Proving PAS in court?
Ok I'll try to keep this brief, but would like some advice.
Up until this point, BM has been relatively low conflict. Minor disagreements here and there over the years and a mediation stint to revise the outdated parenting plan. Aside from that, general pleasantness and the standoffish approach of no one really interferes with the other household.
Up until recently, that is.
My SD is a very emotionally stunted child. She's very needy, always has been since she was born. She's EXTREMELY sensitive, and very childlike despite her age (7-9 year old age range here). We have always had a decent relationship, nothing over the top as my DH does the lionshare of the work and parenting when it comes to her.
The past year has been rough. SD has been acting out more, pushing limits and boundaries, having some emotional outbursts if things aren't going her way, etc.
BM and DH have had differences of opinions on parenting her during this time. BM likes to give in to every whim and tantrum, coddle her and in general not put any real rules in place.
DH, by contrast, has turned into the only parent that disciplines or enforces rules. And by "rules" I mean pretty age appropriate and common sense things: take your own showers and do your hygiene routine without supervision and dawdling, clean your plate off when done eating and place in the sink, pick up after yourself, homework needs to be done before dinner, no tv on during dinner and we eat as a family. Stuff like that.
Well, BM and DH recently came into a big disagreement over the use of electronic devices. We have screen time limits and she gets the privilege taken away of using it if she gets in trouble. BM claims we are being unfair, and that because on this gaming system (connected to WiFi, obviously), BM can tell if SD is online and chat with her that it's a matter of safety for us to allow SD to be able to contact BM whenever she wants when it's our parenting time is in session. DH says he disagrees, doesn't WANT SD to have unfettered access to BM or the internet for that matter and has since removed the gaming console altogether.
BM got very angry and ever since (this was several months ago) has been badmouthing DH to SD basically at every turn. It's all "small" things, like grilling her on what we ate for dinner and the next time it's our parenting time, SD lets us know that mommy said to tell us to make sure to give her healthier options. Or "mommy said that I need to do x, y or z and call her if you don't let me"
In doing this, the relationship between SD, DH, our bio kid and the whole family dynamic has suffered. SD is clearly now being manipulated and puppeted by BM . She seems depressed and sullen while with us, often really withdrawn and just wanting "mommy" where before she was very excited to be with us. Every week she has a new message to us from mommy that she's supposed to pass along. It's exhausting and unfair to our household that BM is using SD as a pawn to "get back" at DH. BM has always taken the approach that she's the primary parent and her rules (lol) trump ours, and that DH should defer to her on all things parenting. Maybe when SD was a baby this was the case, but as the years have gone on-- DH has developed his own parenting style outside of BM. In fact, SD was so young when they divorced that she had no recollection of them ever together and they've now been divorced longer than they were ever married. So, suffice it to say, she doesn't know what goes in our house or be able to take the stance anymore that she's lead parent, here.
All to say, DH and I have been discussing PAS and reading up on it. Is this something he should confront BM on? If so, how? What makes the most sense if this goes to court eventually? They do have clauses in the parenting plan warning against speaking ill of the other parent. Should we start with counseling as a family (not BM, just SD) and try that first to see if her sullen state is linked to BM and go from there?