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When a divorce turns into child abuse

During divorce, many items need to be decided and agreed upon, such as the division of assets, alimony, child support and child custody. Unfortunately, it is not entirely uncommon for emotions to get heated between soon-to-be ex-spouses. Because of these heated emotions, there are times when Missouri courts must intervene. But, this also means that one spouse may try to paint the other spouse in a negative light to convince the court to decide in their favor. Psychologist, Ira Turkat, has theorized this abnormal behavior to be something called, "Malicious Mother Syndrome."

It is important to note that this term has not been recognized as a mental disorder, but is merely a pattern of abnormal behaviors, which can be attributed to either spouse. These acts of desperation are done to make one parent look bad, and may lead to a child being negatively affected by the deprivation of their basic necessities or negative information about one or both of their parents.

The four criteria for Malicious Parent Syndrome are attempts to separate or alienate a child from one spouse, denying a child communication or visitations with the other parent, telling lies about one parent to the child in an effort to draw the child to one side and the proof that no mental disorders are causing the guilty parent from behaving this way.

Acting in this behavior is often illegal. As a result, it may lead to claims of child abuse, defamation or violations of court ordered visitation rights. Being found guilty of such acts may also affect previous court ordered decisions or pending decision, such as legal custody arrangements. It is important to be aware of such actions and take the appropriate precautions and measures to protect not only yourself, but the well-being of your child or children.

Source: FindLaw.com, "What Is 'Malicious Mother Syndrome'?," accessed on April 26, 2016

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Joseph J. Porzenski
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