Rescue Syndrome Law and Legal Definition

Rescue Syndrome is a situation in which a child in a custody battle expresses a liking and preference for the parent perceived by the child to be the weaker one. The child prefers the weaker parent based on his/her belief that the parent needs the support of the child.

Rescue syndrome is a form of parent alienation syndrome. In some cases, the parent may mislead the child by acts that may lead the child to believe that s/he is responsible for the parent's comfort, happiness, and protection. The child may also believe that one parent is actively harming the other, and thus devote his/her sympathy and affection to the weaker parent, and choose to stay with that parent.

The following is an example of a case law defining the term.

The "rescue syndrome" relates to the expression of preference by a child for the parent perceived by the child to be the "weaker" of the two, in the belief that the stronger parent will survive in any event, but the weaker parent needs the child. [Taylor v. Taylor, 306 Md. 290, 308 (Md. 1986)].