About “Malicious Mother Syndrome”

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Child Custody on Thursday, July 13, 2017.

Although the Malicious Mother Syndrome is not identified by the medical profession as a disorder, Illinois parents who are embroiled in extremely contentious divorce or custody disputes should be able to identify the conduct. Despite its name, both fathers and mothers can exhibit the behavior, and thus it is often referred to as Malicious Parent Syndrome.

Both terms refer to certain deliberate and vengeful actions that a divorced or soon-to-be divorced parent takes in order to punish the other parent. This can encompass harming their children so that it reflects badly on the other parent.

The condition can be identified by using four criteria. This includes determining if the person in question is trying to use the alienation of the child to punish the other parent; is attempting to eliminate the other parent’s ability to communicate or visit the child or to be involved with the child’s educational or after-school events; or is repeatedly lying to the child and others and has no other mental disorder that may account for his or her actions.

Legal and clinical cases involving malicious parents were the basis for recognizing the need to reference a mental disorder to describe the spiteful actions that some divorcing parents take part in so that they could intentionally hurt the other parent. Some behaviors exhibited by malicious parents can include setting the home of an ex-spouse on fire, making it difficult for the other parent to enjoy uninterrupted parenting time or falsely stating that the other parent is abusive.

A family law attorney may provide legal counsel regarding how to address child custody disputes that have become adversarial. The attorney may work to obtain proof that the other party is attempting to sabotage a client’s relationship with their child. It might be necessary to seek a modification of the custody order if the behavior persists.

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