child might reject one parent in a divorced family and the ways of helping such families. Cases in which a child resisted contact with a parent had or had not to fit R.A. Gardner’s theory of Parent Alienation Syndrome (PAS), which emphasised the psychopathology of alienating parents. The reasons for parental rejection were many according to this investigator. They could be due to (1) developmentally normal separation problems, (2) deficits in the non-custodial parent’s skills, (3) oppositional behaviour, (4) high conflict divorced families, (5) serious problems, not necessarily abuse, and (6) child abuse. Gardner recommended legal and therapeutic interventions based on whether the case was assessed to be one of mild, moderate, or extreme parental alienation. Success in the treatment of the PAS cases was to be defined as the maintenance of some contact between parent and child.

The impact of parental divorce on the attainment of the developmental tasks of young adulthood was considered by Johnson et al (1995). They assessed the impact of parental divorce on the development of 125 undergraduates (88 women), aged 19-53 years, who completed a demographic questionnaire, the Personal Authority in the Family System Questionnaire (college version), and the conflict sub scale of the Family Environment Scale. The results indicated that parental divorce and family conflict significantly interfered with developmental tasks attained. The interactions between sex and age and family structure, i.e. single parents or step family were also significant predictors of post-divorce task attainment. Therapists needed to help these individuals attain “emotional middle ground” by separating and individuating from their family without emotionally cutting off or remaining connected through anger.

B. The Role of Mediation as an Alternative to Legal Sanctions

Kelly (1991) compared the interactions and perceptions of two groups of divorcing parents using different dispute resolution processes at final divorce and at l and 2 years post-divorce. The effectiveness of a comprehensive divorce mediation process was contrasted to the more customary 2 attorney adversarial process. The mediation sample at 2 years post-divorce consisted of 52 subjects, and the adversarial sample consisted of 73 subjects. The subjects in the divorce mediation group reported less conflict, more contact and communication, and a more positive attitude towards the other parent at final divorce. The majority of differences favouring the mediation intervention continued through the first year after divorce and disappeared by the second year post divorce data collection.

Following a contested custody case, parents who had won custody of their child appeared to need a particular kind of psychological help to prevent the development of the problems to which children of divorce were subject, (Solomon, 1991). The critical time was between the 3rd and 6th month after the court had awarded custody of the child to the parent with whom the child had been living. Three case studies illustrated the nature and timing of the necessary interventions. The therapeutic interventions (1) made the parent aware of the changes in his/her perception of the child and the reasons underlying these changes, (2) furnished the parent with several bodies of information, and (3) made the links between these factors and events occurring in his/her family.

I concerned myself with the manipulation which parents carry out in seeking child custody(1992). It was vital to weigh up the removing of children from the home and the danger to the child in placing him/her with one or other parent without making adequate provisions for the other parent who was capable of playing an important role in the child or children’s lives. He emphasised the importance of carrying out what he termed, a group diagnostic interview which was capable of leading to further meetings, leading eventually to cooperation and the avoidance of continued disputes and legal actions. The fact that PAS occurred in which the controlling parent frequently accused the parent seeking contact of sexual abuse needed to be properly investigated. Allegations of sexual abuse need not necessarily with certainty signify that this has occurred. Unfortunately, very often this is the case and very often fathers, particularly, lose contact with their children due to false accusations of sexual abuse carried out by (usually) the mother in seeking to avoid children having contact with their rightful father. It is the role of psychologists carrying out tasks of mediation to help the antagonists find a solution which, at least in part, provides what they seek.

Geffner, (1992) focused on techniques and issues concerning mediation of abusive couples during and after separation or divorce. A questionnaire was presented that was used to help identify abusive relationships. It was important that the wife and the children were safe during mediation, since research showed that more batterers had murdered their wives during this time period when divorce was imminent. Since the balance of power was unequal in the relationship, mediation had had to be modified so that the situation became neutral. The mediator had to model ways of dealing with intimidation. Other issues facing mediators in these cases involved living arrangements, conversion changes in children, financial support, joint custody, and parent alienation syndrome.

Mediation strategies discussed by Bonney (1993) proposed that the focus of child custody evaluation and mediation was to be broadened beyond custody arrangement to consideration of the range of factors that had an impact on post-divorce relationships. The amount of conflict between parents, parental agreement on access, use of support, parental well-being, and parent-child relationships were factors associated with children’s post-divorce adjustment. Strategies for involving parents in drafting agreements to guide relationships with each other and with the children were offered. These included communication, consistent discipline, warmth and support, encouraging a relationship with the other parent, and listening to the feelings and sharing values.

Kurkowski et al (1993) used a brief educational intervention to reduce the number of times divorced parents put their children in the middle of parental conflict. 98,9m-12th graders were divided into two groups: a 49 member intact family group and a 49 member divorced group (subjects from divorced or separated homes). An intervention group consisted of 45 of the 49 subjects, who were located for post-intervention assessment. The subjects completed a questionnaire, which rated the frequency and stressfulness of 32 situations into which a parent had put them “in the middle”, within the past month. Parents of the intervention group were mailed the subjects’ averaged responses and an explanatory letter. The same 32-item questionnaire was given about one month after the mailing as the intervention evaluation. The subjects in the intervention group improved more than the two control groups combined.

Lowenstein (1994) considered the Child and Child Sex Abuse Allegations. There were serious allegations which needed to receive a thorough examination by anyone investigating them. It was felt however that frequently allegations were considered to be valid even if disproved eventually. In those circumstances both the victim of alleged child sexual abuse as well as the alleged perpetrator had to be protected by the truth and justice done to both. It was felt that what was urgently required was an objective assessment of allegations of child sexual abuse in the interview situation and the use of more sophisticated psychological tests or inventories specifically constructed to assess children as well as the accused and the accuser. Lowenstein (1993a,b) developed a Sexual Abuse Personality Inventory (LSAPI) which was yet unpublished, and had restricted use by the author only. Lowenstein (1994) also considered that many interviewers of children were leading them in the direction of assuming that sexual abuse had taken place and provided an actual illustration in his paper. The use of Gardner’s paper (1992) and his true or false accusation interview and process were recommended.

Paterson & Steinman (1994) described the development, goals and preliminary evaluation of the Helping Children Succeed After Divorce (HCSD) Seminar mandated by the domestic relations court of Franklin County, Ohio. The programme was designed to educate divorcing parents about the effects of divorce and parental conflict on their children. HCSD was a two and a half hour seminar presented by two mental health professionals. It covered the adult’s and child’s divorce experience, co-parental relationship building, and problem solving. An evaluation involving 600 initial HCSD participants, indicated that response to HCSD was favourable; following HCSD participation, the majority of the parents were more aware of their children’s divorce experience, the importance of a continued relationship with their former spouse, and options available for resolution of child-related disputes.

A view of the methods used in litigation and child custody evaluations was carried out by Hysjulien et al (1994). They reviewed the current assessment methods used in child custody (CC) litigation and mediation and discussed their reliability and validity. Existing outcome studies concerned CC evaluations and were presented. Psychological tests, semi-structured interviews, and behavioural observations of parents and children in CC disputes were reviewed. The related issues of child abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence and parental alienation syndrome were discussed. There was little empirical evidence to support the efficacy of methods typically used by professionals in making recommendations to the court. This view was not shared by Lowenstein (1997a) in his unpublished work, “The Law and Protecting the Child and Accused from False Sex Abuse Allegations” and his work in the area of shared parenting after divorce (Lowenstein, 1997b) unpublished study.

Parent Alienation Syndrome – A Two Step Approach Towards a Solution


The case which follows illustrates one of a dozen other cases which have involved me in seeking to find a solution to long term acrimonious parents. It involves a two-step approach to finding a solution. The first step is obviously the one which is preferred because it involves the voluntary cooperation of both parents in finding a solution which is mutually satisfying.

Frequently, adversarial approaches have gone on for a long period and have failed to resolve the essential issue. This is whether an alienated parent will be allowed to have contact with the children which may result in better times for the children through the improved parental relationship. The second approach essentially establishes who is the cooperative and who is uncooperative as a parent and takes issue with the uncooperative parent by depriving that parent of autonomy in deciding on the matter of who shall take part in further contact with the children involved in the relationship.

Needless to say, anyone dealing with warring parents will note that each attempts to portray the other in the most dismal or black light as possible vis a vis their behaviour and attitudes. Little can be achieved through this approach and certainly those who suffer the most as a result are likely to be the children who are confused by warring parents, or who are poisoned by one parent against the other. Usually the parent who has contact initially on a total basis with the children is able to portray the other parent as evil and unworthy of playing a parental role. Most cases involve mothers who have contact with their children and fathers who seek such contact but who have been prevented from playing a parental role by the mother.

Each parent attempts to portray the other as being unfit to play the part of a parent and in the most severe cases such allegations are made as sexual abuse. Alternatively a parent may be said to fail to provide sufficient support, care, guidance or discipline.

In my experience the adversarial system leads itself splendidly towards being manipulated by one or both parents and there is a failure to find a solution. Frequently an impasse is reached where the parent who currently retains control of the children retains such control despite the fact that the other parent could play an effective role in the parenting arrangement. In later years the children themselves acknowledge the fact that they have been poisoned against the other parent unjustifiably and both parents suffer, especially that parent who has sought to keep the other out of the parental rearing arrangement.

Now follows the kind of scenario which supports the importance of having the two-step approach previously mentioned.

The case of X versus Y

Step 1

As a Consultant Psychologist trained in both forensic, clinical and educational psychology, I have found it useful to involve both parents in a discussion which could lead to a solution in front of a judge. The approach commences as follows: The psychologist sees each of the partners separately gaining insight into what each feels about the situation and seeking any common ground that may exist between the two waning factions. It is made clear to both parties that that partner who fails to cooperate with the psychologist in seeking a true, positive and constructive solution is likely to fail to benefit from the decision of the court. It is of course, imperative that the psychologist has the mandate through the court to be able to engage both parents, initially separately, in discussions to find a solution to a problem which, in many cases, has lasted for a long period of time.

Once it has been established that some form of rapport exists between the psychologist and both members, having seen them separately, then the two parties in the dispute are brought together by the psychologist for a mutually valuable positive and constructive engagement to find a solution which will be agreeable to both, although not totally agreeable in every way to both sides. It is frequently necessary in this situation that past acrimonies and hurt of both members of the dispute are not brought into the open, but rather the finding of a solution to the problem becomes the primary objective.

Once a decision has been reached by the psychologist in line with what he has found from both parents, this is then brought before the court for a decision to be made on a legal basis, having as already stated, obtained the consent to this decision by both parties.

Should one or other of the parties fail to cooperate, it would then be necessary to go to Step 2., which follows.

Step 2

The court will have witnessed the cooperation or lack of cooperation of one or both members of the dispute in earlier sessions and will have mandated the psychologist to seek to find a solution which it will be possible for the court to implement in due course. The court’s reaction will be at least partly dependent on the evidence obtained from the warring factions on their desire or willingness to cooperate in finding a solution or the reverse tendency. Unless the case is proven against one or other of the parties that there has been serious derelictions in parental responsibility and in the extreme form, that that has been proven to be sexual abuse, it must be considered that both parties have a right to the responsibility of caring for their children, be it the father or the mother. The degree of the responsibility and the degree of contact must be decided upon by the court, perhaps with the advice of the mental health workers such as the psychologist or others.

The fact that both parents are aware that the law will take a hand if they fail to be cooperative as in Step l, should incline them to seek a solution together rather than have it imposed upon them by the actions of the court. There are however, situations where one or both parties fail to respond in a voluntary sense and hence it is vital to have Step 2 available, this being dependent on the reaction to Step l.

Comparing the Adversarial Legal Approach to Mediation Approaches in Parental Alienation Syndrome

What follows is the result of a study over 10 years in dealing with 16 cases which used a purely adversarial approach and 16 which relied virtually totally on the mediation method.

Table l illustrates the time taken by the adversarial approach without necessarily achieving a resolution of the problems and a mediation approach in PAS type cases.

Table 1 – Mediation Approach and Adversarial Approach – Time Taken to Achieve a Solution
< 6 months

*This case was ultimately settled via mediation.

Table 2 – Degree of Ultimate Satisfaction After Mediation (52 children – 32 parents, no. of cases = 32)
Very Satisfied
Less than Satisfied
Very Unsatisfied
Table 3 – Degree of Ultimate Satisfaction Without Mediation (16 families, 49 children, n = 32)
Very Satisfied
Less than Satisfied
Very Unsatisfied

Summary of Research

The pioneer in the area of Parental Alienation Syndrome and False Allegations as well as True Allegations of Sexual Abuse must be Dr. Richard Gardner (1992; 1995). He was one of the first to draw attention to the injustices committed by alienating parents. Included in this book I (Lowenstein (1993a, b), have attempted to develop an Inventory and Interview Technique to identify true and false alleged sexual abuse of victims, accuser and the accused. I was guided by Gardner, 1994 and his own factors are involved in true and false accusations mostly associated with parental alienation syndrome. Clawar & Rivlin in their book “Children Held Hostage” also allude to the serious associated problems of parental alienation syndrome.

Numerous investigators have discovered the problems associated with divorce and the estrangement between formerly close parents and how this affects the children following an acrimonious ending of the relationship between the parents. All investigators indicate the importance of parents developing a way of dealing with their resentment for the benefit of their children as well as for one another.

Frequently alienation occurs and strategies are used by one or both partners to denigrate the role played by the other partner in the relationship, most especially in their conduct towards their own children. False allegations frequently result which hamper the capacity of those seeking to find a solution to an on-going problem. Where litigation is continuous and acrimony particularly rampant, children tend to develop various reactions including neuroses and behavioural difficulties as well as educational problems. These children also tend to have poorer relationships with adults once they themselves have matured.

Psychologists and others must distinguish between pathological relationships between one partner and the children, as well as with the alienating partner and recognise when this is manufactured for the purpose of controlling children and preventing the alienated partner from having contact with their children. Alleged sexual abuse is just one of the strategies used by a partner to eliminate the other from having contact with children which are their joint offspring. Most research has concluded that inter-parental conflict reduces the likelihood of children developing normally.

The recommendation by Gardner that both legal and therapeutic intervention is vital to obviate further harmful consequences for the children, cannot be over-emphasised. Following the success there is a greater likelihood that PAS (Parental Alienation Syndrome) is reduced or eliminated altogether. With one to three or one to four marriages leading to divorce or separation, there is a great urgency to develop plans to make certain that both parents can continue to play a role in the lives of their children.

The role of mediation performed by psychologists and other mental health workers produces the positive and constructive result which is desirable for all concerned. It is important to link the benefits of this to children in both the educational and therapeutic process wherein the parents must be involved. As a result of such approaches, litigation plays a lesser role and mediation a greater one.

Conclusions and Recommendations

1. It is urged that mediation play a larger role in cases of parental alienation syndrome. Those most likely to be effective in helping parents and eventually their children are psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professional workers.

2. There is also considerable evidence that mediation approaches are found superior to adversarial approaches although the combination of the two cannot be ruled out.

3. Judges and Magistrates must take heed of the most recent research which psychologists and others have carried out to indicate the role played by themselves in seeking to repair pathological relationships that have developed due to the parent alienation syndrome.

4. It is vital to have the court and its power overseeing that the mediation process occurs effectively. It is especially important for the court to take cognisance with any parent who fails to cooperate in the process and to take appropriate action. This may well mean that the parent who fails to cooperate after ascertaining that both parents have done nothing pathologically wrong in relation to their children, will be duly dealt with through the court’s action.


It will take a considerable period of time and the pioneering spirit and courage of British justice to heed the advice which has been given in this article. Judges may see their role as more than perpetuators of previous cases and seek new ways of dealing with difficult issues such as parental alienation syndrome and probably other cases. The adversarial system does not lend itself particularly well to such issues albeit it is ingrained in British justice as the method forward and the most fair way of dealing with a variety of offences and problems faced by members of society. Furthermore the methods advocated for bringing in expert witnesses to deal with such cases as marital problems and issues and parental alienation syndrome does not dilute the power of the Court for it still retains the option of ruling, in the final analysis, as is noted in Step 2. Step l provides the Court with an additional way which is always preferable when the parties concerned in the dispute can be helped to solve their problems without the teeth of judicial decisions being immediately utilised.

It is now vital to consider the importance of appointing Expert Witnesses by the Court to act as intermediaries between the parents and the Court and to seek reconciliation of some kind by deliberately focusing on the positive aspects of the relationship between the former partners. This is the best way forward whereby children will benefit and parents equally will be able to play a positive and constructive role in rearing such children. At the present time, through the adversarial system, there is often the use of two expert witnesses, one on each side, and their loyalty may well be to their “camp” rather than to seeking a solution which is favourable or as favourable as possible to both parties rather than merely to seek the advantages for their own side. A person attempting such work must be highly experienced and qualified to carry out this important work for the individual concerned be he/she a psychiatrist, or a psychologist, and must be able to win the confidence of both parents if possible and thereby seek their cooperation after often highly acrimonious periods which have resolved nothing between the parents and the judicial system seeking to fïnd the most appropriate solution.


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