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Courts divided on parental alienation, abuse claims

Some Texas parents who are going through a divorce might be facing the loss of child custody due to parental alienation. Others may have aired legitimate concerns about abuse only to be accused of lying in attempt to alienate the child from the parent. While medical professionals are skeptical about the existence of parental alienation as an actual disorder, some parents do attempt to manipulate their child's attitude toward the other parent.

On the other hand, there is concern that some judges are dismissing allegations of child abuse when the other parent claims parental alienation. One law professor conducted a study in which she found that 80 percent of parental alienation cases resulted in the mother losing custody after reporting abuse.

One man acts as an advocate for children who say they were left in abusive homes after the other parent was accused of parental alienation. He ran away from his father with his mother's help after a judge dismissed his mother's claims of abuse. For almost two years, he lived with different families, and at times, even his mother did not know where he was.

According to experts, courts may rule inconsistently given the same evidence. It can be difficult for judges to know who is telling the truth since parents and children have suffered from both false accusations and valid ones that are not believed.

During or after a divorce, parents who are facing false claims of child abuse or those who are concerned about the other parent's abuse may want to consult an attorney. One challenge parents may face is that abuse may leave little or no evidence. This may be particularly true in the case of emotional abuse or neglect.

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