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Malicious Parent Syndrome: Does Your Ex Have This?

Last Updated on September 12, 2022 by Turner Thornton

Divorce and child custody battles can bring out the worst in parents. When tensions run high, divorcing spouses sometimes engage in a type of destructive behavior called “Malicious Parent Syndrome.” In this article, we will answer common questions about Malicious Parent Syndrome and explain how it can cause irreparable damage to parent/child relationships and impact a family law case.

What is Malicious Parent Syndrome?

Malicious Parent Syndrome (MPS) is a type of vengeful behavior exhibited by some divorcing or separated parents. It occurs when a parent deliberately tries to place the other bad parent in a bad light and harm their child’s relationship with them.

Malicious Parent Syndrome is not an actual mental disorder, but rather, a type of extreme, harmful behavior. It is also sometimes referred to as parental alienation, but they are not exactly the same. There are four criteria that must be met to qualify as Malicious Parent Syndrome.

What are the four characteristics of Malicious Parent Syndrome?

Malicious Parent Syndrome was originally described in 1995 by psychologist Ira Turkat, who originally referred to the behavior as “Malicious Mother Syndrome.” While Turkat originally described this behavior as exhibited by mothers, it is now widely recognized that fathers also engage in malicious parent syndrome. To qualify as malicious parent syndrome, four criteria must be met.

1. The parent attempts to punish his or her ex by:
* alienating their child from their other parent;
* involving others in malicious acts against the other parent; and
* engaging in excessive litigation.

2. The parent attempts to deny the other parent:
* regular visitation with the other parent;
* uninterrupted communication with the other parent; and
* participation in the child’s school life and other extra-curricular activities.

3. The pattern is pervasive and includes malicious acts including:
* repeatedly lying to their child about the other parent;
* lying to others about the other parent; and
* breaking the law.

4. The malicious parent doesn’t suffer from a mental disorder illness which would explain their actions.

What are some extreme examples of Malicious Parent Syndrome?

As mentioned, malicious parent syndrome is an extreme type of behavior in which the a parent goes to great lengths to disrupt the life of their ex-spouse and create turmoil in the relationship with their children. Some examples of malicious parent syndrome include:

* A mother repeatedly telling her young children that their father is a child molester, even though there is no evidence to support this claim.
* A mother making her child sleep in a car or believe they are homeless to prove their father bankrupted them.
* A father who spreads viscous lies about his ex in an attempt to get her fired from her job.

These are just a few examples of the many ways in which a parent can engage in malicious parent syndrome. If you are the target of any of these types behaviors, it is important to seek help from a qualified family law attorney as soon as possible.

How does Malicious Parent Syndrome impact divorce or child custody cases?

Malicious Parent Syndrome can have a serious impact on divorce and child custody cases. If one parent is engaging in MPS, the other parent may initially have a difficult time getting custody or visitation rights. It may delay or prolong the case while the court tries to sort out what is really happening.

In some instances, MPS can be criminal or can constitute a form of child abuse. If these incidences, the parent engaging in MPS is more likely to lose the court battle and will likely be ordered to pay child support and have limited or no visitation with their child. It is not uncommon for MPS to backfire on the influencing parent and cause more harm to them then their ex-spouse.

If you are involved in a divorce or child custody case, and you believe your spouse is engaging in MPS, it is important to seek legal assistance as soon as possible. An experienced family law attorney can help you navigate the family court process and protect your rights.

Is your ex engaging in Malicious Parent Syndrome? Contact us.

If you are involved in a divorce or child custody dispute in Fort Worth or the surrounding area and believe that your ex is engaging in Malicious Parent Syndrome, it is important to contact an experienced family law attorney. The attorneys at Varghese Summersett Family Law Group have experience handling cases involving MPS and can help you protect your rights and reputation.

It’s important to address this issue as soon as possible before it gets worse or causes irreparable harm to your relationship with your child. We’ll review your case and help you determine the best course of action moving forward. Let us help you protect what’s most important – your relationship with your kids. Schedule a consultation today by calling 817-900-3220.

Turner Thornton
Turner Thornton
Turner Thornton is a well-known family law attorney in Fort Worth who leads the Varghese Summersett Family Law Group. Turner has successfully guided hundreds of individuals and families through the most trying period of their lives as a skilled negotiator and savvy litigator. Turner Thornton concentrates his practice on family law, including divorce, child custody, contempt, and modification cases. He is experienced in handling estates with significant and unique assets that can be difficult to value. He finds amicable resolutions where possible to conserve his client's resources, but knows how to take the gloves off if the situation calls for it. He has had remarkable results in and outside of the courtroom based largely on his ability and desire to understand his clients' needs and guide them on the pathway to what success looks like for them.

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