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Parental Alienation Syndrome

Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) describes a special form of parent-child alienation. Specifically, one parent destroys the reputation of the other parent in the eyes of the child. This inevitably leads to a serious conflict of loyalties and a psychological burden for the child. Even if the term Parental Alienation Syndrome is controversial, it is part of being a parent to allow the other parent to continue in their role as father or mother.

The right to contact between parents and child is a human right. This fundamental right must also be respected by third parties. But what can be done legally if the contact with the child becomes worse and worse and the child is downright indoctrinated by the other parent?


What can legally be done against parental alienation?

The parents are legally obliged to behave well towards each other. In simple terms, this means that the parents must refrain from doing anything that disturbs the child’s relationship with the other parent. What is often not known is that it is not enough to merely allow the child to have contact with the other parent. Rather, there is even a legal 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 or inciting the child, insults or violence towards the other parent must be avoided. It is also inadmissible to instrumentalise the child in order to obtain private or intimate information about the former partner. Such actions, which in their most extreme form, PAS, lead to the complete alienation of the child, violate the requirement of good conduct. In this case, it is possible to apply to the court for an injunction against this behaviour.



If one parent prevents contact with the other parent, penalties can be imposed. In the last resort, (co-)custody can even be withdrawn. The ability to bring up a child also includes tolerating the child’s ties to other important caregivers. It is precisely in such situations that the law sometimes reaches its limits. In custody and visitation proceedings, the court always tries to decide in the best interest of the child. Sometimes, however, a child may be better served by a (temporary) suspension of visits than by forcing him or her to have contact with a parent who, due to the influence exerted, represents the “personified evil” for the child.

For these reasons, and because the right to contact with the child is also a parental right, it may even be possible to claim damages from someone who has alienated one’s own child without cause and maliciously.

As a further consequence, a forfeiture of post-marital maintenance is conceivable. If, for example, someone receives monthly maintenance from his or her ex-partner due to a divorce and this person then deprives the other person of the children, he or she may lose the 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 rage against their ex-partner can ultimately be something that damages their own children.

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