Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Dr. Peter Jaffe


The present study examined gender bias within Canadian court cases citing parental alienation. This bias was investigated through close examination of the role of gender of parents (i.e., differences between mothers and fathers), children, legal professionals (i.e., judges) and mental health professionals (i.e., custody evaluators) in identifying the presence of parental alienation and using that information as a factor in the final court decision. A sample of 100 Canadian court cases citing parental alienation between 2010 and 2012 were extensively reviewed and coded for extensive predetermined criteria related to gender including, but not limited to: gender of judge, custody evaluator, alienating parent, alienated parent, and children implicated. Therefore, in describing the current trends in parental alienation, the present study investigated three components: (1) whether legal and mental health professionals are using the term, either as a diagnosis, ‘Parental Alienation Syndrome’ or ‘Parental Alienation Disorder’ or are referring to the behaviors presented as parental alienation but not recognizing them as the components of a syndrome or diagnosis, (2) who, in terms of gender, is more likely to be the alienating parent (perpetrator) and the alienated parent (victim), and (3) whether there currently exists evidence of gender bias within the court itself, through differential findings based on gender of parent and gender of judge.