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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 202741 Find in a Library
Title: Parental Alienation Syndrome in Family Court Disputes
Author(s): Carolyn Quadrio
Date Published: May 2003
Page Count: 9
Sponsoring Agency: Australian Institute of Criminology
Canberra ACT, 2601, Australia
Sale Source: Australian Institute of Criminology
GPO Box 2944
Canberra ACT, 2601,
Document: PDF
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Document (Online)
Language: English
Country: Australia
Annotation: The author -- who has many years of experience in preparing family assessments for the Family Court in Australia, many of which have involved allegations of child sexual abuse -- reviews the Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) as described by Gardener (1987) and its utility in legal proceedings, along with the credibility of children who make disclosures of sexual abuse by a parent.
Abstract: PAS, as described by Gardener for cases in the United States, occurs in the context of disputed child custody or residency following divorce and involves one parent (usually the mother) seeking to deny the other parent access to the child on the basis of alleged sexual abuse of the child by the other parent. Gardener uses the term Parental Alienation Syndrome to refer to false allegations of child sexual abuse made by one parent in an attempt to deliberately alienate the child from the other parent. According to Gardener, 90 percent of the allegations of child sexual abuse in the context of custody and residency disputes involve PAS. Gardener, however, presents no data to substantiate this conclusion. On the other hand, there are a number of excellent studies that provide empirical data to show that false allegations of child sexual abuse comprise only a minority of the cases. Because PAS is a non-diagnostic syndrome, it has no utility. Because of the possibility of multiple interpretations of a given behavior, inter-rater reliability is poor. PAS does not take into account the range of behaviors a child adopts in relation to an abusive parent. Mothers also have a range of responses to a child's disclosure of abuse. Thus, because PAS does not in itself address the issue of whether a child has been abused, it is of little use in deciding who is telling the truth in custody and visitation disputes. Based on the literature and her own experience, the author concludes that false allegations of child sexual abuse in divorce proceedings are uncommon, with rates varying from 2 to 8 percent. 10 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile victims
Index Term(s): Child custody; Child Sexual Abuse; Criminal Justice System Response to Victims; Family courts; Foreign courts
Note: Paper presented at the Child Sexual Abuse: Justice Response or Alternative Resolution Conference held in Adelaide, Australia, May 1-2, 2003; downloaded November 6, 2003.
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