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Michael E. Bertin partner with Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel. Michael E. Bertin partner with Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel.

From time to time, one parent undermining the other parent’s relationship with their children is a prevailing factor in custody cases. The undermining by one parent of the other parent’s relationship with their children has been referred to as “parental alienation,” which is a controversial subject in psychological and legal fields. The reason being is that “parental alienation syndrome” (also referred to as PAS) has been debated, analyzed, and criticized in the mental health and legal communities. However, whether or not parental alienation can be considered a “syndrome” does not negate the fact that a court, in a child custody matter, may find that one parent alienates or undermines the other parent’s relationship with the children.

The Pennsylvania Child Custody Act and appellate court opinions mandate that trial courts analyze all sixteen statutory custody factors enumerated in the Custody Act in order to arrive at a valid custody decision. Among many of the sixteen statutory factors, parental alienation becomes relevant.

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