“Parental Alienation” (PA) & “Parental Alienation Syndrome” (PAS): Science, Law, and Children’s Rights


CLE credits earned: 2 GENERAL (or 2 LAW & LEGAL for WA state)

Despite the fact that neither “parental alienation” (PA) nor “Parental Alienation Syndrome” (PAS) are valid or diagnosable mental health disorders and professional ethics rules prohibit their use as diagnoses, decisions in custody and visitation litigation often rely on “diagnoses” of PA and PAS. This CLE will provide attendees with the history of these terms, an evaluation of scientific support for their existence as proposed mental disorders, their current status in the fields of psychology and psychiatry, evaluation of their evidentiary admissibility under relevant rules and precedent, evaluation of the differences between them, evaluation of policy considerations regarding their use in American courts, analysis of the legal gatekeeping failures that result in their being admitted as evidence, and the effect of their evidentiary admission on children’s constitutional and human rights.

This course is co-sponsored with myLawCLE.

Key topics to be discussed:

•   Definition, origins, and differentiation between PA & PAS
•   Evidentiary admissibility of PA & PAS
•   Policy considerations regarding admission of PA & PAS “diagnoses” in cases alleging domestic violence and parental child abuse
•   Effect of PAS and PA “diagnoses” on children’s constitutional and human rights

Date / Time: July 17, 2020

•   2:00 pm – 4:00 pm Eastern
•   1:00 pm – 3:00 pm Central
•   12:00 pm – 2:00 pm Mountain
•   11:00 am – 1:00 pm Pacific

Choose a format:

•   Live Video Broadcast/Re-Broadcast: Watch Program “live” in real-time, must sign-in and watch program on date and time set above. May ask questions during presentation via chat box. Qualifies for “live” CLE credit.
•   On-Demand Video: Access CLE 24/7 via on-demand library and watch program anytime. Qualifies for self-study CLE credit. On-demand versions are made available 7 business days after the original recording date and are view-able for up to one year.

Select your state to see if this class is approved for CLE credit.

Choose the format you want.


Original Broadcast Date: December 6, 2019

Jennifer Hoult, Esq. has served as a prosecutor, court-appointed Children’s Law Guardian, court-appointed Family Court mediator, and certified rape crisis/trauma counselor. She has represented hundreds of children in custody and visitation cases. Her 2006 law review on Parental Alienation Syndrome (“PAS”) is cited in legal proceedings, legal scholarship, and mental health literature in the United States, Europe, and South America. She has presented her research findings on PAS as an invited keynote speaker at international conferences in the United States, Sweden, and Portugal, and for CLE presentations throughout the U.S. Ms. Hoult holds a B.A. with a double major in Computer Science and Religion, from Barnard College, Columbia University; a B.M. degree in Harp from Manhattan School of Music; and a J.D., magna cum laude, from New York University School of Law. She is licensed in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York.

Accreditation Policy
myLawCLE seeks accreditation for all programs in all states. (Accreditation for paralegals sought thru NALA and NFPA paralegal associations.) Each attending attorney/paralegal will receive a certificate of completion following the close of the CLE program as proof of attendance. In required states, myLawCLE records attorney/paralegals attendance, in all other states attorney/paralegal is provided with the approved CLE certificate to submit to their state bar or governing association.

    Automatic MCLE Approvals

All myLawCLE CLE programs are accredited automatically either directly or via reciprocity in the following states: AK, AR, CA, CT, FL, HI, ME, MO, MT, ND, NH, NM, NJ, NY, WV, and VT. (AZ does not approve CLE programs, but accepts our certificates for CLE credit.)

    Live Video Broadcasts

Live video broadcasts are new live CLE programs being streamed and recorded for the first time. All of these programs qualify for “Live” CLE credit in all states except NV, OH, MS, IN, UT, PA, GA, SC, and LA —these states require in-person attendance to qualify for “Live” CLE credit.

    “Live” Re-Broadcasts

“Live” Re-broadcasts are replays of previous recorded CLE programs, set on a specific date and time and where the original presenting speakers calls in live at the end of the event to answer questions. This “live” element allows for “live” Re-broadcast CLEs to qualify for “Live” CLE credits in most states. [The following states DO NOT allow for “live” CLE credits on re-broadcast CLEs: NV, OH, MS, IN, UT, PA, GA, SC, and LA]

Many states allow for credit to be granted on a 1:1 reciprocal basis for courses approved in another mandatory CLE jurisdiction state. This is known as a reciprocity provision and includes the following states: AK, AR, HI, CT, FL, ME, MO, MT, ND, NH, NM, VT, NJ, NY, and WV. myLawCLE does not seek direct accreditation of live webinars or teleconferences in these states.

Section I. Law: Children’s constitutional and human rights vs. parental constitutional rights
a) Lawful parental and governmental limits on children’s rights
b) Child-parent estrangement & First Amendment rights
c) Blackstone’s Rule of Ten & laws prohibiting parental child abuse
d) Demographics of custody & visitation litigants
e) Custody & visitation: Litigating allocation of parenting time

Section II. PA and PAS
a) Goals and evidentiary standards: Law vs. psychology
b) PA & PAS: Definitions, DSM-V, & applicable ethics rules for diagnosis & research

Section III. Evidentiary Admissibility of PA/PAS
a) Admissibility of PA & PAS: Frye & Daubert
b) Expert witnesses vs. fact-finders: FRE 702 & 704(b)
c) Gatekeeping Failures: How PA/PAS proponents circumvent law on admissibility

Section IV. Policy Considerations
a) Origins and purposes of PA & PAS

Section V. PA/PAS & children’s constitutional and human rights

Section VI. Child-Parent Estrangement & government action: What if my child rejects me?