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Does parental alienation trump abuse?

The most common form of custody of minor children, post-divorce, is joint physical custody. Plenty of studies have indicated that children thrive when both parents take an active role in their lives, whether the parents cohabitate or not. I fact, in the rare instance when one parent receives sole physical custody of children is if the other parent is abusive. However, a recent study has shown that one parent claiming abuse, especially if it is the female parent, may risk a counterclaim of parental alienation. According to Forbes Magazine, when fathers claimed parental alienation in response to allegations of abuse, mothers were twice as likely to lose custody.

What is parental alienation?

Parental alienation is when one parent, with false claims, attempts to purposely alienate children from the other parent. The term originates from the 1980s, when a child psychiatrist claimed that vengeful mothers would come up with false sexual abuse allegations against fathers in order to receive custody of children. However, in recent years, these original studies have come under sharp criticism from psychologists, citing a lack of evidence for parental alienation. Despite this, in situations where the mother alleges abuse and the father claims parental alienation, the courts removed custody from the mother 44% of the time.

Should I not claim abuse?

The statistics from the study indicate that it is potentially risky for mothers to raise abuse allegations, even in the event that the abuse is real. While child abuse should never go unreported, it is important to understand the factors going into your case and the real risks behind a father claiming parental alienation.

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