Court Reports

parental alienation

Parental Alienation: Both David and Liz are very capable of recognizing the signs of parental alienation in a child. They have worked on a number of high-profile cases in Ireland and are very competent to assist you if you feel that perhaps there has been alienation in your family.

What is Parental Alienation?

The idea of parental alienation was first put forward by Dr. Richard Gardner in 1985. Parental alienation normally happens during a highly conflictual marital or relationship separation where the child identifies strongly with one parent while the other parent is hated and rejected without any justifiable reason. Often the child will make false allegations to reaffirm their hatred of the alienated parent.

This alienation is created by the alienating parent, who often pressures the child to go along with their hatred of the other parent. The alienating parent programs the child to despise their other parent by criticizing the alienated parent and undermining their relationship.

While the alienated parent suffers in this situation. The child suffers too. They often experience the loss of their alienated parent like they would a premature death of a parent. The child may also feel neglected and angry. They may take on characteristics of the alienating parent, such as a lack of empathy and rigid thinking.

Types of Parental Alienation

Parental alienation can be classified by its severity, from mild to severe.

Mild parental alienation is marked by a child who is resistant to visiting with the alienated parent but enjoys spending time with their parent once they are alone together.

A child with moderate parental alienation will strongly resist any contact with the alienated parent and maintain resentment and opposition during their time with them.

In cases of severe parental alienation, the child may not only strongly resist any contact with the alienated parent but may also run away or hide to avoid having to visit with them.

Signs of Parental Alienation
If you’re worried your child may be experiencing parental alienation, here are some signs to watch for:

Unjust Criticism
No parent is perfect, some may even lose their tempers or even shout at their children, and let’s face it, all children get angry and upset at their parents. Children with parental alienation, however, will criticize the alienated parent severely and without good cause.
They rarely or never have anything good to say about you. If they do have fun with you, they may ask you to keep it a secret from their other parent.

Unwavering Support for the Alienating Parent
As much as they criticize you, your child will always defend their other parent. They have extreme “black and white” thinking. Everything you do is bad, and everything your other parent does is good. They will deny that the alienating parent has influenced them in a negative way and they will probably claim that their feelings are all their own.

No Feelings of Guilt
While most children who get mad and say hurtful things to their parents will feel sorry and apologize later, children with parental alienation feel no guilt about their mistreatment of you. They can be verbally aggressive or even physically aggressive and show no remorse at all.
They feel justified in their hatred of you and may even come to hate their cousins or other close family members.

When Gardner talked about PAS, he identified eight “symptoms” (or criteria) for it:

  1. The child constantly and unfairly criticizes the alienated parent (sometimes called a “campaign of denigration”).
  2. The child doesn’t have any strong evidence, specific examples, or justifications for the criticisms — or only has false reasoning.
  3. The child’s feelings about the alienated parent aren’t mixed — they’re all negative, with no redeeming qualities to be found. This is sometimes called “lack of ambivalence.”
  4. The child claims the criticisms are all their own conclusions and based on their own independent thinking. (In reality, in PA, the alienating parent is said to “program” the child with these ideas.)
  5. The child has unwavering support for the alienator.
  6. The child doesn’t feel guilty about mistreating or hating the alienated parent.
  7. The child uses terms and phrases that seem borrowed from adult language when referring to situations that never happened or happened before the child’s memory.
  8. The child’s feelings of hatred toward the alienated parent expand to include other family members related to that parent (for example, grandparents or cousins on that side of the family).

Gardner later added that to be diagnosed with PAS, the child should have a strong bond with the alienator and previously have had a strong bond with the alienator. He also said the child should show negative behaviors when with the alienated parent and have difficulty with custody transitions.

Each family is different and unique. If you feel that parental alienation is taking place, you can request an assessment from Familia, without a Court Order. We will request to meet your children from your partner’s solicitor and complete our assessment as quickly as possible.

For more information email us on

Section 32 Assessors. 

Familia are a professional team of section 32 assessorsWe also work with children, teenagers and individual parents to ensure that their voices are heard during the assessment phase of the section 32 report or section 47 report.