Holly Smith


Parental alienation syndrome is an alleged disorder that was first coined by Dr. Richard Gardner in 1985. Dr. Gardner defined this alleged syndrome as one that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes and involves a child’s unjustified denigration against a parent. Although more than thirty years have passed since parental alienation syndrome was first introduced by Dr. Gardner, it is yet to be recognized or accepted in the medical community. Moreover, there are also legitimate questions concerning the alleged syndrome’s admissibility and reliability as evidence in family law proceedings, and the negative effects parental alienation syndrome poses on child custody cases are undeniable. This Note argues that parental alienation syndrome should not be recognized in Massachusetts child custody disputes because it is not a medically recognized syndrome, nor does it pass either of the evidentiary reliability standards used in the Commonwealth. This Note proposes that parties involved in child custody disputes should be educated on the junk science of parental alienation syndrome and informed of the laws available to assist them when issues arise concerning parental behavior that may negatively impact a child.

Included in

Family Law Commons



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