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How parental alienation can be used as a defense against abuse

While almost any divorce is a maze of intense emotions with extremely high stakes, those involving possession of minor children are doubly so, particularly in cases involving abuse. In Texas and throughout the United States, Parental Alienation Syndrome has been used as a defense against abuse charges since the 1980s, when Richard Gardner, a child psychologist, first introduced the term.

Despite not having any scientific evidence to back up his claims, Gardner's work has widely been used to discredit allegations of sexual and physical abuse in custody disputes. This has resulted in parents losing possession or joint custody of their children, even when such allegations have been proven with criminal charges.

Recent studies have found parental alienation claims have been remarkably effective against claims of abuse. Most parents logically assume that if they can show their children are being abused, then they will be appointed the custodial parent. Unfortunately, these studies show that that is often not the outcome. The abuser is often not only granted access to the children but also given primary possession. Parents with no legal training have to decide whether they should present evidence of abuse and leave themselves open to counterclaims of parental alienation or remain silent about the abuse and possibly put their children in a harmful environment.

A knowledgeable lawyer might be an invaluable asset when navigating the legal minefield of child custody. Often matters that seem simple and straightforward at first glance turn out to be extremely complicated, even when the best interests of the child are considered. An attorney with experience in child possession issues may be able to provide advice on all of the issues arising in child custody cases, including school issues, child custody modification, relocation, legal custody, physical custody, and visitation rights, as well as cases involving international abduction.

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