There are degrees of conflict in every divorce, some very minor but others that have a severe and far-reaching impact. Conflict and anger at its extreme can result in Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). This occurs when one parent consciously or unconsciously sabotages the relationship between their children and their other parent. This is far beyond an occasional angry outburst or a disparaging remark. It involves relentless and inflated outbursts and comments that are designed to turn a child against a parent. Family courts are just now beginning to recognize this behavior in a spouse' fitness as a parent. This is a complex and multi-faceted issue and in this article I will deal with one aspect that offers both the courts and involved parents some positive advantages-mediation.

Mediation offers some real advantages in dealing with Parental Alienation Syndrome. First and perhaps foremost is the ability of a Mediator to recognize the syndrome in its initial stages and take steps to mitigate its development. Being able to spend time with parents and learn about their parenting styles and interaction with each other and their children allows a Mediator to see the first signs of unreasonable conduct. All too often a lawyer can align themselves with one parent and lose their perspective. A Mediator is trained and actively strives for neutrality. When parents make accusations against each other a skilled Mediator can evaluate credibility. This comes from their extensive exposure to both parents where a lawyer may have this contact with only the parent that hires them.

Another real advantage of Mediation involves time. Litigated divorces can experience delays, especially when the divorce is laden with accusations and conflict. A Mediator can bring in a qualified Mental Health Professional to work with affected family quickly whereas such a professional would only be assigned by a court mandate after what can be a lengthy delay. A Mediator can work with the family to ensure a neutral Mental Health Professional, with the benefit of the Mediator's extensive knowledge of the family, be brought in and assess the extent of the alienation, and work to repair the damaged parent-child relationship.

An additional factor is that a Mediator, as a neutral evaluator, can determine the validity of any accusations one parent may make against the other. In Parental Alienation Syndrome, a spouse may make accusations of abuse and it is vital that these accusations be evaluated by a neutral party. In litigated divorce within the Family Court system, these evaluations involve many steps and many people. During the time it takes to hear, evaluate, and address these accusations, valuable time is lost. Relationships can be damaged with passing time and Mediators can save time and may be able to mitigate this damage.

Alienation from a parent can cause a great deal of harm to the well-being of the entire family and Mediation can be a positive factor in identifying and limiting the negative impact of Parental Alienation Syndrome.

Author's Bio: 

Brian James is an experienced Divorce and Family Mediator with offices throughout Chicagoland and Southeastern Wisconsin. Brian earned his B.S. in Sociology from Northern Illinois University in 1994 and completed training in Mediation and Conflict Resolution at Northwestern University. For more information please visit Brian's website, or call him at (312) 524-5829.