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Parental alienation syndrome or how children can become victims of their parents

AFTER A SEPARATION, THERE IS A DUTY TO SUPPORT THE PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIP WITH THE OTHER PARENT FOR THE CHILD’S WELL-BEING.

Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) describes a special form of parent-child alienation. Specifically, one parent destroys the reputation of the other parent in the child’s eyes. This inevitably leads to a serious conflict of loyalty and psychological stress for the child. Even if the concept of parental alienation syndrome is controversial, it is part of being able to raise children to let the other parent exist in their role as father or mother.

Committed to good conduct

The right to contact between parents and child is a fundamental right. This fundamental right must also be respected by third parties. But what can you do legally if contact with the child is getting worse and worse and the child is being indoctrinated against themselves by the other parent?

Parents have a legal obligation to each other to behave well. Put simply, this means that the parents must refrain from anything that disturbs the relationship between the child and the other parent. What is often not known: It is not enough to simply allow the child to have contact with the other parent. Rather, there is even an obligation to support the parent-child relationship if this is in the best interests of the child. In most cases, contact with both parents will be in the best interests of the child. Influencing, inciting the child, insults or violence towards the other parent are an absolute no-go. It is also inadmissible to use the child as an instrument in order to find out private or intimate information about the former partner. Such actions, which in their most extreme form, the PAS, lead to the complete alienation of the child, violate the code of good conduct. Here it is possible to request the cessation of this behavior with the help of the court.

If one parent makes contact with the other parent impossible, fines can be imposed. Ultimately, even (joint) custody can be withdrawn. The ability to bring up a child also includes tolerating the child’s attachments to other important attachment figures. It is precisely in such situations that the law sometimes reaches its limits. The court always tries to decide in the interest of the child in custody and contact rights proceedings. It is not always possible to determine whether the child’s rejection of a parent is due to influence or whether the cause actually lies in the parent-child relationship.

Alienation can be expensive

For these reasons, and because the right to have contact with the child is also a parent’s right, you may even be able to claim damages from someone who has unjustly and maliciously alienated your child.

As a further consequence, the forfeiture of post-marital maintenance is conceivable. For example, if someone receives monthly maintenance from their ex-partner as a result of a divorce and this person then deprives the other of their children, this can lead to them losing their right to maintenance.

The law explicitly mentions the avoidance of conflicts of loyalty and feelings of guilt on the part of the child as a criterion when assessing the best interests of the child. Unfortunately, some people are not aware that their anger and anger towards their ex-partner can ultimately be something that damages their own children.

(This article by Theresa Kamp previously appeared on Der Standard on August 31, 2021).