n Child Abuse Research in South Africa - Legal remedies available to an aggrieved parent : observations on the Parental Alienation Syndrome in custody and access litigation




The high divorce rate has led to a vast increase in child custody disputes. This article deals with what may be termed the "custody battle" and the impact it may have on the children. Protracted adversarial processes often intensify the hostility between the parents, leaving the children confused and hurt. All too often new disputes arise when the custodian parent frustrates the non-custodian parent's rights of access. There are legal measures to enforce custody rights, but these may not be easy to implement. Recent research has revealed that in the process children develop what has been termed a "Parental Alienation Syndrome". The children become alienated from the non-custodial parent, with this alienation being exacerbated if the custodial parent denigrates the non-custodial parent. The authors suggest that the situation might improve if we could adopt an inquisitorial system of justice. They also intimate that joint custody might induce parents to accept joint responsibility for the emotional welfare of the children. Lastly, therapists and lawyers should be made aware of the Parental Alienation Syndrome.


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