Graduation Year

2019

Date of Submission

12-2018

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Psychology

Reader 1

Tomoe Kanaya

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2018 Danielle Stewart

Abstract

As the divorce rate in the United States remains steady at 50%, the last few decades have shown an increase in child custody disputes. Within these litigations, interparental conflict can reach high levels and incite behaviors that wreak havoc on the children who are caught in the middle. When considering custody arrangements, judges and other evaluators use the Best Interest of the Child Standard (BICS), a jurisdictionally-specific framework that examines several factors that contribute to a child’s health and well-being. Parents who allow their resentments to get the better of them sometimes engage in behavior that encourages their child to become alienated from the other parent, known as Parental Alienation (PA) —a form of psychological abuse that can result in emotional and behavioral consequences for the child. While some states investigate components relevant to PA during a BICS evaluation, none include criteria that directly addresses this construct. Therefore, to achieve the intended outcome of BICS, which is to create a custody arrangement that will best meet a child’s needs, recognizing and addressing the presence of PA within a family system is required.

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