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Is parental alienation a valid concern?

Divorces in California can range in terms of the animosity between two spouses parting ways. When issues such as child custody are in play, a contentious situation can be very difficult. If accusations of child abuse are raised by either a parent or child, the matter can become even more complicated. Although child abuse is a serious matter that a court would not want to take lightly, there can be concerns of possible parental alienation.

In a study of 240 cases in which parental alienation was a concern, the mother making accusations of child abuse lost some form of child custody in 80 percent of the situations. However, experts believe that in many such cases, the abuse reports may have been legitimate. Additionally, there are concerns that the idea of parental alienation is not truly a mental disorder. In some cases, adults have confirmed that these situations created greater danger and suffering to them when they were children when their abusive parents obtained primary or full physical custody.

Because a judge's decisions in a case involving allegations of child abuse or parental alienation can vary based on personal beliefs and other factors, evidence of abuse claims could be helpful in supporting allegations. For example, accusations of illegal drug use could be validated with drug testing. Reports from a school or from protective services could substantiate whether abuse has been a concern in venues other than the home. However, such reports could also indicate that an authority has been contacted maliciously, which could support an accused parent's case.

A parent with valid concerns about an ex-spouse's treatment of their child might involve a family counselor prior to divorce or child custody proceedings moving forward. A lawyer might use a counselor as a witness as a judge hears a custody case.

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