To determine if PAS has developed in a child, two simple criteria need to be satisfied. The first
criteria to be satisfied is the observance of one or more symptoms of a child’s abnormal
psychological condition and the second criteria being the condition that the child’s mental disorder
has been largely caused by the Hostile-Aggressive influences other than those created by the target
(or alienated) parent which in turn are supported by a number of qualifiers.
The phenomenon of one parent alienating a child from another once loving parent is not a
complicated concept to understand for professionals or for laypersons nor is it complicated to
identify. Just as HAP can be readily identified by just simple observation, PAS does not require
extensive medical or psychological tests by a mental health professional to identify.
PAS can be reasonably concluded to exist when the two criteria outlined below have been satisfied.
The first criteria that must be satisfied relates to the child’s mental disorder. Some sort of mental
disorder relating the child’s relationship with another parent must be observed. The second criteria
that must be satisfied is the list of qualifiers to the mental disorders listed under criteria 1.
Qualifiers are required because in some cases there may be a legitimate and compelling reason why
a child may exhibit one of the disorders listed under criteria 1. For example, a child may not want
to have a normal relationship with one parent because he/she was physically or emotionally abused
by the target parent and reasonable and compelling evidence exists which would support this as
being factual. In such a case, the refusal of the child to have a normal relationship with a parent
would not be considered PAS as the child has legitimate reasons for his/her feelings towards the
parent who has physically or emotionally abused him. However, even in cases where the child’s
feelings may have a legitimate cause, counselling should be explored to see if the prior damage
between the child and the parent can be repaired and some form of normal relationship restored.
PAS can be concluded to exist in a person when both of the following two criteria categories have
been investigated and the requirements of each category validated for any particular family
Criteria 1 (Indicators of a mental disorder relating to a child’s parental relationship)
In order to validate the requirement of “Criteria 1”, at least one of the following indicators of a
mental disorder or abnormality relating to the child’s relationship with another parent must be
- The child is indicating a fear or hatred of the targeted parent or is claiming to be harassed by
attempts by the targeted parent to make contact with him or her.
- The child has denigrated or slandered the targeted parent privately to other friends, family or
- The child has used borrowed scenarios or accusations advanced by one of the parents in
Family Court proceedings.
- The child has created a scene in public which has embarrassed, humiliated or denigrated the
targeted parent with the child using untoward language or violence
- The child has made false allegations against the targeted parent or has attempted to have the
targeted parent charged criminally by police or has supported such a complaint advanced by
the other parent.
- The child is displaying a severe opposition to contact with a parent or insisting on spending
less time or is resisting reasonable attempts to engage in meaningful contact with the targeted
- The child expresses guiltless disregard for the feelings of the targeted parent.
- The child has attempted suicide or has self mutilated themselves and has indicated that it was
because of the targeted parent.
- The child has written a letter or note to the targeted parent telling the target parent that he/she
does not want to see the parent or to have any further contact with the parent.
- The child has assaulted the target parent, or spits, bites, swears or has displayed other violent
opposition to contact with a parent.
Criteria 2 (Qualifying conditions applicable to the indicators listed under criteria 1)
In order to validate the requirement of "Criteria 2", all of the following must be present:
- There must be at least one person having influence over a child who is engaging in Hostile-aggressive
parenting directed against the targeted parent
- The targeted parent has suffered the loss of parenting time with the child due to the
interference with access to the child by another parent or family member or due to the refusal
of the child to spend scheduled time with the targeted parent.
- There would appear to be no compelling and credible evidence to support the reasons given by
the child or the HAP parent to explain why the child is exhibiting one or more of the disorders
listed under criteria 1. Some of the reasons given may appear to be weak, frivolous,
contradictory, exaggerated or in some cases totally fabricated or an extension of another
person’s thoughts or feelings.
- There would appear to be no compelling and credible information which would indicate that
the child’s relationship with the targeted parent was not considered healthy and normal up
until the time that either the parents were separated or until such time as conflict between
parents involving the child became an issue.