Articles

Parental alienation is a relationship problem, not a disorder

Divorces are never easy for anyone, but they can be especially difficult when parents can't agree about custody arrangements for children. These disputes can quickly lead to high-conflict custody disputes.

Frequently, one parent will accuse the other parent of parental alienation during these conflicts. Parental alienation refers the process of one parent poisoning a child against the other parent. While parental alienation definitely occurs, there has been heated and widespread debate about whether parental alienation should be classified as a mental disorder by the American Psychological Association.

Proponents of classifying it as a disorder believe that it would provided much needed sway for family court judges who must consider what is in the best interests of the child when making custody determinations. This group believes that classifying parental alienation as a disorder would put more pressure on judges to order counseling for the child so the child could be reconciled with their estranged parent.

What about situations where there's abuse? That is top concern of detractors. Battered women advocates and feminists believe that classifying parental alienation as a mental disorder would primarily be used by men as means of distracting the court from their abusive behavior.

The APA has made their final decision. As the mental health organization prepares to issue its fifth Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, they have formally announced that parental alienation will not be included in the DSM-5, which is scheduled for publication next year.

Dr. Darrel Regier, the vice chair of the task force assembling the new manual told the Huffington Post, "The bottom line - it is not a disorder within one individual. It's a relationship problem - parent-child or parent-parent. Relationship problems per se are not mental disorders."

Dr. Regier's distinction is an important one. There isn't one person to blame and the onus should not be placed on one person, whether a child or a parent, to repair the relationship. Sometimes, it's just the situation we don't like, but it always takes two.

Our firm has worked for years to help parents embroiled in high-custody disputes. If you would like more information about how our firm tackles child custody and visitation issues, please visit our child custody disputes page on our website.

Source: www.huffingtonpost.com, "Parental Alienation Not a Psychiatric Disorder, American Psychiatric Association Says," David Crary, 21 September 2012

Since 1980 the AV-rated law firm of Hale Ball has served the legal needs of individuals and businesses. Our team of attorneys include lawyers named to Super Lawyer and Rising Star lists, as well as attorneys with advanced legal degrees, specialty certifications and lawyers who teach their areas of practice to other lawyers.

Use the contact form on this page to schedule a consultation, or call 703-591-4900.

The transmission and receipt of information contained on this website, in whole or in part, or communication with the Hale Ball via the Internet or e-mail through this website does not constitute or create a lawyer-client relationship between this firm and any recipient.

Our Office

10511 Judicial Dr
Fairfax, VA 22030

Let us fight for you

Schedule a Consultation

We will use the information you provide on this form to connect and schedule a consultation with you to go over your legal needs. The transmission and receipt of information contained on this website, in whole or in part, or communication with the Hale Ball via the Internet or e-mail through this website does not constitute or create a lawyer-client relationship between this firm and any recipient.

Hale Ball is committed to providing you with excellent service while protecting the health and safety of our clients and staff. We offer videoconferencing, conference calls and electronic communication, as well as traditional in-person consultations. We are taking precautions to maintain a healthy office environment. As events evolve concerning COVID-19, we will strive to provide outstanding service in a socially responsible manner. Please contact us if you have any concerns.

X