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Archive for April, 2009|Monthly archive page

When Children Get Caught in the Middle

In children legal status, Childrens Rights, Divorce, DSM-IV, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, MMPI, MMPI 2, mothers rights, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parents rights on April 30, 2009 at 6:00 am

Parental Alienation Syndrome

When Children Get Caught in the Middle

By Kelly Burgess

Most people have probably witnessed parental alienation. This is where one parent denigrates another in front of the children. In its most severe form it can lead to Parental Alienation Syndrome, or PAS, where the child completely rejects contact with one parent.

PAS was first described in 1985 by the late Richard Gardner. J. Michael Bone, who worked extensively with Gardner, notes that PAS occurs almost exclusively in the context of divorce. “Most of the research done on this suggests various motivations, but in general it involves anger and a desire for revenge because of abandonment,” Bone says. “However, sometimes it’s also engaged in by the person who initiates the divorce because of emotional instability or a desire for control.”

In addition, although in the past it was thought that the mother was primarily the alienating parent, Bone notes that it’s now thought to occur equally between the mother and father. Parental alienation can manifest itself through constant negative and untrue comments by one parent against the other, through false allegations of abuse and, in its most extreme form, literally through abducting and convincing the child that his mother or father no longer loves him or is no longer living.

“It’s easy to think that one parent could never have the power to turn a child against a parent they’ve always loved and been close to, but one of the things we’ve discovered is that it’s not that hard to do,” Bone says. “Divorce is very tough on kids and it represents a loss for the child. It’s not that great of a leap for the child to start worrying that if he doesn’t ‘side’ with the one parent against the other he may lose both parents.”

What makes it worse is that the alienated parent often reacts by getting angry at the child, thus reinforcing what the child is being told: that this parent is a bad person, or doesn’t love them or is angry at them. In fact, the child is not responsible for the alienation; they are merely a pawn.

Fighting Alienation

Jeff Opperman of Seymour, Conn., has been divorced for six years and has not seen his youngest son for the last five. “At first there was contact but it was very negative,” Opperman says. “I forced him to spend time with me even though he obviously didn’t want to. Finally, I just gave up and there’s been no contact at all since then. I send e-mails and gifts just in case there might be a breakthrough, but they just go into a black hole.”

In Opperman’s case, the alienation started before he and his ex-wife separated, when they first began having problems in the marriage. Bone says this is not uncommon. However, even in retrospect, Opperman is pessimistic about whether or not he could have fought successfully against his ex-wife’s influence over their son.
While PAS was finally accepted by a court of law in a case in 2000, in general it boils down to situations that are “he said, she said” and is extremely difficult to prove. “It’s very easy to split up property and money in a bank, but what do you do whe you have a child who says he doesn’t want to have anything to do with one parent, and one parent thinks the child should be able to make that decision while the other parent is protesting it,” Opperman says. “The courts simply aren’t prepared or equipped to deal with this.”

Complicating the situation are those rare instances where one parent truly is a bad person and does want to hurt the child and the parent accused of being alienating is just trying to protect the child.

Recognizing PAS

So what’s a parent to do? Opperman says you can watch for signs that your spouse has the potential to alienate. Look for things like the spouse having little secrets with the child or telling the child things about the parental relationship that are inappropriate. It may be worth holding off on divorce or separation and getting counseling to work out child relationship issues before going ahead with ending the marriage.

Bone says a parent who thinks he or she is being alienated should find out as much as possible about parental alienation and PAS so that they react appropriately and don’t make matters worse with the child. He is also more optimistic that action can be taken through the courts than Opperman is, but it’s important not to blame the child for actions over which he or she has no control.

Opperman, like all alienated parents, can’t do much but hope for the day when his son realizes that his father loved him all along and chooses to resume their relationship.

A Happy Ending

One happy ending came for Lisa Bingham of Highland, Calif., whose parents divorced when she was 3. In the course of a nasty custody battle her mother constantly told her terrible things about her father until Bingham came to hate him and refused to see him.

Then, when she was 21 years old, she contacted her father and they had a heart-to-heart talk. That’s when she realized that her father had been unfairly pushed out of her life. They’re still playing catch up for the years they missed, but Bingham thinks it’s important that other young adults hear her story and give their estranged parent a chance to tell their side of the story.

The original article can be found here: http://www.childrentoday.com/articles/dealing-with-divorce/parental-alienation-syndrome-4014/

Parental Rights Amendment Gains 80 Sponsors !!

In California Parental Rights Amendment, children legal status, Childrens Rights, Family Rights, fathers rights, mothers rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parents rights on April 29, 2009 at 12:25 am

One in five Congressmen is now on board for sponsoring a Constitutional Amendment to the US Constitution calling for a Recognition of Parental Rights.

If your Congressperson is on board, write him or her a letter of thanks, and urge friends, family or neighbors to contact or write their representative who is not signed on and ask their Congressperson to be a co-sponsor.

Rep. Pete Hoekstra (MI-2), lead sponsor.
Rep. Todd Akin (MO-2)
Rep. Rodney Alexander (LA-5)
Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN-6)
Rep. Gresham Barret (SC-3)
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (MD-6)
Rep. Rob Bishop (UT-1)
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (TN-7)
Rep. Roy Blunt (MO-7)
Rep. John Boehner (OH-8)
Rep. John Boozman (AR-3)
Rep. Paul Broun (GA-10)
Rep. Henry Brown (SC-1)
Rep. Vern Buchanan (FL-13)
Rep. Dan Burton (IN-5)
Rep. Ken Calvert (CA-44)
Rep. Dave Camp (MI-4)
Rep. John Campbell (CA-48)
Rep. Eric Cantor (VA-7)
Rep. John Carter (TX-31)
Rep. Tom Cole (OK-4)
Rep. Mike Conaway (TX-11)
Rep. Geoff Davis (KY-4)
Rep. Nathan Deal (GA-9)
Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr. (TN-2)
Rep. Mary Fallin (OK-5)
Rep. John Fleming (LA-4)
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (NE-1)
Rep. Trent Franks (AZ-2)
Rep. Phil Gingrey (GA-11)
Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX-1)
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (VA-6)
Rep. Brett Guthrie (KY-2)
Rep. Greg Harper (MS-3)
Rep. Dean Heller (NV-2)
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (TX-5)
Rep. Wally Herger (CA-2)
Rep. Duncan Hunter (CA-52)
Rep. Sam Johnson (TX-3)
Rep. Jim Jordan (OH-4)
Rep. Jack Kingston (GA-1)
Rep. John Kline (MN-2)
Rep. Doug Lamborn (CO-5)
Rep. Robert Latta (OH-5)
Rep. Frank Lucas (OK-3)
Rep. Cynthia Lummis (WY)
Rep. Donald Manzullo (IL-16)
Rep. Kenny Marchant (TX-24)
Rep. Michael McCaul (TX-10)
Rep. Tom McClintock (CA-4)
Rep. Thad McCotter (MI-11)
Rep. Patrick McHenry (NC-10)
Rep. John M. McHugh (NY-23)
Rep. Mike McIntyre (NC-7)
Rep. Buck McKeon (CA-25)
Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (WA-5)
Rep. Jeff Miller (FL-1)
Rep. Jerry Moran (KS-1)
Rep. Randy Neugebauer (TX-19)
Rep. Mike Pence (IN-6)
Rep. Joe Pitts (PA-16)
Rep. Todd Platts (PA-19)
Rep. Tom Price (GA-6)
Rep. George Radanovich (CA-19)
Rep. Phil Roe (TN-1)
Rep. Mike Rogers (AL-3)
Rep. Tom Rooney (FL-16)
Rep. Jean Schmidt (OH-2)
Rep. Pete Sessions (TX-32)
Rep. John Shadegg (AZ-3)
Rep. John Shimkus (IL-19)
Rep. Mark Souder (IN-3)
Rep. John Sullivan (OK-1)
Rep. Lee Terry (NE-2)
Rep. Todd Tiahrt (KS-4)
Rep. Zack Wamp (TN-3)
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (GA-3)
Rep. Ed. Whitfield (KY-1)
Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-2)
Rep. Rob Wittman (VA-1)
Rep. Frank Wolf (VA-10)

http://www.parentalrights.org/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC={48D114CD-BD70-4776-A32A-5661013D8897}

Is This Really Happening at DSS? …You’re Exaggerating !!

In adoption abuse, child trafficking, children legal status, Childrens Rights, Christian, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, Homeschool, judicial corruption, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Obama, Orphan Trains, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parents rights, state crimes on April 26, 2009 at 4:00 am

DSS Abuses are Painfully Real, and Hidden by Media Silence

By Marvin B. Cohen “The Crime Dog”

When the public reads about parents who claim that their children were taken by Department of Social Services without any abuse taking place, most people are skeptical. It’s only natural to think; “There must be more to it…”

After all, these kinds of things — government agents forcing their way into people’s homes, abducting children based on no evidence, children stolen and sold. Well, those kinds of things only happen in other countries, right? They don’t happen here! This is a democracy, based on freedom, law and justice.

In this country people have rights.

We have a Constitution and Bill of Rights. We have protections, damnit! We assume that before a child is forcefully removed from his home, the police must have been called to investigate an act of abuse to the child, an act inflicted with the intent to cause harm. Assault & battery. Beatings. You might assume that the parents you read about have been charged with something. After all, they must have had to do something for DSS to be called. Right?

That’s the way I used to think, too.

The fact is that these parents are rarely charged with anything at all. Meaning that there is no police involvement, no evidence of any crime having been committed whatsoever, and no charges pressed. You must be convicted of a crime to lose your driver’s license, but you can lose your children simply because a neighbor or social worker doesn’t like you.

A large percentage of reports of child abuse are made vindictively by disgruntled neighbors, perhaps in the course of some type of neighborhood dispute. Others are retaliatory actions in bitter divorce & custody battles. A disgruntled employee whom you fired could call DSS , or someone whose romantic interest you rejected, or some busybody who witnessed you yell at your child in the grocery store or swat them on the bottom, or your new date’s ex-girlfriend or boyfriend. Or, any sad, pathetic, lonely person who has nothing better to do than try to cast their own pain onto others. The fact is that any mentally unstable busybody can file a report of suspected child abuse.

So, why wouldn’t such obviously faulty reports is screened out? Many of them are. Out of the three million filed per year, over two million are screened out eventually. (Meaning that over one million parents a year are falsely reported for child abuse in this country.)

But when an agency is rewarded financially, based on their numbers, with intense federal pressure to increase the numbers, the motivation is to create clients by any means possible.

The more documented and even false charges DSS makes, the more funding they receive from the federal level, the state level, and the local level. So, not only are the parents, children and families are being abused, the public government coffers are being defrauded by DSS.

Majority of Cases Not Maltreatment

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services documents that around 68% of all substantiated cases do not involve child maltreatment. Well, you might ask, what the heck do they involve then? The majority (55%) are due to “deprivation of necessities” due to poverty. So, if your electricity gets shut off, you may lose your kids.

Others are “emotional maltreatment” which is: “denial of child’s wishes” (now there’s a can of worms!), “immature parents,” “failure to individualize children and their needs,” and “parentifying the child” (letting child help with chores, do dishes, help prepare meals or help with younger siblings.) So, if you thought that you were being a good and responsible parent by teaching your children tasks and to be helpful, self-sufficient and competent, I guess you might be a little surprised to learn that you, too, are a child abuser.

Other supported child abuse reports are typically for school absenteeism, head lice (which they usually get in school), diaper rash, not sending a snack or mittens to school, “parents argue in front of child,” leaving kids in the car for a second while you run into the store, “risk of homelessness,” unsuitable housing, leaving kids with a teenage babysitter, messy house/house “too neat,” mothers being “over nurturing,” or any scrape, bruise, bump, or injury inevitably incurred in the normal course of childhood play.

Christians and homeschoolers are frequently targeted. Christians are accused of having “religious mania” due to bi-polar disorder. Homeschoolers are trying to isolate their children to hide the bruises.

If you have a little boy who is a good all-American Huck Finn, beware! I remember when my brother and I were little. We lived in Miami, Florida, and we were tree climbers/explorers from the time we could stand. If we were not 40 feet up in some tree, then we were climbing on buildings or crawling through a bee’s nest. We had a huge dog names Scrappy as stubborn as we were and we tried riding him like a horse and he bucked us off frequently. We had semi-permanent eggs in the middle of our foreheads, and bruise’s and scrapes all over. I think our knees stayed skinned until we were about 17. We spent so much time in the ER that they jokingly said they were building us our own cubicle with our names on a brass plaque.

Boy would our mother in trouble if we were little in today’s America. If the school wants your kid on Ritalin and you refuse, you could be reported for “medical neglect.” But if you take your adventurous or sickly child to the emergency room too often, you most definitely will be reported for “suspected child abuse.” You could even be charged with “Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy.” If you aren’t familiar with Munchausen’s, it’s the new rage. Parents are accused of deliberately injuring their child or making them sick because they like the attention they get spending so much time in the hospital. If you have a child who wets the bed or a daughter who is prone to yeast or urinary tract infections, you may find yourself charged with sexual abuse, even though yeast or UTI’s are commonly caused by careless toilet hygiene, antibiotics, or a diet high in carbohydrates.

Did you ever take any cute pictures of your kids in the bathtub? Or running through the sprinkler nude or the traditional bear skin rug pictures? Those are now reported to DSS by film developers as suspected sexual abuse. I see many nudie baby pictures in television and print advertising, including from Beechnut and Gerber. But, if you take them, you could be reported. I heard of two little girls in DSS custody who like to do the hula dance to the opening music of the TV show “Home Improvement.” DSS reported that doing the hula dance was “sexualized behavior” that led them to believe the girls might have been sexually abused by their father. (Suspicion naturally falls on the father rather than any other party.) Stemming from the hula dance the girls were forced to have sexual abuse evaluations at ages 4 and 6. They were questioned ad nauseam and exposed to anatomically correct dolls. They were taught about sex by the child savers and their innocence was removed forever. (Just in case you are wondering how DSS ever saw the girls’ hula dance while they watched “Home Improvement,” they were in a women’s shelter due to temporary homelessness and the shelter staff thought the dance was “suspicious behavior.”)

How Did DSS Get Into It?

How did DSS get so far removed from child abuse? They operate by following something called the “Clinical Model.” They see themselves as “clinicians.” In other words, they use psychology as the basis for intervention. No, they are not qualified or licensed as psychologists. But, even if they were, I do not feel that psychology can be a basis for social service intervention. Why? Well, because as human beings the nature of the beast is that we are all walking balls of pathology. If you go in search of pathology, you are going to find it.

There is no such thing as a “normal” rating. If you’re too “normal,” then that’s abnormal. No one can “pass” a psych evaluation and get a piece of paper that says: “This person tested as normal.” Psychology is a soft science, meaning that it is comprised of theory and interpretation. As opposed to a hard science such as forensics, biochemistry, or medicine where results are proven based on concrete facts and evidence (i.e., x-rays, DNA, and blood chemistry). By using the Clinical Model, anything can be interpreted to mean whatever the interpreter wants it to. How convenient. And how very dangerous when the interpreters may have “issues” of their own or be motivated by money to produce a certain result.

Using the Clinical Model, DSS does not take children based on inflicted injuries or evidence of a crime of child abuse. Rather, they use the behaviors of the child to “prove” that there is some sort of hidden abuse occurring in the home. I think that most of us humans who are actually from this planet, and were children ourselves once, know that all children act up at various times, and in various ways.

We earthlings call this: normal human behavior. Children play, children have tantrums, children threaten to hold their breath until they get what they want, little boys used to dunk little girls pigtails in inkwells. We don’t always know what causes human behavior. Behavior could be due to neurological causes, or genetic, or bio-chemical. There is no expert in the world who can definitively state what causes any particular behavior unless it is a result of physical brain damage. Maybe we don’t always have to find a reason or someone to blame.

But, with the Clinical Model any behavior of the child can be used to “prove” that the child has been abused by the parents. (It only works for parental abuse) Therefore, if your child is shy or just well behaved, that is documented as “fearful and withdrawn.” If they are active and noisy they are “acting out their inability to verbalize the trauma.” If they run to their dad and climb up into his lap, they are “identifying with the aggressor.” If the child says his parents never hurt him, he is “in denial” and “protecting the abuser.” If children say they love their parents, then they have the Stockholm syndrome. Or even more stupid: parents are told by social workers, “All abused children say they love their parents so their parents won’t hurt them anymore.”

Nothing is just normal, predictable human behavior.
If children are outgoing, quiet, placid, disobedient, too obedient, neat, messy, loud, easy-going or temperamental ­everything has some deep, dark, obscure “meaning” that “proves” the parents have committed some type of hidden abuse and thus supports the DSS theory that all parents are inadequate and abusive.

Therefore children must be raised by the State.

To build an airtight case, DSS provides “proof” supplied by junk psychologists who work for them. DSS holds multi-million dollar contracts with privately owned “counseling” agencies. Many of them work exclusively for the business that comes from DSS. Their very existence is dependent on DSS. It orders clients to attend their own contracted vendors, sends a referral sheet to the agency basically outlining what they want the reports to say, and the whore-psychologists provide the “proof” needed by DSS. Most of this is billed to MassHealth (Medicaid).

If you came into contact with DSS initially due to poverty reasons, like your electricity being shut off or “risk of homelessness”, then you must have counseling to find out why you are poor. God forbid the government could own up to playing a role in poverty and social problems. This method allows the politicians to feel alleviated of any responsibility for people’s problems and allows them to cast the blame on the citizens for being so dysfunctional and stupid to become poor.

David Gill, one of the nation’s leading child abuse researchers, and one of the first to question the Clinical model, writes: “Whatever problems which are actually rooted in societal dynamics are defined as individual shortcomings or pathology, their real sources are disguised, and interventions are focused on individuals…and the social order is absolved by implication from guilt and responsibility and may continue to function unchallenged in accordance with established patterns.”

Richard Wexler writes: “Why does the Medical (Clinical) Model persist in the face of so much evidence to the contrary? Probably because it confers enormous prestige on the child-savers. Rather than being glorified welfare workers trying to get a poor family’s electricity turned on, the Clinical Model transforms child savers into doctor-like experts on the cutting edge of ‘treating’ a ‘syndrome.’ It feeds the egos of the narcissistic and allows those who are haunted by their own feelings of powerlessness and inadequacy to feel powerful by dominating others, unchecked.

Armed with the Clinical Model, social workers, politicians and the public can remain comfortably free of any feelings of responsibility or guilt: it’s the parents’ fault ­ they are “sick.” If you can convince yourself that this is so, then you need not feel guilty about the enormous harm done to children by placing them in foster care; you may be able to convince yourself that it is the “lesser of two evils.”

Richard Gelles, former director of the Rhode Island Family Violence Research Program states that “We have created a child protective system designed to cure symptoms that in many cases do not exist.”

Social Workers Are ‘Superior’.

When the first social workers hit the streets in the late 1800s, they were mostly Christians and Jews and were helping those who needed some assistance over a rough spot.

Now, they are pseudo-psychologists with a little knowledge of sociology and child-care. They are no longer just helping those who need a hand. They are far “superior” to those people they meet.

They are foot soldiers in the movement to have the state control the children, not the parents.

Most of the DSS cases involving seized children have mock court hearings. DSS presents the created and trumped evidence against the parent to the judge. In 99% of these cases, the judge generally rubber stamps whatever DSS wants. These children are alienated from the parents that love them and trusted into foster care with people that have little care for them. Foster parents are not volunteers! They are paid by DSS to house these children. Many foster parents medicate the children to make them fall asleep earlier. There are scores of cases where the children have truly been abused by foster parents. I’m currently talking with a mother whose 15 year old daughter was placed in foster care by DSS. After several months, she was suddenly returned to her mother, about 2 or 3 months pregnant. She later delivered a little girl. The father is unknown and DSS will never admit any wrong doing in the matter.

DSS Works in Secrecy!

Trying to get the case history from DSS is impossible. Everything DSS does is held in strict secrecy. Because their work involves minors, they do not have to deliver or show proof. Their records are subpoena proof. This means that even if everything in a case is a complete provable lie, it is automatically sealed. Even the original accuser remains unknown to the family victims of DSS’ greed for funding.

Original article can be found here: http://familyrights.us/news/archive/2009/feb/is_this_really_happening_at_dss.html

Parental Alienation Syndrome Passes Scientific Frye Standard

In adoption abuse, California Parental Rights Amendment, child trafficking, children legal status, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, judicial corruption, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Obama, Orphan Trains, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parents rights, state crimes on April 25, 2009 at 5:00 am

For those false accusers in family or custody court who consider parental alienation as junk science, the door has already started to swing shut on their egregious lies and child abuse by means of false allegations against fathers and mother in court.

PA has already passed the Frye Test, the SCIENTIFICALLY ACCEPTED standard used in Federal and State Courts for the admissibility of scientific evidence. Case Law will be continually updated as more and more children are rescued from the personality-disordered, hateful kidnappers otherwise known as Custodial Parents.

The Frye standard is a legal precedent in the United States regarding the admissibility of scientific examinations or experiments in legal proceedings. This standard comes from the case Frye vs. United States (293 F. 1013 (DC Cir 1923)) District of Columbia Circuit Court in 1923, regarding the admissibility of polygraph evidence into court. In most but not all jurisdictions, the Frye standard has been superseded by the Daubert standard.

http://home.att.net/~rawars/paslegal.html

Consider the following cases:

——————————————————————————–

U.S. and International Court Rulings Relevant to Parental Alienation
(Document last updated 05/18/08: 78 items)

UNITED STATES (22 States)

Alabama

Berry v. Berry, Circuit Court of Tuscaloosa County, AL, Case No. DR-96-761.01. Jan 06, 2001
Alaska

Pearson v. Pearson, Sup Ct. of AK., No. S-8973, No. 5297, 5 P.3d 239; 2000 Alas. Lexis 69. July 7, 2000.

Arkansas

Chambers v. Chambers, Ct of App of AR, Div 2; 2000 Ark App. LEXIS 476, June 21, 2000.

California

Coursey v. Superior Court (Coursey), 194 Cal.App.3d 147,239 Cal.Rptr. 365 (Cal.App. 3 Dist., Aug 18, 1987.
John W. v. Phillip W., 41 Cal.App.4th 961, 48 Cal.Rptr.2d 899; 1996.
Valerie Edlund v. Gregory Hales, 66 Cal. App 4th 1454; 78 Cal. Rptr. 2d 671.

Colorado

Oosterhaus v. Short, District Court, County of Boulder (CO), Case No. 85DR1737-Div III.

Connecticut

Case v. Richardson, 1996 WL 434281 (Conn. Super.,Jul 16, 1996).
Metza v. Metza, Sup. Court of Connecticut, Jud. Dist. of Fairfield, at Bridgeport,
1998 Conn. Super. Lexis 2727 (1998).

Florida

Schutz v. Schutz, 522 So. 2d 874 (Fla. 3rd Dist. Ct. App. 1988).
Blosser v. Blosser, 707 So. 2d 778; 1998 Fla. App. Case No. 96-03534.
Tucker v. Greenberg, 674 So. 2d 807 (Fla. 5th DCA 1996).
Berg-Perlow v. Perlow, 15th Circuit Court, Palm Beach County, Fl.,Case no. CD98-1285-FC. Mar 15, 2000.
An exceptionally strong family court decision in which five experts testified to the diagnosis of PAS.
Loten v. Ryan, 15th Circuit Court, Palm Beach County, FL., Case No. CD 93-6567 FA. Dec 11,2000.
Kilgore v. Boyd, 13th Circuit Court, Hillsborough County, FL., Case No. 94-7573, 733 So. 2d 546 (Fla. 2d DCA 2000) Jan 30, 2001.
Boyd v. Kilgore, 773 So. 2d 546 (Fla. 3d DCA 2000) (Prohibition Denied)
Court ruling that the Parental Alienation Syndrome has gained general acceptance in the scientific community and thereby satisfies Frye Test criteria for admissibility.
McDonald v. McDonald, 9th Judicial Circuit Court, Orange County, FL. Case No. D-R90-11079, Feb 20, 1001.
Blackshear v. Blackshear, Hillsborough County, FL 13th Jud. Circuit: 95-08436.

Illinois

In re Violetta 210 III.App.3d 521, 568 N.E2d 1345, 154 III.Dec. 896(Ill.App. I Dist Mar 07, 1991).
In re Marriage of Divelbiss v. Divelbiss, No. 2-98-0999 2nd District, Ill.(Appeal from Circ Crt of Du Page Cty No. 93-D-559) Oct 22, 1999.
Tetzlaff v. Tetzlaff, Civil Court of Cook County, Il., Domestic Relations Division, Cause No. 97D 2127, Mar 20, 2000.
Bates v. Bates 18th Judicial Circuit, Dupage County, IL Case No. 99D958, Jan 17, 2002.
Court ruling that the Parental Alienation Syndrome has gained general acceptance in the scientific community and thereby satisfies Frye Test criteria for admissibility.[excerpt]

Indiana

White v. White, 1995 (Indiana Court of Appeals) 655 N.E.2d 523. (Ind. App., Aug 31, 1995).

Iowa

In re Marriage of Rosenfeld, 524 NW 2d 212, 214 (Iowa app, 1994).

Louisiana

Wilkins v Wilkins, Family Court, Parish of East Baton Rouge, La., Civ. No. 90792. Nov. 2, 2000.
White v Kimrey, Court of Appeal, Second Circuit, LA, No. 37,408-CA. May 14, 2003.Click here for the Court’s decision.

Michigan

Spencley v. Spencley, 2000 WL 33519710 (Mich App).

Nevada

Truax v. Truax, 110 Nev. 437, 874 P. 2d 10 (Nev., May 19, 1994).

New Hampshire

Lubkin v. Lubkin, 92-M-46LD Hillsborough County, NH. (Southern District, Sept. 5, 1996).

New Jersey

Lemarie v. Oliphant, Docket No. FM-15-397-94, (Sup Crt NJ, Ocean Cty:Fam Part-Chancery Div) Dec. 11, 2002.

New York

Rosen v. Edwards (1990) Tolbert, J. (1990), AR v. SE. New York Law Journal, December 11:27-28.
The December 11, 1990 issue of The New York Law Journal [pages 27-28] reprinted, in toto, the ruling of Hon. J. Tolbert of the Westchester Family Court in Westchester Co.
Karen B v. Clyde M., Family Court of New York, Fulton County, 151 Misc. 2d 794; 574 N.Y. 2d 267, 1991.
Krebsbach v. Gallagher, Supreme Court, App. Div., 181 A.D.2d 363; 587 N.Y.S. 2d 346, (1992).
Karen PP. v. Clyde QC. Sup Ct of NY, App Div, 3rd Dept. 197 A.D. 2d 753; 602 N.Y.s. 2d 709; 1993 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 9845.
In the matter of J.F. v. L.F., Fam. Ct. of NY, Westchester Cty, 181 Misc 2d 722; 694 N.Y.S. 2d 592; 1999 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 357.
Oliver V. v. Kelly V., NY Sup. Ct. Part 12. New York Law Journal Nov. 27, 2000.
Sidman v. Zager, Family Court, Tompkins County, NY: V-1467-8-9-94.

Ohio

Sims v. Hornsby, 1992 WL 193682 (Ohio App. 12 Dist., Butler County, Aug 10 1992).
Zigmont v. Toto, 1992 WL 6034 (Ohio App. 8 Dist Cuyahoga County, Jan 16, 1992).
Pisani v. Pisani, Court of Appeals of Ohio, 8th App. Dist. Cuyahoga Cty. 1998 Ohio App. Lexis 4421 (1998).
Pathan v. Pathan, Case No. 96-OS-1. Common Pleas Court of Montgomery County, OH, Div. of Dom Rel.
Pathan v. Pathan, C.A. Case No. 17729. Ct. of App. of OH, 2d Dist., Montgomery County; 2000 Ohio App. Lexis 119. Jan. 21, 2000
Conner v. Renz, 1995 WL 23365 (Ohio App. 4 Dist., Athens County, Jan 19, 1995).
State v. Koelling, 1995 WL 125933 (Ohio App. 10 Dist., Franklin County, Mar 21, 1995).

Pennsylvania

Popovice v. Popovice, Court of Common Pleas, Northampton Cty, PA. Aug 11, 1999, No. 1996-C-2009.

Texas

Ochs et al. v. Myers, App. No. 04-89-00007-CV. Ct. of App. of TX, 4th Dist., San Antonio; 789 S.W. 2d 949; 1990 Tex App. Lexis 1652, May 16, 1990.

Virginia

Ange, Court of Appeals of Virginia, 1998 Va. App. Lexis 59 (1998).
Waldrop v. Waldrop, in Chancery No. 138517. Fairfax County Circuit Court,(Va., April 26, 1999).

Washington

Rich v. Rich, Sup Ct, 5th Dist. Case No. 91-3-00074-4 (Douglas County) June 11, 1993.

Wisconsin

Janelle S. v. J.R.S., Court of Appeals of Wisconsin, District 4. 1997 Wisc. App. LEXIS 1124 (1997).
Fischer v. Fischer, Ct. of App. of WI, Dist. Two, No. 97-2067; 221 Wis. 2d 221; 584 N.W.2d 233; 1998 Wisc. App. Lexis 1534.

Wyoming

In re Marriage of Rosenfeld, 524 N.W. 2d 212 (Iowa App., Aug 25 1994) McCoy v. State 886 P.2d 252 (Wyo.,Nov 30, 1994).
McCoy v State of Wyoming, 886 P.2d 252, 1994.

CANADA (8 Provinces)

Quebec

Stuart-Mills, P. v. Cher, A.J.., Sup. Ct. Quebec, Dist. of Montreal, No. 500-12-184613-895 (1991).
V. (L.) C. H. (E.), 1992 CarswellQue 169; 45 Q.A.C. 100; 1992 R.J.Q. 855; 1992 R.D.F. 316 Cour d’appel du Quebec, Feb 26, 1992.
R.M c. B.R, [1994] A.Q. no 947. DRS 95-09809 No 200-09-000440-948 (200-12-042928-904 C.S.Q.) (Quebec, decision in french only) Oct. 28, 1994
R.F. v. S.P., [2000] Q.J. Np. 3412 No. 500-12-250739-004 Quebec Superior Court (Montreal) Oct. 13, 2000.

Alberta

Elliott v. Elliott, A.J. No. 74 DRS 96-05285 Action No. 4806-10272 Alberta Crt of Queen’s Bench, Jud. Dist. of Lethbridge/Macleod, Jan 25, 1996.
Elliott v. Elliott, 1996 CarswellAlta 95, 193 A.R. 177, 135 W.A.C. 177, 27 R.F.L. (4th) 23 Alberta Court of Appeals. Nov 7, 1996 (Affirmed–Appeal Dismissed)
Johnson v. Johnson, No. 4806-11508a, Jud Dist. of Lethbridge/Macleod, Oct. 09, 1997

Ontario

Rothwell v. Kisko, 1991 CarswellOnt 1326. Ontario Crt of Just. (Gen’l Div.) Docket# 36429/89, Mar 21, 1991.
Davy v. Davy, Ontario Court of Justice (Gen’l Div)Docket 92-gd-21948. 1993 CarswellOnt 1630;1993 W.D.F.L 1535. Oct 7, 1993.
Fortin v. Major, O.J. No. 3805 DRS 97-01672, Court File No. 49729/94 Ontario Crt of Justice (Gen’l Div: Ottawa), Oct 25, 1996.
Demers v. Demers, Ontario Superior Court, Docket: Kingston 54253/96. 1999 CarswellOnt 2621. June 8, 1999.
Orszak v. Orszak, Ontario Superior Court of Justice Docket: 97-FP-234664. 2000 CarswellOnt 1574. May 5, 2000.
Her Majesty the Queen vs. K.C. Superior Court of Justice, Ontario, County of Durham, Central-East Region, Court File No. 9520/01. August, 9, 2002. (Mohan Test)
Rogerson and Tessaro, Court of Appeal for Ontario, Docket: C44199, May 9, 2006. [mentions alienating conduct but not "syndrome."]
Petternuzzo-Deschene v. Deschene, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Docket: 22661. 2007 WL 22984642007 (Ont. S.C.J.), CarswellOnt 5095. August 8, 2007. [specifically mentions PAS and cites a description of alienating behavior as abuse]
S.P. and P.B.D., Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Court File No. 22661. August 10, 2007.

British Columbia

McLelland v. McLelland, British Columbia Supreme Court Docket: Nanaimo 07907. 1999 CarswellBC 1706. July 2, 1999
Menard v. Menard, Sup. Ct of British Columbia, 2001 CarswellBC 1312; 2001 BCSC 430, Mar 21, 2001.

Nova Scotia

Badakhshan v. Moradi, Nova Scotia Fam Court. 1993 CarswellNS 423;120 N.S.R.(2d) 405; 332 A.P.R. 405. Mar 2, 1993.

New Brunswick

S.O. v. S.C.O, N.B.J. No. 326, Proceeding No. FDSJ-400-98. New Brunswick Crt of Queen’s Bench, Family Division-Jud. Dist. of St. John. Jul 28, 1999.
Jefferson v. Jerfferson, New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench Docket: FDSJ-6408.95. 2000 CarswellNB 15. Jan 18, 2000.

New Foundland

Toope v. Toope, 2000 CarswellNfld 185, 8 R.F.L. (5th) 446, 193 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 313, 582 A.P.R. 313. New Foundland Unified Family Court June 15, 2000.
Saskatchewan

B.S.P. and D.G.P., Queens Bench for Saskatchewan, Docket No. 005359 of 2006, Battleford, Family Law Division, Citation 2008 SKQB 63, Feb. 8, 2008.

AUSTRALIA

Johnson v. Johnson, 4806-11508A. FAMILY COURT OF AUSTRALIA, July 7, 1997.
Johnson v.Johnson, Appeal No. SA1 of 1997 No.AD6182 of 1993, 7 July 1997.

EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS AT STRASBOURG

Familycase Koudelka/Application number: 1633/05, 20 July 2006
Familycase Zavrel/Application number: 14044/05, 18 April 2007

GERMANY

Anonymous v. Anonymous, Case No. 2xv178, Rinteln (Circuit Court) Germany, Apr. 27, 1998.
Sch. v. Sch., Kammergericht KG Berlin. vom 30 Mai 2000 – 17 UF 1413/99.
Fundstelle: Fam RZ 2000, 1606 (Heft 24 / 2000 vom 15. Dezember 2000)
“¤¤ 1671, 1696 BGB: Bedeutung des Parental Alienation Syndroms im AbŠnderungsverfahren” – Hervorhebungen durch Fettschrift -
Beschluss 17 UF 1413/99 – Volltext der Entscheidung
(136 F11 514/98 AG Berlin (Tempelhof-Kreuzberg Germany)

Anon v. Anon, OLG Ffm vom 13.07.2000 unter Az. 5 WF 112/00,(Germany).
Anon v. Anon, OLG Ffm vom 26.10.2000 unter Az. 6 WF 168/00,(Germany).
Anon v. Anon, OLG Dresden, No. 264 – UF229/02, Aug. 29, 2002 (published in FamRZ: 50(6) 2003: 397).

GREAT BRITAIN

Re: C (Children) (2002) CA (Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss P, Thorpe LJ, Kay LJ) 20/2/2002 COURT OF APPEAL REF: 2001/1642. (Great Britain)

ISRAEL

Jane Doe v. John Doe. Supreme Court, Request for Civil Appeal, 3009/92.
Jane Doe v. John Doe. Ashdod Family Court, Family Docket 2182/00. Jan. 26, 2003.

SWITZERLAND

Entscheid der delegierten des AmtsgerichtsprŠsidenten II con Luzern-Stadt vom 8. Februar 2001 im Verfahren nach Art. 175 ZGB (02 00 210)

PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME REFERENCE LIST

RESOURCES BY DR. RICHARD A. WARSHAK ON PAS, RELOCATION, AND MORE

A Supporter of the Traditional Family – Thank You Carrie Prejean!

In Family Rights on April 25, 2009 at 12:43 am

She Represents the Majority viewpoint of Millions of Californians…. Thank You!

MEDIATION AND PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME

In adoption abuse, California Parental Rights Amendment, child trafficking, children legal status, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, judicial corruption, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Obama, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parents rights, state crimes on April 24, 2009 at 5:00 am

Considerations for an Intervention Model

by Anita Vestal
FAMILY AND CONCILIATION COURTS REVIEW, Vol. 37, No. 4, October, 1999, p. 487-503

Parental alienation syndrome (PAS), a term that originated in the mid-1980s, refers to a disturbance in which children are preoccupied with viewing one parent as all good and the other parent as all bad. Conscious or unconscious words and actions of custodial parents cause the child(ren) to align with them in rejection of noncustodial parents during divorce or custody disputes. Issues of concern for mediators include detection of PAS and an understanding of appropriate remedial plans that will allow the child to restore his or her relationship with the noncustodial parent.

An area of growing demand and concern for family mediators is in the minefields of child custody litigation. With no-fault divorce, and a standard for determining custody in light of the child’s best interests, judges are besieged with a backlog of disputed custody cases without clear and concrete guidelines to follow in deciding whether to favor the mother or the father. Many experts in family law–from both the legal and mental health arenas-have observed an increase in deceptive and manipulative tactics used by divorcing couples. This article looks at parental alienation syndrome (PAS), which is a complex manifestation of mental and emotional abuse resulting from conflicted parents fighting for custody. Recommendations are given for a model that could be employed by family mediators to ensure that families suffering from PAS receive prompt and effective intervention.

MEDIATION IN CHILD CUSTODY DISPUTES–
HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES

The surge in divorce rates during the past two decades, along with major judicial reforms since the 1970s, has led to several significant changes in the ways that courts handle family law cases. Divorce and custody laws have been widely revised by states, and alternatives to litigation have emerged and gained prominence. Mediation has become a popular option, and in many states, mediation is mandatory for divorcing couples. Judicial systems in California, Minnesota, and Wisconsin were early experimenters with the concept of conciliation courts, where parents were encouraged to work out divorce and custody conflicts. In the past two decades, many states have introduced mandatory mediation of contested child custody.

There has been research that supports mediation as a positive intervention in custody disputes. Studies of custody cases in several large cities report that over one half (between 50% and 90%) of the cases are settled through mediation (Atkinson 1996). A large empirical evaluation of mediation services in three court-based programs showed generally high levels of user satisfaction according to the researchers (Pearson and Thoennes 1986). Both the Denver Mediation Project of the early 1980s and a study conducted in Toronto found mediation to be successful in keeping divorcing families out of court. The Toronto study compared couples that mediated custody with those that litigated without mediation; only 10% of mediated couples returned to the courtroom after 2 years with problems related to custody or visitation, whereas 26% of the non-mediated couples were back in court within 2 years (Herman 1990). These studies of divorcing couples did not focus exclusively on “highconflict” divorce situations.

Herman (1990) challenges the suitability of mediation in some custody disputes. He asserts that the assumption that mediation will deter the bitterness, disappointment, and anger of divorcing couples and lead them toward cooperation, understanding, and tolerance has not been documented. “Even a highly skilled mediator cannot compensate for the sharp differences in sophistication and power that often exist between divorcing spouses” (p. 56). The issue of mandatory mediation of child custody cases has some outspoken critics. Carol Bruch, professor of family law at the University of California at Davis, publicly testified before the New York state legislature about her concerns that children are not best represented in mediation and women are often at a distinct disadvantage. She observes that there is no research evidence to support a claim that children whose parents mediate custody settlements do better than children of litigating parents. Furthermore, she points to her own experience with family law attorneys and mediators to support her assertion that the husband and his views are accorded more respect than the wife and her views (Herman 1990).

These conflicting viewpoints with regard to the pros and cons of mediation in child custody disputes indicate a need for additional research.

PAS AND CUSTODY DISPUTES

The foregoing section reviewed the historical context of mediation in child custody disputes and some of the research findings, both pro and con, relative to the suitability of mediation in custody cases. There are concerns that mediation may not work to the advantage of everyone concerned in all cases of contested custody. “In most divorce cases where there is animosity and conflict between the parents, there is some degree of brainwashing and programming (of children)” (Clawar and Rivlin 1991, 9). This brainwashing and programming may be relatively mild or it may be quite severe. It may be conscious or unconscious on the part of the parent(s). The parent’s conscious or unconscious disparaging of the separated spouse often leads to the phenomenon of PAS.

PAS refers to a disturbance in which children are preoccupied with viewing one parent as all good and the other parent as all bad. The bad parent is hated and verbally maligned, whereas the good parent is loved and idealized. Another hallmark of PAS is the false charging of child abuse, which comes about when one parent is intent upon driving away the other parent (Carper, et al. 1995). Cases in which PAS is suspected require a diagnosis from a mental health expert prior to being referred for mediation.

Forensic psychologist Dr. Richard Gardner originated the term PAS in the mid-1980s; however, the phenomenon was described in an earlier work by Wallerstein and Kelly (1980). They characterize an “alignment with one parent” that is a “divorce-specific relationship that occurs when a parent and one or more children join in a vigourous attack on the other parent” (p. 77). In parental alienation, one parent who has previously had a good relationship with the child becomes the object of hate and degradation by the child due to conscious or unconscious brainwashing by the other parent. Gardner (1992) claims that between 80% and 90% of all custody cases exhibit some form of PAS from mild to moderate to severe symptoms. This claim has not been supported by research, and many experts in the field feel it is an exaggeration of the proportions of the problem. Gardner, however, includes cases that he feels are relatively mild; these very mild cases will improve as soon as the custody decision has been made, according to Gardner. The issue of concern for mediators and court officials is that they may have difficulty recognizing PAS and could easily assume the “rejected” parent is indeed a poor parent and merits the child’s rejection when in fact researchers have shown the opposite is true.

Manifestations of PAS in children consist of eight elements described by Gardner (1992) (see Table 1).

Table 1
Common Characteristics of Children With Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)

PAS Trait Description of Behavior
A campaign of denigration The child is obsessed with hatred of a parent. This denigration by the child often has the quality of a litany.
Weak, frivolous, or absurd rationalizations for the deprecation The child provides irrational and often ludicrous justifications for not wanting to be near the hated parent.
Lack of ambivalence All human relationships, including parent-child relationships, are ambivalent. In PAS, the children have no mixed feelings. The hated parent is all bad, and the loved parent is all good.
The “independent thinker” phenomenon Many children proudly state that their decision to reject the other parent is completely their own; they deny any contribution by the custodial parent.
Reflexive support of the loved parent in parental conflict Commonly, the children will accept as 100% valid the allegations of the loved parent against the hated one, even after seeing evidence that the loved parent was lying.
Absence of guilt The child shows total disregard for the hated parent’s feelings.
The presence of borrowed scenarios There is a rehearsed quality to the scenarios, and they often use language or phrases that are not commonly used by the child.
Spread of the animosity to the extended family of the hated parent The child rejects the network of relatives that previously provided numerous and important psychological gratifications.

Walsh and Bone (1997) refer to parents as the “alienating parent” and the “target parent.” Another terminology, used by Johnston and Roseby (1997), is “aligned parent” and “rejected parent.” Typically, the aligned parent has an agenda for turning the child against the other parent. The motive may include revenge, guilt, fear of loss of the child or loss of the role of primary parent, or the desire to have control or ownership over the child. The aligned parent may be jealous of the other parent, or desire to obtain leverage in the divorce settlement relative to property distribution, child support, or alimony. It may be that the aligned parent suffers from a past history of abandonment, alienation, physical or sexual abuse, or even loss of identity (Walsh and Bone 1997). These motives lead him or her to program the child to deny love for, or even deny the existence of, the target parent.

Johnston and Roseby (1997) offer a more sympathetic portrayal, describing the aligned parent as one who feels rejected, sad, and afraid of being alone as a result of an unwanted divorce. “Consequently these vulnerable people can become acutely or chronically distressed . . . and turn to their children for nurturance and companionship, as allies against the world and salve for their wounded self-esteem” (p. 198). He or she may project all the blame onto the divorcing spouse and view him or her as an incompetent parent. These parents feel self-righteous and compelled to protect their children from the other parent.

The rejected parent becomes the victim of false allegations and may feel frustrated and bewildered over the changes in the childs’s behavior. Although the allegations are grossly distorted, perhaps to the point of being obviously fabricated, nevertheless the child and the aligned parent appear to deeply believe them (Walsh and Bone 1997). Most PAS researchers have described the rejected parents as passive victims of the other parents’ vengeful rage; Johnston and Roseby (1997) depart from this view and characterize rejected parents as “often rather inept and unempathic with their youngsters” (p. 199). Based on their observations, the rejected parent may contribute to the continued alienation by a combination of counter-hostility and dogged pursuit of the child with telephone calls, letters, and appearances at the child’s activities. The argument that a rejected parent should not pursue the relationship may be in contradiction to conclusions made by Clawar and Rivlin (1991) in their 12-year study of 700 PAS cases. They concluded that it may prolong the alienation if a rejected parent loses contact. The longer there is little or no contact between a parent and a child, the more difficult the impact will be to overcome.

In their study of 16 PAS cases, Dunne and Hedrick (1994) found that PAS does not necessarily signify dysfunction in either the rejected parent or in the relationship between the child and rejected parent. Instead, they argue that PAS appears to be attributable to the pathology of the aligned parent and the unhealthy relationship between the aligned parent and the child. All of the aligned parents in their study experienced intense feelings of dysphoria, which were blamed on the former spouse; in addition, the aligned parents predominantly experienced intense narcissistic injuries. Clawar and Rivlin (1991) determined that brainwashing and programming are intensified the more the rejected parent succeeds in life after the separation (financial success, new and happy relationships, etc.).

The child is the most seriously affected victim of PAS. In her study of self-concept of children of divorce, Stoner-Moskowitz (1998) concluded that when the relationship with the rejected parent is abruptly halted, the child’s emotional development is stunted. The aligned parent’s programming creates confusion in the child as a result of internalizing distorted beliefs and perceptions. In an extensive longitudinal study, 40% of the children developed self-hatred and guilt because they were used as an ally in the war against the rejected parent (Clawar and Rivlin 1991). Often, the family has been torn by extremely divergent parenting styles and perhaps a history of parental conflict. Beneath their anger and challenging behavior is a pathetic longing for the rejected parent. “The children want to be rescued from their intolerable dilemma” (Johnston and Roseby 1997, 199).

ISSUES IN MEDIATOR QUALIFICATIONS FOR PAS CASES

When these types of cases are referred to mandatory court mediation, the scenarios can be quite difficult for a mediator to sort out. The child and aligned parent will appear to have a very close and loving bond, whereas the other parent (unknowingly) is accused of a long list of horrifying behaviors, which often includes quite credible, although fabricated and false, accusations of child abuse (Gardner 1992).

There are several issues of mediator competence that need to be examined. First, the question of detection of PAS presents itself as a dilemma for mediators who are not trained in mental health diagnostic procedures. Second, once PAS is suspected, detected, or diagnosed, should mediation proceed and, if so, under what circumstances? The education, training, and skills of the mediator obviously come into play when dealing with the highly deceptive and manipulative tactics of parents who have succeeded in programming their children. Mediators need training to understand and recognize the underlying motives for a parent’s refusal to promote accessibility between the child and the other parent. Some motives could be an avenging spouse who wants to punish or get even with the spouse who left him or her; the narcissist who regards custody as a way to prove his or her self-worth to the world after a failed marriage; or a lonely parent who seeks to control the children for fear of losing them, or from a need for emotional support from the children (Warshack 1992).

When divorcing couples voluntarily participate in mediation, there may be an assumption of their willingness to cooperate on a settlement for everyone’s best interests. It may be that PAS families come to mediation not voluntarily but rather as part of a court-ordered or mandatory mediation process. Unfortunately, if one of the parents is unreasonable or uncooperative, the mediation effort can easily be sabotaged (Turkat 1994).

There is a need for training to teach mediators how to detect and deal with PAS families; again, there is no research to date indicating that family mediators are trained in PAS. A thorough literature review for this article showed no such training procedures reported at the time of this writing, although there are several researchers who call for training to help all family intervenors deal effectively with brainwashing, programming, and alienation tactics by separated parents (Cartwright 1993; Clawar and Rivlin 1991; Dunne and Hedrick 1994; Gardner 1992; Hysjulien, Wood, and Benjamin 1994; Lund 1995; Turkat 1994; Walsh and Bone 1997). In their 1994 review of methods for child custody evaluation used in litigation and alternate dispute resolution, Hysjulien, Wood, and Benjamin (1994, 485) concluded that models for training competent evaluators or for educating attorneys and the judiciary about custody evaluation issues are lacking.

ETHICAL ISSUES FOR MEDIATORS DEALING WITH PAS

It is well documented in the literature on mediation that many perceive a successful mediation as one that produces an agreement (Umbreit 1995). Couple this success indicator with a growing trend for courts to encourage joint legal custody, and a mediator who is not aware of PAS could inadvertently cause negative consequences by attempting an agreement for joint custody. Joint or shared custody normally requires a very high degree of parental cooperation. When an inflexible parent encourages the child to have nothing to do with the other parent, he or she may not be capable of such cooperation. Research has shown that the best predictor that children will adjust well to their parents’ divorce is a low level of parental conflict (Regehr 1994). Unfortunately, joint custody in cases of parental alienation may enhance parent conflict, making the situation worse for the children. There are varying degrees of severity of PAS, and in severe cases the PAS dynamic may be so toxic that a relationship with both parents may not be possible, nor will it be in the child’s best interests (Dunne and Hedrick 1994).

Mediators and other professionals who work with the divorcing population need to be aware of the symptoms of PAS and the difficulties that these cases present. A failure to properly identify and intervene in the early stages of PAS cases may result in the aligned parent being given professional support, thus reinforcing the child’s need to maintain or expand complaints about the rejected parent (Dunne and Hedrick 1994). Saposnek (1998) recommends that mediators in these cases first determine the extent of alienation, putting the child on a continuum of (1) equal attachment, (2) affinity with one parent, (3) alignment with one parent, and (4) alienated from one parent. The continuum was obtained from training materials for seminars on parental alienation developed by Joan B. Kelly (Figure 1). For children who are pathologically alienated, an intensive therapeutic approach is necessary; without it, efforts at mediation are likely to fail (Saposnek 1998). Gardner (1992) suggests that professionals need to understand the therapeutic interventions necessary to treat and alleviate symptoms of PAS before any custody or visitation arrangement can succeed. PAS should be assessed from the perspective of how much the programming process is influencing the child, not on the basis of the aligned parent’s attempts to program (Gardner 1998).

vest99figure12
Figure 1. Attachment/alienation continuum.
SOURCE: Developed by Joan B. Kelly, Ph.D. Reprinted with permission. Figure 1

Another major ethical dilemma for a neutral mediator is how to deal with the dishonesty, deception, and unwillingness to cooperate on the part of an aligned parent. These parents can be very skillful at convincing the mediator of their sincerity and create a bias that could be harmful for the rejected parent and the child. Any agreement produced without mental health intervention for the family may only serve to prolong the PAS. In their study of over 700 cases of children who were brainwashed and/or programmed by one parent to hate the other parent, Clawar and Rivlin (1991) conclude that most parents who brainwashed or programmed their children extensively were “poor candidates for re-education and counseling. They were largely ‘other-blamers’ and took no responsibility for their damaging influence on their child” (p. 153).

Thus, mediators have several ethical dilemmas to resolve. Although we know that mediators strive to maintain impartiality and neutrality, many practitioners believe that it is impossible to attain complete impartiality, neutrality, or lack of bias when working with people (Taylor 1997). Regehr (1994) points out that the bias of mediators appears to have a large impact on the decisions reached by parents. Therefore, mediators need to face some tough questions: Who do they believe–the skillful and apparently sincere parent who has the love of the children or the parent who has been rejected by the children for a number of very convincing reasons? What should be done about the obvious power imbalance favoring the aligned parent? After all, the aligned parent has the children, they are well bonded and close to one another, so the court may favor leaving the children in that home when an understanding of PAS is lacking, which is often the case. How does the mediator build trust with a party who is intent on deception and manipulation? Walsh and Bone (1997) warn: “Make no mistake about it; individuals with PAS will and do lie. They leave out . . . pertinent details or they maneuver the facts in such a manner to create an entirely false impression” (p. 94). A study of the characteristics of children who refuse postdivorce visits revealed that the custodial parents of the refusers often exhibited psychopathology (Racusin 1994). Turkat’s (1994) study on visitation interference highlights the cooperation issue. “A parent who has continually interfered with visitation may state . . . that he or she will comply with the nonresidential parent’s visitation request. Immediately following the hearing, the custodial parent returns to the visitation interference pattern, knowing that months may go by before a return to court” (p. 741).

WHEN IS MEDIATION NOT APPROPRIATE IN CUSTODY CASES?

Mediation is an informal, but structured process in which one or more impartial third parties assist disputants in talking about the conflict and in negotiating a resolution to it that addresses the needs and interests of the parties. Mediators do not impose a settlement and participation in the process is usually voluntary. (Umbreit 1995, 24)

By definition, mediation is a voluntary process in which no one is compelled to participate or to reach an agreement. A notable exception to voluntary participation is mediation that is mandatory in many states’ judicial systems. The question is raised whether it is incongruent to require unwilling parties to participate in a process that is designed to be cooperative, interactive, and participatory. In a review of existing literature on mediation, it was concluded that there is a need for empirically sound methods for discriminating between couples who are ready for mediation and those who are not (Hysjulien, Wood, and Benjamin 1994).

Mediation should perhaps be bypassed in cases with severe PAS symptoms. Cartwright (1993) states that whereas negotiation is often a good solution in other forms of litigation, it tends not to be effective in cases of PAS. He asserts that

the lack of a swift, clear, forceful judgement is often perceived by the alienator as denoting approval of the alienating behavior. This tends to reinforce the behavior and renders a great disservice to both the child and the petitioning parent. . . . Courts must not fall victim to the alienator’s scheme of stalling for time in order to continue the program of vilification. (p. 211)

Palmer (1988) also recognizes the duty of judges to take a stronger stand with regard to aligned parents who try to alienate their children from the other parent.

Issues of abuse and violence are prevalent in custody disputes. It has been argued that mediation may not be appropriate for couples who have experienced domestic violence because it may place women and children at risk for ongoing intimidation (Hysjulien, Wood, and Benjamin 1994). The mediation process can and has allowed an abusive spouse to maintain control and domination with the sanction of the courts (Geffner and Pagelow 1990). A number of states now recognize the paradox of mediating in abusive relationships, and mediation is waived where parties allege domestic violence or child abuse (Bruch 1988 and Sun and Thomas 1987 [cited in Geffner and Pagelow 1990]). Although PAS has not been formally linked with domestic violence or spouse abuse cases, the issues of control, domination, and emotional abuse are present in both types of cases. PAS and child brainwashing are forms of child abuse (Clawar and Rivlin 1991; Gardner 1992; Herman 1990; Walsh and Bone 1997) and, as such, could fall under the same mediation precautions as other types of cases that exhibit violence and abuse.

One of the major strategies for protecting domestic violence cases from the limitations of mediation is to use a premediation screening process. Premediation screening is highly recommended by many practitioners in the field to determine which cases can be mediated and which cases are not suitable for mediation (Girdner 1990; Perry 1994; Chance and Gerencser 1996; Pearson 1997; Salem and Milne 1995; Thoennes, Salem, and Pearson 1994). Such a model could be adapted for PAS cases. Those cases that are severe may need the attention of the court immediately rather than delay the case waiting for a mediation process that is not likely to resolve the issue.

A MEDIATION MODEL FOR SUSPECTED PAS FAMILIES

The question remains about whether mediation is an appropriate form of intervention in cases of PAS. Pearson and Thoennes (1986) contend that mediation will not transform hostile couples into cooperative ones and will not eliminate future conflict, but it is perceived to be a less damaging intervention than court. Murray (1999) agrees that “children of high-conflict divorce may benefit from the potentially harmful effects of the adversarial approach” (p. 94). Lund (1995, 315) believes that it is important to lower the overt conflict in PAS cases so that the children are not drawn into the parents’ conflicts. A mediator may be successful in helping inflexible custodial parents respond to changes in visitation schedules and other situations that require cooperative interaction between the parents.

vest99figure2
Figure 2. Elements of parental alienation syndrome mediation model. Figure 2

Incorporating the issues raised in this article, a mediation model designed to intervene in custody disputes where PAS is suspected must address four areas of concern (Figure 2). The first area is the need for mental health expertise both to diagnose the underlying motives and extent of alienation and to prescribe appropriate therapeutic interventions prior to any agreement or decision on custody and visitation. Second, the mediation process would need the assurance that the court will take swift, clear judicial action when necessary to discourage tactics of stalling and deception by the aligned parent. The third component needs to balance the power discrepancy felt particularly by the rejected parent who has been isolated from the child’s life and love. The last and very critical element of a mediation model is a mechanism to manage the manipulative and deceptive behavior exhibited by the aligned parent, as well as an ongoing process to monitor cooperation with court orders or agreed-upon steps in the mediation process.

An additional critical element, which needs to precede the actual mediation process, is the determination of which PAS families are “ripe” for mediation. It is very possible that in mild to moderate cases of PAS, mediation could be effective for achieving a number of goals to help conflicted parents. However, in severe cases, the research cited herein indicates that negotiating with an aligned parent who exhibits serious psychopathology would be futile. Premediation screening could be used to determine which cases are suitable for mediation, which is also a recommendation for mediation of domestic violence cases advanced by a number of practitioners (Girdner 1990; Perry 1994; Chance and Gerencser 1996; Pearson 1997; Salem and Milne 1995; Thoennes, Salem, and Pearson 1994).

Intervention models that may be useful for PAS cases have been developed and proposed by various researchers. Four such models are referenced in this review, and selected elements from these models support the major areas of concern outlined above. The mediation models are (1) the American Association for Mediated Divorce (AAMD) (Herman 1990), (2) the Stepwise Mediation Process for Psychiatric Family Mediation and Evaluation Clinic at the University of Kentucky Medical Center (Miller and Veltkamp 1987), (3) a three-phase system of child custody dispute resolution proposed by Gardner (1992), and (4) the Remedial Plan described by Michael Walsh, a certified family lawyer, mediator, and arbitrator, and J. Michael Bone, a psychotherapist and certified family law mediator (Walsh and Bone 1997).

In the AAMD process, couples are first screened to determine their suitability for mediation, and their motivation and ability to negotiate with each other are assessed. Couples that seem appropriate and are willing to enter into the process sign a premediation agreement and begin sessions. Co-mediators are suggested by the AAMD (Herman 1990, 48). The concept of comediators representing each gender, and complementing one another’s expertise in mental health, legal background, and mediation skills, fits very well with the criteria established in this article for a useful mediation model.

NEED FOR EXPERTISE IN MENTAL HEALTH

The attachment/alienation continuum model (Figure 1) would be an excellent tool to determine the extensiveness of the child’s alienation from the noncustodial parent. After that determination is made, Gardner’s (1992, 313) concept of mediation could be initiated. He recommends that training programs be set up to ensure that only qualified mediators will be used. He envisions court-designated mental health clinics that would provide mediation services at a fee commensurate with the parents’ financial situation. Implicit in the stepwise mediation process is the fact that the process is conducted by professionals trained in psychiatry at the Child Psychiatry Clinic of the University of Kentucky Medical Center. In the stepwise model, it is first determined if reconciliation or mediation is possible. When mediation proves unsuccessful, there is a shift toward (psychiatric) evaluation (Miller and Veltkamp 1987). Warshack (1992, 221) also recommends that a professional with a background in child psychology would be preferable to an attorney-mediator in disputes involving children because such a mediator could better evaluate the children’s needs. Johnston and Roseby (1997) caution that children who have witnessed family violence may need to be treated for posttraumatic stress syndrome before relationship rebuilding can be expected to succeed. A well-developed premediation screening process to identify which cases require interventions prior to mediation could reduce the need for mediators to be highly skilled in child evaluative procedures.

NEED FOR SWIFT, CLEAR JUDICIAL ACTION

Palmer (1988) and Walsh and Bone (1997) argue that successful intervention of PAS requires coordination by the court and all members of the legal and mental health community. The court-appointed psychologist initially identifies the causation factors and determines (1) the motives of all family members, (2) the defense functions of PAS in the family, and (3) the specific techniques and patterns involved. When the psychological evaluation is completed, it is forwarded to the court. At that point, the parents can attempt to negotiate a plan. If the conflict continues, the court must quickly intervene and use its authority (Walsh and Bone 1997).

Gardner (1992, 315) also recognizes the need for court intervention if mediation breaks down. Step two of his three-phase system proposes an arbitration panel consisting of two mental health professionals and one attorney who are empowered to subpoena evidence and interview witnesses. The arbitration panel would work within the court structure. Ideally, the decision of the arbitrators would be timely and clear and have the quality of a binding legal decision. It is certainly likely that arbitration would result in a more expedient decision than court litigation. Gardner’s recommended process, however, could be very expensive for either parents or taxpayers.

POWER IMBALANCE FAVORING ALIGNED PARENT

In PAS, the aligned parents seem to have power tipped in their favor. The children profess love for them and a desire to live with them. The court and legal and mental health professionals may initially be swayed by the child’s stated preference, particularly if he or she is an older and articulate child. After all, PAS is not widely recognized; there are relatively few individuals with sufficient expertise to diagnose PAS in the early stages. As Walsh and Bone (1997) point out, many therapists shy away from making a PAS diagnosis for fear of being wrong. Clawar and Rivlin (1991) agree, stating that many professionals know it exists but are frustrated with detecting it, objectifying it, and deciding what is best to do for the parents and children.

In its purest form, mediation is expected to be a neutral, impartial, and non-biased process; however, scholars and practitioners alike recognize that the mediator will have subjectivity and that subjectivity can influence the decision of the parents (Regehr 1994; Taylor 1997). To compensate for a natural tendency to favor the aligned parent, mediators must be well trained in detection, causation, underlying motives, and common patterns of deception that may be employed by the family members (including the children). Gardner (1992, 322) recommends that the mediators be trained in mental health, family law, and mediation skills. He believes training in intensive custody evaluations is also necessary. In addition, the natural gender difference can be addressed by using co-mediators of each gender.

DEALING WITH MANIPULATION, DECEPTION, AND UNCOOPERATIVENESS

The co-mediation team process advocated by the AAMD would consist of an impartial lawyer and an impartial mental health professional meeting with the divorcing couple. The model also uses a process to screen couples prior to mediation, as well as the premediation agreement mentioned earlier. The couple understand that they are working toward a three-part agreement: (1) part one reaffirms the need for both parents to be actively involved with their children after the divorce and the need for mutual cooperation toward this goal, (2) in part two, both parents agree how to share the duties of parenting and how to cooperate when decisions are made, (3) part three includes a foundation for agreement about financial issues and provides for future mediation should problems arise (Herman 1990, 48). Parties who cannot agree to this type of openness and cooperation would be screened out to bypass the option of mediating an agreement.

Additional provisions or ground rules could be addressed up front that specify unacceptable behaviors such as deceptions, fabrication, accusations, allegations, and the like. If the court is already in possession of a psychological evaluation that identifies PAS, the aligned parent may recognize that he or she needs to try to negotiate rather than stall. If the aligned parent is unwilling or incapable of cooperating, he or she may lose custody until he or she is emotionally fit to cooperate with the other parent. Although switching custody may seem like an unwise decision, it is the only recourse proven by various researchers to reverse the damaged relationship between the child and target parent in severe cases of parental alienation (Gardner 1992; Clawar and Rivlin 1991; Dunne and Hedrick 1994). The court must take the swift and forceful action necessary.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PAS MEDIATORS

Some of the implicit assumptions of this article may lead the reader to assume that mediators are expected to be highly directive in leading parents to a custody decision. The role of the mediator is to honor self-determination, but it is common for parents in protracted disputes to be emotionally and financially drained and ready to settle for almost any reasonable suggestion made. For this and the reasons outlined in this article, mediating cases in which there is severe parental alienation is usually inappropriate. Unsuccessful mediation may prolong emotional damage to the family by delaying the kinds of intervention and treatment necessary to alleviate brainwashing and programming of the children. If PAS symptoms are present in even one half of Gardner’s (1992) estimate of 80% of custody cases, all family mediators dealing with custody cases need a thorough understanding of the challenges prevalent in PAS families.

In their 12-year research study of 700 to 1,000 cases of programmed and brainwashed children, which is published by the Family Law Section of the American Bar Association, Clawar and Rivlin (1991, 163-72) conclude that the legal system in most states is not currently adequate to protect children from this form of abuse. They also determined that 80% of the children wanted the brainwashing detected and terminated, and that there was often a substantial difference between a child’s expressed opinion and his or her real desires, needs, and behaviors.

An intervention model is needed that is appropriate to the capacity of the aligned parent to recognize and abstain from his or her programming tactics, which may be unconscious. A screening process could be used to determine which families are suitable for mediation and which cases require mental health intervention before parties can negotiate. Co-mediators need knowledge and skills that include mental health expertise, an understanding of child custody evaluation techniques, familiarity with the legal system, and communication/facilitation skills that promote building trust and cooperation between disputing parties. Additional skill development techniques are recommended to help professionals (1) detect PAS and methods to objectify it, (2) determine the extent of the psychological and emotional damage done, and (3) determine how to develop an appropriate remedial plan.

With regard to the question of whether PAS cases can be mediated, Ramona Buck, director of mediation services for the Seventh Judicial Circuit of Maryland, advises:

Mediating cases in which parental alienation syndrome is present is usually inappropriate. For one thing, mediating such cases may provide a platform for the accusing parent to continue to espouse his/her hurtful views which causes more pain to the other parent. Secondly, since one parent is framing the other parent as a villain, it is most unlikely that any agreement can be reached. Thirdly, since one parent is, in a sense, psychologically imbalanced, such a psychological problem in one parent is usually an indicator that a case is not appropriate for mediation.

REFERENCES

Atkinson, J., and American Bar Association. 1996. Guide to family law. New York: Times Books.

Carper, D. L., N. J. Mietus, T. E. Shoemaker, and B. W. West. 1995. Understanding the law. Minneapolis, MN: West.

Cartwright, G. F. 1993. Expanding the parameters of parental alienation syndrome. American Journal of Family Therapy 21:205-15.

Chance, C. B., and A. E. Gerencser. 1996. Screening family mediation for domestic violence. Florida Bar Journal, April, 54-7.

Clawar, S.S., and B. V. Rivlin. 1991. Children held hostage: Dealing with programmed and brainwashed children. Chicago: American Bar Association.

Dunne, J., and M. Hedrick. 1994. The parental alienation syndrome: An analysis of sixteen selected cases. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage 21:21-37.

Gardner, R. A. 1992. The parental alienation syndrome. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics.

——. 1998. Recommendations for dealing with parents who induce a parental alienation syndrome in their children. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage 28 (3-4), 1-23.

Geffner, R., and M.D. Pagelow. 1990. Mediation and child custody issues in abusive relationships. Behavioral Sciences and the Law 8:151-9.

Girdner, L. K. 1990. Mediation triage: Screening for spouse abuse in divorce mediation. Mediation Quarterly 7:365-76.

Herman, S. 1990. Parent vs. parent. New York: Pantheon Books.

Hysjulien, C., B. Wood, and G. A. Benjamin. 1994. Child custody evaluations: A review of methods used in litigation and alternate dispute resolution. Family and Conciliation Courts Review 32:466-89.

Johnston, J. R., and V. Roseby. 1997. In the name of the child: A developmental approach to understanding and helping children of conflicted and violent divorce. New York: Free Press.

Lund, M. 1995. A therapist’s view of parental alienation syndrome. Family and Conciliation Courts Review 33:308-16.

Miller, T. W., and L. J. Veltkamp. 1987. Disputed child custody: Strategies and issues in mediation. Bulletin of American Academy of Psychiatry Law 15 (1): 45-56.

Murray, K. 1999. When children refuse to visit parents. Family and Conciliation Courts Review 37 (1): 83-98.

Palmer, N. R. 1988. Legal recognition of the parental alienation syndrome. American Journal of Family Therapy 16:361-4.

Pearson, J. 1997. Mediating when domestic violence is a factor: Policies and practices in court-based divorce mediation programs. Mediation Quarterly 14:319-33.

Pearson, J., and N. Thoennes. 1986. Mediation in custody disputes. Behavioral Sciences and the Law 4:203-16.

Perry, L. 1994. Mediation and wife abuse: A review of the literature. Mediation Quarterly 11:313-25.

Racusin, R. J. 1994. Characteristics of families of children who refuse post-divorce visits. Journal of Clinical Psychology 50:792-802.

Regehr, C. 1994. The use of empowerment in child custody mediation: A feminist critique. Mediation Quarterly 11:361-71.

Salem, P., and A. Milne. 1995. Making mediation work in a domestic violence case. Family Advocate 17 (3): 34-8.

Saposnek, D. T. 1998. Mediating child custody disputes. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Stoner-Moskowitz, J. 1998. The effect of parental alienation syndrome and interparental conflict on the self concept of children of divorce. Ph.D. diss., Miami Institute of Psychology of the Caribbean Center for Advanced Studies. Abstract in Dissertation Abstracts International 59:1919.

Taylor, A. 1997. Concepts of neutrality in family mediation: Contexts, ethics, influence and transformative process. Mediation Quarterly 14:215-35.

Thoennes, N., P. Salem, and J. Pearson. 1994. Mediation and domestic violence: Current policies and practices. Denver, CO: Center for Policy Research; Madison, WI: Association of Family and Conciliation Courts.

Turkat, I.D. 1994. Child visitation interference in divorce. Clinical Psychology Review 14:737-42.

Umbreit, M. S. 1995. Mediating interpersonal conflicts. West Concord, MN: CPI.

Wallerstein, J. S., and J. B. Kelly. 1980. Surviving the breakup: How children and parents cope with divorce. New York: Harper-Collins.

Walsh, M. R., and J. M. Bone. 1997. Parental alienation syndrome: An age old custody problem. Florida Bar Journal, June, 93-6.

Warshack, R. A. 1992. The custody revolution. New York: Poseidon Press.

Author’s Note: This article was selected as the winning entry in the 1998 Student Essay Contest of the American Bar Association Section on Dispute Resolution. The author appreciates the review and comments made by the following practitioners: Sean Byrne, John Lande, Ramona Buck, Marcia Abbo, Loree Cook-Daniels, and Susan H. Shearouse.

Anita Vestal is a doctoral student in dispute resolution at Nova Southeastern University. She has been recognized by the American Bar Association and the Association of Broward County Mediators for essays on the topic of parental alienation and mediation. She is the principal investigator of the PEACE Project, a research study on conflict resolution strategies for preschool children that is funded by the Administration for Children, Youth, and Families.

The original article is located here: http://www.fact.on.ca/Info/pas/vestal99.htm

Denial of the Parental Alienation Syndrome Also Harms Women

In adoption abuse, California Parental Rights Amendment, child trafficking, children legal status, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, judicial corruption, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Obama, Orphan Trains, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parents rights, state crimes on April 23, 2009 at 5:00 am

by Richard A. Gardner. M.D.
Columbia University, New York, New York, USA
American Journal of Family Therapy 30(3):191-202 (2002).

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander
– Old Proverb

What’s bad for the gander is also bad for the goose
– Richard A. Gardner

__________________________________

Denying reality is obviously a maladaptive way of dealing with a situation. In fact, denial is generally considered to be one of the defense mechanisms, mechanisms that are inappropriate, maladaptive, and pathological. In the field of medicine to deny the existence of a disease seriously compromises the physician’s ability to help patients. If a physician does not believe that a particular disease exists, then it will not be given consideration when making a differential diagnosis, and the patient may then go untreated. This is in line with the ancient medical principle that proper diagnosis must precede proper treatment. Or, if for some external reason the physician recognizes the disorder, but feels obligated to use another name, other problems arise, e.g., impaired communication with others regarding exactly what is going on with the patient, and hence improper treatment. This is what is occurring at this point with the parental alienation syndrome, a disorder whose existence has compelling verification.

In this article I discuss the reasons for denial of the PAS and the ways in which such denial harms families. Particular emphasis will be given to the ways in which this denial harms women, although I will certainly comment on the ways in which the denial harms their husbands and children. In the past, denial of the PAS has caused men much grief. Such denial is now causing women similar grief.

Since the 1970s, we have witnessed a burgeoning of child-custody disputes unparalleled in history. This increase has primarily been the result of two recent developments in the realm of child-custody litigation, namely, the replacement of the tender-years presumption with the best-interests-of-the-child presumption and the increasing popularity of the joint-custodial concept. Under the tender-years presumption, the assumption was made that mothers, by virtue of the fact that they are female, are intrinsically superior to men as child rearers. Accordingly, the father had to provide the court with compelling evidence of serious maternal deficiencies before the court would even consider assigning primary custodial status to the father. Under its replacement, the best-interests-of-the-child presumption, the courts were instructed to ignore gender when adjudicating child-custody disputes and evaluate only parenting capacity, especially factors that related to the best interests of the child. This change resulted in a burgeoning of custody litigation as fathers found themselves with a greater opportunity to gain primary custodial status. Soon thereafter the joint-custodial concept came into vogue, eroding even further the time that custodial mothers were given with their children. Again, this change also brought about an increase and intensification of child-custody litigation.

The Parental Alienation Syndrome

In association with this burgeoning of child-custody litigation, we have witnessed a dramatic increase in the frequency of a disorder rarely seen previously, a disorder that I refer to as the parental alienation syndrome (PAS). In this disorder we see not only programming (“brainwashing”) of the child by one parent to denigrate the other parent, but self-created contributions by the child in support of the alienating parent’s campaign of denigration against the alienated parent. Because of the child’s contribution, I did not consider the terms brainwashing, programming, or other equivalent words to be applicable. Accordingly, in 1985, I introduced the term parental alienation syndrome to cover the combination of these two contributing factors (Gardner, 1985, 1987a). In accordance with this use of the term I suggest this definition of the parental alienation syndrome:

The parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a good, loving parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the target parent. When true parental abuse and/or neglect is present the child’s animosity may be justified, and so the parental alienation syndrome diagnosis is not applicable.

The alienating parent’s primary purpose for indoctrinating into the children a campaign of denigration against the target parent is to gain leverage in the court of law. The child’s alienation has less to do with bona fide animosity or even hatred of the alienated parent, but more to do with the fear that if such acrimony is not exhibited, the alienating parent will reject the child.

These are the primary symptomatic manifestations of the parental alienation syndrome:

1. A campaign of denigration

2. Weak, absurd, or frivolous rationalizations for the deprecation

3. Lack of ambivalence

4. The “independent-thinker” phenomenon

5. Reflexive support of the alienating parent in the parental conflict

6. Absence of guilt over cruelty to and/or exploitation of the alienated parent

7. The presence of borrowed scenarios

8. Spread of the animosity to the friends and/or extended family of the alienated parent

There are three types of parental alienation syndrome: mild, moderate, and severe. It goes beyond the purposes of this article to describe in full detail the differences between these three types. At this point only a brief summary is warranted. In the mild type, the alienation is relatively superficial, the children basically cooperate with visitation, but are intermittently critical and disgruntled with the victimized parent. In the moderate type, the alienation is more formidable, the children are more disruptive and disrespectful, and the campaign of denigration may be almost continual. In the severe type, visitation may be impossible so hostile are the children, hostile even to the point of being physically violent toward the allegedly hated parent. Other forms of acting-out may be present, acting-out that is designed to inflict ongoing grief upon the parent who is being visited. In some cases the children’s hostility may reach paranoid levels, e.g., they exhibit delusions of persecution and/or fears that they will be murdered. Each type requires a different psychological and legal approach. Further details about the diagnosis and treatment of the parental alienation syndrome have been described elsewhere (Gardner, 1992, 1998, 2001a).

Mothers as Alienators

In the early 1980s, when I first began seeing the PAS, in about 85% to 90% of the cases the mother was the alienating parent and the father the targeted parent. Fathers were certainly trying to program their children to gain leverage in the custody dispute; however, they were less likely to be successful. This related to the fact that the children were generally more closely bonded with their mothers. Recognizing this, I generally recommended the mother to be designated the primary custodial parent, even though she might have been a PAS indoctrinator. It was only in the severe cases (about 10 percent)—when the mother was relentless and/or paranoid and unable to cease and desist from the programming—that I recommended primary custodial status to the father. I was not alone in recognizing this gender disparity, which was confirmed during that period by others. In my experience, the time frame during which mothers were the primary alienators was from the early 1980s (when the disorder first appeared) to the mid-to-late 1990s (when fathers became increasingly active as PAS indoctrinators). The largest study confirming the preponderance of mothers as PAS alienators during the 1980s was that of Clawar and Rivlin (1991).

During this early period, it was quite common for mothers, with the full support of their attorneys, to not only deny that they were PAS programmers, but even went further and denied that the PAS existed. And this denial was especially common in courts of law where their attorneys would argue that there was no such thing as a PAS, and therefore, their clients could not be suffering with a disorder that does not exist. In many cases, neither the mothers nor their attorneys could deny that the children were alienated, but would claim that the alienation was the result of abuse and/or neglect to which the children were subjected by their fathers. Under such circumstances, confusion prevailed and “the waters were muddied,” especially in the courtroom. The PAS diagnosis demands the identification of the specific alienator. Other sources of abuse and/or neglect do not produce this particular constellation of symptoms and do not focus so clearly on a specific alienator. In this more confused environment, the mother’s diagnosis as a PAS programmer might never come to the attention of the court—especially if the lawyer was able to convince the court that there was no such thing as a parental alienation syndrome.

“PAS is Not a Syndrome”

Often, the mother’s lawyer would argue that PAS was not a syndrome, with the implication that it does not exist. A syndrome, by medical definition, is a cluster of symptoms, occurring together, that characterize a specific disease. The symptoms, although seemingly disparate, warrant being grouped together because of a common etiology or basic underlying cause. Furthermore, there is a consistency with regard to such a cluster in that most (if not all) of the symptoms appear together.

Accordingly, there is a kind of purity that a syndrome has that may not be seen in other diseases. For example, a person suffering with pneumococcal pneumonia may have chest pain, cough, purulent sputum, and fever. However, the individual may still have the disease without all these symptoms manifesting themselves. A syndrome is more “pure” because most (if not all) of the symptoms in the cluster predictably manifest themselves. An example would be Down’s Syndrome, which includes a host of seemingly disparate symptoms that do not appear to have a common link. These include mental retardation, mongoloid-type facial expression, drooping lips, slanting eyes, short fifth finger, and atypical creases in the palms of the hands. There is a consistency here in that the people who suffer with Down’s Syndrome often look very much alike and typically exhibit all these symptoms. The common etiology of these disparate symptoms relates to a specific chromosomal abnormality. It is this genetic factor that is responsible for linking together these seemingly disparate symptoms. There is then a primary, basic cause of Down’s Syndrome: a genetic abnormality.

Similarly, the PAS is characterized by a cluster of symptoms that usually appear together in the child, especially in the moderate and severe types. Typically, children who suffer with PAS will exhibit most (if not all) of the eight symptoms described above. This is almost uniformly the case for the moderate and severe types. However, in the mild cases one might not see all eight symptoms. When mild cases progress to moderate or severe, it is highly likely that most (if not all) of the symptoms will be present. This consistency results in PAS children resembling one another. It is because of these considerations that the PAS is a relatively “pure” diagnosis that can easily be made. Due to this purity the PAS lends itself well to research studies, because the population to be studied can easily be identified. Furthermore, I believe that this purity will be verified by interrater reliability studies. As is true of other syndromes, there is an underlying cause: programming by an alienating parent in conjunction with additional contributions by the programmed child. It is for these reasons that PAS is indeed a syndrome, and it is a syndrome by the best medical definition of the term.

“PAS Does Not Exist Because It Is Not in DSM-IV”

Commonly, the mother’s attorneys would argue that PAS does not exist because it is not in DSM-IV (1994). The DSM committees justifiably are quite conservative with regard to the inclusion of newly described clinical phenomena and require many years of research and publications before considering inclusion of a disorder. This is as it should be. Lawyers involved in child-custody disputes see it repeatedly. Mental health professionals involved in such disputes are continually involved with such families. They may not wish to recognize it. They may refer to PAS by another name (like “parental alienation”) (Gardner, 2002a). But that does not preclude its existence. A tree exists as a tree regardless of the reactions of those looking at it. A tree still exists even though some might give it another name. If a dictionary selectively decides to omit the word tree from its compilation of words, that does not mean that the tree does not exist. It only means that the people who wrote that book decided not to include that particular word. Similarly, for someone to look at a tree and say that the tree does not exist does not cause the tree to evaporate. It only indicates that the viewer, for whatever reason, does not wish to see what is right in front of him (her).

DSM-IV was published in 1994. In the early 1990s, when DSM committees were meeting to consider the inclusion of additional disorders, there were too few articles on the PAS in the literature to warrant its submission for consideration. That is no longer the case. It is my understanding that committees will begin to meet for DSM-V in 2003. At this point, DSM-V is scheduled for publication in 2010. Considering the fact that there are now more than 135 articles on the PAS in peer-review journals, it is highly likely that by that time there will be many more. Furthermore, considering the fact that there are now more than 65 rulings in which courts have recognized the PAS, it is probable that there will be even more such rulings by the time the committees meet. These lists are being continually updated and can be found on my website (www.rgardner.com/refs). At the time the DSM-V committees meet, these lists will be in the proposal to include PAS in DSM-V. Elsewhere (Gardner, 2002b) I have discussed the various alternative diagnoses that therapists might use in courts that stringently refuse to accept the PAS diagnosis at this time.

It is important to note that DSM-IV does not frivolously accept every new proposal. Their requirements are quite stringent, and justifiably so. Gille de la Tourette first described his syndrome in 1885. It was not until 1980, 95 years later, that the disorder found its way into the DSM. It is important to note that at that point, “Tourette’s Syndrome” became Tourette’s Disorder. Asperger first described his syndrome in 1957. It was not until 1994 (37 years later) that it was accepted into DSM-IV and “Asperger’s Syndrome” became Asperger’s Disorder.

DSM-IV states specifically that all disorders contained in the volume are syndromes, and they would not be there if they were not syndromes. Once accepted the name syndrome becomes changed to disorder. However, this is not automatically the pattern for nonpsychiatric disorders. Often the term syndrome becomes locked into the name and becomes so well known that changing the word syndrome to disorder may seem awkward. For example, Down’s syndrome, although well recognized, has never become Down’s disorder. Similarly, AIDS (Autoimmune Deficiency Syndrome) is a well-recognized disease, but still retains the syndrome term.

“Believe the Children”

Lawyers for the mothers would often say to the judge, “Your Honor, why don’t we really listen to what these children are saying. If you don’t feel comfortable putting them on the witness stand, then bring them into your chambers. They will tell you how they feel. Let’s respect their opinions.” Judges not familiar with the PAS might be taken in by these children, and actually believe that they were subjected to the terrible indignities that they described. As far back as 1987 I wrote an article advising judges about this problem and providing them with guidelines for interviewing these children (Gardner, 1987b). Although there are certainly judges who are now more knowledgeable about the PAS than in the late 1980s, judges still play an important role in the etiology and promulgation of the PAS, especially with regard to their failure to impose reasonable sanctions on PAS indoctrinating parents. Elsewhere (Gardner, submitted for publication), I have elaborated on this problem. The believe-the-children philosophy was—and still is—espoused by therapists ignorant of the PAS. Many therapists sanctimoniously profess that they really listen to children (as opposed to the rest of us who presumably do not). They profess that they really respect what children want (with the implication that the rest of us do not). What they are basically doing is contributing to pathological empowerment, which is a central factor in the development and perpetuation of the PAS (Gardner, 2002c). Again, it is beyond the purposes of this article to describe therapists’ role in the development and perpetuation of the PAS. PAS indoctrinators know well that they can rely upon most therapists to empower children’s PAS symptomatology, and that they are readily duped into joining the PAS indoctrinator’s parade of enablers and supporters. Such therapists are often brought into the courtroom to support the mother and her lawyer’s denial of the existence of the PAS and to encourage the court to “really listen” to the children.

“Those Who Make the PAS Diagnosis Are Sexist”

Because mothers were the primary alienators during this early period, PAS was viewed as being intrinsically biased against women. And I, as the person who first wrote on the phenomenon, was viewed as being biased against women and as being “sexist.” The facts are that during this time frame women were the primary alienators. Labeling those who diagnose PAS as sexist is the equivalent of saying that a doctor is biased against women if he claims that more women suffer with breast cancer than men. And the sexist claim has also been brought into courts of law. Fear of being labeled “sexist” has been one factor in many evaluators’ eschewing the PAS diagnosis.

Denial of the PAS Has Caused Permanent Alienation

The denial of PAS has caused many men to suffer formidable psychological suffering. The lawyers of women who have been PAS indoctrinators have convinced courts that PAS does not exist, and therefore the children’s animosity against their fathers is justified. The fact that women are increasingly suffering as target parents gives these men little solace, because many of them have lost their children permanently. In my recent follow-up of 99 PAS children, I provide compelling confirmation that the denial of PAS by courts has resulted in permanent estrangement in the vast majority of cases (Gardner, 2001c).

Fathers as Alienators and Mothers as Target Parents

In the last few years, starting in the late 1990s, there has been a gender shift. Fathers, with increasing frequency, are also indoctrinating PAS into their children (Gardner, 2001b). At this point, my own extensive experiences with PAS families have led me to the conclusion that the ratio is now 50/50, with fathers being as likely as mothers to indoctrinate children into a PAS. And colleagues of mine in various parts of the country are reporting a similar phenomenon.

Why this shift? One probable explanation relates to the fact that fathers are increasingly enjoying expanded visitation time with their children in association with the increasing popularity of shared parenting programs. The more time a programming father has with his children, the more time he has to program them if he is inclined to do so. Another factor operative here probably relates to the fact that with increasing recognition of the PAS, fathers (some of whom have read my books) have learned about the disorder and have decided to use the same PAS indoctrinational maneuvers utilized by women. It is probable that other factors are operative as well in the gender shift, but these are the two best explanations that I have at this point.

With the gender shift of PAS indoctrinators, there has consequently been a gender shift in PAS target parents. Mothers are increasingly finding themselves victims (I use the word without hesitation) of their husbands’ PAS indoctrinations of their children. Such mothers know well that PAS exists. They read my books and say, as have the father victims before them, “It’s almost as if you’ve lived in my house. You’re describing exactly what has been going on.” These mothers find themselves helpless. They cannot get help from therapists who are still mouthing the old mantras, “PAS is just Gardner’s theory,” “PAS doesn’t exist because it’s not in DSM-IV,” “PAS is not a syndrome.” Their lawyers, too, will tell them, “PAS might exist, but the court will not recognize it. I can’t use the word syndrome in the courtroom. It’s the ‘big S’ word.” Worse yet, many leaders in the Women’s Rights movement are reflexively chanting the same incantations, thereby abandoning the women whose cause they profess to espouse. These mantras have become deeply embedded in the brain circuitry of most of the people the alienated women are looking to for help—therapists, lawyers, guardians ad litems, and judges. And these groups cannot even turn to the Women’s Rights groups because they have long ago stridently taken the position that PAS does not exist, that PAS is not a syndrome, etc., etc. We see here how those who deny the existence of PAS are adding formidably to the grief of women. Women’s past denial and discrediting of PAS has now come back to haunt them. Women are now being injured by their own weapons, or, as the old saying goes, they are being “hoist by their own pitards.”

The Relationship Between PAS and Bona Fide Abuse

In recent years, with increasing frequency, mental health and legal professionals have been seeing cases in which one parent (more often the father) has accused the other parent (more often the mother) of inducing a PAS in the children. In response, the responding parent (usually the mother) accuses the other parent (usually the father) of abusing and neglecting the children. In short, then, the children’s alienation against the father is considered by him to be the result of the mother’s PAS programming, and the mother considers their alienation to be the result of the father’s abuse/neglect. I have no doubt that some abusing/neglectful parents are using the PAS explanation to explain the children’s alienation as a cover-up and diversionary maneuver designed to deflect exposure of their abuse/neglect. However, there is no question that some PAS-inducing mothers are using the argument that it is the father’s abuse/neglect that is causing the children’s campaign of denigration, and thereby denying any programming whatsoever. In short, such programming mothers are basically saying: “He’s getting what he deserves, and I’m not programming them.” Elsewhere (Gardner, 1998, 1999) I have described criteria for differentiating between PAS and bona fide abuse/neglect.

Of relevance to this article is the common phenomenon in which genuinely abusing husbands use the argument that the children’s alienation has nothing to do with their abuse, but is the result of the mother’s PAS indoctrinations. Such mothers will invoke the argument that this deceitful maneuver is not going to work, especially because there is no such thing as the PAS. This is a handy argument, and they will easily find legal and mental health professionals who will support them in this denial. Although I am sympathetic with these falsely accused women, their contributions to the denial of the existence of the PAS is not serving well other women who are indeed PAS victims. And this factor has been operative in increasing the grief suffered by women who are indeed PAS target parents. Their PAS indoctrinating husbands are now waving the same “PAS-doesn’t-exist” flags that PAS indoctrinating women were waving in the 1980s and early 1990s. Wives who were being falsely accused by their husbands of being PAS indoctrinators would have done much better to agree that PAS does exist, but they themselves are not indoctrinators, that the children’s symptoms are not those of PAS children, but symptoms of children who have been genuinely abused.

The Effects on Children

The denial of PAS in the early period resulted in many children living primarily with their programming mothers, with the result that they became permanently estranged from loving fathers. They were deprived, therefore, of all the benefits that could have come from their father. There is no question that follow-up studies of these children will reveal significant psychopathological residua from these early experiences. One cannot grow up and be a healthy person if, throughout the course of one’s childhood, one was taught that a previously loving and dedicated father was really loathsome and vicious. This inevitably will affect their relationships with other males—dates, boyfriends, teachers, employers, friends, etc. In the more recent phase, with men as increasingly frequent indoctrinators, we will have a similar group of children growing up believing that their previously loving mothers were vile, loathsome, and noxious. Similarly, one cannot become a healthy person believing that the primary maternal figure has been and still is a despicable and loathsome human being. Such a distortion of reality cannot but affect future relationships with other females—dates, employers, friends, etc.

The Solution

The first step in the treatment of denial is the acceptance of reality. The first step, then, must be the recognition that PAS exists, even if there are thousands of people, both husbands and wives, who claim that it does not. PAS exists, even though there are thousands of lawyers who will claim that it does not. PAS exists even though there are thousands of mental health professionals who claim that it does not. It exists even though there are Courts of Appeal who rule that it does not exist. It exists even if all nine members of the U.S. Supreme Court were to rule that it does not exist. It exists even though it is not in DSM-IV, and it will continue to exist even if the DSM-V committees choose not to include it. The first step, then, must be to recognize and stop denying its existence. Mental health professionals should be free to diagnose the disorder when it is present, and not have to worry about whether the diagnosis will be accepted in a court of law. They should recognize that in the adversarial system there will always be attorneys who will try to discredit whatever they say, because this is what they have learned to do in law school. Mental health professionals should not worry about whether they are in the minority or the majority with regard to the diagnosis. Rather, they should only be concerned with honesty and reality. They should not be concerned with those who may irrationally label them sexist or biased against either men or women if they make a diagnosis of PAS. Whenever some external considerations operate or affect one’s diagnostic objectivity, there is bound to be some contamination and bias. Worse, it will inevitably not serve well the patients whom one is evaluating and treating. If this point is reached, it is likely that the frequency of PAS will be reduced because would-be indoctrinators will recognize that they will not have available mental health professionals to help them manipulate the legal system.

Concluding Comments

Denial of PAS has caused significant psychological suffering to many men, many women, and many children. And its denial has only added to the burden of families in which this disorder has been present. Furthermore, the denial of PAS will lessen the likelihood of ultimate inclusion in DSM-V. And this will have a negative impact on all those who are afflicted with this disorder. The more PAS is recognized, the greater the number of research articles will be written. This will, in turn, enhance the receptivity of the DSM-V committees. The more courts of law that have accepted PAS, the greater the likelihood that the DSM-V committee will recognize the disorder. Mental health professionals, especially, should take this factor into consideration when they eschew the diagnosis.

In closing, I quote from the concluding comments in my follow-up study of 99 PAS children:

When I embarked upon this study, I expected that most of the PAS children would continue to be alienated from the target parent in situations in which the court neither transferred custody to the target parent nor reduced the alienating parent’s access to the children. What I did not expect was the high rate of completely destroyed relationships and the enormous grief suffered by the alienated parents. I expected the average follow-up conversation to last five minutes, during which I would get the basic data. It turned out that most conversations lasted between 15 and 30 minutes, because the parents needed me at that point for some kind of ventilation of their painful feelings. I did not expect such a degree of grief. However, on looking back upon the study, I should not have been surprised. I consider losing a child because of PAS to be more painful and psychologically devastating than the death of a child. A child’s death is final and there is absolutely no hope for reconciliation. Most bereaved parents ultimately resign themselves to this painful reality. The PAS child is still alive and may even be in the vicinity. Yet, there is little if any contact, when contact is feasible. Therefore, resignation to the loss is much more difficult for the PAS alienated parent than for the parent whose child has died. For some alienated parents the continuous heartache is similar to living death.

References

The American Psychiatric Association (1994), Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV). Washington, D.C.:American Psychiatric Association.

Clawar, W. S. & Rivlin, B. V. (1991). Children Held Hostage: Dealing with Programmed and Brainwashed Children. Chicago: American Bar Association.

Gardner, R. A. (1985). Recent trends in divorce and custody litigation. Academy Forum, 29(2),3-7.

Gardner, R. A. (1987a). Child custody. In J. D. Noshpitz (ed.) Basic Handbook of Child Psychiatry (pp. 637-646). New York: Basic Books.

Gardner, R. A. (1987b). Judges interviewing children in custody/visitation litigation. New Jersey Family Lawyer 7(2), 153ff

Gardner, R. A. (1992). The Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Guide for Mental Health Professionals. Cresskill, New Jersey: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

Gardner, R. A. (1998). The Parental Alienation Syndrome: Second Edition. Cresskill, New Jersey: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

Gardner, R. A. (1999). Differentiating between PAS and bona fide abuse/neglect. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 27(3), 195-212.

Gardner, R. A. (2001a). Therapeutic Interventions for Children with Parental Alienation Syndrome. Cresskill, New Jersey: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

Gardner, R. A. (2001b). The recent gender shift in PAS indoctrinators. News for Women in Psychiatry, 19(4),11-13.

Gardner, R. A. (2001c). Should courts order PAS children to visit/reside with the alienated parent? A follow-up study. The American Journal of Forensic Psychology, 19(3),60-106.

Gardner, R. A. (2002a). Parental alienation syndrome vs. parental alienation: which diagnosis should evaluators use in child-custody litigation? The American Journal of Family Therapy, 30(2),101-123.

Gardner, R. A. (2002b). Does DSM-IV have equivalents for the parental alienation syndrome (PAS) diagnosis? The American Journal of Family therapy (in press)

Gardner, R. A. (2002c). The empowerment of children in the development of the parental alienation syndrome. The American Journal of Forensic Psychology, 20(1) (in press)

Gardner, R. A. The judiciary’s role in the etiology, symptom development, and treatment of the parental alienation syndrome (PAS). (Submitted for publication)

rgardner.com, Articles in Peer-reviewed Journals and Published Books on the Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). http://www.rgardner.com/refs

_______, Testimony Concerning the Parental Alienation Syndrome Has Been Admitted in Courts of Law in Many States and Countries. http://www.rgardner.com/refs

The original article can be found here: http://www.fact.on.ca/Info/pas/gard02a.htm

Violations of the US Constitution by Democrats

In Civil Rights, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, judicial corruption, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Obama, parental alienation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parents rights, state crimes on April 22, 2009 at 5:00 am

by Mark Godbey
April 22, 2009

I was impressed that so much interest was generated by the tax day Tea Parties on April 15. The existence of counter resistance to our first Socialist President that has swept in the White House and Congress, is frightening to the Democrats, enough so for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to issue a warning about right-wing extremists and the “recruitment” of military veterans. Standing up for your civil rights is terrifying to any totalitarian regime. Is that what the U.S. government has become? Reminds me of the FBI files the government kept on Martin Luther King.

When I first heard of the report, this brought to mind the mass arrests of Japanese citizens, following the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, who for the most part were good American citizens who happen to have the wrong skin color. But I have understood for a very long time now, the erosion of our civil rights began in the mid-1970 in family courts. I published this article below a week before the Tea Parties and it is still relevant.

Ever since the Socialist/Liberals and feminists have been working the 50 state legislatures, those of us involved with parenting and parents rights and family values have long lamented the destruction of the family by the state laws assuming supremacy over the federal laws, mainly the wide scale dismissal 4th through 10th and 14th Amendments rights given to all citizens.

Federal civil rights assume supremacy over state laws. Any laws enacted by state legislatures to deny federally protected civil rights violate the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution. Article IV, Paragraph 2.

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

Since the mid 1970s with the end of no-fault divorce, and the institution of quickie divorces through the rabid advocacy of socialist and feminist groups, parents and children have been rippped apart and added to the welfare rolls without their consent. All of these atrocities were supported of the federal block grants provided for by the U.S. Congress. Your tax dollars hard at work. “We’re from the government and we here to help,” said President Ronald Reagan in speaking about the most feared line you can hear.

Here is how it works. It is a state-federal government 2-Step dance.

Step One. The states regulate marriage and divorce. Who gets married, and when you can divorce. Marriage is a right reserved to the states and to the people. The people of the state decides who can and can’t get married. Divorce used to be that way, but not anymore. Anyone can get divorced. A child’s consent is meaningless. States regulate divorce.

Marriage is not a sacred institution anymore, but a state secular contract and your Bill of Rights protections do not matter. The state cares even less about your children. (as a matter of federal law, a dollar value has been assessed for each child taken into state custody.)

The federal government only constitutional involvement is around the “implied” rights of parents under the 9th, 10th and 14h amendments. There is no mention of Parents or Marriage in the US Constitution. So it is up to the states, with limited protection for parents and children from the federal government with regard to protection for families with the remaining amendments.

So in the 1970s states fell into line with the socialist/liberal/feminist thinking and the greatest social experiment of all time was enacted without any public debate as to the consequences: The Single-Parent Household became the new social order. Under federal law, The Single-Parent home became a Welfare Home. Dads became dispensable. The welfare check became more important. Black fatherhood still teeters on the brink of extinction. Ask President Obama why his father left him fatherless. Single-Parent home advocates should be ashamed. So should all Republicans who voted to destroy the family with their Socialist Democrat buddies.

Step 2. States are paid by the federal for every successful divorce. See Social Act Title IV. The federal government reimburses the state for every child in divorce separated permanently from one parent or the other. Massive federal block grants support state courts.

Divorce in the 50 states became incredibly easy. You could destroy (what at one time was considered a sacred institution) a marriage and destroy a family without the consent of the other marriage partner. And the children? Their consent was not required. Children’s rights were destroyed by the states. Children’s rights were limited to what was in “their best interest.” The “best interest” doctrine replaced children’s rights to equal access to both of their parents. Children have no rights, parents have no rights, the state ignores rights in favor of Billions of federal welfare dollars.

“Best interest” in not in the US Constitution. It has been described by federal judges as vague and undefinable. State constitutions are engorged with the term. State judge and attorneys love the term. It is warm and fuzzy, and after all, who know best? Does “Father Know Best? Nope. The state has assumed that role of “best interest.” The “State Knows Best.” Long live Robert Young.

At the Tea Parties, my fellow conservatives stood up for the 1st and 2nd amendment rights. These rights in a nutshell are, freedom of the press, speech and religion, and to bear arms. It is laughingly, bitterly, sad, comical, and ironic that President Obama made the statement about people “bitterly clinging to the their guns and religion” because candidate Obama knew that the remaining Bill of Rights protections (accept the 3rd) were long gone, in the trash heap of history. I knew exactly what he meant when he said it. Also, conservatives, like all good Americans, oppose high taxes. That is another issue to be fought.

That is right. Those of you in Family Court kissed of the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th 10th and 14th amendments long ago. If you become embroiled in an custody issue with your spouse or the other parent of your child or children, your US Constitutional Rights are not protected in Family Court. This is because the state legislatures have been pursuing a socialist / Democrat Party agenda for a very long time now, all in the “best interest of the children.” Or so they say. It is more of a scheme to get federal tax dollars, than about children, since we all know children do best in a two-parent household.

  • If you had your children legally kidnapped in Family Court, or had CPS violate your 4th, 5th and 6th and 14th Amendment rights, you know what I am talking about.
  • If you one of the 80 million children over the past 38 years who no longer has a dad, you know what I am talking about.
  • If you have falsely accused, lost your home, children, life savings, business license, passport, driver license, self-respect, job, friends, church or the respect of the community because you are divorced, you know what I am talking about.

To quote Stephen Baskerville, author of Taken Into Custody, from his December 2007 article TOTALITARIANISM IN AMERICA,

” Mass incarcerations without trial or charge; forced confessions; children forcibly separated from their parents with no reasons given; doctored hearing transcripts and falsified court records; evidence fabricated against the innocent; government agents entering the homes, examining private papers and personal effects, and seizing the property of citizens who are under no suspicion of legal wrongdoing; special courts created specifically to convict people who cannot be convicted in ordinary courts; children instructed to hate their parents by state functionaries: Is all this the Soviet Union in the 1930s or Communist China in the 1960s? Is this some novelist’s prognosticated dystopia? No, all this and more is routine in the United States today.”

I will end this brief article with listing of the Rights You No Longer Have:

- Fourth Amendment – Protection from unreasonable search and seizure.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

- Fifth Amendment – due process, double jeopardy, self-incrimination, eminent domain.

No person shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

- Sixth Amendment – Trial by jury and rights of the accused; Confrontation Clause, speedy trial, public trial, right to counsel

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

- Seventh Amendment – Civil trial by jury.

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

- Eighth Amendment – Prohibition of excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment.

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

- Ninth Amendment – Protection of rights not specifically enumerated in the Bill of Rights, like Parental Rights.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

- Tenth Amendment – Powers of states and people, like Parental and Children’s Rights

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

- Fourteenth Amendment – Equal protection under the law

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

The Orphan Trains – A CPS History Lesson “In the Best Interest of Children”

In adoption abuse, child trafficking, children legal status, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, Family Rights, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, Indians, judicial corruption, mothers rights, Obama, Orphan Trains, Parents rights, state crimes on April 21, 2009 at 5:00 am



They were part of westward migration, Many migrants were able to get to the immigrant ports but lacked the money to migrate westward where the Feds had free homestead land waiting. Living conditions were appalling. Families lived in abandoned buildings, under loading docks, in empty packing boxes, anywhere to get out of the East Coast’s bitterly cold winters.

Employment was denied to immigrants to drive them west. Or they were paid such low wages that it amounted to slave labor. All that did was make things worse.

To feed their families, desperate parents “sent their children out” to steal, rob, sell their bodies, work in sweatshops, anything to bring home pennies and nickels which were used to feed babies too young to “send out.”

Abuse, incest, abandonment, all the abuses of children that come with destitution were endemic.

A few parents gave their children to agencies who sent them west to be auctioned off into slavery, convinced by Federal propaganda that they were “better off there than being ‘sent out.’”

Rather than finance family travel, the Feds established kidnap agencies to collect children until a carload could be sent west on “Orphan Trains,” to be picked over at trackside by migrants looking for cheap labor. Frying pan to the fire!

Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children snatched children off streets and playgrounds, out of homes, schools and stores, anywhere they could be found a few feet away from their parents. Within minutes, victims were taken to one of three transport agencies. The system was “justified” by massive Federal propaganda that touted immigrant parents as “child abusers.”

(Yes, Virginia, I see the resemblance to modern massive falsification of child abuse, neglect and molestation accusations that are completely without validity and serve only to “justify” kidnapping children so they can be sold into adoption/slavery.)

Children’s Home Society was a Protestant agency that sent more children than any other agency to Protestants in the West.

New York Foundling Hospital was a Catholic agency that sent children to Catholics in the Desert Southwest, where Mexico was trying to block U.S. expansion. (See citation below for litigation that arose from that activity.)

Juvenile Asylum was government controlled. They couldn’t have cared less where the kids went as long as they went west. They handled primarily babies.

The Orphan Trains brought the U.S. close to revolution. Older children ran away home. Mobs attacked police and SPCC agents. In the West, Orphan Train and other victims became cannon fodder for a revolution that came close to splitting the U.S. into five nations. (See the Standing Bear cite below, the turning point.)

Orphan Train documentation is crawling with propaganda lies, most of them disinformation disseminated in a futile attempt to sucker the public into thinking they were done “in the child’s best interests.” Most blatant of all were:

The Jacob Riis photos are to this day hyped as “photos of starving street kids sleeping on grates to keep warm in New York City’s bitter cold winters.” Take a good look at those photos. Those kids are clean, neatly dressed, hair cut and combed and far from malnourished. Those pics were posed, period! There was no other way he could have taken them. For one thing, true street kids would have stolen his camera, robbed him of whatever money he had in his pockets and stripped him of his clothes to keep themselves warm.

This is equally true of every source of the time, whether sanitized government records, agency records, police records or family stories. With one exception that stands out like the beacon on a lighthouse.

The New York Times, from Day One to 1925 is the only source that I consider reliable and accurate for the Orphan Trains.

The reason is a peculiarity that I have never seen in any documentary source before or since. My reasoning is so heavily biased in their favor that I owe it to the reader to describe it.

Go to the original handwritten index and find the articles about a Catholic maid in Rome who stole her Jewish employer’s baby boy and gave him to the Papal Guards. There was a world wide furor. The Times was almost rabid in their condemnation of the Pope’s refusal to return the baby. The Pope ignored the world, eventually acknowledging the existence of intense world wide hostility with a terse statement that “We gotta save that baby from Satan!”

I probably should have included the episode in the master file that underlies this biblio, but I didn’t. Maybe some day I will.

The Times settled into heavy bias against snatching babies from natural parents. That conflicted with their equally strong support of Conquest of the West. It created editorial schizophrenia that resulted in coverage of the Trains that laid out for all to see the good, the bad and the ugly of the Trains, warts and all. That is the kind of data I look for in any kind of research, especially into the social and political sciences. The Times is the only place where I ever found it in one source.

The articles are indexed under “Children.” The phrase “Orphan Trains” does not appear in any source of the time. The time of it’s appearance in American language is uncertain. In any event, the change in language hampered my research until I discovered the correlation. Others are advised to use the same indexing approach.

“Rescuing thousands of starving children” is a classic example of lying when the truth would have served better. Even rabidly pro-Train writers on the Times staff found no evidence of “starving children.” What they did find was thousands of children who fed themselves and their families with every conceivable kind of crime, including lethal violence. The Times reported children kidnapped by SPCC from incestuous drunks, pimps, Fagins (Adults who used kids to commit crime, taking part of the profits.) and every other kind of child abuse one could think of. I believe those kids did in fact benefit from being kidnapped and sent west to be sold into slavery.

One thing I hear but have never confirmed is judges telling juvenile criminals “Go west or go to jail — your choice you little SOB!” The trend of the stories makes me think that it wasn’t done the first time a kid got busted for a minor offense. Rather, it was done only to the worst of the worst. This would be a good research project for some student who has access to New York City court archives.

The anti-Train faction on the Times staff reported kids taken from parents’ homes and front steps, out of yards and off the streets while on their way to the store, anyplace SPCC could find them in a vulnerable situation.

The Times reported mobs attacking SPCC agents and police, rescuing children and returning them to parents. There was one parental suicide. One infuriated mother walked into an agency’s child warehouse and so cowed the adults that they let her take her child home. The picture is one of extreme public hostility towards Train snatches. There were several anti-Train organizations.

The dichotomy in Times philosophy surfaced repeatedly in editorials. There is one back-to-back pair where the first supported Kansas’ complaints of “diseased, violent Train kids.” Next day, another editorial appeared saying “Kids OK. Shut up and take ‘em!”

Westchester Temporary Home for Destitute Children did not sent children west. Instead, they kept the children until parents could afford to reclaim them. They also “straightened out” uncontrollable children. Their refusal to send children west incurred the wrath of SPCC, the Times and other Train supporters. They filed a criminal child abuse complaint against the Home’s director. The ensuing trial had strong similarities to McMartin. Eventual vindication became the first domino in the collapse of the Orphan Train system. The first step was disbanding SPCC and reorganizing it into the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Purists will object to my failure to include specific citations. There are two reasons. First, the total biblio would be twice the length of this one. (It’s a huge part of my original research folder.) Second, I hope to encourage researchers to duplicate my work. There are side alleys galore that lead to information that I did not include, but which would make projects in their own right.

There are auxiliary sources that suggest other lines of research.

There was a dog-eat-dog fight between Catholics and Protestants over control of the West. The Protestants wanted independence from Europe. The Catholics wanted the Desert Southwest returned to Mexico.

That culminated in the Catholics sending kidnapped children to Mexicans in the Desert Southwest. But they did not count on Protestant mobs mass kidnapping the children back and giving them to Protestants who were migrating into the same area.

New York Foundling Hospital v Gatti: U.S. Reports, 203 US 429 (1906.) Technically, This ruling said that the Federal courts had no jurisdiction to hear child custody cases. In reality, it upheld a Protestant mob snatching children placed with Mexicans in Arizona to thwart U.S. expansion into the area.

Norfolk, Nebr News Flyer, July 15, 1987, P 2. — See also Orphan Train Heritage Society, Rt 4, Box 565, Springdale Arkansas 72764. Their newsletter. The children’s view of the Orphan Trains. The first is an interview with a now elderly Orphan Train child. There is a reservoir of such interviews and articles if a researcher is willing to spend the time to find them. The trend is towards portrayal of slavery and abuse. The second is an organization that collects the stories of Orphan Train children. They work for reunions.

Much of the personal history of the Train children is already lost to death. The rest will follow unless somebody picks up their stories.

Hostility in recipient states. Orphan Train Heritage Society (ibid) has information. A researcher could easily find a law library with a good archive section and go through early state statutes. Several states celebrated their newly acquired statehood by enacting statutes prohibiting “placing out” Train children inside their borders.

Buckskin and Blanket Days Autobiography of Thomas Henry Tibbles (University of Nebraska Press, 1957 reprint.)

He was stolen from his widowed mother at about age 10 by an Ohio Sheriff and sold to a neighbor for Indenture. He promptly ran away and went west to live with the Indians.

He eventually became a major national activist, championing Indian Rights, fighting lies used to con people west, was Vice Presidential Candidate for the Populist Party and other activity. His most important activity was editor/writer/researcher for the Omaha Herald and was the prime mover in the Standing Bear litigation.

Tibbles was the leader of a group of people who included at least two Army Generals, Crook and Miles, Omaha Indian Chief Iron Eye — whose daughter, Bright Eyes, later married Tibbles — and at least one other in the Desert Southwest. I make out that they were within days of open military revolt with the objective of splitting the nation into five parts: The original 13 Colonies. The Deep South, basically the Confederacy. The Louisiana Purchase would become a separate nation under the leadership of Tibbles, Judge Dundy and Iron Eye. The Pacific Northwest would join Canada under Miles’ leadership. The Desert Southwest would rejoin Mexico under unknown leadership.

Tibbles is an excellent example of the level of hatred that is generated among child victims of whatever form of “adoption” takes them from their families and drives them into lifetimes of revolt against the authorities who did it.

Standing Bear et al v Crook: Federal District Court, Omaha, Nebraska. Case No 136 E. Filed April 8, 1879. Heard by Judge Elmer S Dundy May 12, 1879

Habeas Corpus, claiming illegal arrest of Standing Bear and others by U.S. Army

Culminated in freeing the Ponca party in a ruling that had landmark effects.

The records are no longer available from the Federal Archives in Kansas City. I have photocopies of the original paperwork, obtained from the Clerk of the Federal District Court in Omaha. I consider it a rare document whose importance is overlooked by historians and researchers.

The importance of this litigation is that prior to it Indians were legally dangerous wild animals. They were rounded up and confined to “reservations” to “preserve the species.” In those days, Indian Reservations bore a striking resemblance to modern zoos, used to save dangerous wild animals from extinction.

This litigation elevated Indian legal status from wild animal to human, entitled to the same legal and constitutional protections as Whites. In the purely legal sense, it is a lower court ruling, not entitled to precedent status. But Washington was afraid to appeal it because they knew doggone well it would be upheld all the way to the Supreme Court. It was a turnover event that reached far beyond Indian Rights to bring about major changes that reverberate even yet.

I spent several days reading media coverage of the time. The W Dale Clark Library in downtown Omaha has microfilms of two newspapers, the Omaha Bee and the Omaha Herald. Their views were so strongly opposed that they gave me the editorial dichotomy I look for when I research events of that importance. In essence, the Bee took the stand that Indians were pests to be exterminated while the Herald took the stand that Indians were martyrs to White greed, violence and bigotry.

There is one reference to a Congressional speech that talked about “a second Civil War.” There is much to support the concept.

Union Pacific got wind of it and realized that they would be split into at least three railroads. They sent in their top attorney, Andrew J Poppleton, who was attorney of record for Standing Bear in the litigation. Poppleton was assisted by attorney Jno L Webster, who was a Nebraska State Representative.

To someone like me, who has been in just such litigation, the paperwork reeks of sandbagging Washington. Judge Dundy “went bear hunting” just long enough to let Poppleton get the paperwork in order but not long enough for Washington to yank the case out from under him. General Crook put the Army under the jurisdiction of a local civilian court, which to this day has no legal standing. (I am not talking about individuals in the Army. The Army itself was the true defendant in this case.) General Crook told the world that the Poncas were “too sick to move” to keep them in Omaha so the Army couldn’t move them out of the Court’s jurisdiction. The witness who certified the Indians’ “X” signatures was one of Crook’s officers. It goes on and on like that.

This litigation was followed by a series of events that brought an end to the horrendous abuses of “Conquest of the West.” The new York Times changed it’s editorial stand from supporting the Orphan Trains to hostility. A few years later, the Westchester Home case toppled the Trains from their pinnacle of power. Union Pacific suckered a bunch of Eastern workers west with promises of non-existent jobs. Some infuriated workers, under the leadership of a close friend of Crook’s, former General Kelly, took over trains at gunpoint and went home, while others marched home, taking food and other supplies by force of arms as they went. Union Pacific and the Army were uncharacteristically meek and mild and stayed out of the way of the “Industrial Armies.” Hype that ignored harsh living conditions in the west suddenly became more realistic. Standing Bear, Tibbles and Bright Eyes did lecture tours stumping for Indian rights and more humane treatment of Native Americans. There was a marked change in Indian School policies and mass kidnaping Indian children was markedly reduced, driving what was left underground, where it continues even today.

Standing Bear exerted a profound influence that reduced the official child abuse called “Orphan Trains.” The influence was strong enough to force an Orwellian double-speak name change to “adoption.”

Tibbles is a good indication of the level of anger that is generated among mass kidnap victims and sublimated into revolutionary activity. There are others, such as serial killer Ted Bundy. This would make a good line of research for somebody developing a thesis.

My thanks to Leonard Henderson for this “history lesson.” http://familyrightsassociation.com/departments/kids/orphan_trains/orphan_trains.html

saved from http://incolor.inebraska.com/eaustin/adopt10.html

Child Protective Services CaseLaw

In child trafficking, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, Family Rights, federal crimes, judicial corruption, mothers rights, Obama, Parents rights, state crimes on April 20, 2009 at 5:00 am

Beltran v. Santa Clara County, 514 F.3d 906, (9th Cir. 2008)
Beltrans sued two caseworkers under 42 U.S.C. ‘ 1983, charging constitutional violations in removing child from their custody and attempting to place him under the supervision of the state by fabricating evidence. Court overruled Doe v. Lebbos, and reversed the district court’s ruling that defendants were entitled to absolute immunity.

Brokaw v. Mercer County, 235 F.3d 1000, (7th Cir. 2000)
In 1983, three-year old A.D. Brokaw was removed from her parents’ home based on allegations of child neglect. After she turned eighteen, she sued her paternal grandfather, aunt, and uncle, alleging that they conspired to violate her constitutional rights by reporting false claims of child neglect. A.D. also sued the various state actors and agencies involved in removing her from her parents’ custody. The district court held that A.D.’s suit was barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine because, in effect, A.D. was challenging the validity of the state removal proceedings. The Eleventh Circuit reversed and remanded.

Calabretta v. Floyd, 189 F.3d 808 (9th Cir. 1999)
“This case involves whether a social worker and a police officer were entitled to qualified immunity, for a coerced entry into a home to investigate suspected child abuse, interrogation of a child, and strip search of a child, conducted without a search warrant and without a special exigency.” Can you guess what the answer was? “An unlawful entry or search of a home does not end when the government officials walk across the threshold. It continues as they impose their will on the residents of the home in which they have no right to be.”

Chavez v. Board of County Commissioners, 2001-NMCA-065, New Mexico Court of Appeals (2001)
Defendants are deputy sheriffs with the Curry County Sheriff’s Department, who were called to assist two social workers from the Children, Youth & Families Department on a “child welfare check” at Plaintiff’s home. Plaintiff’s son had not been attending elementary school. Thus, one reason for the visit to Plaintiff’s home was to investigate suspected truancy or educational neglect. Held: “At the time of entry into Plaintiff’s home, it was well-settled that the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibited unreasonable searches and seizures and was intended to protect the sanctity of an individual’s home and privacy.”

Croft v. Westmoreland County Children and Youth Servs., 103 F.3d 1123 (3d Cir. 1997)
Holding that “a state has no interest in protecting children from their parents unless it has some reasonable and articulable evidence giving rise to a reasonable suspicion that a child has been abused or is in imminent danger of abuse.”

Doe v. Gooden, 214 F.3d 952 (8th Cir. 2000)
School district officials can be liable under 1983 if they are deliberately indifferent to acts committed by a teacher that violate a student’s constitutional rights.

Franz v. United States, 707 F 2d 582, US Ct App (1983)
“The undesirability of cultural homogenization would lead us to oppose efforts by the state to assume a greater role in children’s development, even if we were confident that the state were capable of doing so effectively and intelligently.” A brilliant analysis of the fundamental right to be free of unwarranted state interference between the child-parent bond, in this case stemming from the Witness Protection Program.

Good v. Dauphin County Soc. Servs. for Children and Youth, 891 F.2d 1087, (3d Cir. 1989)
“[P]hysical entry into the home is the chief evil against which the … Fourth Amendment is directed,” the Court explained, while adding: “It is a ‘basic principle of Fourth Amendment law’ that searches and seizures inside a home without a warrant are presumptively unreasonable.” No qualified immunity claim to be found here.

Heartland Acad. Cmty. Church v. Waddle, 335 F.3d 684, (8th Cir.2003)
Waddle, as Chief Juvenile Officer for the Second Circuit of Missouri, effected the removal of 115 boarding students from Heartland Christian Academy . Waddle had obtained ex parte probable-cause state-court orders to remove some of the boarding students, there were no orders of any kind to remove many of the students who were taken from the school. This case is noted for its brilliant analysis of Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, and immunity as an officer of a juvenile court. The court held that: “any single violation of Heartland’s federal constitutional rights in this case would be sufficient to sustain Heartland’s claim for injunctive relief under ‘ 1983.”

Jones v. Hunt, 410 F.3d 1221 (10th Cir. 2005)
No qualified immunity in this ‘ 1983 action for alleged violations of Fourth Amendment rights arising from girl’s in-school seizure by a deputy sheriff and s Social Worker Supervisor for the New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department (“CYFD”). “We conclude that the Fourth Amendment violation as alleged in this case is both obvious and outrageous.”

Kelson v. Springfield, 767 F 2d 651, (9th Cir. 1985)
“Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit precedent establish that a parent has a constitutionally protected liberty interest in the companionship and society of his or her child. The state’s interference with that liberty interest without due process of law is remediable under section 1983.”

Lopkof v. Slater, 103 F.3d 144 (10th Cir. 1996) (Unpublished)
Defendants do not dispute that the law was clearly established that a warrantless search of a private residence is per se unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment unless one of “a few specifically established and well-delineated exceptions” applies. Defendants maintain that because they had “received specific information questioning the safety of children,” they acted in an objectively reasonable manner when they entered Lopkoff’s private residence. Wrong, and no qualified immunity for these officers.

Loudermilk v. Arpaio, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76819 (D. Ariz. September 27, 2007)
With respect to Plaintiffs’ claim based on violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, parents and children have a constitutional right to live together without governmental interference and will not be separated without due process of law except in emergencies. Motion to dismiss by CPS worker and others who coerced entry into home denied.

Mabe v. San Bernardino, 237 F.3d 1101 (9th Cir. 2001)
Section 1983 creates a cause of action against any person who, acting under color of state law, violates the constitutional rights of another person. Whether reasonable cause to believe exigent circumstances existed in a given situation, “and the related questions, are all questions of fact to be determined by a jury.” Hence, no immunity for social worker under 42 U.S.C. 1983.

NEW! Michael v. Gresbach, (7th Cir. 2008)
The court held that: “a reasonable child welfare worker would have known that conducting a search of a child’s body under his clothes, on private property, without consent or the presence of any other exception to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment, is in direct violation of the child’s constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches.” No qualified immunity for this CPS caseworker! The court also held that the state statute that allowed for “investigations” on private property without a search warrant was itself unconstitutional as applied.

Malik v. Arapahoe County Dept. of Soc. Servs.191 F.3d 1306, (10th Cir. 1999)
“The defense of qualified immunity protects government officials from individual liability under 42 U.S.C. ‘ 1983 for actions taken while performing discretionary functions, unless their conduct violates “clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” Court also held that: “it was clearly established law that, except in extraordinary circumstances, a parent has a liberty interest in familial association and privacy that cannot be violated without adequate pre-deprivation procedures.”

Norfleet v. Arkansas Dept. of Human Servs., 989 F.2d 289 (8th Cir. 1993)
Court denies qualified immunity to the Human Services Director and caseworker involved because the state obligation to provide adequate medical care, protection, and supervision with respect to children placed in foster care was well established as of 1991.

Parkhurst v. Trapp, 77 F.3d 707 (3rd Cir. 1996)
The defendants attempt to avoid the imposition of summary judgment by arguing that, even if their conduct violated the Fourth Amendment, qualified immunity should shield them from liability. Qualified immunity is available to state actors in Section 1983 suits if those actors reasonably believed that their conduct was lawful. However, a good faith belief in the legality of conduct is not sufficient. Held: No qualified immunity.

Ram v. Rubin, 118 F.3d 1306 (9th Cir. 1997)
Holding “a parent has a constitutionally protected right to the care and custody of his children and he cannot be summarily deprived of custody without notice and a hearing except when the children are in imminent danger.” No qualified immunity for social worker who removed child not in imminent danger.

Rogers v. County of San Joaquin, 487 F.3d 1288 (9th Cir. 2007)
Court held: “the rights of families to be free from governmental interference and arbitrary state action are also important. Thus, we must balance, on the one hand, the need to protect children from abuse and neglect and, on the other, the preservation of the essential privacy and liberty interests that families are guaranteed under both the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of our Constitution.” Section 1983 case reinforces that removal of children from home by caseworker absent either a warrant or exigent circumstances violates those rights, and therefore no qualified immunity applies to caseworker.

Roska v. Peterson, 328 F.3d 1230, (10 Cir. 2003)
Holding no immunity for caseworkers who entered a home lacking either exigency or a warrant, and finding constitutional protection in the right to maintain a family relationship, Court held: “the law is now clearly established that, absent probable cause and a warrant or exigent circumstances, social workers may not enter an individual’s home for the purpose of taking a child into protective custody.”

Tennenbaum v. Williams, 193 F.3d 581, (2d Cir. 1999)
“We affirm the judgment insofar as it holds that the medical examination violated the Tenenbaums’ and Sarah’s procedural due-process rights and Sarah’s Fourth Amendment rights and awards damages therefor. . . We conclude, however, that there is a triable issue of fact as to whether the defendants’ removal of Sarah from school was contrary to the procedural requirements of the Due Process Clause and to Sarah’s right to be free from unreasonable seizures under the Fourth Amendment.” The Missouri Bar has an informative Courts Bulletin describing the case.

Turner v. Houseman, Docket: 07-6108 (10th Cir. 2008) (Unpublished)
“It was clearly established, at least two years before the events in question, that absent probable cause and a warrant or exigent circumstances, neither police nor social workers may enter a person’s home without a valid consent, even for the purpose of taking a child into custody, much less to conduct a search. It was also established that the warrantless seizure and detention of a person without probable cause or exigent circumstances, as alleged in Turner’s petition, is unreasonable.”

Wallis v. Spencer, 202 F.3d 1126 (9th Cir. 2000)
“In cases of alleged child abuse, governmental failure to abide by constitutional constraints may have deleterious long-term consequences for the child and, indeed, for the entire family. Ill-considered and improper governmental action may create significant injury where no problem of any kind previously existed.”

Walsh v. Erie County Dep’t of Job & Family Servs., 240 F. Supp. 2d 731, (N.D. Ohio 2003)
“Despite the Defendants’ exaggerated view of their powers, the Fourth Amendment applies to them, as it does to all other officers and agents of the state whose requests to enter, however benign or well-intentioned, are met by a closed door. . . Any agency that expects to send its employees routinely into private homes has a fundamental obligation to ensure that those employees understand the constitutional limits on their authority.”

Weller v. Dept of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387, (4th Cir. 1990)
“Substantive due process does not categorically bar the government from altering parental custody rights.” What I find interesting about this case is that it was brought pro se, and that he sued a lot more people than I am.

Whisman v. Rinehart, 119 F.3d 1303 (8th Cir. 1997)
Whismans filed this action against juvenile officers and social workers, claiming they violated plaintiffs’ constitutional rights of familial association, denying plaintiffs due process of law. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, contending that plaintiffs’ claims were not actionable under 42 U.S.C. ‘ 1983. Guess again!

Wooley v. City of Baton Rouge, 211 F.3d 913, (5th Cir. 2000)
Holding that a “childs right to family integrity is concomitant to that of a parent. No qualified immunity for police officers who removed young child in this section 1983 action.

Relocation as a Strategy to Interfere with the Child-Parent Relationship

In California Parental Rights Amendment, child trafficking, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, deadbeat dads, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, judicial corruption, mothers rights, Obama, parental alienation, Parents rights, state crimes on April 19, 2009 at 5:00 am

by IRA DANIEL TURKAT, PH.D., Venice, Florida
AMERICAN JOURNAL OF FAMILY LAW, VOLUME 11, 39-41 (1996)

The custodial parent who seeks to relocate poses a special problem for the noncustodial parent opposed to such a move. Physical distance between the visiting parent and his or her offspring can become a serious impediment to their relationship. When a relocation effort is clearly in the best interest of the children, one is hard-pressed to interfere. However, when it is unclear as to whether relocation is in the best interest of the children, the court must wrestle with a difficult dilemma.

In certain cases, a custodial parent may seek to relocate as a way to interfere with the relationship between the children and the noncustodial parent. However, at times such a motive may remain fairly well concealed. Guidelines for assisting triers of fact in identifying interference-guided relocation efforts have yet to appear. This article provides a beginning set of potential indicators for identifying interference-motivated relocation efforts.

THE STRATEGY BEHIND INTERFERENCE-BASED RELOCATION

Divorce-related child visitation interference causes special problems for families, attorneys, and judges. It is difficult to manage.(1) When a custodial parent seeks to relocate to hurt the noncustodial parent, the family’s problems multiply significantly. However, from the viewpoint of this type of custodial parent, such a manipulation has obvious benefits.

First, relocation prevents the nonresidential parent who wants an active and ongoing relationship with his or her offspring from having it. A short drive to the former marital home is no longer available. Easy access to the child’s school is a thing of the past. The family pleasures of soccer games, gymnastics, school carnivals, and religious events are no longer easily experienced. The emotional enrichment provided by a full set of readily accessible parents is now denied the child.

Second, relocation of the custodial home increases the financial expenditures the nonresidential parent must incur to visit with his or her children. Short drives are replaced by long journeys. Hotel stays become a necessity. Phone bills increase significantly.

Third, after the relocation has occurred, if the noncustodial parent’s visitation is interfered with, legal recourse becomes more difficult. Jurisdiction becomes a battle. Interstate legal expenditures accrue. Discovery, trial preparation, and hearings become increasingly complicated in their practical and emotional aspects.

Finally, in certain cases of visitation interference,(2) denying exposure to the children becomes even more attractive to the custodial parent who has relocated. Before, the denied parent merely retreated to his or her home a short drive away; now, whenever the visitation interference takes place, he or she has absorbed a significant loss of money, effort, and time. The custodial parent with a sadistic predisposition in this regard(3) gains an additional sense of satisfaction.
It should be noted that each risk factor may operate independently or may coexist with other risk factors.

Given the above factors, the need to identify those custodial parents seeking relocation for malevolent purposes is obvious. Where appropriate and possible, such individuals should be stopped. To aid in the process, this author has approached the problem of identifying potential interference-based relocation efforts through a consideration of “risk factors.”

RISK FACTOR DEFINED

A risk factor is that which increases the likelihood that a particular problem may emerge. Cigarette smoking is a risk factor for lung cancer. Obesity is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Multiple partners is a risk factor for transmission of sexual disease. Prior bankruptcy is a risk factor for loan repayment

The presence of a risk factor does not mean that the problem one is concerned with will necessarily emerge. For example, some individuals may smoke cigarettes for a lifetime and never develop lung cancer. Similarly, a person who was forced to declare bankruptcy at one time may have no difficulty keeping up with a hefty mortgage at some point in the future. The presence of a risk factor merely means that the problem of interest has an increased likelihood of occurring. However, even when a risk factor is present, in certain cases the problem of concern may never appear.

The concept of risk factors provides a useful framework for approaching the difficulty imposed by relocation efforts aimed at disturbing the relationship between the noncustodial parent and his or her offspring. Specification of potential indicators for interference-guided relocation efforts can play a valuable role in dealing with such cases.

IDENTIFYING RISK FACTORS

In a sophisticated field of science, risk factors are systematically studied for their utility. For example, the association between cigarette smoking and lung cancer has been investigated extensively. However, the initial development of risk factor identification typically begins at the practitioner level. Such is the case with interference-based relocation efforts.

To this author’s knowledge, a list of potential risk factors for relocation as an interference strategy has yet to appear. Based on exposure to a multitude of clinical and legal cases, this discussion outlines several potential risk factors for identifying when a relocation effort is guided by a desire to interfere with the relationship between the noncustodial parent and his or her offspring.

RISK FACTORS FOR INTERFERENCE-BASED RELOCATION

Listed below are eight potential risk factors for identifying a custodial parent who desires to relocate based on an underlying motivation to interfere in the relationship between the nonresidential parent and his or her offspring:

1. a parent who threatens to relocate the children;
2. a parent with significant anger;
3. a parent who lies repeatedly;
4. a parent with a history of interfering with visitation;
5. a parent who has not been punished by the court for prior interference with visitation;
6. a parent with a history of willfully defying a court order;
7. a parent exhibiting parental alienation syndrome,(4) and
8. a parent exhibiting divorce-related malicious mother syndrome.(5)

RISK FACTOR ANALYSIS

Several issues emerge when considering the eight potential risk factors cited above. First, it should be noted that each risk factor may, operate independently or may coexist with other risk factors. For example, a parent with parental alienation syndrome may also be very angry at the nonresidential parent. Relatedly, a parent with a history of defying court orders may evidence none of the other risk factors; he or she may simply enjoy the impulsive thrill of violating rules (as occurs with certain personality disorders).(6)

Second, the time when a risk factor emerges may also vary. For example, in certain cases, before a petition for dissolution of marriage has been filed, the (eventual) primary residential parent may have threatened the (later to be) nonresidential parent with the possibility of moving the children away. Typically, this risk factor emerges when there is major conflict during the marriage. In other cases, however, such a threat may emerge only during the course of a custody battle or perhaps after the final divorce decree has been entered.
Certain risk factors may be present, but the intent to relocate may truly be based on the best interest of the child.

Third, the degree of risk factor intensity is important to consider. A parent may be angry with the other parent, but not enough to deprive that parent the opportunity to be involved in the daily life of their children. On the other hand, some parents may be so angry that the idea of not relocating would seem intolerable. Again, a risk factor may be present, but it does not guarantee that interference-motivated relocation will be attempted. In fact, an angry and psychologically disturbed parent may deliberately not relocate so that he or she can torment the other parent with regular episodes of visitation interference.

A fourth issue to consider is that certain risk factors may be present, but the intent to relocate may truly be based on the best interest of the child. For example, a parent who may have a history of repeated lying in the courtroom may also have a child who has developed a life-threatening medical condition. In such a case, relocation to a home near a specialized treatment facility may be necessary for the child’s survival.

CONCLUSION

Parents who attempt to relocate as a way to interfere with the relationship between the nonresidential parent and his or her offspring should not be permitted to do so. Too much is at stake. Unfortunately, relocation issues do not always appear in a cut-and-dried manner. Hopefully, the eight risk factors outlined herein will serve a useful role in the consideration of certain relocation issues. They await scientific inquiry.

ENDNOTES

1 Ira Daniel Turkat, Management of Visitation Interference, 36 Judge’s J. (forthcoming Feb. 1997).

2 Ira Daniel Turkat, Child Visitation Interference in Divorce, 14 Clin. Psychol. Rev. 737 (1994).

3 Ira Daniel Turkat, Divorce Related Malicious Mother Syndrome, 10 J. Fam. Violence 253 (1995).

4 Parental alienation syndrome was first described by Gardner in relation to a custodial parent who teaches his or her offspring to hold unjustified antagonistic beliefs and behaviors toward the nonresidential parent. R.A. Gardner, The Parental Alienation Syndrome and the Differentiation Between Fabricated and Genuine Child Sex Abuse (Creskill. N.J., Creative Therapeutics 1987); R.A. Gardner, Family Evaluation in Child Custody Mediation, Arbitration. and Litigation (Creskill, N.J., Creative Therapeutics 1989). Sec also Kenneth H. Waldron & David E. Joanis, Understanding and Collaboratively Treating Parental Alienation Syndrome, 10 Am. J. Fam. L. 121 (Fall 1996).

5 Divorce-related malicious mother syndrome was first described by this author regarding the custodial mother who aims to hurt her former marital partner through any means, including using the children as a tool for injury. Turkat, supra note 2, and Turkat, supra note 3.

6 Ira Daniel Turkat. The Personality Disorders (New York, Pergamon/Simon & Schuster 1990).

Dr. Ira Daniel Turkat maintains a clinical and consulting practice in Venice, Florida, is on the faculty Of the University of Florida College of Medicine, and is associate editor of the Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, which is received in 25 countries throughout the world.

The original article can be found here: http://www.fact.on.ca/Info/pas/turkat96.htm

Parental Alienation: Not In The Best Interest Of The Children

In California Parental Rights Amendment, child trafficking, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, deadbeat dads, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, judicial corruption, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Obama, parental alienation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parents rights, state crimes on April 18, 2009 at 6:00 am

by Douglas Darnall
NORTH DAKOTA LAW REVIEW, Volume 75, 1999, p 323-364

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Douglas Darnall is a practicing licensed psychologist and the CEO of PsyCare, Inc., an outpatient psychiatric clinic in Youngstown, Ohio. He is the author of DIVORCE CASUALTIES: PROTECTING YOUR CHILDREN FROM PARENTAL ALIENATION (Taylor Publishing Company, 1998). In the following essay, Dr. Darnall, drawing largely from his book, discusses how attorneys and judges can serve clients by recognizing, dealing with, and seeking to stop and prevent parental alienation. Because the essay is based largely on Dr. Darnall’s book and because he is not a legal or academic professional, a bibliography of sources employed in his book appears at the end of the essay instead of traditional footnotes.

I. INTRODUCTION

During the crisis of divorce, most parents fear whether their children will emerge unscathed. Any reasonable and empathetic parent sincerely believes in the value of his or her children having a healthy relationship with both parents. Ideally, parents deliberately work on comforting and reassuring the children that no harm will come to them. At the same time, both try to strengthen their parent-child relationships without degrading the other parent or causing the children to feel divided loyalty. They encourage visits, talk kindly of the other parent in the children’s presence, and set aside their own negative feelings to avoid causing the children distress. They are sensitive to the children’s needs and encourage positive feelings toward the other parent. This outcome is the goal of not only the parents and children, but also the attorneys and judge involved in the case.

However, any number of events can destroy the fragile balance of peace between parents. If this happens, an injured parent may seek comfort by aligning with the children, especially since be or she may feel threatened by the children’s love for the other parent. A pattern of alienation usually begins without any malicious or conscious intent to harm or destroy the relationship between the other parent and the children. Though most parents mean well, they are often unaware of how subtle behaviors and comments can hurt the relationship between the children and the targeted parent. In effect, alienation can occur in even the friendliest of divorces.

In unfriendly divorces, the effects are predictable. Custody litigation or struggles for parenting time creates unavoidable competition between parents. Children feel pulled in many directions as long as both parents want custody or feel they must fight for their fair share of time. Afraid of losing custody, a parent may feel an urgency to align with the children to help ensure victory. The other parent may retaliate with an insurgence of passion for winning their cause. They may have difficulty accepting that they must compete against each other to prove to the court that making them the custodial parent is in the children’s best interest. The struggle between two passionate parents is a byproduct of modern-day divorce, and it sets the stage for alienation.

Alienation will continue as long as divorces — and custody battles — continue to increase at alarming rates. More fathers are becoming more comfortable in a nurturing and caretaking role and no longer adhere to the belief that they are genetically predisposed to be the inferior parent, and as a result they are seeking and being granted custody. Therefore, courts no longer automatically assume children are better off living with their mother. Meanwhile, mothers are realizing that the all-American dream of marriage, a home, and children is not a guarantee of emotional fulfillment. Many women now want an identity in both the workplace and the home. The high costs of living and supporting a family force women to work outside the home even when their children are very young. Consequently, women can no longer argue for custody because of an inherent birthright or ability to care for the children at home.

After the attorneys are gone and the case is closed, the parents must somehow pick up the pieces and establish a working relationship for the children’s best interest. The issue for attorneys and the court is what they see as their role and responsibility for setting the stage in helping families to repair damaged relationships. Attorneys who take an active role in educating clients about parental alienation, parental alienation syndrome and where to get help if needed can help families get on with their lives with some semblance of harmony. While attorneys and judges should not become therapists, they can help set the stage for parents to work together in harmony by educating divorcing parents during litigation about parental alienation and how such behavior impacts the children.

II. BACKGROUND

In 1994, approximately 2.4 million Americans obtained divorces, including the parents of more than one million children under the age of eighteen. Nearly as many unmarried couples with children will separate. Thanks to sky-high divorce rates and recent increases in the number and viciousness of child custody battles, there has been a marked increase in parental alienation. Children suffer from a breakup because they are torn, trapped, precariously balanced, as if one wrong move could cost them all their parents’ love and acceptance. This can easily lead to disastrous effects on children. Various studies show that youngsters exposed to even mildly alienating behaviors may have trouble learning, concentrating, relaxing, or getting along with their peers. They have been known to develop physical symptoms and/or serious behavior problems. Clearly then, parental alienation can be a major factor in the pain of divorce.

A. THE NATURE OF PARENTAL ALIENATION

There has been a lot of confusion about the definitions of parental alienation and parental alienation syndrome. For purposes of this essay, parental alienation is any constellation of behaviors, whether conscious or unconscious, that could evoke a disturbance in the relationship between a child and the targeted parent.

This definition is not the same as Dr. Richard Gardner’s definition of parental alienation syndrome, which he coined in his 1987 work, “The Parental Alienation Syndrome and the Differentiation Between Fabricated and Genuine Child Sex Abuse.” Gardner defined parental alienation syndrome as “a disturbance in which children are preoccupied with deprecation and criticism of a parent-denigration that is unjustified and/or exaggerated.” Dr. Gardner explained the term is similar in meaning to brainwashing, except the motivation for the alienating parent has both conscious and “subconscious or unconscious components. Dr. Gardner further explained, in “The Parental Alienation Syndrome: Second Edition,” that parental alienation syndrome “arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from a combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrination and the child’s own contribution to the vilification of the targeted parent.”

Parental alienation and parental alienation syndrome differ in important respects. First, parental alienation syndrome focuses on the child’s behavior. It is often visible when a child refuses visits, expresses unjustifiable hatred towards the targeted parent, displays no fear of the court, harbors irrational beliefs shared by the alienating parent, and cannot see any good in the targeted parent. Children may have motivations that make alienation worse. Their desires for immediate gratification or avoiding discomfort makes them vulnerable to siding with the alienating parent. Children, often unknowingly, become advocates for alienating parents by serving as spokespeople for their parent’s hatred. The only exception to keep in mind is if children displaying these symptoms have been truly sexually, physically or emotional abused, as the child’s feelings could then be justified.

Parental alienation, on the other hand, focuses not on the child’s behavior, but on the parent’s behavior. Parents can and will alienate without necessarily leading to parental alienation syndrome. The risk is that once severe parental alienation syndrome takes hold of the child, the process is almost impossible to reverse. That is why preventing and understanding parental alienation is so important. Parental alienation is reversible, most often through education. This is where the role of the attorney and the court becomes so important. They are usually the first to see the parental alienation and are in the best position to thwart the potential damage to the children.

There is a second major difference between parental alienation and parental alienation syndrome. Dr. Gardner emphasized that parental alienation syndrome requires the child to be an active participant with the alienating parent in degrading the targeted parent. If a child were able to ignore a parent’s persistent attempts to degrade the other parent, then, by definition, parental alienation syndrome could not occur. Parental alienation focuses more on the parent’s behavior than on the child’s role in degrading the victimized parent. Thus, parental alienation can occur well before the parent’s hatred permeates the child’s beliefs about the targeted parent.

It is important to keep in mind that understanding parental alienation is not an issue of who is the alienator, or “bad guy,” versus the targeted parent, or “good guy.” A common mistake made by attorneys and mental health professionals is trying to place blame. Assigning blame is understandable, because many states consider which parent is most willing to foster a healthy relationship between the children and the other parent as a factor in determining the child’s best interests. However, finding the most cooperative parent doesn’t always solve the problem of alienation, since alienators usually feel as victimized as the targeted parent. The roles of the alienator and the target alternate between parents. The same parent can be both the alienator and the target depending on how he or she is behaving. Generally, one parent triggers the other. The targeted parent then feels defensive and, in turn, retaliates with alienating behavior. The roles become blurred, because alienation is a process, not a person or outcome.

Parental alienation varies in severity, as seen in the behaviors and attitudes of both the parents and the children. The severity can be of such little consequence as a parent occasionally calling the other parent a derogatory name or as overwhelming as a conscious campaign to destroy the children’s relationship with the targeted parent. There are three main kinds of alienators, and preventing or stopping alienation begins with learning how to recognize the three types of alienators, because the symptoms and strategies for combating each are different.

First, naive alienators are parents who are passive about the children’s relationship with the other parent but who occasionally do or say something to alienate or reinforce alienation. Most well-meaning parents will occasionally be naive alienators.

Second, active alienators also know better than to alienate. Their difficulty is that the hurt and anger they feel continues to fester. They are very vulnerable to triggers, usually pushed by the ex-spouse, causing the parent to lose control over his or her behavior or what he or she says to the children. After they have calmed down and see reason, they may feel very guilty about how they behaved.

Finally, obsessed alienators have a fervent cause to destroy the targeted parent and any vestige of a relationship the children have with the targeted parent. Rarely does the obsessed alienator have enough self-control or insight to recognize how his or her behavior is hurting the children. In fact, he or she feels justified: His or her crusade is to protect the child from the evil of the court and targeted parent. A qualified evaluator may observe that the obsessed alienator’s beliefs are irrational and even delusional. The obsessed alienator is always looking for support and affirmation that his or her cause is justified from so-called experts. These are usually the parents who bring an entourage of supporters, including the child, to court without being asked to do so by the court or attorney.

Obsessed alienators pose the most severe problems for attorneys and judges. Attorneys for obsessed alienators can inadvertently cause alienation by giving their client the message his or her behavior and cause are justified. It is very common for obsessed alienators to shop for an attorney or evaluator that will support their cause. Once the attorney starts to question the alienator’s behavior and motives or raises questions about the child’s best interest contrary to the alienator’s goals, the attorney is usually fired and the alienator begins shopping again. These clients also usually want to manage the case and have attorneys do their bidding. They can be difficult for judges, because they want the court to punish and humiliate the targeted parent by denying visits and affirming the alienator’s allegations.

Attorneys with an obsessed alienator as a client are in a difficult situation. They are ethically bound to represent the client’s interest, and yet they are conscious that children’s lives are involved. Once the attorney starts to lean away from the obsessed alienator’s cause, the attorney will begin to see his or her client’s rage and manipulation. The client’s obsession may intensify, sometimes to the point that he or she appears delusional, perhaps making accusations that the court is fixed or the attorney or judge is being paid off. In these circumstances, when the attorney believes that the children’s interest are being threatened and not represented, the attorney should consider asking the court to assign the child a guardian ad litem. This helps the attorney out of an ethical dilemma and offers the child some protection.

B. SIGNS OF ALIENATION:

1. In Parents

Below are the more common symptoms of parental alienation. Many of these behaviors will look familiar, because some alienation occurs in all divorces. Some symptoms may come as a surprise, because many don’t think of the behavior as something that can hurt children. Common symptoms include:

* Supporting the child’s refusal to visit the other parent without reason;
* Allowing children to choose whether or not to visit a parent, even though the court has not empowered the parent or children to make that choice;
* Telling the children about why the marriage failed and giving them the details about the divorce settlement;
* Refusing the other parent access to medical and school records or schedules of extracurricular activities;
* Blaming an ex-spouse for not having enough money, changes in lifestyle, or other problems in the children’s presence;
* Refusing to acknowledge that the child has personal property and denying the child control over taking personal possessions to the other parent’s home;
* Rigid enforcement of the visitation schedule for no good reason other than getting back at the ex-spouse;
* Assuming the ex-spouse is dangerous because he or she had made threats in the past during an argument;
* False allegations of sexual abuse, drug and alcohol use or other illegal activities by the other parent;
* Asks the children to choose one parent over the other;
* Reminding the children that the children have good reason to feel angry toward their other parent;
* Suggesting adoption or changes in name should a parent remarry;
* Giving children reasons for feeling angry toward the other parent, even when they have no memory of the incident that would provoke the feeling, and especially when they cannot personally remember the incident or reasons for being angry;
* Special signals, secrets, words with unique meanings, or a private rendezvous arranged between the child and one parent;
* An intention to use children as witnesses against their other parent;
* Asking the children to spy or covertly gather information to be used later against the other parent;
* Setting up temptations that interfere with visitation;
* Giving the children the impression that having a good time on a visit will hurt the parent;
* Asking the children about the ex-spouse’s personal life;
* Rescuing the children from the other parent when there is no danger.

This list is not meant to be conclusive of all possible symptoms. As one learns more about parental alienation, one can add to it.

2. In Children

The symptoms of parental alienation describe a parent’s behavior towards the child. It says nothing about how the parent’s behavior impacts the child’s behavior or attitudes towards the targeted parent. If parental alienation is successful and influences the child against the targeted parent, then the observer will see symptoms of parental alienation syndrome For example, if a child doesn’t appear to have a problem with visits, one can safely conclude that parental alienation syndrome is not severe or present. That is not to say that parental alienation is not occurring, and in time the child may display severe symptoms of parental alienation syndrome. Often, children appear healthy until asked about the targeted parent. Some of the behaviors an observer can expect to see in the parental alienation syndrome child include:

* A relentless hatred for the targeted parent;
* Parroting the alienating parent;
* Refusing to visit or spend any time with the targeted parent;
* Having many beliefs enmeshed with those of the alienating parent;
* Holding delusional or irrational beliefs;
* Not being intimidated by the court’s authority;
* Reasons for not wanting to have a relationship with the targeted parent based only on what the alienating parent tells the child;
* Difficulty distinguishing between personal memories and what he or she is told;
* No ambivalence in a child’s feelings; feeling only hatred without the ability to see any good in the targeted parent;
* No capacity to feel guilty about behavior towards the targeted parent or to forgive any past indiscretions;
* Sharing the alienating parent’s cause to destroy the relationship;
* Hatred extending to the targeted parent’s extended family without any guilt or remorse.

Children displaying these tendencies may well by the subjects of parental alienation by one parent. If this is the case, attorneys and judges need to know how to help stop it, as well as deter and prevent further alienation.

C. IDENTIFYING ALIENATION

Attorneys may be the first to see symptoms of alienation, and they can therefore help dilute the severe effects, as well as prevent more severe problems in the future, by recognizing an obsessed alienator. Attorneys need to know strategies for dealing with each kind of alienator. Typically, naive and active alienators can learn to curb their behavior with education. The obsessed alienator will, at some point, require professional intervention, though that is the last thing the obsessed alienator wants to hear.

It is helpful to recognize the more common symptoms of parental alienation that occur during litigation and understand how attorneys may unwittingly contribute to the problem. Learning to recognize alienating behavior will help attorneys better serve clients as they transition from a dysfunctional and hurting family into, hopefully, two healthy and loving families. What attorneys do and how attorneys work with these families can have a lasting influence for many years to come. Set forth below are some of the common situations in which an attorney may see alienating behavior by a client or a client’s former spouse. Strategies for combatting alienation are discussed in Part V, infra.

1. Expecting the Children to Keep Quiet

It is natural for a parent to ask their children upon their return home, “How was your visit?” or “Did you have a good time?” Such questions are usually harmless. Parents should not become paranoid about asking children innocent questions about visits. However, there is a difference between these casual questions and asking for specific information that serves their personal interests.

One of the less malicious forms of alienation is expecting children to keep secrets. It can be very harmful to a child to be told by a parent to say nothing about what is happening with the divorce to the other parent. The child is not only placed in the uncomfortable position of lying to protect the alienating parent, but he or she is getting the subtle message that something is wrong with the targeted parent. The parent’s rationale is that some things are none of an ex-spouse’s business.

Asking children to keep secrets puts them in a difficult situation because it forces them to divide their loyalties between parents. Therefore, parents should not blame the children when they learn of secrets with the ex-spouse. Without being punitive, parents may ask the children about the secrets. If the child does not want to talk about the secrets, the parent should not push the issue. When the parent is alone with the ex-spouse, the parent can tell him or her that he or she has learned about the secrets. Without attacking or degrading the ex-spouse, the parent can explain his or her concern about how the secrets place the children in the uncomfortable position of having to lie and deceive. Usually, parents ask the children to keep secrets when they expect that the other parent will get angry about something or try to restrict the ex-spouse’s activities with the children. Rather than asking the children to keep secrets, parents need to see if they can come to some agreement about the issue. If parents cannot get satisfaction, they should consider discussing the issue with a counselor, or have their attorney discuss the issue with the ex-spouse’s attorney. Someone has to tell the offending parent to stop having secrets.

2. Having Secrets and Codes with the Children

When children and one parent have secrets, special signals, a private rendezvous, or words with special meaning, there is potential for damage to the children’s relationship with their other parent. It is one of the most blatant forms of alienation. Telling the children, “Don’t tell your mother,” “This will be our little secret,” or “When I say ‘whimsy,’ call me tomorrow,” creates an exclusive relationship that psychologically excludes the other parent. The secrecy implies there is something wrong with the other parent that justifies such behavior. The victimized parent is portrayed as not understanding or as someone who “doesn’t want us to have fun.” Regardless of the excuses, the results are the same. The children are alienated from the victimized parent while the other parent is characterized as a special person who understands.

There are many reasons a parent would have secrets or private rendezvous with their children. The most frequent excuse is that the ex-spouse “will not allow me more time with my children.” Thus, parents say the ex-spouse “would have a fit if she knew the truth about the times I see my children.” Sometimes, having a special relationship with the children makes the alienating parent feel powerful. It is almost like getting one over on the former spouse. The child becomes an unwitting vehicle for the parent’s hostility.

However, having secrets, private codes, or rendezvous are damaging to children because they learn to deceive and lie. They become very confused from not knowing what is morally correct. If a parent has secrets with his or her children, he or she needs to stop the practice immediately.

3. Using the Children as Spies Against the Other Parent

Children get a very damaging message that demeans the targeted parent when they are asked to spy or gather information covertly about the other parent. The subtle message is, “Mom is bad” or “Dad is doing something wrong.” These messages will cause the children to become suspicious of the targeted parent and to pull away emotionally. If the alienating parent is clever, he or she may lead the children to believe they are playing a game while gathering the information.

There are many reasons why a parent would use the children to gather information covertly about the other parent. The parent may be sincerely concerned for their children’s safety and welfare. On the other hand, he or she may want to gather information that they can use later against the other parent. Whatever the reasons for spying, it is wrong. It teaches children to lie and sneak, and most important, to betray someone they love.

Of course, a parent’s motivations for having children gather information may be even more clearly selfish. A noncustodial parent struggling with paying bills may want to know how his ex-spouse is spending “his” money. The custodial parent may have reason to believe that the ex-spouse is hoarding money rather than paying a fair share of child support. Knowing local courts often echo very traditional values, a mother may want to know if the children’s father is having his girlfriend spend the night. Drinking and driving, punishing the children excessively, allowing their children to engage in reckless or dangerous activities, or failing to supervise are all reasons courts may restrict or ban visits.

Parents seeking to prove allegations often need the children’s cooperation to gather information about when and where these questionable activities occur. A parent may think that if he or she can prove to the court that the other parent is mistreating or neglecting the children during a visit, the court will issue an order restricting visits to daytime hours or eliminate them altogether. Such parents may believe the end justifies the means because they are so intent on restricting or eliminating visitation. Attorneys should be cautioned not to participate in such deceit.

Attorneys, however, are in a difficult position, because they may need information from the children that will help their case. Getting this information without hurting the children and without hurting the children’s relationship with the other parent can be very difficult. This is part of the balancing act attorneys must perform. Before deciding the extent of involving the children in a case, it may be helpful to keep in mind the possible pitfalls: becoming a major contributor to alienation or, worse yet, inadvertently hurting the children.

Before deciding to gather information, the parent and attorney should ask themselves why they need this information. Is it pertinent for the litigation? If so, can the information be gathered by other means rather than asking the children? If the decision is made to ask the children, the inquisitive parent should be reminded about the risk to the children.

4. Using the Children as Witnesses in Court

A variation of gathering damaging information is using the children as witnesses against the other parent. When a parent decides to seek custody, he or she realizes the need to build a case against the ex-spouse to impugn their competency to parent. The parent, along with the attorney, knows this requires information. Boyfriends spending the night, drinking, smoking in the presence of an allergic child, or using drugs are all arguments that have been used to settle a custody dispute. As discussed earlier, the parent may draft the children into service to gather information covertly against the other parent. While the process is occurring, alienation evolves between the children and the targeted parent.

Attorneys must be careful about the possible consequences of using the children in court. Though the information they can provide is important, the attorney and parent must realize how the child will feel after the testimony. Often they feel guilty, fearful that the targeted parent will be angry, or depressed because of the betrayal. Children who are actually enthusiastic about testifying against a targeted parent are frequently severely alienated and thus will usually have very biased testimony. These children cannot be trusted to be truthful or objective. The only exception is when it is known the targeted parent has abused the child, and even then the court must be cautious. Children victimized by abuse are usually embarrassed and withdrawn, and thus they are not enthusiastic about telling their story before the court and their parents.

While children don’t belong in court, sometimes it can’t be helped. Hopefully, their appearance comes after a lot of reflection about how the disclosure of the information serves the best interest of the children and weight against the harm it can cause the relationship with the targeted parent. On the other hand, if the information only serves the parent’s interest in winning the case, the children should not testify.

5. Dealing with Children Who Volunteer Information

If the children volunteer information about what occurs in the ex-spouse’s home, parents should casually listen to what they say. They should not interrogate the children by asking numerous questions. Instead, the children should be trusted to disclose any significant information. When they are ready, they will usually tell a parent if there is something wrong. Parents should listen to what their children say without getting upset, making judgments or accusations. Otherwise, the children will become upset, causing them to temper their story.

A parent who doesn’t know how to ask his or her children questions can give them the wrong impression of what actually occurred. This can be dangerous and can lead to false allegations. Parents, and usually attorneys, are not properly trained to interview children. This is why a trained professional is needed to ask children questions about sexual abuse or some other serious offenses. Parents should not ask their children questions about the ex-spouse’s behavior that may impugn their character unless the parent has a good reason to believe the child’s safety is at risk. Satisfying one’s curiosity is not sufficient reason for risking harm to a child’s relationship with the other parent. Asking the children a provocative question will serve no purpose other than to cause great discomfort.

If a parent has more questions, he or she should direct them to the ex-spouse. It is important to remember that children are capable of lying, and their recall of past events is very susceptible to distortion, especially if an unqualified evaluator interviews the child. Further, parents can prevent problems by not asking their children or ex-spouse about an alleged incident unless they have good reason to believe something actually happened. One parent asking children questions without a basis to do so will raise doubts in the children’s minds about the other parent’s integrity. Though the questioning parent believes the reason for asking was innocent, he or she may precipitate alienation between their children and the other parent.

Finally, remember that children’s accounts about what happened will not always be accurate. This is because of their young age, biased perception, and limited vocabulary. Younger children will take shortcuts explaining themselves because it is easier. Children may agree with a parent before they really understanding what the parent is trying to say.

This happens frequently with younger children because they are usually more concerned about pleasing a parent than being accurate in what they tell them. Asking child, “Are you telling me the truth?” is meaningless, because children always say, “Yes.”

III. EFFECTS OF ALIENATION ON VISITATION AND PARENTING TIME

These common situations, as well as others, manifest themselves in specific situations. One of the major effects of alienation is confusion and problems relating to visitation and parenting. Visitation or parenting time is important. The amount of time children spend with noncustodial parents is often a barometer of alienation. Those who have regular contact and meaningful relationships with both parents benefit in many ways. This is why courts encourage frequent visits, assuming the tensions between parents don’t harm the children.

A. BACKGROUND

Parenting time can be messy. The transfer of children from one parent to another and phone calls to make or change visiting arrangements provide the perfect breeding ground for conflicts and power struggles. Parents need to learn about the different ways parenting time is used to cause or reinforce alienation and what tactics can be used to prevent or resolve these problems before they become insurmountable. Unfortunately, there are many ways for one or both parents to use parenting time as a weapon against the other parent. Even the children can get into the act and cause problems.

This has implications for both custodial and noncustodial parents. Custodial parents often say, “He doesn’t pay his support on time, so why should I worry about his visits?” This allows them to justify their refusal to allow the ex-spouse parenting time. Courts, on the other hand, do not accept this argument. In most jurisdictions, a parent cannot withhold parenting time because his or her ex-spouse is behind in child support. Parents may not like what they hear, but they need to be told by their attorney that paying support has nothing to do with parenting time. If the court order entitles the other parent to parenting time, the offended parent cannot take it on his or her own to withhold that time. As these issues are separate, parents must continue to allow parenting time and discuss what to do about the child support with their attorneys. It is surprising how frequently an offended parent’s attorney has not told the parent that parenting time cannot be used as leverage to get support or to punish a former spouse.

Noncustodial parents, on the other hand, often ask, “Why should I continue to pay child support if I can’t see my kids?” The answer is that the money is for the children’s care, which continues regardless of whether or not the parent is getting a fair share of parenting time. Like the custodial parent, these parents need to be told by their attorneys that they cannot stop paying child support to retaliate for not getting parenting time. The children still need to be fed and clothed. The court views withholding child support under these circumstances as punishing the children, not the uncooperative parent. Unfortunately, the court does not have very effective sanctions when a parent refuses to cooperate with visits. Ideally, sanctions should not harm the children or the children’s relationship with either parent.

Many problems with parenting time would be eliminated if parents followed the court order. However, parents who rigidly follow the court-ordered schedules often do so to satisfy their own needs rather than those of their children or ex-spouse. A request for a change in the schedule may be met with an angry rebuttal: “Why should I let you bring Tracy home late? You wouldn’t give me the same courtesy.” The rejecting parent may feel a sense of power from denying the other parent’s request.

Conversely, excessive requests to change scheduled visitations are often disruptive and should be discouraged. Watching parents argue about changes in parenting time can remind their children of past fights. To keep peace, the children learn to keep quiet and not ask for any changes in visits. They learn to keep their desires to themselves. Former spouses need to learn how to work together on the issue of parenting time. Often, their attorneys can help educate them on these issues, which can do a lot to prevent future problems and helps the children. Following are several tips to keep in mind when educating clients on these issues.

First, if a parent wants to reschedule parenting time or bring the children home late, it should be cleared with the other parent before asking the children. Parents should not get the children excited over a special event that could be vetoed if the other parent doesn’t agree to change the schedule.

Second, after getting approval from the other parent, ask the child how they feel. It is acceptable for a parent to ask for their children’s input, but not in a way that makes children feel they must choose one parent over the other. One must be careful not to make the children feel caught in the middle. Parents can communicate their feelings about this by choice of words, tone of voice, and so on.

Finally, as mentioned earlier, parents must not set up temptations that interfere with the other parent’s parenting time. This is unfair to everyone and will surely cause problems. These general tips will help solve some of the more common and simple parenting time problems. Following is a discussion of more specific situations and how one can deal with them.

B. COMMON ALIENATION-RELATED VISITATION PROBLEMS

The issues discussed above manifest themselves in specific situations. Below are some of the common situations attorneys are likely to see when practicing in this area. The examples include tips on dealing with the problems.

1. “I Don’t Want to Visit, and You Can’t Make Me!”

The most common symptom of alienation is the child’s unwavering insistence on not wanting to visit the targeted parent. Some of their reasons may sound reasonable, while others are ridiculous. A teen in love would rather be with the boyfriend than seeing dad; sometimes an important ball game conflicts with mom’s weekend. Even with good reasons, however, changing visits should only be an occasional interruption to a consistent pattern of visits. When the excuses become a pattern, one can reasonably expect that a parent is trying to alienate the other parent from his or her children. In such a case, an obsessed alienator is often behind the excuses.

The noncustodial parent has good reason for being suspicious when the other parent frequently cancels visits. The cancellations are a reminder of the custodial parent’s power over the time the noncustodial parent spends together with the children. Noncustodial parents fear an abuse of power because there is little they can do about it other than file an expensive contempt charge against the custodial parent for failure to cooperate with visitation. The noncustodial parent must trust the custodial parent’s motives and judgment for canceling a visit. For example, he or she must believe that a child’s illness is serious enough to justify canceling a visit. If ex-spouses distrust each other, reasons for withholding visits may be seem like excuses.

2. “Sweetheart, Do You Really Want to Visit Daddy This Weekend?”

Courts differ on the matter of how much control a child has on deciding whether or not to visit a parent. Some courts insist that the noncustodial parent’s right to have a visit has priority over the wishes of the child. Other courts argue that children of a certain age, say sixteen, know what they want and should exercise greater control over visitation. Still other courts are vague about the child’s power to decide. The important point is that the children’s right to decide should be part of the court order and not up to the discretion of the custodial parent. If the court order is vague, mediation can help resolve the dispute and is less expensive than going back to court.

Courts must maintain the position that a parent should not offer his or her children choices that are contrary to court orders. Doing so sabotages the court’s authority. Judges faced with such a parent can remind the parent that children have no choice about other matters, such as attending school, and visitation is similar.

However, it is difficult for a parent to know what to do when children complain about visits at the same time the court insists on compliance with the visitation order. The parent may want to support the children’s wishes while knowing he or she could be held in contempt by the court. The parent’s desire to please the children and frustration for having to enforce the visitation order will incite anger. The parent’s anger may be inappropriately directed toward the ex-spouse for insisting upon seeing the children. However, to avoid the possibility of alienation, a parent should not give the children a false impression that they have a choice about visitation when, in fact, there is no choice. The custodial parent has a responsibility to ensure that this does not happen. The message is worth repeating: Children who are actively involved with both parents are more likely to be better adjusted than children alienated from one of their parents.

3. “If the Kids Don’t Want to See You, What Can! Do?”

Rather than taking responsibility for interfering with visits, many alienating parents place the blame on the children. This can take many forms. First, the alienating parent can pretend to be a sympathetic harbinger of bad news: “Isn’t it a shame that the children don’t want to visit you?” Alternately, a parent may make a passive attempt to alienate by appearing neutral and uninvolved while denying any responsibility for the child’s behavior. Such a parent may say, “My son knows what he wants. I’m not getting involved.” Other alienating parents may profess a lack of control over the children’s wishes: “I can’t force them to visit! If they don’t want to go, that’s their choice.”

Finally, the alienating parent may not believe a court order is necessary to do what he or she wants. In fact, the alienating parent is often self-righteous in the belief that he or she is defending the children’s rights, thus providing a justification for defying the court: “Nobody, not even the court, is going to tell my children they have to visit you. They have rights too.” This final standoff between parents usually occurs with obsessed alienators, because nothing anyone does or says Will change their position. They get very angry when anyone, including the court, challenges their authority to make this decision. How the targeted parent feels is completely unimportant to them. The targeted parent is now helpless because he usually can’t get his point across to the alienated child, and the alienating parent has made her position clear that she is not going to do anything to help. Often the only choice the targeted parent has in this situation is to return to court.

4. “Dad, I Can’t Go to Disneyland. It’s Mom’s Weekend.”

Both parents should know the children’s visitation schedule. The schedule outlined by the court will allow parents an opportunity to plan vacations and spend recreational time with their children. There should be no confusion regarding where the children are going on any particular week or weekend.

Parents know how easy it is to entice children to spend time with them. They know their children will want to go anywhere they think will be the most fun. Dangling a temptation like a trip to the amusement park or the beach will cause the children to feel torn between wanting to go and wanting to spend time with their other parent. This is a common alienating tactic. Children will typically not empathize with their targeted parents’ dilemma. Instead, they are driven by their immediate desire to have fun. The children are frustrated and angry when a parent insists on the visit that interferes with something they would rather do. The children will vilify the parent who tells them they cannot go, while they will adore the other parent.

Parents should not invite children on a special activity when they know it interferes with the other parent’s time with the children. They should ask the other parent about it first. They shouldn’t even say anything about the activity to the child until they talk to their ex-spouse. If a parent says something to the child first and the other parent says, “No,” the asking parent sets up the other parent for their child’s wrath and hurt. Parents may justify the invitation by saying they are just thinking of the children. This puts the targeted parent in a no-win situation:

If the non-offending parent insists on having the entitled visit, the children may feel resentful, but if that parent allows the children to go for the weekend, he or she will miss the time spent with the children.

This situation leads inevitably to alienation, and so parents must strive to avoid it.

Further, parents must keep each other informed of matters which affect parenting time. For example, whether the children are home or on a visit, both parents should know if their children are leaving town for an extended time. Such special occasions require parents to work together by negotiating changes with visits. The children should be given an opportunity to express their feelings about attending the function without interference or coaxing from either parent. For the children to feel comfortable about their choice, parents must set aside their feelings and consider their children. Otherwise, the children are again victimized.

5. “I Have a Date. Why Do I Have to Visit Dad This Weekend?”

When children become teenagers, their social life becomes more independent. Visits which interfere with their social life can become an annoyance, especially when they fall in love. Almost any teen would rather be with a boyfriend or girlfriend than with a parent, particularly when visits prevent access to their friend. Parents need to empathize with their children’s desires and not take what seems like rejection personally. Instead, the noncustodial parent needs to be flexible and willing to negotiate. If a parent fights, he or she may get the visit, but this is scant comfort if a teen’s attitude makes the visit miserable. Parents need to be told by the court to negotiate with teenagers.

6. “Mom, Will You Come Get Me? I’m Bored.”

Rescuing is a subtle alienating tactic, because it allows the rescuing parent to appear as a concerned and caring parent trying to do what’s best for the children. Any responsible parent seeks to protect children from any potential harm or threat to their safety, even if the threat is from the ex-spouse. When parents believe they have reason to be concerned, they will be vigilant and listen closely for anything that seems a potential threat or sounds out of the ordinary. At the same time, wise parents realize their children’s account of what happens on a visit may be misunderstood or distorted. A wise parent will be cautious before reacting to what children say.

A parent going through a bitter divorce has a lot of hurt and bitterness that will influence his or her perceptions about the children’s safety, the other parent’s competencies, or the child’s sense of responsibility. Sometimes an unbiased friend, or an attorney, has to help the parent put risk in realistic perspective. This is particularly true when the parent has been abused and questions whether or not the children are safe and properly supervised by the other parent.

Sensing the parent’s apprehension, the children may also start to fear being with the other parent. They approach the visit with a critical eye, looking for any fault in the visiting parent. Their demeanor is reserved. They may be looking for a blunder: drinking a beer, having a girlfriend or boyfriend over, getting angry. In the most nightmarish cases, kids panic at the thought of visiting, shriek and cry, run away, or call home begging to be rescued. Most often, however, the only fault children find with the visit is boredom. As soon as they feel uncomfortable, for whatever reason, they call home asking for the other parent to pick them up. The parent, sitting home worrying, is quick to jump in the car and come to the children’s rescue.

When a child is rescued, he or she calms down and feels relieved. The immediate relief from leaving the visit reinforces the desire to be rescued. The next time the child is with the other parent, the problem gets worse: The child expects to get rescued, even though there is no threat to his or her safety. Therefore, parents should not rescue their children from the other parent unless there is a very real threat. Taking such a drastic action can cause alienation. Wanting to come home because of boredom is not a sufficient reason for rescuing.

7. “One of These Days, I Know He’s Going Again.”

Sometimes there is so much bitterness between the spouses that the mere sight of the other’s face triggers intense rage. Whether the rage is justified is not the issue; parents always have a way to rationalize their anger. When parents cannot control their anger and be civil with each other, contact between them may need to be limited to a public or a supervised setting.

Many parents don’t understand the limits of a restraining or protection order. Some question the value of a restraining order, but it can be effective with parents who respect the law. A restraining order is no guarantee that a parent’s safety is protected, although it is more helpful than harmful. Some parents not intimidated by the legal system may ignore a restraining order, perhaps because they do not believe their ex will call the police or sign the complaint. They may also simply not care. Unfortunately, this happens too often with high-conflict divorces. Police and counselors at battered person’s shelters will attest to their frustration when a spouse makes a complaint but won’t follow through with prosecution. An alternative to a restraining order that offers a helpful alternative in controlling the threat of violence is visitation centers.

Recently, visitation centers have emerged as effective methods for providing a safe and supervised setting for picking up and dropping off children after parenting time. Counties and courts without such centers may want to consider starting one. They are also very helpful in providing parent mediation and possible counseling for high-conflict parents. Domestic violence is a difficult issue, and unfortunately it is beyond the scope of this essay. However, it is crucial for attorneys to be aware of the role of domestic abuse in cases of divorce and parental alienation.

8. “Sorry, Sweetheart, I Can’t Come to Your Recital It’s Not My Time to Visit You.”

Courts can prevent much misunderstanding by being specific in outlining the parent’s rights to attend the children’s activities. Often, the noncustodial parent believes that he or she must have the custodial parent’s permission to attend the children’s activities. This sets up a potential power struggle between parents. Many parents, usually fathers, feel very humiliated by asking for permission. To avoid a possible fight and the humiliation from losing the argument, noncustodial parents refuse to ask permission. They just don’t show up. Unfortunately, the children do not understand this. The children often interpret a parent’s absence as rejection, not understanding the hurt the parent may feel not attending the activity. The child may assume the noncustodial parent does not want to attend, even if the rejection is caused by the custodial parent’s lack of cooperation. The noncustodial parent misses the opportunity to see their children perform. The children are hurt. Everyone loses, except the alienating parent.

To avoid misunderstanding, court orders outlining parental rights should include a specific statement encouraging both parent’s participation in the children’s activities. If possible, a parent should not have to ask the other parent’s permission to attend the children’s activities. Both parents need equal access to such events as athletics, school parties, teacher conferences, graduations, or recitals. Attorneys should remember the following tips when confronting these issues:

* Courts need to encourage both parents to attend the children’s activities;
* Parents should be encouraged to plan the children’s social activities together if the activities are expensive or may potentially interfere with parenting time;
* Parents should be warned not to schedule the children in too many activities, since numerous activities interfere with parenting time;
* Custodial parents have more power than noncustodial parents do because they have physical possession of the children, and courts that sanction this power run the risk of enhancing the conflicts and hostilities between parents;
* Children’s activities are for everyone to enjoy, so parents sometimes must be reminded to put their feelings aside and support the other parent’s desire to attend school activities, games, or recitals;
* A subtle form of alienation occurs when the custodial parent,. knowing the other parent made a promise to do something during their time, refuses the visit, since the child may blame the innocent parent;
* Children should not completely dictate who attends their activities; if having both parents present causes them tension, parents can help by being polite and focusing their attention on what their child is doing rather than on each other;
* Parents should make a conscious effort to give children permission to greet the other parent when both attend the same activity.

9. “She’s Got Gymnastics or Swimming Every Weekend. You Can’t Expect Her to Visit.”

In recent years parents seem to be enrolling children in every outside school activity possible. There seems to be a belief that healthy, well-rounded children must be very busy or their peers will reject them. Very young children may start in dance, gymnastics, or karate. Older children are busy with music lessons, soccer or scouts. Parents frequently complain about the time spent chauffeuring children from one activity to another. Running around is exhausting.

Children should not be scheduled in so many activities that parenting time becomes impossible or restricted. Overscheduling is an act of alienation that causes stress to the children and inflicts damage to their relationship with their other parent. “If your father really cared about you, he wouldn’t expect you to choose between scouts and visits. He should understand there are times when you are too busy to visit,” is a statement that rationalizes a parent’s attempt to alienate. In essence, the parent is saying that the children’s activities are more important than any relationship the child could have with the other parent.

Attorneys need to be alert when a parent schedules children in too many activities. This practice is usually motivated by a parent’s desire to live vicariously through the children’s successes. Parents may have an unconscious need to enhance their own self-esteem through their children’s successes. They hope for bragging rights to embellish their own sense of self-importance. They appear driven in the quest for their children to succeed. They are usually the parents who yell the loudest at ball games, get visibly angry when a referee makes a bad call, or are quick to publicly criticize their children for a less than perfect performance.

There is no reason why one parent cannot be as actively involved as the other. If parents cannot solve their differences about children’s schedules, mediation or a court order to change the children’s social activities may be required. However, returning to court is an expensive and usually not very effective way to resolve problems between parents. The parents will continue to feel bitter after the hearing. What is best for the children is not always best for the parent. When it comes to visits, the children’s interest should come before the parent’s.

IV. CONFIRMING SUSPECTED ALIENATION

At this point, it should be relatively easy for an attorney to detect signs of parental alienation syndrome. Before one can act, however, it may be necessary to confirm one’s observations by obtaining more definite information. This section focuses on various methods of obtaining more definite information about alienation.

It is important to remember, however, that allegations of abuse complicate the matter. When there are allegations of abuse, finding the truth becomes more difficult and usually requires an expert investigation. Most investigations are conducted by the state’s children’s service agency. This is fine if the investigator is adequately trained and qualified to conduct the investigation. If not, this poses a problem. The likelihood the child will distort his story or get confused increases as more people interview him. For this reason, it is best for the attorney to try to get the most qualified person to conduct the investigation as quickly as possible.

A. DEPOSITIONS

It may eventually become necessary to build a case for alienation, perhaps as part of a change of custody or other such proceeding. This can be difficult because of the problem of getting sufficient evidence to prove the other parent is trying to alienate the children. An attorney is often dependent on the client’s account of the other parent’s actions, and this is often not much help. One useful way of getting admissible evidence is asking the alienating parent questions in a deposition that will elicit responses demonstrating alienation. After the deposition, the attorney will usually require an expert witness, such as a qualified therapist or psychologist, to review the deposition and testify in court to the evidence supporting parental alienation.

Sometimes the deposed parent will see through some of the questions and give the attorney appropriate answers. This itself represents important information, because such a parent is likely to be either a naive or active alienator. It is not likely that the actions of either a naive or active alienator will give sufficient justification for an involuntary change of custody. In such a case, gaining or changing custody will require a different approach.

Deposing obsessed alienators is easier, because they vehemently believe what they do and say. They are more open, because the intensity of their anger doesn’t allow them to maintain sufficient self-control and think about the questions. The angrier they get during the deposition, the more useful information they offer. Their weakness is that they believe so strongly in what they are doing. They cannot see the possibility that what they are doing is wrong or hurts their children. To them, the other parent’s attorney is the enemy and deserves contempt.

The questions below are designed to elicit alienating responses during a deposition. It will be necessary to rewrite many of the questions to make them more relevant to a particular case.

1. How would you describe your children’s relationship with Parent prior to the divorce?

2. Have you had occasions since the divorce when you felt angry towards Parent?

3. Could you explain to the court the various reasons for your anger? (This line of questioning helps assess the Parent’s possible motivations for parental alienation).

4. Since the date of the divorce have you ever made negative comments to your kids about Parent?

5. What type of comments have you made about Parent to your kids?

6. Since the date of the divorce, have you ever argued with Parent about visitation?

7. (If yes) Could you explain your reasons for arguing or why the arguments about visitation occurred? What were the issues?

8. What have you been doing to help encourage the relationship between Parent and Child?

9. Have you ever talked with your children or asked your children about Parent’s personal life?

10. Have you failed to return the children from a visit? Why?

11. Have you ever commented to your children since the date of the divorce concerning any lack of money that was a result of the divorce?

12. Have you ever asked your children since the date of the divorce any questions regarding with which parent they want to live?

13. Since Child has been living with you, has Child ever talked to you on the telephone complaining about their time with Parent?

14. (If yes) After hearing Child’s complaints, have you felt a need to pick him up from their Parent’s home without Parent’s consent?

15. Have you shown either of your children any of the legal documents associated with this case? What documents have you shown? Why did you show them?

16. Do you believe that Parent exaggerates Child’s medical, psychological or health problems?

17. (If yes) Could you explain these exaggerations to the court?

18. Do you perceive yourself as having a very different parenting style than Parent?

19. Do you believe that Parent should follow your recommendations or beliefs about rules and discipline?

20. (If yes) Have you tried to communicate to Parent your beliefs about rules and discipline?

21. Do you believe that you have good reason for being critical of Parent’s parenting skills? Why?

22. Has Child ever suggested to you that he had a good time with Parent?

23. Have you ever heard any complaints from the children about their safety?

24. (If yes) When you heard the children complain, what did you do to communicate with Parent the complaints?

25. Have you ever expressed your anger toward Parent in the presence of your children?

26. What do you think Parent’s role as a divorced parent should be with the children?

27. What do you think the relationship should be with their stepparent?

28. Have you heard Child make allegations of abuse by Parent?

29. Have you ever known Child to exaggerate or lie to get what he or she wants?

30. What do you believe should be the Child’s relationship with Parent’s family?

31. (If negative) Would you explain your reasons why your Child’s should not have a relationship with Parent’s extended family?

32. Do you believe that Child has good reasons for not wanting to live with Parent? Why?

33. Do you believe that Child is old enough or is sufficiently maturity to decide for himself whether or not he should visit Parent?

34. Have you suggested to Child since the date of the divorce that he has the right to choose for himself whether or not to visit his Parent?

35. Since the date of the divorce would you say that there are occasions when Child is too busy to visit his Parent?

36. What have you done to help strengthen the relationship between Child and Parent?

37. Do you believe you have any responsibility to help strengthen the relationship?

38. (If no) Why not?

39. (If yes) Would you explain the steps you have taken to help strengthen the relationship between Child and Parent?

40. Do you believe that you know better than Parent as to what is best for Child?

41. (If yes) Could you explain the reasons for your belief?

42. Do you believe that Parent does not discipline Child?

43. Are you ever concerned that Parent is excessively punitive with Child? Why?

44. Since the date of the divorce, have you personally witnessed Parent being excessive with discipline?

45. Have you ever filed a complaint with the local Children’s Service Board (your jurisdiction may have a different name for the investigative agency)?

46. Could you explain the reasons for your report? (This line of questioning may offer some insight into a parent’s motivations for alienation, but at the same time it could open up a can of worms that will require a lot more testimony.)

47. Do you believe that Parent should follow your rules when it comes to how visitation is to be accomplished?

48. Do you believe that Parent should follow your rules or suggestions about how Child should be raised?

49. Do you believe that there are aspects of your private life that Parent has no business knowing?

50. Have you conveyed to your Child that he should not share any information or activities to Parent about your private life?

51. (If yes) Could you explain how you have communicated to Child that he should not share certain information with Parent?

52. What information about your life did you not want Parent to know?

53. Have you had any discussions with Child about your plans to gain his custody?

54. (If no) You mean to tell me that Child doesn’t even know you are going to court to seek his custody?

55. (If yes) Then please explain what you and Child have discussed about how you are going to get custody?

56. Would you explain what those plans are?

57. Have you ever listened in on phone calls between Child and Parent?

58. Have you ever asked Child to get information for you or report for you on any of Parent’s behavior since the date of the divorce?

59. Do you believe that the court has any right to tell you what to do with respect to your children and their relationship with Parent?

60. Would you describe Parent as a good parent or a poor parent?

61. Could you explain your reasons for your opinion?

62. Who initiated the divorce between you and Parent?

63. Could you explain the reasons for the divorce? (This line of questioning again is to assess possible motivation for parental alienation. The question is looking for continued bitterness, a sense of betrayal or anger.)

64. Do you blame Parent for the divorce?

65. Are you and Parent able to talk with each other without arguing?

66. (If no) Could you explain why you are not able to communicate?

67. Is Child presently having visits with Parent?

68. (If no) Could you explain to the court the reasons?

69. What is Child’s attitude about seeing his Parent?

70. (If the child has resisted visitation) How long have you observed these behaviors?

71. What have you done personally to help Child overcome these feelings and encourage visitation with his Parent?

72. Do you believe that whatever problems have occurred between yourself, Child and Parent that these problems should be worked out?

73. Do you believe that working out these problems is in Child’s best interest? Why or why not?

74. What do you see as your role in helping work out any problems that exist between Child and Parent?

There are many more questions that will bring out a parent’s attitude about the child’s relationship with the other parent. As one becomes more familiar with parental alienation, more questions will come to mind.

B. COURT-ORDERED PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATIONS

Another method of obtaining information is a court-ordered psychological evaluation. Such an evaluation can be very stressful because of the time involved, the cost and uncertainty about the results. In a climate of mistrust and hostilities, parents and attorneys are often suspicious about the fairness and ethics of the evaluator. The American Psychological Association has published recommended standards for conducting custody evaluations, but they are not ethical standards, per se. Some states have adopted specific standards, while other states rely on the APA guidelines, which may not be enforceable if there is a question about an ethics violation.

Before selecting an evaluator, it may be helpful to consider the following guidelines to avoid possible ethical violations and other complications. Many of the guidelines are taken from my experience working with the courts and the “Guidelines for Custody/Parenting Evaluation and Reports” adopted by the Ohio State Board of Psychology.

The most important issue is that the evaluator should be familiar with professional standards and guidelines for conducting custody evaluations. Therefore, he or she should be familiar with state laws about the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities. Further, if state law defines “best interest of the child,” the evaluator must understand the definition and how it applies to the evaluation.

As a practical matter, the request for an evaluation should be accompanied with a court order signed by the judge or magistrate. The court order should outline the names of the parties to be evaluated, the name of the evaluator, person or persons responsible for payment, and a statement describing the purpose of the evaluation. Another practical concern is that fees for the evaluation, and who will pay them, should be established before beginning the evaluation. Don’t expect or assume an insurance or managed care company will pay for the evaluation, as most don’t. Remember also that if the evaluator bills the insurance company, the billing will have to include a diagnosis, which could be brought up in court. Most evaluators will expect payment in full before the report is dictated, since a dictated report can usually be subpoenaed. An experienced evaluator will not dictate until the evaluation is paid in full.

During the evaluation, the evaluator must remain impartial and objective. He or she is a gatherer and reporter of information. Therefore, he or she should keep clear and concise records and should not make any recommendations or psychological descriptions of individuals that were not part of the evaluation.

It is also important that the children and all significant parties should be part of the evaluation, although the evaluator may decide to limit the evaluation of younger children to observing their interaction with each parent. The participants should be told the purpose and scope of the evaluation before they proceed. Before the evaluation begins, I usually say, “The purpose of the evaluation is to give the court additional information that will help in making a decision. When I complete the evaluation, I will write a report for the court. It is important that you understand that there is no confidentiality. The judge or magistrate, attorneys and maybe you and your spouse will read the report. There is no privacy. If I make a recommendation to the court, the court is not bound by my recommendation because both sides can introduce additional testimony to which I may not be privy. The judge will see the entire picture, while the evaluator sees part of the picture.”

Everyone included in the evaluation must be told, before the evaluation begins, the limits of confidentiality. They should know that much or all of the information gathered could be part of the report. This should also be told to the children in a way they can understand. Of course, they have the right not to participate in the evaluation or disclose information. This is especially important for children, in that they should not be forced or threatened into saying something that they will later regret when the information becomes public. The participants must sign a written release of information during the initial interview.

Evaluators must also guard against any ethical violations. One of the most questionable ethical violations occurs when the evaluator has a dual relationship with a parent or child, often because the parent or child is a former client of the evaluator. Other examples of a dual relationship are when the evaluator has had a previous business or social relationship with a party to the action. This can be a problem in a rural setting where there are few evaluators and everyone knows everyone else. In this situation, the parties may have to hire an evaluator from another county.

Finally, remember that psychologists frequently use tests to supplement the evaluation. The test results should not be used alone for making conclusions about custody. Instead, the conclusions and recommendations about what is in the children’s best interest should be drawn from the interviews, observations, social history, test results, and information gathered from the interviews. Ideally, the information comes together into a cohesive picture.

C. THE COURT

Alienating and targeted parents often return to court. They are frustrated and angry because they feel helpless, and now they are looking to the court for help. At this point, the parents usually can no longer speak with each other without shouts of bitterness, accusations, or silence. Judges realize it does no good to order parents to cooperate with each other, because the orders usually fall on deaf ears. Therefore, the court may have to take a different approach.

Courts that understand alienation will recognize the importance of identifying and hearing high-risk cases quickly. The longer the court takes, the more damage will occur to these families and children. Signals of high-risk cases likely to reappear in court and require quick intervention often involve: complaints about visits being withheld; children frequently not returned on time (later than a half-hour); threats to abduct the children; allegations of sexual, physical, and/or mental abuse; alcohol or drug abuse; a severe mental disorder interfering with visits or the children’s adjustment; and children refusing to visit. Judges need a mechanism to identify these cases and schedule a hearing as soon as possible. The court should not allow any unfounded delay tactics or continuances to prevent the case from proceeding as scheduled.

In my years of experience with the court, I am frequently surprised at how often cases get resolved after I have given parents the opportunity to vent their frustrations and feelings. Many times, parents just want to feel like they are respected and heard. They are often very receptive to a little education about parenting and the issues I have described in my book. About a quarter of the cases that I see no longer contest the custody recommendations because they understand the reasons for the recommendations and have had an opportunity to ask questions to someone they perceived as impartial.

Courts may be wise to find a mechanism by which parents can be heard, ask questions and receive helpful education. This mechanism must be fair and monitored by the court for compliance. Some courts use a guardian ad litem or an employee of the court to offer parental education. Parents involved with mild cases of alienation can benefit from education and improved awareness about what they are doing and how it effects the children. Sometimes having the parents complete a psychological evaluation helps the court gain better insight into the dynamics of the case.

In cases of more severe alienation, both parents should be ordered to a therapist. The court should compile a list of qualified therapists willing to work with these families and the court, including qualifications for working with high-conflict parents and an understanding of parental alienation. Whether the children need to participate in the therapy should be left up to the therapist. The therapist needs to send monthly compliance reports to the court while maintaining the parent’s confidentiality. This process can be very helpful for high-conflict parents before they introduce a shared parenting plan to the court. While this process is going on, it is important that the court not withhold visits unless there is a question about the children’s safety. Withholding visits adds to the risk of reinforcing alienation because the children could believe there is really something wrong with the targeted parent.

In cases of severe alienation involving an obsessed alienator, the court must act quickly. Both parents need an immediate psychological evaluation, and the child or children need therapy because they will be very confused and may be expressing hatred towards the targeted parent. While the children are in therapy, they may be better off staying with a relative while having visits with both parents. Admittedly, there is no research supporting the recommendation that the children should be separated from the obsessed alienator while the parents are being evaluated and counseled. Logically, however, if the child stays with the obsessed alienator, he or she can sabotage the counseling and efforts of the court to resolve these issues. However, if the child is placed against his wishes with the targeted parent, the child could be frightened and rebellious. Thus, neither option is perfect. Nevertheless, it is imperative that the children continue to visit with both parents unless there is a concern about the children’s safety, in which case, supervised visits may be necessary. Finally, any investigations of allegations of abuse or neglect should be conducted while the therapy is occurring.

V. COMBATING ALIENATION

Attorneys need to recognize the symptoms of alienation and how to respond to the three different types of alienators. What is not clear is how to rehabilitate the severely alienated child or the obsessed alienator. The reason is simple: There are presently no tested protocols for rehabilitating the severely alienated child or the obsessed alienator. A clearer picture is starting to emerge from the hazy fog of uncertainty, but there are still many unanswered questions to be researched. Deciding which strategies are best for dealing with alienation will depend on whether a parent is targeted by a naive, active, or obsessed alienator. Attorneys, mental health professionals, and judges will have different perspectives about what to do with alienation. Naive alienators should rarely appear in court because of alienating behavior. Active alienators, unable to control their feelings and outbursts to the detriment of all, and obsessed alienators, hoping to cut off all contact between the children and the other parent, are the alienators most often seen in court. When a parent is the target of any kind of alienator, there are some things he or she needs to keep in mind to lessen the damage and hurt to the children.

A. STRATEGIES FOR SELF-HELP

The first option is to combat alienation by working to help oneself. This response must be tailored to the kind of alienation at issue.

1. The Naive Alienator

Remember that naive alienators are usually ignorant about what they are doing and have no malicious intent. A parent dealing with a naive alienator should not panic and should instead trust his or her relationship with their children. Children learn early that their parents will say things they don’t mean. They are very adept at letting things go in one ear and out the other. If parents believe there is a problem trusting children’s reaction to alienation, they need to focus on strengthening the relationship rather than retaliating against the other parent. They should monitor their own reactions and behaviors so they don’t start their own alienating campaign. They should try talking to the other parent without making accusations or attacking. The other parent may appreciate their comments if the targeted parent says them with some sensitivity. Attorneys may suggest the following practices to clients in this situation:

– Be sure that the majority of time with children is positive, and avoid yelling and screaming which will drive children away;

– Praise children for what they do well; if all they hear is criticism, they will learn to avoid the source of the criticism;

– Play with them at their developmental level and do what they, rather than what parents, want to do;

– After discipline or punishment, make a point to make up;

– Listen to what the child has to say;

– Give hugs and kisses if they are receptive;

– Brag about the children to others;

– Attend school sport and social functions;

– Have their pictures around the house.

Strengthening the relationship with children takes time. Parents need to be reminded by their attorney to be patient and resist any desire to retaliate. Retaliation only makes matters worse and hurts the children.

2. The Active Alienator

How a parent deals with the active alienator is similar to the naive alienator. Parents must stay calm, trust their relationship with their children, and resist retaliating. The difficulty a parent has with the active alienator is the parent’s inability to control the rage and hurt built up inside. The feelings can interfere with the targeted parent’s relationship and time spent with the children. Together, both parents need education and counseling to focus on the issues causing the problems. Sometimes, the active alienator requires individual therapy to help with their loss and grief. A parent should support these efforts without being punitive. Taking this tactic, the children will be better off in the long run. Attorneys can be very helpful to their client if they are targeted for alienation by suggesting that they:

– Don’t panic;

– Become a supportive listener;

– Guard against becoming an alienator, beginning by knowing the symptoms;

– Resist the temptation to argue or get defensive if the problem continues, and try to talk openly about what one is seeing and feeling. Work on keeping the relationship with the child strong;

– Don’t violate court orders;

– Begin a log of activities if problems with parenting time develop;

– Don’t be intimated into stopping parenting time, and remember that attorneys can be crucial in advising parents of their rights.

3. The Obsessed Alienator

Dealing with an obsessed alienator is more complex and difficult than dealing with the other two types of alienators, because the alienating parent has already had considerable success in alienating the children from the targeted parent. The children may refuse to have anything to do with the targeted parent, making it next to impossible for the parent to talk with them and try to repair the damage. No matter how frustrated and angry a targeted parent feels, however, he or she should not give up on the children. The targeted parent should find some support, either from family, his or her attorney, a counselor, or other parents. Parents need to be sure to do whatever they and their attorney believe is necessary to keep visits going. Even if the other parent refuses visits, the targeted parent should keep trying and should maintain a log of his or her activities. Also, it is very important that the parent does not violate any court orders or do anything that forces his or her attorney to defend the parent’s behavior. A common tactic used by some attorneys is to deflect the issues by attacking the targeted parent and forcing his or her attorney to defend the parent’s behavior. Parents should behave themselves so this does not happen.

The most difficult part of dealing with the obsessed alienator is keeping one’s anger in control and not retaliating. Though it is understandable, retaliation usually does nothing more than cause the targeted parent more problems. In fact, the obsessed alienator will frequently use the targeted parent’s retaliation, pointing out to the children how the parent behaved and reinforcing the argument that the parent isn’t worthy to see the children. Again, the targeted parent is put on the defensive without having any access to the children to blunt the other parent’s blows. Whatever the parent does, he or she must stay focused on keeping the relationship with the children strong and not entangle them in the fight with the alienating parent.

When a targeted parent begins to sense that the children are becoming alienated, he or she should immediately tell an attorney or mediator about what is happening. Parents should then look into getting a court order to get the children in therapy as soon as possible, with the understanding that the therapist will be reporting to the court. The therapist should monitor and report to the court the compliance to the court order. The therapist should also understand parental alienation syndrome. The following suggestions are other methods of attacking the problem of obsessed alienators. Attorneys can advise their clients of these suggestions:

– Don’t give up on the children;

– Keep anger and hurt under control;

– Don’t retaliate;

– Be sure the court supports continued visits;

– Don’t stop going to visits; if the other parent refuses, keep showing up unless the court order says otherwise;

– Keep a log of activities, especially relating to visitation;

– Focus on keeping the relationship with the children positive, and don’t pump them for information or begin counter alienation;

– Don’t wait to intervene; if there is a problem, contact an attorney or get back into mediation;

– Seek a court order requiring both parents to get into family therapy;

– Monitor one’s own behavior to prevent counter-alienation;

– If the problem continues, try to understand to what the other parent is reacting; if necessary, try to talk openly about what is occurring;

– Don’t violate court orders;

– Use legal mechanisms like a guardian ad litem to monitor the parent’s compliance to the court order.

These suggestions should help, but they do not guarantee that the problems will be solved to everyone’s satisfaction. There is no magic bullet. That is why early detection and prevention before the alienation gets out of hand is imperative. Courts, mental health professionals, and legislators continue to look for effective treatment protocols for parental alienation and parental alienation syndrome.

B. PURSUING A CHANGE IN CUSTODY

Parents thinking about returning to court to seek change of custody need guidance from their attorney. Many times they have very unrealistic expectations about their chances of winning the case and haven’t thought about the possible consequences of pursuing this course. Parents may feel mixed emotion when children say, “I want to live with you.” They may be excited by the compliment and yet overwhelmed by the thought of the responsibility and lifestyle changes. Logistically, they may foresee many problems. They may not have a babysitter or adequate space. Living in an undesirable neighborhood for raising children could cause them concerns. While a parent gingerly inquires about their children’s reasons, the parent can imagine how their ex-spouse will feel when he or she hears the news.

I do not recommend a parent seek a change of custody unless the child initiates the request or unless the parent has very good reason to believe the change would be better for the children. The attorney must tell the parent about the risks in seeking custody. If he or she loses, the relationship with the other parent can be seriously jeopardized, and alienation will intensify. The other parent may no longer be flexible and cooperate with changes in parenting time. Plus, this could be an expensive price to pay for a long shot.

Below are several specific points attorneys should discuss with their clients before deciding to seek custody. After considering these points and getting some education from the attorney, the parent should be able to make a more informed decision about whether or not to proceed.

First, when children are asked where they what to live, they may lie and say what they think a parent wants to hear. They do not mean to be malicious. Instead, they want to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings. Often their stated desire to live with a parent is their way of saying, “I want mommy and daddy back together.” This is particularly true with young children. The children’s fantasy that somehow their parents will reconcile is very persistent, even with teenagers. Even when one parent has already remarried, the children often express the hope that their parents will get back together again.

Second, when thinking about a contested change of custody, parents should be told that the process could move very slowly. This may cause reconsideration of a decision made quickly or in anger.

Third, parents need to learn about the laws for changing custody and the workings of their local court. Remind parents that it is the court, not their children, that decides custody. Parents should try to learn from their attorney the likelihood of success in getting custody. In many jurisdictions, getting an involuntary change of custody is nearly impossible unless there is a legal provision for the children to choose where they want to live. Otherwise, the parent must prove to the court that their children’s best interest is served by their living with them. This often involves one parent publicly degrading or attacking the ex-spouse to support the argument that a change is necessary. Successfully attacking the ex-spouse’s capacity to parent adequately is very difficult. Typically, courts are justifiably biased in the belief that the children are better off remaining with the custodial parent to preserve stability.

Fourth, parents need to be reminded not to make promises to the children about the outcome of the court proceedings. If an ex-spouse fights the other parent’s attempt to gain custody, the time it takes in some jurisdictions to change custody can exceed a year. The attorney can give parents a better idea as to how long the process may take if the change of custody is contested or argued. Even if a parent feels confident telling their children, “After today’s hearing you will come to live with me,” they should not make promises they cannot keep. This can be very unsettling to the children. Often cases are continued when the court realizes that a full hearing is needed to settle the case. Even after the judge hears the testimony, it may take days or weeks for a decision.

Fifth, if possible, the parent should raise the question about seeking a change of custody to the other parent. The ex-spouse may feel hurt and angry, but it is better for the parent to raise the issue rather than having children do the dirty work. The issue is between the ex-spouses, not between the children and their other parent. Parents should not have their children be the harbinger of bad news. If a parent is afraid to talk to their ex-spouse about a change of custody, they should think about how their children will feel.

Finally, when a parent hears for the first time that their ex-spouse is seeking custody, they should not drill their children for answers about where they want to live and why. Parents need to keep their composure. They should reassure their children of their love while making no harsh declarations about what they are planning to do. Parents need to take time to calm down and consult with their attorney to learn the best course of action. The attorney will advise parents what to do next.

C. COUNSELING OR MEDIATION

There is a difference between counseling and mediation. Counseling helps individuals or families alleviate emotional pain or change maladaptive behavior. Counselors usually have a minimum of a master’s degree in counseling, social work, or psychology. In most states, they are licensed. A mediator is trained to work with couples teaching problem solving skills and resolving conflicts. Many mediators are not trained mental health professionals and have no training in family therapy or systems theory. Though their function is both helpful and beneficial, they are not equipped to work with high-conflict parents struggling with parental alienation or parental alienation syndrome.

1. Mediation

Mediation is a cooperative effort between divided parents and a neutral third person to develop healthy ways of settling differences about the care of their children. After a history of fighting and failing to solve differences, mediation may initially sound like a fantasy. In fact, however, mediation works. I think there will be a time in the future when all parents going through a divorce will be expected to have a family mediator to help resolve conflicts. The process makes sense, because going to court is too expensive, attorneys are biased for their client, and parents usually do not have the skills to resolve serious conflicts without some help. This is usually why most parents got a divorce in the first place. Unfortunately, having a neutral professional is expensive, time-consuming, and unavailable within a reasonable physical proximity to many families. When it is available, however, mediation can accomplish a great deal in less time than family psychotherapy and more cheaply than going to court.

The neutral third party may be a counselor, attorney, or a psychologist who has received specialized training in mediation. When looking for a qualified mediator, parents need to ask the individual whether he or she is a member of either the Academy of Family Mediators or their state association. Parents should be leery of someone who puts out a shingle and calls him or herself a mediator without documented qualifications and references. Requirements for becoming a mediator vary from state to state. To play it safe, parents may want to rely on a mediator recommended by their local domestic court or attorney, and they should obtain a court order mandating mediation. The details of the order are important; attorneys would avoid a lot of confusion if the court order contained the following information and was signed by the judge.

The order should contain the name and address of the mediator as well as the names of all the family members ordered to mediation. This list could include the names of the stepparents, grandparents or anyone that is actively involved with the children. Though a family member’s name may be listed in the motion, the mediator or counselor will have the choice to decide who needs to attend the sessions. If a family member is not on the list, the mediator will have no authority to require the member’s participation. This can cause a delay while the attorneys seek to modify the original order.

The order should also state how the services are to be financed and who is responsible for payment. A court order cannot mandate an insurance company to pay for services not part of the insurance benefit package. Rarely will an insurance company pay for mediation even if the service is properly billed. Thus, the responsibility for payment should be assigned to a parent or parents and not an insurance company.

Finally, the order needs a description of the services to be provided and of the mechanism for reporting back to the court. This may include a letter by the mediator describing the services provided, naming the participants, and outlining recommendations. The mediator or counselor will be careful to respect the participant’s confidentiality.

When a complete order gets the parties into mediation, the parents and the mediator seek agreements on how they can best take care of the children. The initial session generally begins with a discussion of the mediation process and an explanation by the parents of their concerns for the children’s schooling, social activities, health care, safety, visitation, and rules. The emphasis is on having the parents make decisions together that will benefit the children. The mediator will discourage the parents from making accusations or laying blame. Little emphasis is made on looking at past mistakes. This is because parents usually do not agree on what happened in the past anyway. At the completion of the first session, the parents and the mediator decide whether to continue the mediation process. If they agree to continue, another session is scheduled.

In the following sessions, usually five or six, the parents share in a cooperative process of learning and making decisions. Together, they outline their points of agreement and then begin learning ways to work together to settle their differences. This is a give-and-take process in which the mediator may have to remind the parents about what is best for the children. The mediation usually concludes with a written agreement between the parents. The plan, which may be submitted to the court, includes only those points of agreement.

Mediators are bound by an ethical code assuring the parents confidentiality. What they report to the court is limited to the signed agreement between the parents. The mediator may ask the parents to agree not to repeat what is said in mediation to anyone else. However, confidentiality could be forfeited if the mediator has reason to believe that one parent may physically harm someone.

Using a mediator to help parents from divided homes to resolve differences is becoming increasingly popular. The reason for the popularity is that it works. Parents who participate in making decisions and feel their concerns are heard are more likely to comply with a mediated agreement than a court order. This encourages parents to work together, and this is good for the children. Research has proven repeatedly that children make a better adjustment to divorce when they know their parents communicate and work together for their best interests. However, some continue to think of mediation as a fad. For others, mediation is a viable alternative to returning to court every year or two to settle disputes. While the process is clearly not a panacea for all the ills that trouble divorced families and their children, for many it is an effective method of resolving disputes.

2. Counseling

There are some family or personal problems that mediation is not intended to solve. Someone who has a mental disorder, abuses drugs or is abusive to people will require a more intense therapeutic intervention with a counselor, social worker, psychologists or psychiatrist. Most mediators are not qualified to work with those who need help specifically with parental alienation and parental alienation syndrome. From my experience, the counselors most effective at working with high conflict issues have been trained in family systems therapy, have knowledge of the laws and court, and understand the workings of alienation. Our court in Trumbull County, Ohio has put together a pool of counselors to work with these families. To participate in the pool, counselors had to go through our training and agree to report compliance back to the court. This has been working very well.

Some attorneys suspect that clients may need counseling but are not sure when a referral is appropriate. Most people start counseling to get relief from psychological or emotional pain. While everyone has days when one feels depressed, on edge, or anxious, having these feelings does not mean a person needs therapy. Rather, therapy is helpful when a person does not bounce back or recover from psychological pain or persistent pain, and when poor coping skills interfere with daily functioning. A person has good reason for getting professional help when he or she is missing work, no longer enjoying pleasurable activities, drinking more, having trouble controlling anger, or withdrawing from friends and family.

Specifically, active alienators who are frequently triggered and expose the children to their anger may need therapy, since they usually have trouble separating ex-spousal issues from parental responsibilities. Obsessed alienators always need therapy, but they will often refuse to go and may be offended by a suggestion that help is necessary. Others who commonly need therapy are parents who spend too much time thinking about their divorce and having been betrayed by the system; parents who can’t help driving by the marital home hoping for a glimpse of the ex-spouse or children; and parents who often think about their next phone call to the ex-spouse or the children and cannot seem to stop him or herself from making the calls. Other warning signs include an increase in the use of alcohol and drugs or an increase in high-risk behavior such as drinking and driving, unprotected sex, stalking, and harassing phone calls.

Sometimes parents have the idea, often reinforced by mental health professionals, that people should seek professional help whenever they suffer a trauma or a major loss, because they can’t help but become emotionally scarred if the crisis isn’t somehow dealt with professionally. This thinking is not always true. For thousands of years, people have suffered crises without getting therapy. Most seemed to get along fine, stumbling along for a while but often becoming stronger for their experience. They continue to function quite well and make tremendous contributions. I sometimes think many mental health professionals are arrogant to think they are the only ones qualified to help someone through a crisis. This is not always true. When parents do need help, however, they may need to be remind by their attorney that there is no shame in doing so. What is shameful is recognizing there is a problem and doing nothing about it. Some parents also need the reassurance that counseling will not hurt their case.

If a parent decides help is necessary, he or she should schedule an appointment with a local psychologist, clinical social worker or family therapist. There are local organizations that sponsor workshops or groups for people adjusting to their divorce. Other good sources are the family court, friends who have had an experience similar to the parent’s, or local support or advocacy groups like Parents Without Partners, ACES or Fathers for Equal Rights.

When considering a therapist, a parent should not hesitate to interview the person to see if he or she is qualified. One should ask for therapists’ qualifications and fees even if some therapists may be put off. Many parents have asked for mine. Remember that a parent trusts the therapists with their own or their child’s well being, and their services are also expensive. A parent should ask them for other qualifications: How many times have they testified in domestic court?. How many years of experiences do they have working with families? Who is the psychiatrist with whom they are working in the event medication or a psychiatric evaluation may be needed? What are the fees? There are no rules or specific qualifications that will assure a parent of the clinicians qualifications. One must use one’s best judgment.

There should be chemistry between the parent seeking therapy and the therapist. Sometimes this takes a while to establish, as with any other close relationship, so parents should not give up too easily. To do a good job, the counselor may have to tell the parent some things they won’t want to hear at first. This is particularly true if the parent has been alienating their children. On the other hand, if the parent’s gut instinct is that the counselor is off target and consistently puts them down or makes them feel more depressed, the parent should trust his or her instincts and look for another therapist.

VI. CONCLUSION

Many parents hope for a magic potion to solve the problems of alienation. Sadly, no such potion exists. For the time being, education, early recognition, prevention, expedient litigation, visitations centers, and qualified high conflict family therapists are our best home for helping children and their parents. To reduce the number of casualties, there will need to be legislative reform founded on good research, validated intervention protocols for alienated children and parents, changes in social or sexist attitudes, and qualified interventionists. Though change is slow, legislators across the county are taking another look at what is happening in the courts. There continues to be an uneasy feeling that something is wrong and the system could better serve families. In-formed attorneys and judges, however, can help improve the system.

VII. BIBLIOGRAPHY

Braver, S. & O’Connell, D., (1998). “Divorced Dads: Shattering the Myths.” New York, New York: Putnam.

Clawar, S.S. & Rivlin, B.V., (1991). “Children Held Hostage: Dealing with Programmed and Brainwashed Children.” Chicago, Illinois: American Bar Association.

Clingempeel, W. Glenn, & Reppucci, N.D., “Joint Custody After Divorce: Major Issues and Goals for Research.” Psychology Bulletin. 1982, 91, 102-27.

Darnall, D. (1998). “Divorce Casualties: Protecting your Children from Parental Alienation.” Dallas, Texas: Taylor Publishing.

Dudley, 3., “Increasing Our Understanding of Divorced Fathers Who Have Infrequent Contact with Their Children.” Family Relations. 1991,40, 279-28.

Ehrenberg, Marion F., et al., “Shared Parenting Agreements After Marital Separation: The Roles of Empathy and Narcissism.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 1996, 64, 808-18.

Emery, R. “Children in the Divorce Process.” Journal of Family Psychology. 1988, 2(2), 141-44.

Folberg, Jay, (1991). “Joint Custody and Shared Parenting: Second Edition.” New York, N.Y.: The Guilford Press.

Gardner, Richard A. (1987). “The Parental Alienation Syndrome and the Differentiation Between Fabricated and Genuine Child Sex Abuse.” Cresskill, N.J.: Creative Therapeutics.

Gardner, Richard A. (1989). “Family Evaluation in Child custody Mediation, Arbitration, and Litigation.” Cresskill, N.J.: Creative Therapeutics.

Gardner, Richard A. (1998). “The Parental Alienation Syndrome: Second Edition.” Cresskill, N.J.: Creative Therapeutics.

Garrity, C.B. & Baris, M.A. (1994). “Caught in the Middle: Protecting the Children of High-Conflict Divorce.” New York: Lexington Books.

Grych, J. & Fincham, F. “Interventions for Children of Divorce: Toward Greater Integration of Research and Action.” Psychological Bulletin. 1992, 111(3) 434-54.

“Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Divorce Proceedings: Pertinent Literature.” American Psychologist. 1994, 49(7), 677-80.

Guidubaldi, J., et al. “Assessment and Intervention for Children of Divorce: Implications of the NASP-KSU Nationwide Study.” Advances in Family Intervention, Assessment, and Theory. 1987, 4, 33-69.

Kaufman, J. & Zigler, E. “Do Abused Children Become Abusive Parents?” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. 1986, 57(2), 186-192.

Kelly, J. “Longer-Term Adjustment in Children of Divorce: Converging Findings and Implications for Practice.” Journal of Family Psychology. 1988, 2(2), 119-39.

Kock, M., & Lowery, C. “Visitation and the Noncustodial Father.” Journal of Divorce. 1984, 8(2), 47-64.

Ohio Senate Bill 3 (1991). Columbus, Ohio

Warshak, Richard, (1992). “The Custody Revolution: The Father Factor and the Motherhood Mystique.” New York: Poseidon Press.

Woichik, S.A., et al. “Maternal Versus Joint Custody: Children’s Postseparation Experience and Adjustment.” Journal of Clinical Child Psychology. 1985, 14, 5-10.

The original article can be fund here: http://www.fact.on.ca/Info/pas/darnal99.htm

Parental Alienation Syndrome: An Age-Old Custody Problem

In Childrens Rights, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, mothers rights, Obama, parental alienation, Parents rights on April 17, 2009 at 10:00 am

by Michael R. Walsh and J. Michael Bone
THE FLORIDA BAR JOURNAL, JUNE 1997

The term parental alienation syndrome (PAS), first described by Richard Gardner, is also sometimes referred to as “brainwashing.”(1) Its concept and dynamics include a complex network of involvement and motives on the part of all members acting in this family drama. Furthermore, each of them usually takes his or her role in the alienation process well before the dissolution or separation process begins.

Additionally, one should be mindful that in some instances a child does not reject a parent immediately following a parental separation but rather based upon actual or true life experiences. Thus, this syndrome affects intact, as well as divided, families.

PAS, in its most extreme form, refers to a disturbance in which a child is preoccupied with viewing one parent as all “good” and the other as all “bad.” The former is loved and idealized, while the other is hated and verbally vilified.

The PAS hostility expressed by the child is generally characterized without any outward expression of guilt, embarrassment, or ambivalence. Accordingly, this conduct may be especially puzzling, even to a trained observer, if there is no apparent factual basis to justify the depth of the emotions involved.

In severe cases, the child may also suffer from psychosomatic complaints such as headaches, vomiting, loss of sleep, refusal to eat, and the like when faced with the prospect of visiting the “bad” parent. More often, however, the mild to moderately alienated child may express rejection by verbally disparaging the “bad” parent or destroying gifts or refusing to engage in family activities which were once enjoyed with that parent.

Swiftly orchestrating a remedial plan will greatly diminish the PAS process and, in most cases, eliminate it completely.

Contradictory as it may seem, such a child may also be able to show affection for the “bad” parent when alone, but will never do so in the presence of the “good” parent. This inconsistent “chameleon” quality is a diagnostic hallmark of PAS.

Routinely, the child living with the alienating parent (AP) for the majority of the time is in a classic “no-win” situation. If the child defies the AP’s directive in vilifying the targeted parent (TP), the child is guilty of betrayal of their primary caretaker; conversely, if he or she supports these allegations or contributes to them, then the child betrays the TP. The child cannot win, and the deep conflict thus creates a passageway for the possibility of actual delusional thinking on his or her part, as well as that of the AP.

Leaving a child in this pathological environment is most damaging and, under these circumstances, a child may many times become anxious, isolated and depressed. In time, if proper intervention is not forthcoming, the child develops a deep and profound sense of self-hatred and shame for condemning the other parent. These children tend to become despondent, withdrawn, and develop psychopathic manipulative characteristics which may be carried into adulthood.

Actors, Programming, and Techniques

First of all, it is fallacious to believe that all of the responsibility for this process should be attributed solely to the AP, even though that parent has engaged in highly observable maneuvering or self-serving actions. A child usually has some contributing motive, even though it may be extremely vague or more defensible than malevolent.

Of course, there are always variables, such as where both parents appear to be playing their roles in the alienation process but the child will not join with them or is well able to disengage and maintain independence. The same may also happen with the TP, or the process may not fully play out at all because of a geographical distance involved or by the extremely limited time schedule between that parent and the minor child.(2)

Typically, the AP has an agenda for turning the child against the other parent. It helps to counterbalance that parent’s feelings of inadequacy, lack of self-worth, powerlessness, or merely being overwhelmed with the future prospect of facing judicial proceedings. It may include revenge, guilt, fear of loss of the child, or loss of the role of primary parent or the desire to have proprietary control over the child, as well as jealousy of the other parent, the desire to obtain “leverage” as to equitable distribution, child support, or alimony, a past history of abandonment, alienation, physical or sexual abuse, self-protection, or even the loss of one’s identity.

Alienation techniques may include attacking the other parent’s character, telling the child the “truth about past events,” playing the victim, or being indulgent or permissive

These motives lead the AP to program the child. Various techniques are used, such as: denying the existence of the TP, labeling the child as fragile, and thus requiring AP’s continuous protection, creating an allegiance between the child and parent in a parental struggle, taking normal differences and turning them into a “good/bad” or “right/wrong” solutions, generalizing from specifics to global meanings, putting the child in the middle, comparing good experience with bad experience, attacking the TP’s character or lifestyle, telling the child the “truth about past events,” sympathy seeking, playing the victim, communications or actions prompting fear, anxiety, guilt, intimidation, threats, or merely being overly indulgent or extremely permissive.(3)

One must realize that the TP may also have a motive, including a hidden desire to abandon the family, intense anger at the AP, self-righteousness, past family problems, a personal history of escaping, fragile mental health, or fear of losing a relationship with the child.

The TP, for his or her part, in the past, may have well engaged in conduct leading the minor to believe that he or she wishes to abandon or harm the child. Additionally, he or she may also have been violent or insensitive. Since the diagnostic characteristic of PAS is its “license with reality,” one can be sure that the allegations of the TP’s wrongdoing will, in any event, be grossly distorted or even rendered fictional. Still, nevertheless, they appear to be deeply believed by the AP, as well as the child.

Lastly, the child’s motivation may also include coping with the loss, resolving parental conflict and other normal developmental pressures.

Proof and Evidence

While the constant theme of the alienation may be easily identified, it is not necessarily always susceptible of specific proof. The difficulty, of course, is when there are no witnesses present to refute allegations, and such statements are offered in a courtroom setting or to a guardian ad litem or a mental health professional in conference. Practically, it is emotionally difficult to discount such accusations because they are made with high emotional pitch, urgency, and a desperation as to a description of the incidents involved. All of the foregoing contributes to believability, especially where the minor child is relating a self-reporting trauma and a real danger to him or her. Such accounts may appear to be very convincing to the listener.

Make no mistake about it, individuals with either PAS or a related malicious syndrome will and do lie! They are convincing witnesses, and their manipulative skills may influence others to follow suit. Furthermore, they have absolutely rational explanations for interference with access and contact by the other parent or the complaint of not sharing parental responsibility. Conveniently, they leave out of their testimony pertinent details or they maneuver the facts in such a manner to create an entirely false impression.

Unfortunately, many are successful and run circles around opposing counsel and the court. As a result, over a period of time, the suffering parent becomes emotionally and financial depleted and withdraws the issue from the court system.

In attempting to find “family truths,” one must of necessity rely upon typical patterns often only detected by mental health specialists or psychotherapists. These include conflicting or contradictory statements by a child or the AP as to past representations, factual histories, or observations or perceptions made; spying on the TP and reporting it, even to a professional; the child engaging in character assault as to the TP or friends or family; the child parroting the themes of the AP; the child’s use of similar phrases or words; the child offering up inappropriate or indelicate information about the other parent; colluding by word or action with the AP and giving only one-sided information to a professional or guardian ad litem; phrasing or speaking only positively about the AP while verbalizing only negatively and derogatorily about the TP; and, lastly, the child’s lack of affinity or association with the TP’s family, friends, or associates.(4)

Clear instances must be cited to the court since PAS is not generally accepted as a diagnostic tool because it has not yet gained acceptance among experts in the field.(5)

Assuming the challenging parent has assembled credible proof and can demonstrate through a variety of incidents the conduct complained of, our courts have not at all been hesitant to make a decision without regard as to whether PAS is scientifically reliable. In the Interest of TMW, 553 So. 2d 260 (Fla. 1st DCA 1989); Tucker v. Greenberg, 674 So. 2d 807 (Fla. 5th DCA 1996); Williams v. Williams, 676 So. 2d 493 (Fla. 5th DCA 1996); Adams v. Adams, 677 So. 2d 6 (Fla. 5th DCA 1996).

A Useful Judicial Tool

Alienation does not occur overnight. It is gradual and consistent and is directly related to the time spent with the alienating parent. To heal the relationship, the child requires quality time with the targeted parent and continued communication to serve as a reality check and in order to counterbalance the effect of ongoing alienation at home.

The alienating parent, on the other hand, requires time to complete the brainwashing of the child without interruption. Thus, manipulation of time is a prime weapon in his or her hands.

Unlike cases of child abuse, where time away from the abuser sometimes helps to repair a damaged relationship, any time lost in repairing a child-parent relationship only furthers the goal of alienation.

While the court needs time to assess each case and move cautiously, the court must remember that with the passage of time, the child grows to be a staunch corroborator.

In these instances, a judicial wish to maintain the status quo in the life of the child pending the outcome of a determination of PAS will only cause that minor to drift further away from the nonresidential parent. Additionally, referrals to mediation or the use of attorney-client negotiations are often futile because implicit in these processes is a lack of a swift directive that is often perceived by the alienator as denoting approval of his or her behavior.

These authors believe that only the force of law may shorten the death of PAS in a given case! An early judicial precedent of a clear and forceful nature is needed!
Brainwashing takes time. Early judicial intervention may send a clear message to the alienating parent to back off, and will reduce the tension between the child and the other parent

Swift judicial intercession by an award of extra or compensatory visitation to the TP oftentimes sends a clear message to the AP to “back off” and, within a short period of time, the tension and stress that previously existed between the child and the TP has completely disappeared.

Of all of the research on the effects of separation and divorce, the one conclusion that is never debated is that children fare better when they maintain a close relationship with both parents. It is generally accepted that the loss of one parent is detrimental to a child. The only exception seems to be in the case of physical, sexual, or clear emotional abuse.

Accordingly, in fashioning any remedy to PAS, the court, counsel, and the mental health specialist or psychologist must begin with the premise that children will do best when having access to both parents. No proof should be required to support this conclusion, and equal access to both the mother and the father should be legally presumed.

Inequality of access should result only when there is specific evidence that the accused parent has been guilty of abuse or has clearly violated good parental judgment on a somewhat consistent basis; otherwise, there should be no deviation.

Without keeping this perspective in mind, it is indeed difficult to establish any clear sense of the truth because one will always be caught up in the endless chasing of alleged events that are just beyond specific proof but, yet, nevertheless, found to be credible because of the inferences drawn from them.

It is only with the above presumption in mind, as well as that of shared parental responsibility, that a baseline can be created whereby the AP’s allegations, as well as the TP’s responses and counter-allegations, may be tested in a true light.

The strategies utilized by the AP to alienate the children and the other parent vary from the most subtle to the most obvious. They all, however, have a consistent theme: any opportunity for the AP to control access and contact or the sharing of major decisions with reference to the child is apt to be exploited. Therefore, limiting the avenues available removes this interference obstacle.

An interesting concept recently advanced to correct this dilemma is the multi-directional court order.(6) The court order specifies exactly the dates, times, and conditions of visitation. Further, it directs all of the persons closely associated with the AP, as well as the TP, to comply with the court order.

For example, it defines an exact date and time visitation schedule, as well as a precisely defined neutral location for visitation transfer, if that is required.

It may appoint an individual agreeable to both parties or appointed by the court to monitor and supervise the visitation transfers, if required.

Clearly worded authorization is given to all law enforcement officers to execute the transfer of the child specified in the order and, should a parent violate the specified date and time to deliver the child, the court order directs the law enforcement agency to assist the victimized parent in locating his or her child and, additionally, arrest the violating parent.

Ample authority to school personnel to provide whatever access is meaningful to the nonresidential parent is also spelled out.

Clear directives to all personnel involved in any activity relative to the child is given with the right to permit the nonresidential parent full access to any organization involving the child, should it be educational, financial, medical, professional, recreational, religious, or otherwise.

Lastly, it contains authorization to any individual and a directive to assist the nonresidential parent so that no behavior will transpire which will interfere with the contact and access rights accorded to him or her by the court order.

The order does not contain empty threats but rather delineates the penalties that may be imposed if the court order is violated.

A drafting suggestion may be to include a step-up of the sanctions involved with an appropriate list of penalties at the court’s discretion which may include increased parental access and contact by the TP, monetary fines, the posting of security, community service, payment of attorneys’ fees and costs, incarceration, and loss of primary residential responsibility and primary residential custody, Schutz v. Schutz, 522 So. 2d 874 (Fla. 3d DCA 1988). Also meaningful is a public apology as a sanction. This apology may be to the child in the courtroom, along with a promise not to interfere again, or a letter of apology to others, such as school personnel, organizational leaders, or one involved in a religious activity of the child. Schutz v. Schutz, 581 So. 2d 1290 (Fla. 1991).

The Role of the Attorney, Psychologist, Court and a Remedial Plan

From the general overview previously discussed, it is easy to see how PAS cases lend themselves to productive intervention, be it by court decision or voluntary settlement. One important roadblock is, however, fear.

Many attorneys or other professionals, especially therapists, tend to shy away from direct confrontation with the AP out of fear of being wrong. The price of such error is certainly harmful to the minor child, as well as a future malpractice action or criminal charge, especially in the case of a psychotherapist. While generally these clinicians do not fender “black and white” recommendations, they will in this instance most generally engage in lukewarm generic advice and, by doing so, directly or indirectly support the PAS.

In all events, successful intervention of PAS requires coordination by the court and all members of the legal and mental health community.

The attorney for the TP will find a receptive audience as a client, while the attorney for the AP has a more difficult role. The AP, having invested substantial time and collected substantial evidence, wants the attorney, mental health professional and judicial system to agree with him or her.

Accordingly, this attorney must be called upon to exercise professional judgment and to avoid being swept up in the process of PAS by remaining neutral or not focusing entirely on all of the known evidence.

In any event, the attorneys must cooperate together in securing representation for each interested party, including the minor child. The appointment of a guardian ad litem provides a special opportunity for additional coordination of efforts and, at long last, some collaboration in the fact finding process as to PAS.

Attorneys representing these parents are ill-equipped to render the necessary professional judgment required to bring the family back to a more constructive route, and thus the next step is to involve a mental health professional who is familiar with family law, custody assessment, and PAS. These authors recommend a court-appointed expert for this purpose.

The role of the court-appointed psychologist must be to first identify the causation and rejection of a parent by the child and to determine whether or not it is the result of PAS.

This psychological evaluation, to be used as the integral part of the remedial plan, must go beyond the identification process and be directly oriented toward the motives of all family members, the defense factors or functions of PAS in the family, and the specific techniques employed and patterns involved.

Further, the evaluation must be dedicated to routing out the extent of the alienation and the psychological or emotional damage done. A written evaluation is prepared and forwarded to the court and counsel.

Once the evaluation is completed, then, and only then, should joint corroboration on a rehabilitative plan begin. It should hopefully be nonadversarial, but if the controversy still brews, the court must quickly intervene and use its authority.

The court, at this point, should encourage joint negotiations or family law mediation as being preferable to a non-jury trial. Even, however, should these alternatives prove futile, the trial judge is now, nevertheless, in the position of having an in-depth knowledge of the causation and extent of the family chaos at hand and a useful roadmap in the way of the evaluation to help chart a course for its correction.

Any intervention plan must be based upon the premise that there is a distinct advantage to having an on-going relationship between the minor children and the TP. This is the goal of the remedial plan!

By drawing in, and with all family members contributing, the end product hopefully will reflect the airing of all family views and thus a better prospect for a family contract or compact.

Any meaningful plan should include a provision for a neutral or independent mental health expert to be appointed or selected as a monitor relative to the future needs of the child and as a “safe harbor” for that minor. It should also provide for a referral as to separate therapists for each of the parents, as well as perhaps an on-going evaluation by the guardian ad litem and court-appointed expert.

In any event, once the evaluation is completed, swiftly orchestrating such a plan to fruition will greatly diminish the PAS process and, in most cases, eliminate it completely. Acting in this manner and establishing the benefits of a renewed and continuing relationship, the family now begins to draw closer together in providing solutions rather than problems, and the child, once and for all, is finally relieved of previous emotional pressures.

1 R. Gardner, Parental Alienation Syndrome and the Differentiation Between Fabricated and Genuine Child Sex Abuse (1987).

2 Dunne and Hedrick, The Parental Alienation Syndrome: An Analysis of Sixteen Selected Cases, J. Divorce & Remarriage (1994).

3 Waldron and Joanis, Understanding and Corroboratively Treating Parental Alienation Syndrome, 10Am. J. Fam. L. 121-133 (1996).

4 Id. at 126.

5 Frye v. United States, 293 F. 2d 1013 (D.C. Cir. 1923); Daubert v. Merrel Dow Pharmeceuticals, Inc., 113 S.Ct. 2786 (1993); Karen “PP” v. Claude “OO,” 574 N.Y.S. 2d 267 (Fam. Ct. 1991); In re Marriage of Wiederholt v. Fisher; 485 N.W. 2d 442 (Wis. Ct. App. 1992); Page v. Jordan by and through Jordan, 564 So. 2d 500 (Fla. 2d D.C.A. 1990); The Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Dangerous Aura of Reliability, LOY. L.A. L. REV. (spring 1994); Gardner’s Law, NAT’L L.J. Vol. 15, NO. 50, Aug. 16, 1993.

6 Turkat, Management of Visitation Interference, Judges’ J., A.B.A., Feb. 1997.

AUTHORS

Michael R. Walsh is a sole practitioner in Orlando. He is a board certified marital and family lawyer, certified mediator and arbitrator and a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. For more than 20 years, he has been a frequent lecturer and author for The Florida Bar.

J. Michael Bone, Ph.D, is a sole practice psychotherapist and certified family law mediator in Maitland. He specializes in divorce and post-divorce issues involving minor children, and has a special interest in PAS. He has served as an expert witness on these and related topics and has been appointed by the court to make recommendations involving PAS and families.

This column is submitted on behalf of the Family Law Section, Martin L. Haines, chair, and John Morse, editor.

For the original article go to: http://www.fact.on.ca/Info/pas/walsh.htm

Fatherless Children

In Family Rights on April 9, 2009 at 10:00 pm

The point of this article is to combat the false notion that fathers are not needed by their children, not to suggest that having motherless children is the solution, a child should have a right to both parents.

Children from fatherless homes account for:

  • 63% of youth suicides 1
  • 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes 3
  • 71% of pregnant teenagers 2
  • 71% of all high school dropouts 6
  • 75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers 7
  • 80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger 5
  • 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders 4
  • 85% of all youths sitting in prisons 8
  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children

You might think a “loving mother” would want to protect her child and keep him from becoming one of the above statistics, but in most cases you would be wrong.
Mothers are exposing children to the above risks:

  • Angry mothers sabotage a father’s efforts to visit their children 9
  • Few children are satisfied with the amount of contact with their fathers 10
  • The mother was the greatest obstacle to having more frequent contact with the children 11
  • 37.9% of fathers have no access/visitation rights 12
  • 40% of mothers reported that they had interfered with the non-custodial father’s visitation on at least one occasion, to punish the ex-spouse. 13
  • 50% of mothers “see no value in the father`s continued contact with his children….” 14
  • 70% of fathers felt that they had too little time with their children 15
  • 77% of non-custodial fathers are NOT able to “visit” their children, as ordered by the court, as a result of visitation interference by the mother. 16
  • 89% of mothers don’t value their husband’s input when it comes to handling problems with their kids 17
  • Non-compliance with court ordered visitation is 300% more common than non-compliance with court ordered child support and impacts the children of divorce even more. 18
    1 US Dept. of Health & Human Services, Bureau of the Census
    2 US Dept. of Health & Human Services
    3 U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report, Sept 1988
    4 Center for Disease Control
    5 Criminal Justice & Behavior, Vol. 14, p. 403-26, 1978
    6 National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools
    7 Rainbows for all God`s Children)
    8 Fulton Co. Georgia jail populations, Texas Dept. of Corrections 1992
    9 Ahrons and Miller, Am. Journal of Orthopsychiatry, Vol. 63. p. 442, July 1993
    10 Visitation and the Noncustodial Father, Koch & Lowery, Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, Vol. 8, No. 2, p. 50, Winter 1984
    11 Increasing our understanding of fathers who have infrequent contact with their children, James Dudley, Family Relations, Vol. 4, p. 281, July 1991
    12 p.6, col.II, para. 6, lines 4 & 5, Census Bureau P-60, #173, Sept 1991
    13 p. 449, col. II, lines 3-6, (citing Fulton) Frequency of visitation by Divorced Fathers; Differences in Reports by Fathers and Mothers. Sanford Braver et al, Am. J. of Orthopsychiatry, 1991
    14 Surviving the Breakup, Joan Kelly & Judith Wallerstein, p. 125
    15 Visitation and the Noncustodial Father, Mary Ann Kock & Carol Lowery, Journal of Divorce, Vol. 8, No. 2, p. 54, Winter 1984
    16 Visitational Interference – A National Study” by Ms. J Annette Vanini, M.S.W. and Edward Nichols, M.S.W. Originally published Sept. 1992
    17 EDK Associates survey of 500 women for Redbook Magazine. Redbook, November 1994, p. 36
    18 Visitational Interference – A National Study” by Ms. J Annette Vanini, M.S.W. and Edward Nichols, M.S.W. Originally published Sept. 1992

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Constitutional Rights You No Longer Have

In Childrens Rights, CPS, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, judicial corruption, mothers rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parents rights, state crimes on April 8, 2009 at 10:00 pm

by Mark Godbey
April 8, 2009

Conservatives are desperately clinging to what is left of the Bill of Rights: The 1st and 2nd Amendment. The upcoming TEA parties (Taxed Enough Already?) essentially are about the taxes. And the rest of the Bill of Rights? Gone. When myself and other speak to Conservatives about the Parental Rights Amendment a resolution in Congress to take back our Bill of Rights Protections, most have not heard of it, so I quickly show them what it can do for Parents and Families.

But ever since the Liberals and Feminist have been working the state legislatures, those of us involved with parenting and parents rights and family values have long lamented the destruction of the family by the state laws assuming supremacy over the federal laws, mainly 4th through 10th Amendments. Federal civil rights assume supremacy over state laws. Any laws enacted by state legislatures to deny federally protected civil rights violates the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution. Article IV, Paragraph 2.

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

Since the mid 1970s with the end of no-fault divorce, and the institution of quickie divorces through the rabid advocacy of liberal and feminist groups, parents and children have been rippped apart and added to the welfare rolls without their consent. All of these atrocities were supported of the US Congress. Your tax dollars hard at work. “Were from the government and we here to help,” said President Ronald Reagan in speaking about the most feared line you can hear.

Here is how it works. It is a one-two punch.

Punch One. The states regulate marriage and divorce. Who gets married, and when you can divorce. Marriage is a right reserved to the states and to the people. The people of the state decides who can and can’t get married. Divorce used to be that way, but not anymore. Anyone can get divorced. A child’s consent is meaningless. States regulate divorce.

Marriage is not a sacred institution anymore, but a state secular contract and your Bill of Rights protections do not matter. The state cares even less about your children. (as a matter of federal law, a dollar value has been assessed for each child taken into state custody.)

The federal government only constitutional involvement is around the “implied” rights of parents under the 9th, 10th and 14h amendments. There is no mention of Parents or Marriage in the US Constitution. So it is up to the states, with limited protection for parents and children from the federal government with regard to protection for families with the remaining amendments.

So in the 1970s states fell into line with the liberal/feminist thinking and the greatest social experiment of all time was enacted without any public debate as to the consequences: The Single-Parent Household became the new social order. Under federal law, The Single-Parent home became a Welfare Home. Dads became dispensable. Black fatherhood still teeters on the brink of extinction. Ask President Obama why his father left him fatherless. Single-Parent home advocates should be ashamed.

Punch Two. States are paid by the federal for every successful divorce. See Social Act Title IV. The federal government reimburses the state for every child in divorce separated permanently from one parent or the other.

Divorce in the 50 states became incredibly easy. You could end (what at one time was considered a sacred institution) a marriage and destroy a family without the consent of the other marriage partner. And the children? Their consent was not required. Children’s rights were destroyed by the states. Children’s rights were limited to what was in “their best interest.” The “best interest” doctrine replaced children’s rights to have equal access to both of their parents. Children have no rights, parents have no rights, the state ignores rights in favor of Billions of federal welfare dollars.

“Best interest” in not in the US Constitution. It has been described by federal judges as vague and undefinable. State constitutions are engorged with the term. State judge and attorneys love the term. It is warm and fuzzy, and after all, who know best? Does “Father Know Best? Nope. The state has assumed that role of “best interest.” The “State Knows Best.” Long live Robert Young.

I think it is sad to watch as my fellow conservatives fight for the 1st and 2nd amendment rights. These rights in a nutshell are, freedom of the press, speech and religion, and to bear arms. It is laughingly, bitterly, sad, comical, and ironic that President Obama made the statement about people “bitterly clinging to the their guns and religion” because candidate Obama knew that the remaining Bill of Rights protections (accept the 3rd) were long gone, in the trash heap of history. I knew exactly what he meant when he said it.

That is right. Those of you in Family Court kissed of the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th 10th and 14th amendments long ago. I wish the “bitter clingers” well and good luck with their TEA Parties because with the election of President Obama you have entered the era of a New World Order. The 1st and 2nd may soon fall. And the 3rd amendment, soldiers in your home……?

  • If you had your children legally kidnapped in Family Court, or had CPS violate your 4th, 5th and 6th and 14th Amendment rights, you know what I am talking about.
  • If you one of the 80 million children over the past 38 years who no longer has a dad, you know what I am talking about.
  • If you have falsely accused, lost your home, children, life savings, business license, passport, driver license, self-respect, job, friends, church or the respect of the community because you are divorced, you know what I am talking about.

To quote Stephen Baskerville, author of Taken Into Custody, from his December 2007 article TOTALITARIANISM IN AMERICA,

” Mass incarcerations without trial or charge; forced confessions; children forcibly separated from their parents with no reasons given; doctored hearing transcripts and falsified court records; evidence fabricated against the innocent; government agents entering the homes, examining private papers and personal effects, and seizing the property of citizens who are under no suspicion of legal wrongdoing; special courts created specifically to convict people who cannot be convicted in ordinary courts; children instructed to hate their parents by state functionaries: Is all this the Soviet Union in the 1930s or Communist China in the 1960s? Is this some novelist’s prognosticated dystopia? No, all this and more is routine in the United States today.”

I will end this brief article with listing of the Rights You No Longer Have:

* Fourth Amendment – Protection from unreasonable search and seizure.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

* Fifth Amendment – due process, double jeopardy, self-incrimination, eminent domain.

No person shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

* Sixth Amendment – Trial by jury and rights of the accused; Confrontation Clause, speedy trial, public trial, right to counsel

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

* Seventh Amendment – Civil trial by jury.

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

* Eighth Amendment – Prohibition of excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment.

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

* Ninth Amendment – Protection of rights not specifically enumerated in the Bill of Rights, like Parental Rights.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

* Tenth Amendment – Powers of states and people, like Parental and Children’s Rights

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

* Fourteenth Amendment – Equal protection under the law

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Federal Incentives Make Children Fatherless

In child trafficking, Childrens Rights, deadbeat dads, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, judicial corruption, mothers rights on April 8, 2009 at 7:20 am

Phyllis Schlafly
May 11, 2005

Why has Congress appropriated taxpayers’ money to give perverse incentives that break up families and deprive children of their fathers? The built-in financial incentives in the current child-support system have expanded the tragedy of fatherless children from the welfare class to millions of non-welfare divorced couples.

Americans have finally realized that providing generous welfare through Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) was counterproductive because the father had to disappear in order for the mother to receive taxpayer-paid benefits. Fathers left the home, illegitimacy rose in alarming numbers, and children were worse off.

AFDC provided a taxpayer-paid financial incentive to reward girls with their own monthly check, food stamps, health care and housing if they have an illegitimate baby. “She doesn’t need me, she’s got welfare” became the mantra.

Congress tried to reform the out-of-control welfare system by a series of child-support laws passed in 1975, 1984, 1988, 1996 (the famous Republican Welfare Reform), and 1999. Unfortunately, these laws morphed the welfare system into a massive middle-class child-support system that deprives millions of children of fathers who never abandoned them.

As Ronald Reagan often said, “The most terrifying words in the English language are: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.”

People think that child-support enforcement benefits children, but it doesn’t. When welfare agencies collect child support, the money actually goes to the government to reimburse for welfare payments already given to mothers, supposedly to reduce the federal budget (which, of course, is never reduced).

In 1984, Congress passed the Child Support Enforcement Amendment which required the states to adopt voluntary guidelines for child-support payments. In 1988, Congress passed the Family Support Act, which made the guidelines mandatory, along with criminal enforcement, and gave the states less than a year to comply.

The majority of states quickly adopted the model guidelines conveniently already written by an HHS consultant who was president of what was shortly to become one of the nation’s largest private collection companies making its profits on the onerous guidelines that create arrearages.

The 1988 law extended the guidelines to ALL child-support orders, even though the big majority of those families never had to interact with government in order to pay or receive child support. This massive expansion of federal control over private lives uses a Federal Case Registry to exercise surveillance over 19 million citizens whether or not they are behind in child-support payments.

The states collect the child-support money and deposit it in a state fund, but the federal government pays most of the administrative costs and, therefore, dictates the way the system operates through mandates and financial incentives. The federal government pays 66 percent of the states’ administrative overhead costs, 80 percent of computer and technology-enhancement costs, and 90 percent of DNA testing for paternity.

In addition, the states share in a nearly-half-billion-dollar incentive reward pool based on whatever the state collects. The states can get a waiver to spend this bonus money anyway they choose.

However, most of the child support owed by welfare-class fathers is uncollectible. Most are either unemployed or earn less than $10,000 per year.

So, in order to cash in on federal bonus money, build their bureaucracies and brag about successful child-support enforcement, the states began bringing into the government system middle-class fathers with jobs who were never (and probably would never be) on welfare. These non-welfare families have grown to 83 percent of child-support cases and 92 percent of the money collected, creating a windfall of federal money flowing to the states.

The federal incentives drive the system. The more divorces, and the higher the child-support guidelines are set and enforced (no matter how unreasonable), the more money the state bureaucracy collects from the feds.

Follow the money. 1. The less time that non-custodial parents (usually fathers) are permitted to be with their children, 2. the more child support they must pay into the state fund, and 3. the higher the federal bonus to the states for collecting the money.

The states have powerful incentives to separate fathers from their children, to give near-total custody to mothers, to maintain the fathers’ high-level support obligations even if their income is drastically reduced, and to hang onto the father’s payments as long as possible before paying them out to the mothers. The General Accounting Office reported that in 2002 states were holding $657 million in UDC (Undistributed Child Support).

Fatherless boys are 63 percent more likely to run away and 37 percent more likely to abuse drugs, and fatherless girls are twice as likely to get pregnant and 53 percent more likely to commit suicide.

Fatherless boys and girls are twice as likely to drop out of high school twice as likely to end up in jail.

We can no longer ignore how taxpayers’ money is incentivizing divorce and creating fatherless children. Nor can we ignore the government’s complicity in the predictable social costs that result from more than 17 million children growing up without their fathers.

http://www.eagleforum.org/column/2005/may05/05-05-11.html

Why the US Funds Child Trafficking

In child trafficking, Childrens Rights, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Foster CAre Abuse, judicial corruption, mothers rights, state crimes on April 7, 2009 at 4:08 pm

Trafficking is a violation of fundamental rights.

“Trafficking in children is a global problem affecting large numbers of children. Some estimates have as many as 1.2 million children being trafficked every year……..Child trafficking is lucrative and linked with criminal activity and corruption. It is often hidden and hard to address. Trafficking always violates the child’s right to grow up in a family environment. In addition, children who have been trafficked face a range of dangers, including violence and sexual abuse. Trafficked children are even arrested and detained as illegal aliens.” from the UNICEF website. http://www.unicef.org/protection/index_exploitation.html

The above definition of child trafficking fits the description of what happens to children in Unites States. This describes what happens to American children in the United States… once their parents become embroiled in a custody and family court battle. (The same has happened in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and other western “civilized” countries.) This is not just an American genocide. The sale of children under the color of law is worldwide.

Since the mid-1970s the federal government has been on a wholesale march to the destruction of the nuclear family under the guise of welfare. Why? Because there are billions of dollars in the sale of children.

The mechanism for the sale is simple. By transfering custody from both parents to a single parent during divorce or child custody battles, the individual states are rewarded for placing new enrollees into the “child welfare system.” Children are commodities of the state, and under federal law, an actual dollar figure is placed on each child that the State of California or New York or other states, separate from one parent.

It does not matter if both parents were millionaires before their divorce. Children of divorce become “welfare” recipients under federal and state law. Previous middle-class children are now designated by state law as “welfare children.” This is the mechanism of failure for the black family and black children of the 60′s and 70′s.

Stephen Baskerville, wrote an excellent article about this trafficking of children from parent to parent, and the money basis behind the scam in his excellent article in the January 2008 issue of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture:

“Beginning in the 1970’s, America quietly embarked on the boldest social experiment in her history. With no public discussion of the possible consequences, laws were enacted in virtually every jurisdiction that ended marriage as a legal contract and precluded couples from creating binding agreements to rear children. Regardless of the terms on which a marriage is entered, government officials can now, at the request of one spouse, simply dissolve it over the objection of the other and with no penalty to the moving party. As far as the federal and state governments are concerned, all couples are cohabiting.

The sexual revolution prepared the way for this massive change, but, as Melanie Phillips writes in The Sex-Change Society, “The divorce laws . . . were reformed by unrepresentative groups with very particular agendas of their own and which were not in step with public opinion.” Changes in the law preceded the cultural shift, as “Public attitudes were gradually dragged along behind laws that were generally understood at the time to mean something very different from what they subsequently came to represent.”

The National Association of Women Lawyers claims credit for pioneering no-fault divorce, which it describes as “the greatest project NAWL has ever undertaken.” As early as 1947, NAWL began promoting no-fault divorce to bar associations and state governments.

While the left was revolutionizing the legal structure of marriage, the conservative response was to lament and bemoan. “Republicans did not want to alienate their upscale constituents or their libertarian wing, both of whom tended to favor easy divorce,” writes Barbara Whitehead in The Divorce Culture, “nor did they want to call attention to the divorces among their own leadership.” When Vice President Dan Quayle famously denounced unwed motherhood, he was careful to add, “I am not talking about a situation where there is a divorce.” Maggie Gallagher’s complaint has become a prophecy for today’s politics: “Opposing gay marriage . . . is for Republicans an easy, juicy, risk-free issue. . . . The message [is] that at all costs we should keep divorce off the political agenda.

The divorce revolution weakened marriage and fatherhood among members of the middle class in striking parallel to what welfare inflicted on the poor. In addition, the surge in divorce has expanded the welfare state itself to include the middle class, turning programs conceived to address the problems of low-income, single-parent homes into financial incentives for middle-class divorce.

The welfare reform of 1996 did not end the federal subsidy of single-mother homes; instead, it shifted it to mandatory child support — after all, fathers should be supporting their children. Like the original federalization of child-support enforcement back in 1975, the target was willfully absent fathers who had abandoned their children, leaving them on the dole.

In fact, no evidence has ever demonstrated that large numbers of fathers were or are deserting their families and not paying child support. Unchallenged research has long established that fathers are forcibly separated from their children by divorce courts and criminalized by child-support orders that are patently impossible to pay. The “deadbeat dad” is largely the creation of bureaucratic policies and of the feminist ideology that drives them.

Over the years, child support has increasingly functioned less as a way to reduce or recover welfare costs and more as a forced subsidy on middle-class divorce. States are paid by federal taxpayers based on the amount they collect. This encourages them to neglect welfare families, for whom the program was designed, because there is little money to be had. Instead, enforcement agencies have shifted their focus to middle-class families, for whom the program was never intended, because they can collect large sums and, with them, lucrative federal funds, which can then be spent for any purpose. Using child support, state governments found they could raise revenue through the growth of single-parent homes.

The perversity of the incentives is diabolical. States have a financial incentive to generate fatherless children in the middle class, which they procure by providing sweeteners for single motherhood—expedited divorce, automatic and exclusive mother custody (regardless of fault), minimal visitation by fathers—turning as many men as possible into payers (including some who are not even fathers) and setting child-support awards as high as possible. It is hardly surprising that the vast majority of divorces in which children are involved are now filed by women.

Federally regulated child support effectively transformed welfare from an issue involving public assistance into one of law enforcement, creating yet another federal police force without clear constitutional justification. The welfare state is employing the penal apparatus to ensure itself continued funding and growth, with methods far more draconian than those used (so far) to collect taxation.

These programs are virtually unassailable, not only because they balance state budgets, but because they play upon our natural sympathy for women and children. Anyone questioning child support incurs feminist charges of defending “deadbeat dads.” Further, by appealing to superficially conservative values, feminists have gained allies among centrist Democrats as well as the neoconservatives who dominate Republican family policy. Even family-values conservatives are reluctant to challenge policies they know to be driving single motherhood and criminalizing fatherhood.

This tacit left-right collusion has locked us into a tragic bureaucratic cycle in which the cures are causing the disease. And the malady of fatherlessness will continue to worsen as long as government officials have a free pass to socialize childrearing.

Whatever its intentions, the state can never create or restore family life. The best it can do is stop destroying it.

Stephen Baskerville, an assistant professor of government at Patrick Henry College, is the author of Taken Into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family (Cumberland House).

This article first appeared in the January 2008 issue of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture.

What Every Father Needs To Know

In child trafficking, Childrens Rights, deadbeat dads, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fathers rights, federal crimes, mothers rights, Parents rights on April 6, 2009 at 5:00 am

Federal entitlement programs are decimating the lives of children and trampling on the rights of fathers to the care and companionship of their kids. We must dismantle the Federal-State entitlement nexus that deprives men of their civil liberties. Here is what every man in America should know.

The Federal Scheme to Destroy Father-Child Relationships

by Jake Morphonios
(conservative libertarian)
Wednesday, February 13, 2008

http://www.nolanchart.com/article2699.html

Congress would feign admit its own dubious contribution to the suffering of America’s children. Rather, these politicians promulgate the myth that they are helping children through federal and state welfare entitlement programs. It is, in fact, these very programs which are responsible for the out of control rampage against children. Here is how the scam works.

The federal government levies taxes against citizens to redistribute as welfare entitlements among needy applicants. Congress created the Social Security Act, a section of which is called Title IV. Title IV describes how tax dollars will be distributed among the States to subsidize their individual welfare programs. In order for States to tap into the federal treasure chest, containing billions of dollars, they must demonstrate that they are complying with Title IV mandates to collect child support revenues. In other words, to get money from the federal government, each State must become a child support collection and reporting agency.

Every unwed or single mother seeking welfare assistance must disclose on her application the identities of the fathers of her children and how much child support the fathers have been ordered by a family court to pay. She must also commit to continuously reporting the father’s payments so that the State can count the money as “collected” to the federal government’s Office of Child Support Enforcement. As with all bureaucracies, this process has developed into a monstrosity that chews up and spits out the very people it was designed to help.

  1. States have huge financial incentives to increase the amount of child support it can report to the federal government as “collected”.
  2. To increase collection efforts, States engage in the immoral practice of dividing children from their fathers in family courts.
  3. Have you ever wondered why family courts award custody to mothers in 80%-90% of all custody cases, even when the father is determined to be just as suitable a parent?
  4. It is because the amount of child support ordered by the State is largely determined by how much time the child spends with each parent.
  5. This means that the State “collects” less child support if parents share equal custody.
  6. By prohibiting fathers from having equal custody and time with their children, the State’s child support coffers are increased and federal dollars are received.

Opponents try to paint loving fathers as “deadbeat dads” for daring to challenge the mother-take-all system of family law. This is nothing more than diversionary propaganda. The concern of fathers is not that they are unwilling to support their children financially. This is not an argument against paying child support. Any father that cares about his child will do everything in his power to provide for the child. The concern is, rather, that children are being separated from their fathers by family courts because the State stands to reap huge financial rewards as a result of the father’s loss of custody. The higher the order of child support, the more money the State can collect – even if the amount ordered by the court far exceeds the reasonable needs of the child or if the father is required to take second and third jobs to keep up with outrageous support orders and escape certain incarceration. The truth is that most fathers don’t care about the financial aspects of these family court verdicts nearly as much as they care about having their time with their children eliminated for nefarious government purposes.

The root of this evil is a State-level addiction to federal tax dollars being doled out as entitlement monies by a monolithic federal government. In the wake of this horror are millions of children drowning for lack of the care, guidance, and companionship of their fathers. Statistics and empirical evidence universally confirm that children forcibly separated from their fathers by family courts are considerably more likely to suffer anxiety and depression, develop drug addiction, engage in risky sexual activity, break the law, and commit suicide. This travesty must end.

Unconstitutional federal bureaucracy creates many of the societal ills it claims to be trying to solve. There are several steps incremental steps that could be taken to restore a child’s right to the companionship of both parents. For example, citizens should insist that States abide by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. No father should be automatically deprived of his fundamental right to the custody of his children without due process of law. Being a male is not a crime. Absent a finding of true danger from a parent, family courts should order shared parenting rights and equal time sharing for divorcing parents. These rights are fundamental and should not be abridged. The automatic presumption of custody-to-the-mother is unconstitutional.

The history of America is brim with examples of the federal government denying basic rights to its citizens. Women were denied the right to vote until the women’s suffrage movement secured the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. Black Americans also were denied the right to vote and suffered myriad other cruel and humiliating indignities under the law until the civil rights movement brought about desegregation, put an end to Jim Crow legislation and compelled the enactment of the 15th and 24th Amendments to the Constitution. In each of these examples, society was slow to recognize that a problem even existed or that some of our laws were unjust. It took considerable time, concerted effort, self-sacrifice and perhaps even divine providence to realign concurrent societal paradigms with the principles of liberty and justice for all.

Our generation is not exempt from similar assaults on liberty. While many just causes may stake claims for redress of grievances, one group, more than any other, pleads for immediate support. The need to defend the rights of this group of American citizens, reeling from the unjust consequences of state-sponsored oppression, is before us. It is time to stand up for the rights of children and demand their equal access to both parents.

- – -

Jake Morphonios is a civil rights advocate and North Carolina State Coordinator for Fathers 4 Justice – US. The political opinions of Mr. Morphonios do not represent those of Fathers 4 Justice. Neither Mr. Morphonios nor F4J-US provide legal advice or assistance with individual cases.

Fathers seeking support or information, or other parties interested in becoming involved in the father’s rights movement may contact Mr. Morphonios at: jake.morphonios@nc.f4j.us

Parental Rights and Childs Rights – No Equal Protection

In Family Rights on April 6, 2009 at 12:04 am

I recently posted an article on parental rights. The article explains how parental rights are not only affected in divorce and custody proceedngs, but so are child rights from an equal protection status. This portion of the article bears repeating.

Convergence of Parent’s Rights and Interests with the Child’s Rights and Interests

State interference with the parent-child bond is often framed as a “parental rights” issue. However, the same issue could also be framed as one of state interference with the right of a child. Courts have noted that children have a concomitant fundamental right to the state of well-being which derives from “‘the continuity of affectionate care from those to whom [they are] attached through bonds of love.”‘ Roe v. Conn, 417 F. Supp. 769, 776 (M.D. Ala. 1976)(cite omitted); see also In re J.P., 648 P.2d 1364, 1369, 1377 n.13 (Utah 1982)(citation omitted)(“‘prior and fundamental right of a parent to rear his child; and concomitantly, of the right of the child to be reared by his natural parent’”); In re Perales, 369 N.E.2d 1047, 1051 (Ohio 1977). The right described in Roe is sometimes called the Child Liberty Doctrine, for it is a right describing a child’s right to be free from harmful and arbitrary state confinement.

A child cannot represent him or herself, and thus has a right to be represented by those who have the most similar alignment of familial, biological, property, and economic interests. When the state interferes with the parent-child bond, it imposes a disinterested caretaker upon the child. Over a long period of time, the service rendered by a caretaker who is motivated by the bonds of affection and/or a close alignment of interests with the child is likely to be quite different than the service rendered over the long term by a disinterested party. Caretakers with professional expertise in some specialty may have a more refined clinical approach to some facet of a child’s development, but professionals have no special systemic motivation to apply their services to obtain the maximum benefit for a particular child when assistance requires a significant personal, emotional, or financial investment or risk.

The same concept applies to other concerns that are de facto concerns when parental rights are litigated. For example, parents who are forced to defend against improper state interference often must expend tremendous quantities of time, money, and emotional energy in the effort. Yet if parents’ financial resources are depleted defending against state interference, the children of those traumatized parents are also likely to have a lower standard of living and a depleted inheritance.

Consequently, “while there is still reason to believe that positive, nurturing parent-child relationships exist, the parens patriae interest favors preservation, not severance, of natural familial bonds.” In re J.P., 648 P.2d at 1377 n.13 (quoting Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745, 766 (1982)); see also Parham v. J.R., 442 U.S. 584, 600-03, 610-11 (1979); Dickson v. Lascaris, 423 N.E.2d 361, 363 (N.Y. 1981) (“rule fosters both [parents' and child's] interests by recognizing that they ordinarily converge”).

The Parental Liberty Doctrine is really a component of the much broader Family Liberty Doctrine (which overlaps with the Right to Family Autonomy, a facet of liberty oriented towards familial privacy and association). Jurists, journalists, and politicians have tended to focus on “parental rights” or “parental liberty,” because parents are often in a better position to assert family prerogatives in protection of the children. Often the public does not understand any term other than the widely-used colloquial expression parental rights. But to be technically precise, the Child Liberty Doctrine protecting the interests of children, as well as the state’s interests in general health and safety, are similarly intertwined with and served by the Family Liberty Doctrine. Children and society are better off when children are not treated as creatures or property of the state.

http://www.quaqua.org/standardreview.htm

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Federal Crimes Committed in State Family Courts

In Family Court Reform, Family Rights, federal crimes, judicial corruption on April 3, 2009 at 11:00 pm

When your ask about family court problems, married people do not really understand until they go through the suffering of losing almost everything they own. In most cases, the father loses his rights to raise his children. In the United States, the greatest lack of rights for both children and parents comes in Family Court.

Forty percent of all children in divorce, only see their dad once or twice a year. That is tragic. This is not because dad’s don’t love their children. It is because courts profit by Federal dollars that flow into courts by awarding sole custody to one parent, usually the mother. Shared parenting advocates attempt to change laws but with almost no luck. Shared parenting is fought by attorney groups and false domestic violence groups financed by millions of dollars from feminists groups, that generally speaking, hate men.

Every year millions of children lives are destroyed when their constitutional protected rights to be raised by both parents are destroyed in family court for lack of due process protections. A criminal in criminal court has more protection from going to jail even if he is guilty, than a child has to have access to both parents.

Why? The courts are rampant with criminal allegations that deserve criminal due process protections. Due Process Rights do not exist in Family court except at the lowest level of procedural rights. The courts are more concerned that papers are filed in a timely manner, than with children taken held hostage. Subordination or witness tampering of children is commonplace when it comes to families with children.

Here is an example of some of the federal laws that are violated:

Title 18, U.S.C., Section 241
Conspiracy Against Rights

If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; or

If two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured –

They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

Title 18, U.S.C., Section 242
Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law

Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or to different punishments, pains, or penalties, on account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the punishment of citizens, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

Title 18, U.S.C., Section 245
Federally Protected Activities

1) This statute prohibits willful injury, intimidation, or interference, or attempt to do so, by force or threat of force of any person or class of persons because of their activity as:

a) A voter, or person qualifying to vote…;

b) a participant in any benefit, service, privilege, program, facility, or activity provided or administered by the United States;

c) an applicant for federal employment or an employee by the federal government;

d) a juror or prospective juror in federal court; and

e) a participant in any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

2) Prohibits willful injury, intimidation, or interference or attempt to do so, by force or threat of force of any person because of race, color, religion, or national origin and because of his/her activity as:

a) A student or applicant for admission to any public school or public College;

b) a participant in any benefit, service, privilege, program, facility, or activity provided or administered by a state or local government;

c) an applicant for private or state employment, private or state employee; a member or applicant for membership in any labor organization or hiring hall; or an applicant for employment through any employment agency, labor organization or hiring hall;

d) a juror or prospective juror in state court;

e) a traveler or user of any facility of interstate commerce or common carrier; or

f) a patron of any public accommodation, including hotels, motels, restaurants, lunchrooms, bars, gas stations, theaters…or any other establishment which serves the public and which is principally engaged in selling food or beverages for consumption on the premises.

3) Prohibits interference by force or threat of force against any person because he/she is or has been, or in order to intimidate such person or any other person or class of persons from participating or affording others the opportunity or protection to so participate, or lawfully aiding or encouraging other persons to participate in any of the benefits or activities listed in items (1) and (2), above without discrimination as to race, color, religion, or national origin.

Punishment varies from a fine or imprisonment of up to one year, or both, and if bodily injury results or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire shall be fined or imprisoned up to ten years or both, and if death results or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be subject to imprisonment for any term of years or for life or may be sentenced to death.


Title 18, U.S.C., Section 1001
Chapter 47 Fraud and False Statements

Section 1001. Statements or entries generally

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully -
(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;

(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or

(3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry; shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.

U.S.C. 18 Sec. 1203
TITLE 18 – Crimes and Criminal Procedure
PART I – Crimes, Chapter 55 – Kidnapping

(a) Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, seizes or detains and threatens to kill, to injure, or to continue to detain another person in order to compel a third person or a governmental organization to do or abstain from doing any act as an explicit or implicit condition for the release of the person detained, or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be punished by imprisonment for any term of years or for life and, if the death of any person results, shall be punished by death or life imprisonment.

U.S.C. 18, Sec. 1203
TITLE 18 – Crimes and Criminal Procedure
PART I – Crimes, Chapter 109 – Searches and Seizures

Section 2234. Authority exceeded in executing warrant

Whoever, in executing a search warrant, willfully exceeds his authority or exercises it with unnecessary severity, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year. U.S. Code as of: 01/02/01

Section 2235. Search warrant procured maliciously

Whoever maliciously and without probable cause procures a search warrant to be issued and executed, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year.


Section 2236. Searches without warrant

Whoever, being an officer, agent, or employee of the United States or any department or agency thereof, engaged in the enforcement of any law of the United States, searches any private dwelling used and occupied as such dwelling without a warrant directing such search, or maliciously and without reasonable cause searches any other building or property without a search warrant, shall be fined for a first offense not more than $1,000; and, for a subsequent offense, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.


This section shall not apply to any person -

(a) serving a warrant of arrest; or
(b) arresting or attempting to arrest a person committing or attempting to commit an offense in his presence, or who has committed or is suspected on reasonable grounds of having committed a felony; or
(c) making a search at the request or invitation or with the consent of the occupant of the premises.

Title 42 USC Section 1983

Sec. 1983. – Civil action for deprivation of rights

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer’s judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia

Title 42, U.S.C., Section 14141
Pattern and Practice

This civil statute was a provision within the Crime Control Act of 1994 and makes it unlawful for any governmental authority, or agent thereof, or any person acting on behalf of a governmental authority, to engage in a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers or by officials or employees of any governmental agency with responsibility for the administration of juvenile justice or the incarceration of juveniles that deprives persons of rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.

Whenever the Attorney General has reasonable cause to believe that a violation has occurred, the Attorney General, for or in the name of the United States, may in a civil action obtain appropriate equitable and declaratory relief to eliminate the pattern or practice.

Types of misconduct covered include, among other things:

1. Excessive Force
2. Discriminatory Harassment
3. False Arrest
4. Coercive Sexual Conduct
5. Unlawful Stops, Searches, or Arrests

U.S.C. 18V, Sec. 1203
TITLE 18 – Crimes and Criminal Procedure
PART I – Crimes, Chapter 109 -Fraud and False Statements

Section 1001. Statements or entries generally

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully -

(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;

(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or

(3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry; shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.

(b) Subsection (a) does not apply to a party to a judicial proceeding, or that party’s counsel, for statements, representations, writings or documents submitted by such party or counsel to a judge or magistrate in that proceeding.

(c) With respect to any matter within the jurisdiction of the legislative branch, subsection (a) shall apply only to -

(1) administrative matters, including a claim for payment, a matter related to the procurement of property or services, personnel or employment practices, or support services, or a document required by law, rule, or regulation to be submitted to the Congress or any office or officer within the legislative branch; or

(2) any investigation or review, conducted pursuant to the authority of any committee, subcommittee, commission or office of the Congress, consistent with applicable rules of the House or Senate.

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