CSU researcher’s findings counsel courts adequately deal with manipulative conduct in custody circumstances | Information
Parental alienation, or the theory that one parent is discrediting another in order to turn their children against the ex-spouse, is a largely unsuccessful strategy for custody proceedings, a Colorado State University researcher found.
Jennifer Harman, professor of psychology, reviewed 967 appeals court rulings that included parental alienation. Findings, published in Psychology, Politics, and Law, suggest that parents who dealt with alienation tended to get less parental leave, while those who falsely claimed to be alienated were unlikely to get more parental leave.
“The encouraging thing is that the court does not seem to take the allegation of alienation or abuse of parents lightly,” Harman told the CSU news service. “Our data shows that the courts are saying, ‘This is serious and concerns children and we should protect these children from this type of abuse. “
Harman and her co-author Demosthenes Lorandos conducted the study in response to a 2019 publication by the George Washington University Law School. In this study, researchers reported the opposite: the courts were too quick to embrace the theory of parental alienation and undervalued allegations of legitimate abuse.
Judges, the authors wrote, are “overly skeptical of reports of physical and sexual abuse of children, are likely to be overly skeptical of allegations of domestic violence, and sometimes grant custody to known abusers. Overall, mothers who report abuse – especially child abuse – lose custody to a large extent. “
Harman pointed out to the CSU that their study contradicted these results.