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Document Type

Notes

Abstract

Parental alienation is a controversial and disputed proposed mental disorder whereby children unjustifiably reject one parent because of the other parent’s influence. One parent often raises parental alienation in family court when the other parent makes an accusation of domestic abuse. Despite appearing in the legal discourse, no professional organization officially recognizes either parental alienation or the related concept of parental alienation syndrome, the original anti-feminist theory from which parental alienation derives. Domestic violence advocates staunchly criticize both “disorders” because the theories can undercut legitimate and concerning abuse allegations. Nonetheless, courts invite such experts into the courtroom to aid in making custody determinations. This Note argues that parental alienation expert testimony does not meet state evidentiary standards for admissibility. This Note also suggests that courts should be cautious when considering abuse allegations, as the consequences of a mistaken court decision can be dangerous for children and survivors of domestic violence.

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