Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Another Remedy for Parental Alienation Syndrome?

The Florida Divorce Blog gets the credit for noting this New Jersey case in her post NJ: Parental Alienation May Result in a Judgment for Damages to the Other Parent for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress:

"A New Jersey trial court has recognized a parental right to seek monetary damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress as a result of the other parent (and / or their relatives) turning their children against him or her.

The court distinguished such a claim from a claim for alienation of affections, which has been rejected in New Jersey.

It remains to be seen whether this will prove to be too fine a distinction on an appeal."

Before everyone starts calling, let me say there are three problems with this solution. As noted above, Indiana stopped recognizing a tort for alienation of affections decades ago (maybe as long ago as pre-dating World War Two). I had to use Google to find the elements of the tort. I am not sure that PAS does have anything to do with alienation of affections. I do think this article from DivorceNet makes more sense by promoting intentional infliction of emotional distress over alienation of affection. What made alienation of affections an unpopular tort may tilt the policy argument against the victim in this case and would apply here in Indiana.

Intentional infliction of emotional distress has not been a popular tort in Indiana. That is the second problem.

Lastly, I question its practicality. What one gets for any tort claim is money. The one case I had with PAS is in my mind while I write this. Mother had no assets. Client would have had a judgment but no means of collecting the judgment. Remember just because one can sue another person does not mean that the suit will fix everything. A lawsuit is a tool and must be geared towards the facts of each case to work properly. Still, this idea does have provide some interesting thoughts.

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