William Bernet & Demosthenes Lorandos
It has been known for many years that children are damaged psychologically when there is a high level of antagonism between their parents. Litigators, judges and proffered experts working with these high-conflict families—in a child abuse investigation and/or child custody dispute—need to be aware of this damage and also how it and its causes are properly identified, diagnosed, and treated. This chapter explains four patterns of maladaptive family relationships that are driven by high levels of parental conflict: (1) parents who engage in frequent arguing (the child may manifest anxiety, depression, and behavior problems); (2) parents who engage in physical violence (the child may manifest serious behavior problems and posttraumatic stress disorder); (3) when both parents seek the affection and companionship of the child (the child experiences loyalty conflict); and (4) when one parent strongly undermines the child’s relationship with the second parent (the child experiences parental alienation). Particular topics include:
Landscape of family conflict
Parental alienation, including research, prevalence, controversies, diagnosis, common alienating behaviors and interventions
Intimate partner distress
Intimate partner violence
Parental alienation as child psychological abuse
In addition, dozens of legal cases are discussed, which illustrate good litigation (when high-conflict families and parental alienation are properly handled in the courts); bad litigation (when parental alienation is mishandled in the courts); and ugly litigation (when high-conflict cases turn deadly). Together with its comprehensive literature review of the psychiatry and psychology in this area, this Children of High Conflict Families chapter is an invaluable resource for attorneys, judges and experts called upon to navigate these challenging cases.
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