Mothers Unite UK

Domestic and child abuse in Family Court

Parental Alienation, implacable hostility, unable to support contact, lying about abuse, not believed, children influenced by the mother, evidence, words and actions all twisted into blaming the mother. Id this is familiar you are being set up to fail the PA test and thrown into a catch 22 trap. This is the default setting of family courts. Professionals will often assume the mother is lying and vindictive when all she's trying to do is keep her child safe. It was all triggered in the 1980s when a volunteer psychiatrist invented a theory.

Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a discredited theory invented by Richard Gardner in the 1980s defining it as:

     "...a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child's campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent's indoctrinations and the child's own contributions to the vilification of the target parent."

The admissibility of PAS has been rejected by an expert review panel and the Court of Appeal of England and Wales in the United Kingdom. Gardner portrayed PAS as well accepted by the judiciary and having set a variety of precedents, however legal analysis of the actual cases indicates that as of 2006 this claim was incorrect. It is used against mothers and children when they talk about abusive behaviour from the father and is a common tactic of a fathers lawyers to use this allegation, whether by the name PAS or another. Its a set up and traps mothers and children into a Catch 22 situation, so if they continue to talk of abuse or the child refuses or fears contact with the father, they are effectively punished by being forced to see the father alone, or even to live with him. The mother is punished by having to send her child on a regular basis to an abusive and dangerous situation or face losing their child. Loss of residence is frequently used as a threat.


There are now many varied and untested theories on parental alienation, all them just as dangerous. The 'experts' in these theories still recommend 'realignment therapy' in which the child is told they were not abused and are lying or were lied to by their mothers. Many of these children were victims of abuse or the father was abuisve to the mother but as abuse is usually hidden, there is no evidence. There arew also cases where there is evidence but the fathers legal team, judges and Cafcass will sweep this under carpet, to ensure contact happens 'at any cost'. If they continue to talk about abuse, the children experience the shocking trauma of being made to live with the abuser.
To avoid a child being taken away from the loving mother, the only option she has is to support to contact and part-time abuse.

On the Home Page you will see links to articles on PAS. Here are more on the theory

Review of research and case law on parental alienation
Julie Doughty, School of Law and Politics, Nina Maxwell and Tom Slater, School of Social Sciences
Cardiff University
Commissioned by Cafcass Cymru
April 2018

'......have emphasised the need to distinguish
parental alienation from justifiable estrangement due to abuse, violenceor impaired parenting. and where parental alienation claims can be
far more often used in practice to deny real abuse than toactually reduce psychological harm to children'
This review has found the evidence base for parental alienation to be very limited because of a lack of robust empirical studies.There is an absenceof literature about how the concept of alienation is understood, assessed and worked with from a practice perspective. The limited empirical evidence suffers from poor sampling, or a focus on specific populations, so cannot easily be generalised.There is a reliance on retrospective accounts, which do not allow for the controlling of extraneous variables or identification for a causal relationship between adverse outcomes and alienation to be established. Research is needed with a range of different stakeholder groups (including families and children). Another problem is that most of the research has focused on specific geographical locations, primarily the USA, where legal and clinical environments are different to those in Wales. Direct references to research in reported court judgments in England and Wales are very rare.

A podcast interviewing Julie Doughty who wrote the review on PA for Welsh cafcass and Sarah Parsons, principal social worker and assistant director at Cafcass. Julie manages to speak up about domestic abuse not being a good reason to consider PA ... which ofcourse we know in reality is used extensively in family courts as a reason to make accusations of PA, hostility etc, despite cafcass saying 'facts' are investigated early on.

Boy hangs himself

The Worst of Richard Gardner

How Parental Alienation Syndrome Is Changing Custody Cases

The Truth Behind Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)

“If the mother has reacted to the abuse in a hysterical fashion, or used it as an excuse for a campaign of denigration of the father, then the therapist does well to try and ‘sober her up’. . . Her hysterics . . . will contribute to the child’s feeling that a heinous crime has been committed and will thereby lessen the likelihood of any kind of rapproachment with the father. One has to do everything possible to help her put the ‘crime’ in proper perspective. She has to be helped to appreciate that in most societies in the history of the world, such behavior was ubiquitous [i.e., everywhere], and this is still the case.”
True and False (pp. 576-7)

“One of the steps that society must take to deal with the present hysteria is to ‘come off it’ and take a more realistic attitude toward pedophilic behavior.”
Sex Abuse Hysteria (p. 120)

“The Draconian punishments meted out to pedophiles go far beyond what I consider to be the gravity of the crime.”
Sex Abuse Hysteria (p. 118)

PAS Is Deeply Flawed

In addition to the lack of any scientific basis to justify PAS, it is an illogical theory that is based on circular reasoning.  PAS assumes that if a child does not like the father, is afraid of him and does not wish to spend time with the father the only possible explanation is that the mother is alienating the child.

PAS is based on the biased belief that virtually all reports mothers or children make about abuse are false.  To the extent that there is anything to support this claim it is that proponents of PAS automatically disbelieve virtually every report and use their own biased results to support PAS.  In reality, in the context of contested custody cases, less than two percent of reports by mothers against fathers are deliberately false. This fact alone should fully discredit PAS.

Parental Alienation Syndrome! Is it another way abusive parents can rein coercive control over a genuine protective parent?
July 10, 2017 Growthful Souls

The Question for Family Courts: How Can You Give More Influence to a Pro Pedophile Theory than Scientific Research from the CDC and U.S. Justice Dept

Do courts use a controversial theory to punish mothers who allege abuse?

Parental Alienation Syndrome & Violence against women
'...empirical research has found that the PAS theory is built upon an assumption which is the opposite of the truth: Where PAS presumes that mothers are vengeful and pathologically ""program"" their children, it is not women and children, but noncustodial fathers who are most likely to fabricate child maltreatment claims.' Joan S. Meier

Parental Alienation Syndrome: The Hoax that Hurts Children
Richard Gardner did not rely on any research to concoct his theory of Parental Alienation Syndrome.  Instead it came from his personal experiences, beliefs and biases.  His outrageous bias is demonstrated by many public statements to the effect that sex between adults and children can be acceptable

The “success” of force reunification
Stop Abuse Campaign

Family Court using discredited US theory
'Gardner’s recommendations were that the mother reporting violence and abuse should be encouraged to stay with the abusive father; she should be helped over her “anger;” and the child should be placed in the father’s care in cases of separation'

Parental Alienation Syndrome

Information on Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)

“PAS as developed and purveyed by Richard Gardner has neither a logical nor a scientific basis. It is rejected by responsible social scientists and lacks solid grounding in psychological theory or research.”

Combating False Allegations of Parental Alienation (PAS)

So-called “PAS” Treatment Found to be Quack Therapy

Bravo to Dr. Peter Jaffe for speaking out against this Nazi-like “deprogramming” that is inflicting psychological terror upon little children who are ripped from their loving parents.

Perverse Reversal of Child Custody


"In the interest of justice to the accused," Dr. Gardner purports that the criteria he uses to determine whether an allegation of sexual abuse is fabricated should err on the side of finding innocent some men who are in fact guilty of child molestation.'

Children’s Legal Rights Journal
Jennifer Hoult, J.D.

Parental Alienation Syndrome Leading

An unsafe and unsound theory of human behaviour which is leading to Perverse Reversal of Child Custody placing children at serious risk of harm. 'Richard Ducote an attorney at law in New Orleans stated in 2003 of Gardner and his PAS theory that “PAS is a bogus, pro-paedophiliac fraud concocted by Richard Gardner. I was the last attorney to cross-examine Gardner in Patterson New Jersey.'

The Worst of Richard Gardner (Deceased 2003)

"What would a good mother do if her child told her of sexual abuse by his or her father?", asked film produce Garland Waller during a videotaped interview of Richard Gardner for her award-winning documentary, Small Justice. His answer: "What would she say? Don't you say that about your father. If you do, I'll beat you."

It boggles the mind to think that this man's ideas have been more persuasive to some judges and evaluators than the sworn testimony of abused women and children.'

Parental Alienation Syndrome

Information on Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)

'As a political advocate, Gardner lobbied to abolish mandated reporting of child abuse, to abolish immunity for reporters of child abuse, and for the creation of federally funded programs to assist individuals claiming to be falsely accused.”

PAS is a Scam
So-called “PAS” Treatment Found to be Quack Therapy

Bravo to Dr. Peter Jaffe for speaking out against this Nazi-like “deprogramming” that is inflicting psychological terror upon little children who are ripped from their loving parents.

Gender Biased and Punitive: Why Abusers Get Away With Claiming “Parental Alienation”

Maternal Alienation

 No, You Haven't.

Richard Gardner: "If he [the molesting father] doesn't know this already, he has to be helped to appreciate that pedophilia has been considered the norm by the vast majority of individuals in the history of the world. He has to be helped to appreciate that, even today, it is a widespread and accepted practice among literally billions of people. He has to appreciate that in our Western society especially, we take a very punitive and moralistic attitude toward such inclinations... He has had a certain amount of back [sic] luck with regard to the place and time he was born with regard to social attitudes toward pedophilia. However, these are not reasons to condemn himself." Ibid. pp.593

This Article provides a brief literature survey, focusing on thetheory of “parental alienation” which operates as a primary vehicle
for making abuse invisible in custody litigation.

Mothers for Justice video on PAS

'Gardner blames the father's abuse on the mother, who he faults for not fulfilling her husband sexually. He suggests that therapists should help mother's of incest victims achieve sexual gratification. '

Why ‘Parental Alienation’ should not be used as a term

Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is the base theory used by family courts and was created to help abusers gain residence of their children. The term continues to be used as a means to deny domestic abuse and child abuse. PAS/PA has been a major tactic to remove residence from the healthy parent, then to give residence to the abusive parent in so-called 'high conflict' cases. When the abuser is a father, they are successful 99% of the time. PAS was developed by Richard Gardner who applied his pseudoscience to mothers who were victims of domestic abuse or/and who’s children were abused by the father. Their behaviour was taken as ‘symptoms’ of PA, rather than as being real signs of abuse.

PAS not a recognized mental health disorder or syndrome and  it is not recommended or endorsed by the British Psychological Society.  It is not recognized as a scientific, is not admissible in court, or a credible construct by legal or psychological experts yet many Judges believe in its existence and increasingly allow 'treatment'  often by unlicensed 'therapists'.  Such 'treatment' includes trying to brainwash children to believe there was never any abuse and that it was made up by the healthy parent.

Therefore, it is a dangerous term putting children at risk and causing trauma and irreversible damage to them, and their mother. Promotion of this theory should be discouraged.

It is also known by the term 'Implacably Hostile'. It is the same theory in 'legalese' language.

Suggested terms to use instead

When the child is reluctant or refuses to interact with the abuser, it is

Self-Estrangement, Justifiable Rejection or Self-Alienation caused by the abusive parents behaviour.

When the abuser withholds contact of the child and/or manipulates the child against the healthy parent, it is

Domestic/Abuse by Proxy or Proxy Abuse. They are continuing abuse by using the children usually after residence has been changed to the father by the courts after accusations of PAS.

Domestic Violence (DV) by Proxy:
Why Terrorist Tactics Employed by Batterers Are Not "PAS"

Control by Proxy

Flying monkeys is a phrase used in popular psychology mainly in the context of narcissistic abuse. They are people who act on behalf of a narcissist to a third party, usually for an abusive purpose.

The phrase has also been used to refer to people who act on behalf of a psychopath for a similar purpose.

Flying monkeys are distinct from enablers. Enablers just allow or cover for the narcissist's (abuser's) own bad behavior.

Flying monkeys can be anyone who believes the narcissist's fake persona including the narcissist's spouse, child, friend, sibling, parents.

Flying monkeys are usually unwittingly manipulated people who believe the smears about the victim although they may be another narcissist working with them or using each other. They can be associates of the abuser or victim and can be authority and institutional figures manipulated to side with the abuser, or siding as abusive personalities themselves.

The Presidential Task Force of the American Psychological Association on Violence in the Family has stated that “there are no data to support the phenomenon called parental alienation syndrome, in which mothers are blamed for interfering with their children’s attachment to their fathers. . . .” The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) likewise finds PAS lacking in scientific merit, advising judges that based on evidentiary standards, “the court should not accept testimony regarding parental alienation syndrome, or ‘PAS.’ The theory positing the existence of PAS had been discredited by the scientific community”; and “the discredited ‘diagnosis’ of ‘PAS’ (or allegation of ‘parental alienation’), quite apart from its scientific invalidity, inappropriately asks the court to assume that the children’s behaviors and attitudes toward the parent who claims to be ‘alienated’ have no grounding in reality.”  Parental Alienation Syndrome: 30 Years On and Still Junk Science