Child Kidnapping And Parental Alienation

parental alienation, DuPage County family lawyerThe FBI believes that most of the thousands of children who go missing every year are abducted by a parent, usually a parent who has not been granted primary custodial responsibilities. In a significant number of these cases, authorities believe that the abducting parent had help from a third party.

Faye Yager, who founded Children of the Underground in 1987, freely admits that her organization is one of these third parties. During its heyday in the early 1990s, the group stole names from the birth certificates of dead people, advised runaway parents and their children to “leave everything behind,” and concealed them in one of an estimated 1,000 safe houses. These parents (mostly women) were on the run from allegedly abusive current and former partners (mostly men) and the courts that supposedly turned a blind eye to their plights. The movement lost steam in 1998, when Ms. Yager faced 60 years in prison for alleged child kidnapping and child cruelty; the charges were eventually dropped when the children at issue returned to their father.

Although the 68-year-old activist is now semi-retired, the group recently made headlines again in Minnesota, where a mother and three other people were charged with hiding two girls from their custodial father for over two years.

Recognizing PAS

Essentially, Parental Alienation Syndrome involves systematic attempts by one party, or the alienating parent, to drive an emotional wedge between the children and the other party, or the targeted parent. PAS does not usually involve drastic actions like parental kidnapping, or even obvious measures, like degrading the targeted parent in front of the children.

In most cases, PAS is much more subtle, and includes items like:

  • Interference: The alienating parent often intentionally schedules extracurricular activities that conflict with the targeted parent’s visitation;
  • Privileges: Such a campaign may involve more TV time or an extended curfew, followed by a comment like “I bet you don’t get to do that at mom’s house;” and
  • Preference: Some alienating parents eschew a traditional parent-child relationship in favor of an arrangement that is more like spouse-spouse, to emotionally isolate the targeted parent.

When PAS is present in a family subject to an order for the allocation of parental responsibilities, the best response is to immediately file a motion to modify. The judge normally refers contested motions to a social worker, who is trained to recognize PAS and appreciates its dangers.

If left unchecked, PAS can cause nearly irreparable damage to a parent-child relationship. To learn more about Parental Alienation Syndrome and how to work through it in your situation, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney. Call [[phone]] to schedule an appointment at the Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C., today.



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