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Lost in the Divorce Shuffle

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Today, the precise number of cases is unknown, but "PAS is extremely common," he says. And with half of all marriages ending in divorce, it's something that is likely to affect most of us at some point, whether directly or indirectly.

If divorce is an inevitable part of your future, think long and hard before going into court battles over child custody, says Gardner. "And if you're inclined to seek vengeance by depriving the other party of the children, ask yourself if that is a reasonable way to deal with your anger and hurt." The children will not only suffer in the short run, he says, but mounting evidence shows that PAS can lead to lingering psychological problems.

What's more, says Gardner, once done, there is little chance of its being undone. "In a recent follow-up study of 99 PAS cases, PAS produced life-long alienation," he says. "Some parents never saw their kids again."

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