What Is Malicious Parent Syndrome?

"Malicious parent syndrome" is when one parent seeks to punish the other parent by talking poorly about them and/or doing things to place the parent in a bad light, particularly in the eyes of their children. Another common term for this behavior is "parental alienation syndrome."

Malicious Parent Syndrome in Divorce Cases

It’s common knowledge how difficult and stressful the divorce process can be for all parties. It can especially be so for parents who are worried about how the experience will affect their relationship with their children. Many individuals going through a divorce show negative or destructive emotions against their spouses such as resentment, anger, rage, antagonism, and a desire to “get even” for the wrongs they feel they have endured.

These emotions can lead to destructive behavior involving the use of their children in a legal war against their spouse regarding custody and divorce. When this behavior extends to actions designed to harm the other spouse’s relationship with the children or to harm their standing in the community, it is referred to a “malicious parent syndrome.”

For divorce or other family law legal guidance throughout Chicago, call the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C. at (312) 487-2795 for a free 20-minute consultation.

Malicious Parent Syndrome Behavior

Malicious parent syndrome is not a mental disorder that is recognized as an actual psychiatric condition by professionals. Instead, it is a label that came about from a psychologist who wished to describe a certain destructive pattern of behavior on the part of one parent towards the other during divorce proceedings. The behavior involved the parent behaving in a purposeful way that was vengeful toward the other parent, often extending to even breaking the law to further the goal of destroying the parent-child relationship and/or punishing of the other parent.

The types of behavior that a malicious parent may engage in can include:

  • Denying regular or uninterrupted visitation on the part of the other parent
  • Denying phone access between the child and the other parent
  • Denying the other parent access or participation in the child’s school or extra-curricular events
  • Lying to the child about the other parent which involve accusations designed to sway the child against the other parent
  • Lying to other people about the other parent to denigrate his or her reputation or perception by them
  • Actually violating the law, such as refusing to obey a custody court order
  • Engaging in endless litigation to punish the other parent
  • In the most extreme cases, causing some kind of actual harm or deprivation to a child for which the other parent will be blamed
  • In other extreme cases, engaging in actions to damage the other parent’s property or causing him or her some type of physical harm

These types of behaviors are an obvious violation against the child’s best interests, which is generally viewed by the courts and professionals as a continuing and meaningful relationship with both parents for optimum child development. Damaging a child’s relationship with a parent can cause obvious psychological harm to a child that can have long-lasting effects, even into adulthood.

Strong Legal Help from the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C.

If you believe you have been victimized by a malicious spouse or ex-spouse whether during a divorce or in a post-divorce situation, you should seek legal help from an experienced family law attorney. At the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C. we have a long history of reaching successful results for our clients facing all kinds of family law issues. No matter how complex or difficult your case may seem, we have the determination, skills, and resources needed to fight for your best interests and those of your children. Our firm has been helping clients throughout the greater Chicago area since 2009.

Contact us at (312) 487-2795 to get the guidance you need today.

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