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What is ‘Malicious Parent Syndrome’?

Some divorces go very smoothly and almost write themselves, but others can become extremely contentious and very messy. Particularly if children are in your divorce, it has the potential to become extremely stressful if you are on acrimonious terms with your ex-spouse. 

Sometimes, these high-stress environments produce extreme behavior in some individuals. According to FindLaw, some parents may exhibit malicious parent syndrome during or after a divorce. 

What are the characteristics of malicious parent syndrome?

Even though malicious parent syndrome is not a clinical mental disorder as of the writing of this article, it has four specific characteristics. The first is the parent trying to punish the other by alienating the children. The second is a desire to deny the parent visitation and communication with the children. The third is that the parent may lie to the children and others. The fourth characteristic is that the parent does not have another mental disorder that explains their extreme actions. 

What can malicious parent syndrome look like?

Malicious parent syndrome may manifest itself in many ways. An example would be a mother claiming to the children that they have no money for food because of the father being absent or not sending any. A malicious parent may also deliberately misinform the other parent about a child’s activities to prevent him from participating in the child’s life. 

In certain circumstances, malicious parent syndrome may get very extreme. There have been examples of malicious parents burning an ex-spouse’s house down or abusing children. The main thrust behind malicious parent syndrome is that the parent is acting in a way to try and deliberately harm the other parent. 

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