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Archive for the ‘Domestic Violence’ Category

Supreme Court to hear Custody Case

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Hague Convention, kidnapped children, Marriage, Parental Kidnapping, parental rights on January 7, 2010 at 5:17 am

Thanks Peter Hill for the heads up on this one…

Supreme Court to hear custody case

U.S. high court to hear tiny, important issue on child custody

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Monday in a case that seeks to define an aspect of custody rights under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

The mother involved is a U.S. citizen. The father is British, and the prior country of residence of the child is Chile. The child is now in the United States. The issue seems to be a very technical one, but legal observers said they believe the case will have an impact on international child custody battles where one parent abducts a child to or from the United States.

Timothy and Jacquelyn Abbott were married in 1992 in England, and their son was born in Hawaii in 1995. They divorced in Chile, and the court there gave custody of the child to the mother and gave the father visitation rights. A key element of the decision was that the court in Chile issued a ne exeat order preventing either parent from taking the child from Chile without the agreement of the other.

Mrs. Abbott took her son to Texas without the consent of the ex-husband, who managed to locate the boy. He went to court and said that the Hague convention required that a child who has been removed contrary to a custody order be returned to the country of residence. The technical question is if the ne exeat order represents a right of custody.

A trial court and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the wife that the legal order only provides a right of access to the father and not a right of custody. Her lawyers also argued that having custody also means having the right to choose where the child lives.

A number of organizations have filed briefs that support the position of one or the other parent. Some domestic violence organizations said they fear that accepting the order as a right of custody would prevent wives from fleeing from abuse.

A decision for the father by the Supreme Court would strengthen the rights of non-custodial parents involved in international parenting disputes.

The main goal of the Hague convention is to insure that the legal decisions of one country are respected in another. The international treaty is designed to prevent spouses from shopping for a favorable venue for their custody battles.

The Abbott case involves a U.S. mother trying to keep her son there contrary to a custody decision in another country. In Costa Rica the situation usually is a mother trying to keep her child or children here in the face of a custody decision in another country, frequently the United States.

via:

Communicationhelper: Supreme Court to hear custody case.

Stop Parental Alienation of Children (SPAC)

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, custody, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-IV, DSM-V, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Fit Parent, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, kidnapped children, Marriage on January 6, 2010 at 4:23 pm

The Problem of Parental Alienation

What Is Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation occurs any time that a parent, relative or friend speaks badly about another parent so that a child can hear what is being said. Alienating behavior may be mild, moderate or severe. All parents are likely to “lose it” and be inappropriate with their words around children, however, when there is a predominance of negative messages being communicated to a child, these messages can seriously erode the child’s psychological well-being. In severe cases of parental alienation, children are manipulated and brainwashed (programmed) into such states of confusion that their perception of events and people around them are severely distorted.

Parental alienation in its most severe form is a heinous form of child abuse and neglect. It is a dangerous manipulation of children’s minds to alter their perception of reality about another parent. The purpose of marginalizing this parent is that he or she has no means to be an effective parent or to cut that parent out of a child’s life entirely, called a parentectomy.

The Tragic Result

Severe cases of parental alienation have the characteristics of being complicated in two ways. Combative parents duel with conflicting stories of “he said / she said,” and make it very difficult to determine who is telling the truth. Brainwashed children often support the side of the offending parent with dramatic stories of how they have been abused by the target parent. As target parents argue their position, they often seem defensive even when they are telling the truth. Programmed children lose their own sense of reason and their ability to express their own choice in the matter. If the alienator is not contained, these manipulations of the child’s mind become the incubator of their own future psychological problems. These children have an altered perception of reality that is not in their best interest or in the best interest of society.

Unfortunately, in many cases, fully capable parents and their extended family and friends who love the child and would provide a nurturing and healthy family life are eliminated. Once the cutting out of a parent has occurred the child is left under the full care of the most disturbed and dysfunctional parent. These tragedies are played out in our family law courts daily.

Target parents find that normal methods of handling parental conflict such as mediation and therapy do not work. They are forced to appeal to a judge to make a decision that will enable them to continue to see their children. This is often an expensive and perilous path that rarely results in a satisfying outcome as few people, including judges, attorneys and therapists understand the nature of the problem.

For more information about Stop Parental Alienation of Children (SPAC) go to “Become Informed“.

If you are reorganizing your family there is considerable amount of help available to you. One of the first places to start is by taking a parent education course that is offered at www.breakthroughparentingonline.com.

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Stop Parental Alienation of Children (SPAC).

Embezzlment Probe for Misue of DV Funds… Why is this a surprise?

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Parents rights, Restraining Orders, Sociopath on January 4, 2010 at 9:45 pm

The Domestic Violence Industry targeting all men as violence perpetrators is a multi-billion dollar industry across the USA funded in large part by your governments at the federal and state level with assistance from politically correct gullible companies and naive men who want to appear chivalrous and “feminine”.  This person is only the tip of a very, very large iceberg that no one wants to explore as it might explode feminist myths about patriarchy and heaven forbid open the door to female violence against men. (Tiger Woods, Mary K. Blige slugging hubby while opening a DV shelter for women only, and the missing info on Chris Brown getting clubbed by a stiletto  heal before he overreacted. Did Charlie Sheen actually do that to his wife or was he set up by false allegations?  Watch the Tyra Banks show on Thursday this week to see more about men getting abused every 38 seconds.- MJM

I agree completely with the above statement. Many mentally ill women who suffer from Parental Alienation Syndrome use Restraining Orders and false allegations of Domestic Violence to achieve their ends: destroy father’s rights to custody in the name of money, profit and greed. – Parental Rights

Ex-UC Davis staffer under new scrutiny in embezzlement probe

Published: Friday, Jan. 1, 2010 – 12:00 am | Page 4B

Last Modified: Sunday, Jan. 3, 2010 – 4:55 pm

A former University of California, Davis, employee whom officials have accused of inflating crime statistics may have funneled university money into a private account and paid her mortgage with it, campus police said in a court document released this week.

As part of their embezzlement probe of Jennifer Beeman, investigators also raised the question of whether she had appropriately paid $540,000 to a Bay Area woman and her companies over a seven-year period.

Reached at home Thursday, Beeman declined to comment.

Police detailed their suspicions regarding Beeman, the former director of the UC Davis Campus Violence Prevention Program, in court papers filed as they sought a search warrant in early December.

Yolo Superior Court made the statement available this week.

In it, UC Davis Police Sgt. Paul Henoch wrote that Beeman, 52, first came under scrutiny in September 2008 for overstating her travel expenses.

Further investigation showed that she had asked for reimbursement for airfare to San Diego when her ticket had already been paid for by an outside group. She had also submitted travel mileage for meetings she did not attend, Henoch wrote.

University officials requested an internal audit and placed Beeman on administrative leave.

In February 2009, the audit concluded that Beeman had improperly submitted travel expenses of more than $1,000.

In October, campus officials said she had repaid $1,372 and retired in June.

On the same day, they also revealed Beeman had grossly inflated the number of forcible sexual offenses in three years of mandatory reports to the federal government. No reason was given.

Administrators also said in October that police were pursuing a second investigation into Beeman’s finances.

Details of that investigation were spelled out in a Dec. 1 statement by Henoch. He wrote that investigators had learned in early 2009 that Beeman had a “secret” checking account for a campus program called Take Back the Night.

Beeman told a co-worker that she had paid her home mortgage from the account, he wrote.

The account was located in July at the USE Credit Union, with Beeman listed as the only signatory, the police sergeant said in his statement.

Auditors found that nearly $12,000 in university funds had been deposited into the account, and Beeman had withdrawn $5,400 for personal use between January 2002 to March 2009, Henoch wrote.

The auditors also found that Beeman had authorized $25,000 in payments of federal grant funds to a company run by a woman named Granate Sosnoff to produce a campus anti-violence guide that was never completed, he wrote.

In November, Henoch said he discovered that the Campus Violence Prevention Program had paid Sosnoff and various media and marketing firms that she controlled more than $540,000 between May 2000 and April 2007.

“At this time it is unknown what type of relationship Beeman and Sosnoff have over the years,” he wrote, “if it is strictly business or if monies have exchanged hands between them.”

Sosnoff, who lives in Oakland, did not respond to a phone message Thursday.

The 47-year-old woman developed a series of acclaimed rape awareness posters for the university that were paid for with federal grant dollars.

The striking posters for the campaign, called “Voices Not Victims,” were featured in Ms. magazine and sought by other universities and the Ford Foundation’s office in Africa, according to a university press release from 2001.

The search warrant approved in December by Yolo Superior Court Judge Thomas Warriner sought bank records for both Beeman and Sosnoff.

UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza said Thursday that, to her knowledge, the banks have not yet returned the requested records.

No decisions about whether to charge Beeman or Sosnoff will be made until they do, she said.

“This is an open investigation,” Spicuzza said. “We’re going to look at everything.”


Call The Bee’s Hudson Sangree, (916) 321-1191. Bee researcher Pete Basofin contributed to this report.

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Ex-UC Davis staffer under new scrutiny in embezzlement probe – Sacramento News – Local and Breaking Sacramento News | Sacramento Bee.

House Divided: Hate Thy Father | Psychology Today

In adoption abuse, Alienation of Affection, Autism, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Custody for Mothers, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, Civil Rights, CPS, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-IV, DSM-V, due process rights, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Protective Parents, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, Single Parenting on December 30, 2009 at 7:30 pm

House Divided: Hate Thy Father

In 1978, after Cathy Mannis and her future husband moved into the same cooperative at U.C. Berkeley, they ran into each other often. She was not immediately smitten. “I detested him at first, and I should have stayed with that feeling,” recalls Cathy Mannis of her now ex-husband. “He was overweight and always very critical. Then he lost weight, became cuter, and started paying attention to me. He was going to be a doctor and he seemed so trustworthy; he said he would never desert his family as his own father had done to him.” They started dating, and she ultimately cared for him enough to marry him. “I thought he’d be a good father, and I was dying to be a mother. I thought we’d have a good life.”

She worked full-time as a legal secretary to put him through medical school. She also bought the two of them a town house with money she’d saved before marriage. When she gave birth to a boy, Matt (not his real name), she was as happy as she’d ever been. Over time, she saw signs that her husband was cheating on her, but she always forgave him.

Their second son, Robby, was born autistic, and things went downhill fast. The boy had speech and learning problems and was frequently out of control. Her husband was appalled. “He’s dumber than a fish,” he said.

Still, they had one more child, Harry (the name has been changed), hoping to give Matt a sibling without Robby’s problems. Harry turned out normal, but he bonded most closely with Robby; they became inseparable.

When Cathy once again became convinced her husband was cheating—he inexplicably never came home one night—she finally threw him out. He filed for divorce before she could forgive him again.

Cathy was granted primary custody of the kids, and her ex soon married the woman he’d been seeing on the side. Because of all she had to do to help Robby as well as her other two kids, Cathy could no longer hold a full-time job. Meanwhile, her ex declared two bankruptcies and, at one point, even mental disability, all of which kept alimony payments to a trickle.

Eventually Cathy was so broke that her electricity was turned off; she and the boys ate dinner by candlelight. Then she became so ill she had to be hospitalized for life-threatening surgery. She had no choice but to leave the kids with her ex. “He promised to return them when my health and finances improved,” she says.

That was almost seven years ago. Her health has long since returned and she has a good job she can do from home, but the only child ever restored to her, despite nonstop court battles, was Robby. In fact, her ex got the courts to rule that the children should be permanently separated, leaving the other two children with him, since Robby was a “threat” to his younger brother’s well-being.

Through all those years, Cathy says she faced a campaign of systematic alienation from Matt and Harry. “When I called to speak to them, I was usually greeted with coldness or anger, and often the boys weren’t brought to the phone. Then my ex sent letters warning me not to call them at home at all. Whenever the kids came to stay with me, they’d report, ‘Dad says you’re evil. He says you wrecked the marriage.’ ” Then he moved thousands of miles away, making it vastly more difficult for her to see her children.

As time has passed, the boys have increasingly pulled away. Matt, now grown and serving in the military, never speaks to Cathy. Thirteen-year-old Harry used to say, “Mommy, why can’t I stay with you? All the other kids I know live with their moms,” before leaving visits with her. Now he often appears detached from her and uninterested in Robby, whom he once adored. His friends at his new home think his stepmother is his mom, because that’s how she introduces herself. “She told me she would take my kids, and she did. The alienation is complete,” rues Cathy. “All I ever wanted was to be a mom.”

Divorcing parents have long bashed each other in hopes of winning points with kids. But today, the strategy of blame encompasses a psychological concept of parental alienation that is increasingly used—and misused—in the courts.

On the one hand, with so many contentious divorces, parents like Cathy Mannis have been tragically alienated from the children they love. On the other hand, parental alienation has been seized as a strategic tool in custody fights, its effects exploited in the courtroom, often to the detriment of loving parents protecting children from true neglect or abuse. With the impact of alienation so devastating—and false accusations so prevalent—it may take a judge with the wisdom of Solomon to differentiate between the two faces of alienation: a truly toxic parent and his or her victimized children versus manipulation of the legal system to claim damage where none exists.

A Symptom Of Our Time?

Disturbed by the potential for alienation, many divorce courts have today instituted aggressive steps to intervene where they once just stood by. And with good reason: Alienation is ruinous to all involved. “In pathological or irrational alienation, the parent has done nothing to deserve that level of hatred or rejection from the child,” explains University of Texas psychologist Richard Warshak, author of Divorce Poison: Protecting the Parent-Child Bond from a Vindictive Ex. “It often seems to happen almost overnight, and neither the rejected parent nor even the rejecting child understands why.”

Often, in fact, it’s the emotionally healthier parent who gets rejected, Warshak adds. That parent tends to understand that it’s not in the child’s best interests to lose the other parent. In contrast, the alienating parent craves revenge against the ex—then uses the child to exact that punishment. “It’s a form of abuse,” Warshak says. “Both parent and child are victims.”

House Divided: Hate Thy Father | Psychology Today.

Tips for co-parenting with a Sociopath

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Custody for Mothers, Child Support, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Marriage, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Protective Parents, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine on December 21, 2009 at 5:54 pm

LETTERS TO LOVEFRAUD: Tips for co-parenting with a sociopath

Lovefraud received the following e-mail from a woman who we’ll call “Penny.” She’s been in a custody battle with the father of her child, who she believes is a sociopath. Although Penny has been able to gain full physical and legal custody of the child, and has a restraining order against the father, he still has visitation so Penny must deal with child exchanges. She’s provided the following tips for others who are in similar situations.

1. STAY STRONG IN GOD! I know that this is difficult at times because I myself have been tried so much. Go to church regularly and tell the pastor(s) and counselors at your church what you are dealing with and ask them and the congregation to pray for you. Pray and read your Bible. If you are not religious you might want to try this out anyway or meditate to bring peace to your soul. It is absolutely necessary that you find some peace in a situation that is utter chaos and dysfunction.

2. DO NOT TAKE THEIR BAIT! I have read on several websites (including this one), and books like The Sociopath Next Door, by Dr. Martha Stout, and also Without Conscience, by Dr. Robert Hare, that stress this very point. I found this out the hard way and have learned from experience that this only adds to the problem because the sociopath is often trying to get a reaction out of you. Reacting or retaliating against the sociopath only fuels the fire. Although it might sound cliché, one can only truly and successfully fight evil with goodness, especially in this case.

3. DOCUMENT EVERYTHING! Sociopaths (as my ex is) are pathological liars and are bound to contradict themselves in their stories. Thorough logs of all events with the sociopath and also supporting documents such as emails, police documents, medical records, court documents, etc., can all be of help when dealing with a sociopath in a situation such as this. When the time is right (sometimes its smart to let time go by so that the sociopath can implicate, perjure, and hang him/herself some more) you might decide to file the appropriate paperwork in court (i.e. Order to Show Cause for custody and visitation, declarations, motions for contempt of court, etc.) and attach the documents that you have been logging and saving as exhibits/evidence to your court papers (you can ask an attorney, paralegal, or family law self help center or other similar groups how to do this). If you have the financial resources, you might want to consider a deposition as another opportunity to let the animal perjure him/herself some more.

4. REQUEST EXPLICIT COURT ORDERS! I have found through personal experience that sociopaths will exploit and take advantage of any ambiguity or vagueness in court orders to create complete and utter chaos. You must push for detailed court orders when you go to court to prevent this from happening.

5. IF POSSIBLE, ASK THE COURT TO ARRANGE CHILD EXCHANGES AT LOCAL POLICE DEPARTMENTS! Doing this eliminates the opportunity of having to interact with the sociopath at your home or his/her home as well as other places that are easy for chaos to occur. Arrive at the exchange early and let the officers know that you are there for a child exchange (make sure you always have the court orders with you so that the police can see it if need be) and you can ask the desk officers if they can monitor the exchange.

6. HAVE PEOPLE OTHER THAN YOU THAT YOU TRUST AND ARE GOOD PEOPLE DO THE EXCHANGE OF YOUR CHILD(REN) IF POSSIBLE! Making yourself as invisible as possible might increase the chances of cutting the sociopath out of your life since he or she will no longer be able to see you sweat. Remember to always stay calm and collected when the sociopath tries to anger you (you can cry and vent in private) even and especially in court.

7. BE CAUTIOUS IN STATING THAT YOUR EX IS A SOCIOPATH! Many people, including the courts, child welfare organizations, lawyers, etc., are not familiar with this devastating disorder and as a result do not know how to respond properly to the warning signs (as many of us did not know how to until we were caught in a complex web of deception). Therefore, focus on proving the behavior of the sociopath in court using the strategies I suggested earlier and do not accuse your ex as being a sociopath in court. They will not take this seriously since you are probably not a professional licensed to make such a diagnosis.

8. PUSH FOR COMMUNICATION BETWEEN YOU AND THE EX TO BE THROUGH EMAIL ONLY WHEN YOU GO TO COURT! Communication using this vehicle of communication helps to eliminate the possibility of he said/she said. Websites such as www.ourfamilywizard.com are excellent because they provide an opportunity for you to communicate with your ex via email and all the communication is safe and secure and can easily be printed out (all emails also include the date and exact time the emails were sent and viewed by the other party and also include the time any printed emails are generated). Also, the website allows you to input your parenting schedules, input medical information for the child, and offers a journal, free children’s accounts to the child(ren) involved and can also offer professional accounts for minor’s counsel and possible others to oversee the account and monitor what is going on.

9. PUSH THE COURT FOR PERMISSION TO VIDEO OR TAPE RECORD EXCHANGES AND MAKE SURE THIS IS WRITTEN IN THE COURT ORDER! Doing this helps to eliminate any possibility for potential chaos.

10. GET ALL INFORMATION STRAIGHT FROM THE SOURCE! Do not rely on any information the sociopath provides you. Always verify all information concerning the child or children with their doctors, teachers, counselors, etc. If possible have the child(ren’s) doctors, teachers, counselors, etc. document all information they give you.

11. DO NOT CUT THE SOCIOPATH ANY SLACK! Record and document any and all violations of court orders. Recording these violations may be helpful when you go to court.

12. HIRE AN EXPERIENCED COMPETENT ATTORNEY, AND IF POSSIBLE ONE THAT HAS EXPERIENCE IN DEALING WITH SOCIOPATHS OR OTHER SIMILAR PERSONALITY DISORDERS! Child custody cases involving sociopaths are complicated and need the skill, experience, and know-how of a professional.

13. TRUST YOUR GUT! Oftentimes, we doubt our intuitions when we shouldn’t. In my personal experience I found that there were warning signs but did not respond to them as I should have because I took the signs lightly. Likewise, when I was drawn into my ex’s net of deception and chaos, I knew something was wrong, and attempted to explain what I believed was wrong with my ex to my previous attorney, but the attorney did not understand and discouraged me from engrossing myself in research. She stated that doing so could help me to become emotionally and mentally unstable (the attorney did not have experience in dealing with such complex personalities and so did not know how to properly respond to my ex’s actions). I later decided to trust my gut and continued with my research. Through research, trial and error, I have learned how to better deal with my ex and I do not respond to his baits (my ex has accused me of being a sociopath and has falsely accused me of harassing him).

14. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! Living well is truly the best revenge. As difficult as it may be, try not to let the sociopath make you a bitter, angry, mean person. Remember the ultimate goal of the sociopath is to frustrate you. Enjoy your child(ren) while they are with you and let them know that you love them. Listen to them and model what real love looks like while they are in your care. Let them see you in loving relationships with other people. Criticize their actions and not them in private and DO NOT talk badly about the other parent in their presence (this can give the other parent an opportunity to bring parental alienation charges against you); instead you can let them know that actions like the ones their parents are exhibiting are wrong and hurtful to others and that this behavior is undesirable. Also, don’t forget to eat (like I have in the past), exercise, sleep, and laugh! Do not under any circumstances allow the sociopath to rob you of your ability to laugh.

written by Donna AndersenPermalink

Lovefraud Blog » Blog Archive » LETTERS TO LOVEFRAUD: Tips for co-parenting with a sociopath.

Mental Health Professionals’ Opinion of Parental Alienation

In Activism, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Marriage, Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Protective Parents, Restraining Orders on December 18, 2009 at 7:13 pm
Mental Health Professionals’ Opinion of Parental Alienation

“‘The long-term implications [of alienation] are pretty severe,’ says Amy Baker, director of research at the Vincent J. Fontana Center for Child Protection in New York and a contributing author of Bernet’s proposal. In a study culminating in a 2007 book, Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome, she interviewed 40 ’survivors’ and found that many were depressed, guilt ridden, and filled with self-loathing. Kids develop identity through relationships with both their parents, she says. When they are told one is no good, they believe, ‘I’m half no good.”–US News and World Report, 10/29/09

“I have seen the very real existence of Parental Alienation Syndrome in case after case where one parent is enraged at the other and proceeds to poison the children against the ‘enemy’ parent. While many times it is a father who is demonized by an angry mother, the gender of the parent being turned into a ‘monster’ by the custodial parent can be reversed. Who the victim of P.A.S. turns out to be is entirely dependent upon the willingness of the parent with physical custody to ‘brainwash’ a child against the other parent. The loss of the child’s relationship to the hated ex-spouse delivers a message that this is the price you will pay for getting a divorce.”–Harvard Medical School Psychiatry Professor Henry J. Friedman, New York Times, 10/17/08.

“In some cases, it’s clear that the child is actively being taught to hate the parent”–Dr. Richard A. Warshak, author of Divorce Poison.

“‘Anyone who works in the field of forensic psychology in the context of divorce will say, yes, it’s possible for a child to be turned away from a loving parent. Everybody knows that happens’”–custody consultant J. Michael Bone, Ph.D., US News and World Report, 10/29/09

“[Court-ordered visitation can] be entangled with Medea-like rage…A woman betrayed by her husband is deeply opposed to the fact that her children must visit him every other weekend. … She cannot stop the visit, but she can plant seeds of doubt – ‘Do not trust your father’ – in the children’s minds and thus punish her ex-husband via the children. She does this consciously or unconsciously, casting the seeds of doubt by the way she acts and the questions she asks.”–Psychologist Judith S. Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee

“‘Strong alignment’ [with one parent means] the child consistently denigrated and rejected the other parent. Often, this was accompanied by an adamant refusal to visit, communicate, or have anything to do with the rejected parent…Strong alignments are probably most closely related to the behavioral phenomenon Gardner referred to as parental alienation syndrome…”–Janet Johnston, PhD

“I’ve seen several dramatic cases where the father was the alienator. In one case, the father had no control over his obsession to trash the mother.

“Numerous professionals told him, including the mother, that he could have shared custody if he would be willing to follow the rules. He didn’t have the self-control to do this.”–Dr. Jayne A. Major

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Emotional Scarring From Divorce Affects 1 In 4 Kids, Most Ages 9 To 12

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parents rights on December 18, 2009 at 6:36 pm

Emotional Scarring From Divorce Affects 1 In 4 Kids, Most Ages 9 To 12

To see the original article click on the link above.

Parental Alienation Syndrome to be highlighted on ABC’s 20/20 | Brainwashing Children

In Activism, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Children and Domestic Violence, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Marriage, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parents rights on December 16, 2009 at 12:44 am

What could given further credence to PAS would be to allow the “pig pen mummies” onto the show and spew their hatred about “abusers” and “protective” parents horsehit. And when the hosts ask them why the “abusers” have the children and not them, let see them explain about Borderline, Histrionic and Paranoid Personality Disorders, whores of the court, and why suborning children is not a crime. (Suborning is the legal way of saying you made the children lie for you, “anonymous” mummies.)

Parental Alienation Syndrome to be highlighted on ABC’s 20/20

Posted on 14. Dec, 2009 by admin in Brainwashing

20/20 show on parental alienation syndromeABC News’ show 20/20 will be featuring a segment this Friday, with a brief appearance by Dr. Richard Warshak, the foremost author and psychologist on parental alienation syndrome, aka “children brainwashed to hate a parent.”

From Dr. Warshak’s site,

I expect this show to have a major impact in educating the public about the suffering of children who have been turned against a parent, and about what can be done to help ease a child’s transition back to a rejected parent.

The segment will be anchored by 20/20 reporter Chris Cuomo. This topic, mental child abuse, is vastly misunderstood by parents, therapists, judges, and lawyers alike, so I’m excited that it will be in front of a national audience. Dr. Warshak is the foremost authority on parent-child alienation, so ABC did great in choosing to interview him.

The segment should air in the first hour of the 2 hour show (9-11pm EST). expect this show to have a major impact in educating the public about the suffering of children who have been turned against a parent, and about what can be done to help ease a child’s transition back to a rejected parent.

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Parental Alienation Syndrome to be highlighted on ABC’s 20/20 | Brainwashing Children.

False Allegations, Dishonest Tactics, What Does A Honest Parent To Do?

In Activism, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Marriage, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Restraining Orders on December 13, 2009 at 10:56 pm

False Allegations, Dishonest Tactics, What Does A Honest Parent To Do?

By: Ed Brooks

via False Allegations, Dishonest Tactics, What Does A Honest Parent To Do?.

Colman’s Parental Alienation Research

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Marriage, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Protective Parents, Restraining Orders on December 11, 2009 at 8:14 pm

Colman’s Parental Alienation Research 6/4/2009 I wanted to analyze how the courts of Canada were addressing the challenge of parental alienation.  With the assistance of some students, we looked into the two major case data bases:  Quicklaw and E-Carswell (up to January 31, 2009).  We endeavoured to summarize all of the cases where the court made a finding that Parental Alienation existed based on the facts of the particular case.

SAMPLE: We found a total of 74 cases where parental alienation was found to exist.  The time frame was from 1987 to Jan. 31/09.  The division by gender was:

  • Mother alienator: 50
  • Father alienator:  24

FREQUENCY OF RESIDENCE CHANGE

I wondered how frequently the court had changed custody from the alienator parent to the target parent.  Here is what we found:

  • Of the 50 mother alienator cases, the courts changed residence to the father target parent in 31 of them (62.0%).
  • Of the 24 father alienator cases, the courts changed residence to the mother target parent in 19 of them (79.2%).

I wondered if there was any difference in the more recent cases.  From 2001 to Jan. ’09, here is what the data showed re residence change:

  • Mother alienators have had residence changed 25/35 = 71.4% of the time.
  • Father alienators have had residence changed 14/18 = 77.8% of the time.

FREQUENCY OF ACCESS BEING GRANTED TO ALIENATOR PARENT

When the court changes custody, the court can either grant access to the alienator parent or the court can deny all access to the alienator.  All access is denied (at least for a period of time) to enable the target parent to re-establish a relationship with the child free from the alienator parent continuing to undermine that relationship.  I wondered how frequently access was being granted or denied to the alienator parent when the child’s residence is changed to the target parent.  Here is what we found:

  • Recall from above that of  the 50 mother alienator cases, the courts changed residence to the father target parent in 31 of them (62.0%). Of those 31 cases, the court granted access to the mother alienator in 26 of them (83.9%) and denied access to the mother alienator in only 5 of those 31 cases (16.1%).
  • Recall from above that of  the 24 father alienator cases, the courts changed residence to the mother target parent in 19 of those 24 cases (79.2%). Of those 19 cases, the court granted access to the father alienator in 12 cases (63.2%) and denied access to the father alienator in 7 (36.8%) of those 19 cases.

FREQUENCY OF COUNSELING BEING ORDERED

Counseling can be an effective means to begin to repair relationships and educate parents.  (Of course, much depends on the skill of the counselor and the willingness of a parent to receive guidance.)  I wondered to what extent the courts were requiring the children and parents to participate in counseling.  Here is what we found:

  • Of the 50 mother alienator cases, the courts ordered counseling in 12 cases (24.0%).
  • Of the 24 father alienator cases, the courts ordered counseling in 13 cases (54.2%).
  • Where the mother was the alienator, she was ordered into some form of counseling on 7 of the 50 occasions, or 14%.
  • Where the father was the alienator, he was ordered into some form of counseling on 7 of the 24 occasions, or 29.2%.
  • Of the 16 cases during 2008 plus the one case reported in January 2009, the court ordered counseling in nine of them.  Within those nine cases, the alienator was ordered into counseling in four of them and it was “suggested” that counseling be undertaken in two additional cases.

I am happy to report that there is some reason to be optimistic with respect to how the law is developing in Canada. It would appear to me that the courts of Canada are increasingly taking more drastic measures to ameliorate the effects of parental alienation.  From changing residence, to counseling for all concerned, to making contempt findings (not discussed in the above summary) –  the tendency appears to be in favour of proactively addressing the problem.  The conventional wisdom years ago was that “time heals”.  It is my view (and that of many other professionals who have expertise in this area) that time often does not heal.  Resolute action is required.  Judges seem to be  increasingly aware how important it is to ensure that children are enabled to have a relationship with both parents.

Issues that still need to be proactively addressed include:

  • Obtaining a speedy remedy from the court (many P.A. cases take years to come to trial);
  • Obtaining a cost effective remedy from the court (legal fees tend to be quite high in P.A. cases);
  • Encouraging the court to enforce its own orders immediately upon learning of a violation (courts historically would warn misbehaving parents numerous times before any action would be taken);
  • Instituting procedural reforms in family courts so that high conflict cases such as P.A. cases are managed by one judge (case management exists on paper in some jurisdictions but it is rare for one particular judge to take full control of a case).

I presented my research findings at the First International Symposium for Parental Alienation Syndrome in Toronto on March 27, 2009.  A more comprehensive report is currently being prepared for publication.

Gene C. Colman

March 31, 2009

Colman’s Parental Alienation Research.

Fathers & Families Files Official Response to Elkins Task Force Recommendations on California Family Law Reforms « Fathers & Families

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Freedom, Glenn Sacks, Marriage, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment on December 8, 2009 at 7:09 pm

Fathers & Families Files Official Response to Elkins Task Force Recommendations on California Family Law Reforms

December 7th, 2009 by Glenn Sacks, MA, Executive Director

elkinslogo“[Family law litigants should not be subjected to second-class status or deprived of access to justice. Litigants with other civil claims are entitled to resolve their disputes in the usual adversary trial proceeding governed by the rules of evidence established by statute. It is at least as important that courts employ fair proceedings when the stakes involve a judgment providing for custody in the best interest of a child and governing a parent’s future involvement in his or her child’s life…”–Elkins v. Superior Court (2007)

Family law takes up more court calendar time than any other form of law in California, yet it receives the least amount of funding. Moreover, the public’s trust and confidence in the family court system is lower than that of any other area of law the judicial system handles.

The Elkins Family Law Task Force is conducting a comprehensive review of family law proceedings and will recommend to the Judicial Council of California proposals that increase access to justice for all family law litigants. The Task Force grew out of the Elkins decision referenced above–to learn more, click here and go to page 3.

The Elkins Family Law Task Force recently issued its draft recommendations and Fathers & Families has submitted its official comments in response. Fathers & Families’ comments, which were submitted by F & F Board Member Elizabeth Barton, PhD of the University of California at Irvine, are here.

Elkins’ recommendations concern 21 family court issues, including: Enhancing Mechanisms to Handle Perjury; the Right to Present Live Testimony at Hearings; Contested Child Custody; Streamlining Family Law Forms and Procedures; and numerous others.

While Fathers & Families feels that many of the recommendations lack sufficient substantive detail, we believe that this will be addressed in the Task Force’s final recommendations to the Judicial Council in Spring 2010. We are encouraged that the recommendations address transparency, due process, and education.

Many of the issues the Elkins Commission is taking up, such as conflict reduction, improving transparency, and protecting all parties’ due process rights, were first addressed by Fathers & Families’ legislative representative Michael Robinson during his work on AB 402 in 2006.

AB 402, a family law bill sponsored by then-California Assemblyman Mervyn M. Dymally, codified collaborative law practice into our family law codes. The current adversarial litigation process escalates conflict between divorcing parents instead of reducing it. Collaborative Law is a better option.

Among other provisions, AB 402 mandated a written statement of decision in all hearings or trials involving child custody. While this provision was already part of the Codes of Civil Procedure, it was not always being followed.

Robinson also attempted to add provisions for stronger enforcement of child custody orders by adding a new SECTION. 4. Family Code 3022 as part of AB 402. There was strong support for this provision from the California Judges Association and the Family Law Section of the State Bar. This provision was lost, but Fathers & Families is continuing to pursue this goal in Sacramento.

During the Work Group that AB 402 established (similar to the Elkins Task Force), Donna Hitchens, Presiding Judge of the San Francisco Family Court, commented:

You have no idea how many children’s college educations I have seen unnecessarily wasted in my court room. This must be stopped.

Fathers & Families will continue its close monitoring of the Elkins Task Force and will be reporting on future developments.

The next event is the Task Force’s two-day meeting February 1 & 2, 2010 in the Judicial Council Conference Center of the Administrative Office of the Courts in San Francisco. Fathers & Families will have a representative speaking at this meeting, and will post its presentation on our E-Newsletter and on www.FathersandFamilies.org.

Fathers & Families is also working on 2010 legislation to codify some of the Elkins Task Force’s most important recommendations–stay tuned for more details.

California law has an enormous impact on the laws of other states, as well as federal law. For example, many of the misguided domestic violence laws that have separated so many innocent fathers from their children emanated from the legislation passed in California in the mid-1990s in the wake of the OJ Simpson trial.

In addition, many of those reading this participated in our successful 2005 campaign to pass California SB 1082, a military parents bill. Since then 30 states have passed bills based in part on SB 1082.

Fathers & Families is the only family court reform organization with a fulltime lobbyist working inside the capitol of California or any other major state, and we probably have the only fulltime family court reform lobbyist in the country. This important work costs money–please support it by giving here.

The family court system has become so damaging and dysfunctional because for 40 years our opponents have passed, defeated, and amended legislation while our side usually didn’t show up. We’re there now, and we’re growing stronger–become a part of it by filling out our Volunteer Form here.

Fathers & Families Files Official Response to Elkins Task Force Recommendations on California Family Law Reforms « Fathers & Families.

‘Barbaric’ family courts behind ‘state sponsored kidnap’ – Bob Geldof – Telegraph

In Activism, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Children and Domestic Violence, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Fit Parent, Marriage, Non-custodial fathers, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine on December 8, 2009 at 6:42 pm
‘Barbaric’ family courts behind ‘state sponsored kidnap’ – Bob Geldof
Bob Geldof has launched an outspoken attack on the family courts system accusing it of routinely allowing “state sponsored kidnap” of vulnerable children.

Bob Geldof  accuses 'barbaric? family courts of ?state sponsored kidnap?

Bob Geldof Photo: Stephen Lock

The singer and anti-poverty campaigner described the current child custody laws as “barbaric and abusive” and dismissed the system as a “disgraceful mess”.

He claimed that children’s futures are being decided on the basis of “mumbo jumbo” and “social engineering” with devastating long-term consequences for society.

Mr Geldof, who fought for custody of his three daughters from his former wife Paula Yates, also alleged that British courts “consistently” show bias against men by handing custody to mothers.

His comments come in the foreword to a new report which draws together a clutch of recent research on the psychological effects of break-up on children.

The paper, published by The Custody Minefield, an internet legal advice service, and supported by Families Need fathers, the campaign group, calls for a change in the law on relocation cases in which separated parents apply for permission to move elsewhere.

It calls for the current guidelines to be changed to include an explicit ban on decisions favouring mothers on grounds of gender.

The report lists a raft of academic research which it says shows that children with no paternal influence are more likely to have behavioural problems, lower exam results, mental health problems, and even lower IQs.

It follows a recent study which found that up to a third of children whose parents separate lost touch with their father permanently.

“In the near future the family law under which we endure will be seen as barbaric, criminally damaging, abusive, neglectful, harmful to society, the family, the parents and the children in whose name it purports to act,” wrote Mr Geldof.

“It is beyond scrutiny or criticism and like a secret society its members – the judges, lawyers, social and child ‘care’ agencies behave like any closed vested interest and protect each others’ backs.”

He described the system as: “A farrago of cod professionalism and faux concern largely predicated on nonsensical social guff, mumbo-jumbo and psychobabble.

“Dangling at the other end of this are the lives of thousands of British children and their families.”

In a reference to the famed wisdom of the Biblical King Solomon, he added: “Rather than Solomon-like resolving our tragically human disputes with understanding, compassion and logical pragmatism, the courts have consistently acted against society’s interest through the application of prejudice, gender bias and awful impartial cruelty.”

Presented with two women who both claimed to be the mother of a baby, Solomon is said to have suggested cutting the child in half. One of them immediately begged him to give the baby to her rival, demonstrating that she was the true mother.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: “We are creating a family court system that is transparent, accountable, and inspires public confidence in its good work, whilst still protecting the privacy of children and families involved.

“That is why we have allowed greater media access to family courts which will lead to greater trust. We have also increased access to out of court family mediation by putting information about divorce, relationship breakdown and the family courts, and a link to the Family Mediation Helpline website, on the DirectGov website.

“It is for the court to consider the evidence put before them in each individual case. However, the child’s welfare will always be the court’s paramount consideration.”

‘Barbaric’ family courts behind ‘state sponsored kidnap’ – Bob Geldof – Telegraph.

Ex-Etiquette: My son’s mother won’t stop calling him on my time – Sacramento Living – Sacramento Food and Wine, Home, Health | Sacramento Bee

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Children and Domestic Violence, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Liberty, Marriage, Parents rights, Protective Dads on December 8, 2009 at 6:39 pm

Ex-Etiquette: My son’s mother won’t stop calling him on my time

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2009 – 5:07 am

Q. Is it OK to put a limit of one 10-minute phone call on my 11-year-old son to his mother on my every other weekend visits? They call each other morning, noon, and night and stay on the phone for 20-60 minutes each time. When he gets off the phone with her his mood has soured.

A. Sometimes in situations like this, a parent will say it’s because their child has told them they hate going to visit the other parent, so they’re trying to make it easier by reminding him or her the time away will be over soon. In other cases, the parent is afraid their child will forget them or like it more with the other parent – so they call to remind the child how much they’re loved, often talking about what the child left behind when he or she is away with comments like, “Don’t worry, I fed your puppy,” or, even more underhandedly, “Your puppy misses you when you are gone!” In yet other cases, constant phone calls are simply a tool to alienate the child from the other parent. Parents who use this tact must understand the lasting psychological impact this behavior has on their child. For more information, type in Parental Alienation Syndrome, in the Bonus Families Web site search engine.

While each case should be examined individually, it’s not uncommon for a child to tell an anxious parent exactly what he or she thinks the parent wants to hear – even if it’s untrue. “I hate going to Dad’s! It’s boring” even if the truth is that Dad just bought him a new X-box and he’s dying to get over there. That’s when the parents end up in a counselor’s office looking for a custody change because they think they are doing exactly what their child wants. In actuality, neither knows the truth.

To eliminate this issue, phone calls should be limited to one a day – a “Hi ya son, good to hear your voice” phone call is all that’s needed. Also, the parents must improve their communication with each other. The more the parents talk directly to each other, the less room there is for the child to interpret by himself. Help him to cope by supporting the other parent’s visitation. It is in his best interest.

(East Jann Blackstone-Ford, Ph.D., and her husband’s ex-wife, Sharyl Jupe, authors of “Ex-Etiquette for Parents,” are the founders of Bonus Families (www.bonusfamilies.com). Reach them at ee@bonusfamilies.com.)

Ex-Etiquette: My son’s mother won’t stop calling him on my time – Sacramento Living – Sacramento Food and Wine, Home, Health | Sacramento Bee.

Real Protective Parents Never Call Themselves “Protective Parents”

In Best Interest of the Child, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Fit Parent, Marriage, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Protective Parents, Restraining Orders on December 7, 2009 at 12:53 am

Many father’s and families rights activists hear the term protective parents used by those parents who make false allegations in court all the time.

Court Judges, Commissioners, Attorneys and Psychologists KNOW that what you say about the other parent is what you are saying about your own CHILD.  Children know this intuitively.  If children know you hate  mom or dad, then your children know you hate them.  After all, they are half the other parent.  Children are not stupid, but one wonders about “Protective parents.”

It is time to set the record straight.

Real Protective Parents

1. Never make allegations against the other parent in court, and NEVER make them in the presence of their children.

2. Never refer to themselves as protective parents.  It is a code word, listed below.

3. Support efforts to have Parental Alienation recognized by courts and the American Psychological Association, and never keep a child away from the other.

4. Never refer to their ex-spouse as abuser, drug addict, alcoholic,  neither in court, on the Internet, and NEVER before their children.

5. Encourage the children to see the other parent, actively support the children’s involvement with the other parent.

6. Cooperate with the other parent to raise the children through co-parenting.

7. Never use a restraining order against the other parent as a sword, instead only obtain one as a shield for themselves alone.

The term protective parent is code word that non-custodial mothers groups  invented after losing their children in family court action when they violated one of the basic cannons recognized by family court as be a fit parent.

Stuart Showalter Law Blawg: Custody discussions with Legislators this week

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, custody, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Restraining Orders on December 5, 2009 at 1:33 am

Friday, December 4, 2009

Custody discussions with Legislators this week

On Tuesday 01 December 2009 I attended a discussion forum on the proposed constitutional amendment to cap property taxes. The event was hosted by the Meridian-Kessler Neighborhood Association with the help of Aaron Smith of WatchDog Indiana. Senators, Breaux, Schnieder and Taylor along with Representatives Delaney and Noe attended the event.

There was lively discussion and debate about the merits of and potential problems with a constitutional limit on property taxes. Although I live in Lebanon now, I grew up in the MKNA area. This provided an opportunity to see quite a few people I know and to also make some new acquaintances. But, taxes are not my issue so I will move on to child custody issues.

Before and after the event I had the opportunity to speak with most of the legislators. Senator Schneider is the state’s newest senator after having replace Terresa Lubbers in August of this year. Lubbers took a job as the Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education. Senator Schneider is a fiscal conservative who expressed interest in child custody matters and would like to be included in our efforts.

Senator Taylor and I spoke about some legislation that we have been working on since the last session. Senator Taylor sat on the Indiana Child Custody and Support Advisory Committee [ICCSAC] as a freshman member this year. He believes that he will be able to sponsor two of our bills.

Representative Noe and I discussed family law issues in general and where we would like to see Indiana headed in that arena. Representative Noe is the legislator I have worked with the longest on child custody issues. She is very firmly is support of children having access to and the care and support of both parents and other child-friendly legislation. She may be able to sponsor a bill for us although limited to only five this session.

On Tuesday I spoke with Senator Boots about a bill that I proposed to bring conformity to Indiana’s adoption and paternity laws. Back in July of this year I wrote about the rare but important need for this bill and contacted Senator Boots then. I am very appreciative that Senator Boots had submitted that bill on Monday.

I do believe that this bill will go through the Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Senator Bray. I am confident that Senator Bray will set this bill for a hearing and that, with proper testimonial support, it will get passed. I would appreciate anyone having experience as a party, especially pro se, or attorney who has filed a paternity action while an adoption action involving the same child was pending to please contact me.

Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates currently has six bills we are seeking to get passed during this short session of the General Assembly. We would like to have the remaining five bills submitted by opening day on 05 January 2010. We are starting to make substantive progress to make Indiana a more child-friendly state but do need additional help. If you can do as little as forward an email please contact us.

Members of the Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates will be meeting again on 21 December 2009 at 7:30pm at the Marrott in Indianapolis. Our legislative liaisons will be attending the opening day of the second session of the 116th Assembly at the State House on Tuesday, 05 January 2010.

If you would like to assist us or meet your legislators on opening day please contact me.

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©2009 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it’s entirety with credit given.

Stuart Showalter Law Blawg: Custody discussions with Legislators this week.

NEW CAMPAIGN: Ask DSM to Include Parental Alienation in Upcoming Edition « Fathers & Families

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Custody for Mothers, Child Support, child trafficking, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, Civil Rights, CPS, custody, deadbeat dads, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fathers rights, Jayne Major, Liberty, Marriage, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Protective Parents, Restraining Orders, Single Parenting on December 2, 2009 at 3:00 pm

Ask DSM to Include Parental Alienation in Upcoming Edition

A group of 50 mental health experts from 10 countries are part of an effort to add Parental Alienation to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V), the American Psychiatric Association’s “bible” of diagnoses. According to psychiatrist William Bernet, adding PA “would spur insurance coverage, stimulate more systematic research, lend credence to a charge of parental alienation in court, and raise the odds that children would get timely treatment.”

Few family law cases are as heartbreaking as those involving Parental Alienation. In PA cases, one parent has turned his or her children against the other parent, destroying the loving bonds the children and the target parent once enjoyed.

Fathers & Families wants to ensure that the DSM-V Task Force is aware of the scope and severity of Parental Alienation. To this end, we are asking our members and supporters to write DSM. If you or someone you love has been the victim of Parental Alienation, we want you to tell your story to the DSM-V Task Force. To do so, simply fill in our form by clicking here.

Once you have filled out our form, Fathers & Families will print out your letter and send it by regular US mail to the three relevant figures in DSM-V: David J. Kupfer, M.D., the chair of the DSM-V Task Force; Darrel A. Regier, M.D., vice-chair of the DSM-V Task Force; and Daniel S. Pine, M.D., chair of the DSM-V Disorders in Childhood and Adolescence Work Group.

DSM V is struggling with many weighty matters and as things currently stand, Parental Alienation might not get much notice or attention. By having our supporters write to leading DSM figures, we hope to draw attention to the issue.

Again, to tell your story, click here.

Supporters can send letters to DSM until the middle of 2010. In 2011, DSM will be considering the issue. In 2012, DSM V will be written, and in 2013 DSM V will be published. When you write your letter, please:

1) Keep the focus on your child(ren) and how the Parental Alienation has harmed them.
2) Stick to the facts related to the Parental Alienation.
3) Be succinct.
4) Fill in all fields on our form.
5) Be civil and credible, and avoid any profanity or use of insulting language

Again, to write the DSM Committee about your story, click here.

Running these campaigns takes time and money–the postage and supplies alone on this campaign will be several thousand dollars. To make a tax-deductible contribution to support this effort, click here.

Together with you in the love of our children,

Glenn Sacks, MA
Executive Director, Fathers & Families

Ned Holstein, M.D., M.S.
Founder, Chairman of the Board, Fathers & Families


Frequently Asked Questions about Parental Alienation

1) What is Parental Alienation?

Parental Alienation is a disorder that arises primarily in the context of divorce/separation and/or 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 the combination of a programming (brainwashing) of a parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the targeted parent. Parental Alienation is also sometimes referred to as “Parental Alienation Disorder” or “Parental Alienation Syndrome.” To learn more, click here.


2) Most claims of Parental Alienation are made by divorced or separated fathers. When fathers have custody of their children, do they sometimes alienate them from the noncustodial mothers?

Yes, both genders can be perpetrators and victims of Parental Alienation, but those hurt the worst are always the children, who lose one of the two people in the world who love them the most.

3) Do fathers (or mothers) sometimes make false claims of Parental Alienation against mothers (or fathers)?

Yes. There are parents who have alienated their own children through their abuse or personality defects, and who attempt to shift the blame to their former spouses or partners by falsely claiming the other parent alienated the children from them.

4) How common is Parental Alienation?

Parental Alienation is a common, well-documented phenomenon that is the subject of numerous studies and articles in peer-reviewed scholarly journals. A longitudinal study published by the American Bar Association in 2003 followed 700 “high conflict” divorce cases over a 12 year period and found that elements of PA were present in the vast majority of the cases studied. Some experts estimate that there are roughly 200,000 children in the U.S. who have PAD, similar to the number of children with autism. To learn more, click here.

5) Opponents of recognizing Parental Alienation claim that abusive fathers often employ Parental Alienation as a way to wrest custody from protective mothers in family court. They’ve promoted several cause celebre cases in recent years as a way to garner public sympathy and political support for their agenda. Is their portrayal of these cases accurate?

No–most of these cases are being misrepresented by opponents of recognizing Parental Alienation. Examples include: Genia Shockome (publicized by Newsweek magazine and others); Sadia Loeliger (one of the alleged heroines of a 2005 PBS documentary called Breaking the Silence: Children’s Stories; and Holly Collins (publicized by Fox News, Inside Edition and others.) In each of these three cases, opponents of recognizing Parental Alienation badly misrepresented the cases, turning reality on its head. To learn more about these cases, click here and here.

Despite this, opponents of recognizing Parental Alienation push for reforms which will make it easier to deny parents shared custody or visitation rights based on unsubstantiated abuse claims. They also push for laws to exclude evidence of Parental Alienation in family law proceedings. One example is California AB 612, a bill that a bill that would have prevented target parents of Parental Alienation from raising PA as an issue in their cases. In 2007 and 2009, Fathers & Families’ legislative representative Michael Robinson helped build a professional coalition to scuttle AB 612.

6) Opponents of recognizing Parental Alienation, as well as some mental health professionals, claim that Parental Alienation should not be recognized by DSM as a mental disorder. What’s Fathers & Families’ position on this aspect of the issue?

Many intelligent, accomplished mental health authorities do believe that Parental Alienation Disorder should be considered a mental disorder, but there are also credible experts who do not. DSM has accepted several relational disorders, such as Separation Anxiety Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and PAD is a typical relational disorder. Any target parent of Parental Alienation would certainly believe that his or her child’s sudden, irrational hatred constitutes some sort of a mental disorder. In Parental Alienation Disorder and DSM-V, numerous mental health authorities make the case for including PAD–to learn more, click here.

Dr. Richard A. Warshak explains:

PAS fits a basic pattern of many psychiatric syndromes. Such syndromes denote conditions in which people who are exposed to a designated stimulus develop a certain cluster of symptoms.

Nonetheless, Fathers & Families’ emphasis is not on these technical aspects of the issue, but instead on the harm Parental Alienation does to children. The malignant behavior of alienating a child from his or her mother or father after a divorce or separation is a widespread social problem which merits a much more vigorous judicial and legislative response.

7) How will children caught in Parental Alienation be helped if Parental Alienation is included in DSM V?

Inclusion of Parental Alienation in DSM V will increase PA’s recognition and legitimacy in the eyes of family court judges, mediators, custody evaluators, family law attorneys, and the legal and mental health community in general. Psychiatrist William Bernet says that adding PA “would spur insurance coverage, stimulate more systematic research, lend credence to a charge of parental alienation in court, and raise the odds that children would get timely treatment.” To learn more, click here.

8) What is the child’s part in PAS?

The child denigrates the alienated parent with foul language and severe oppositional behavior. The child offers weak, absurd, or frivolous reasons for his or her anger. The child is sure of him or herself and doesn’t demonstrate ambivalence, i.e. love and hate for the alienated parent, only hate. The child exhorts that he or she alone came up with ideas of denigration. The “independent-thinker” phenomenon is where the child asserts that no one told him to do this. The child supports and feels a need to protect the alienating parent. The child does not demonstrate guilt over cruelty towards the alienated parent. The child uses borrowed scenarios, or vividly describes situations that he or she could not have experienced. Animosity is spread to the friends and/or extended family of the alienated parent.

In severe cases of parent alienation, the child is utterly brain-washed against the alienated parent. The alienator can truthfully say that the child doesn’t want to spend any time with this parent, even though he or she has told him that he has to, it is a court order, etc. The alienator typically responds, “There isn’t anything that I can do about it. I’m not telling him that he can’t see you.” (excerpted from Dr. Jayne A. Major’s Parents Who Have Successfully Fought Parental Alienation Syndrome).

9) Are there varying degrees of Parental Alienation?

Yes. Dr. Douglas Darnall, in his book Divorce Casualties: Protecting Your Children from Parental Alienation, describes three categories of PA.

The mild category he calls the naïve alienators. They are ignorant of what they are doing and are willing to be educated and change.

The moderate category is the active alienators. When they are triggered, they lose control of appropriate boundaries.

In the severe category are the obsessed alienators or those who are involved in PAS. They are committed to destroying the other parent’s relationship with the child. In the latter case, Dr. Darnall notes that we don’t have an effective protocol for treating an obsessed alienator other than removing the child from their influence.

An important point is that in PAS there is no true parental abuse and/or neglect on the part of the alienated parent. If this were the case, the child’s animosity would be justified. (excerpted from Dr. Jayne A. Major’s Parents Who Have Successfully Fought Parental Alienation Syndrome).

The Case for Including Parental Alienation Disorder in DSM V

Parental Alienation Disorder and DSM-V was written by psychiatrist William Bernet, M.D., Wilfrid v. Boch-Galhau, M.D., Joseph Kenan, M.D., Joan Kinlan, M.D., Demosthenes Lorandos, Ph.D., J.D., Richard Sauber, Ph.D., Bela Sood, M.D., and James S. Walker, Ph.D. In it, they make the case for including Parental Alienation Disorder in DSM V.

Their proposal was submitted to the Disorders in Childhood and Adolescence Work Group for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition in August of 2008. Below are some excerpts from their paper.

Bernet & Co. write:

Although parental alienation disorder has been described in the psychiatric literature for at least 60 years, it has never been considered for inclusion in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). When DSM-IV was being developed, nobody formally proposed that parental alienation disorder be included in that edition. Since the publication of DSM-IV in 1994, there have been hundreds of publications (articles, chapters, books, court opinions) regarding parental alienation in peer reviewed mental health journals, legal literature, and the popular press. There has been controversy among mental health and legal professionals regarding parental alienation…

Regarding our proposed diagnostic criteria, we say that the essential feature of parental alienation disorder is that a child – usually one whose parents are engaged in a hostile divorce – allies himself or herself strongly with one parent (the preferred parent) and rejects a relationship with the other parent (the alienated parent) without legitimate justification. The primary behavioral symptom is the child’s resistance or refusal to visit or have parenting time with the alienated parent…

For purposes of this proposal, we are referring to the mental condition under consideration as parental alienation disorder (PAD). Depending on the context, we sometimes refer to parental alienation syndrome (PAS). Our primary criteria for PAD are the attitudes and behavior of the child, that is, the child essentially has a false belief that the alienated parent is a dangerous person and must be avoided. We reserve the word alienation for individuals with this false belief, whether the false belief was brought about by the alienating parent or by other circumstances, such as the child who avoids being caught between warring parents by gravitating to one side and avoiding the other side of the battle…

Bernet & Co. believe that PAD should be included in DSM-V for the following reasons:

Relational disorders are being considered for DSM-V, and PAD is an exemplar of this type of mental disorder.

Despite controversies regarding terminology and etiology, the phenomenon of PAD is almost universally accepted by mental health and legal professionals. Research indicates that PAD is a valid and reliable construct.

Establishing diagnostic criteria will make it possible to study PAD in a more systematic manner.

Establishing diagnostic criteria will reduce the opportunities for abusive parents and unethical attorneys to misuse the concept of PAD in child custody disputes.

Establishing diagnostic criteria will be helpful for: clinicians who work with divorced families; divorced parents, who are trying to do what is best for their children; and children of divorce, who desperately need appropriate treatment that is based on a correct diagnosis.

One of the important points that Bernet & Co. make is that PA is not new. They write:

The phenomenon of PAD has been described in the mental health literature for at least 60 years and the concept is almost universally accepted by psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers who evaluate and treat these children. Also, the concept of parental alienation is generally understood and accepted by legal professionals. The symptoms of PAD were described in the mental health literature long before Richard Gardner coined the term “parental alienation syndrome” (in 1985).

In 1949, Wilhelm Reich wrote in his classic book, Character Analysis, that some divorced parents defend themselves against narcissistic injury by fighting for custody of their child and defaming their former spouse. These parents seek “revenge on the partner through robbing him or her of the pleasure in the child. … In order to alienate the child from the partner, it is told that the partner is an alcoholic or psychotic, without there being any truth to such statements”.

In 1952, Louise Despert referred in her book, Children of Divorce, to the temptation for one parent “to break down” their child’s love for the other parent.

In 1980, Judith Wallerstein and Joan Kelly referred to an alliance between a narcissistically enraged parent and a particularly vulnerable older child or adolescent, who “were faithful and valuable battle allies in efforts to hurt and punish the other parent. Not infrequently, they turned on the parent they had loved and been very close to prior to the marital separation”.

Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee later discussed how court-ordered visitation can “be entangled with Medea-like rage.” They said, “A woman betrayed by her husband is deeply opposed to the fact that her children must visit him every other weekend. … She cannot stop the visit, but she can plant seeds of doubt – ‘Do not trust your father’ – in the children’s minds and thus punish her ex-husband via the children. She does this consciously or unconsciously, casting the seeds of doubt by the way she acts and the questions she asks…”

Bernet & Co. write:

In 1994, the American Psychological Association published “Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Divorce Proceedings”…the authors of the guidelines provided a bibliography of “Pertinent Literature,” which included The Parental Alienation Syndrome and two other books by Richard Gardner.

In 1997, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) published “Practice Parameters for Child Custody Evaluations.” This document, an “AACAP Official Action,” referred explicitly to “Parental Alienation” and said, “There are times during a custody dispute when a child can become extremely hostile toward one of the parents. The child finds nothing positive in his or her relationship with the parent and prefers no contact. The evaluator must assess this apparent alienation and form a hypothesis of its origins and meaning. Sometimes, negative feelings toward one parent are catalyzed and fostered by the other parent; sometimes, they are an outgrowth of serious problems in the relationship with the rejected parent”…

There has been an enormous amount of research on the psychosocial vicissitudes of children of divorced parents, including children with PAS. The most exhaustive single volume regarding PAS is The International Handbook of Parental Alienation Syndrome, published in 2006. More than 30 mental health professionals wrote chapters for this book, including authors from Australia, Canada, Czechoslovakia, England, Germany, Israel, Sweden, and the United States.

PAS was the focus of major national conferences in Frankfurt/Main, Germany, in 2002 and in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain, in 2008. A scholarly article by Warshak cited a list of references that currently numbers 213, most of which were published in peer reviewed journals (http://home.att.net/~rawars/pasarticles.html)…

We conclude that mental health professionals (taken as a group) and the general public recognize parental alienation as a real entity that deserves considerable attention.

How common is Parental Alienation, and how many cases are there nationwide? Bernet & Co. estimate that there are roughly 200,000 children in the U.S. who have PAD, similar to the number of children with autism. They write:

In general, PAD is more likely to occur in highly conflicted, custody-disputing families than in community samples of divorcing families. Even in highly conflicted divorces, only the minority of children experience PAD. The following studies indicate that approximately 25% of children involved in custody disputes develop PAD.

Johnston – in California – found that 7% of the children in one study and 27% of the children in a second study had “strong alignment” with one parent and rejection of the other parent. Kopetski – in Colorado – found that 20% of families involved in custody disputes manifested parental alienation syndrome. Nicholas reported that 33% of families involved with custody disputes manifested parental alienation syndrome, based on a survey of 21 custody evaluators. Berns reported a study of divorce judgments in Brisbane, Australia, and said parental alienation syndrome was present in 29% of cases.

The prevalence of PAD can be roughly estimated as follows. The U.S. Census Bureau says approximately 10% of children under age 18 live with divorced parents. Approximately 10% of divorces involve custody or visitation disputes. Approximately 25% of children involved in custody or visitation disputes develop PAD. Multiplying these percentages yields a prevalence of 0.25%, or about 200,000 children in the U.S. For comparison purposes, this prevalence is the same order of magnitude as the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders.

Bernet & Co. believe that “controversies related to definitions and terminology have delayed and compromised systematic research regarding [PAD]” and that “Establishing diagnostic criteria will make it possible to study parental alienation in a more methodical manner.” They write:

[Despite controversy] There is consensus among almost all mental health professionals who have written about parental alienation regarding the following: (1) PAD is a real entity, that is, there really are children and adolescents who embark on a persistent campaign of denigration against one of the parents and adamantly refuse to see that parent, and the intensity of the campaign and the refusal is far out or proportion to anything the alienated parent has done. (2) There are many causes of visitation refusal, and PAD is only one of them. (3) PAD is not the correct diagnosis when the child’s visitation refusal is caused by child maltreatment or serious problematic behavior of the alienated parent.

Dr. Richard A. Warshak makes the case for accepting PAD/PAS:

PAS fits a basic pattern of many psychiatric syndromes. Such syndromes denote conditions in which people who are exposed to a designated stimulus develop a certain cluster of symptoms. ‘Posttraumatic stress disorder’ (PTSD) refers to a particular cluster of symptoms developed in the aftermath of a traumatic event. … These diagnoses carry no implication that everyone exposed to the same stimulus develops the condition, nor that similar symptoms never develop in the absence of the designated stimulus. … Similarly, some, but not all, children develop PAS when exposed to a parent’s negative influence. Other factors, beyond the stimulus of an alienating parent, can help elucidate the etiology for any particular child.

Bernet & Co. add “We hope that the Work Group will not reject this proposal simply because of this 20- year-old argument about the concept, the terminology, and the criteria for PAD. There is no lack of controversy regarding conditions that are quite prominent in the DSM.”

Bernet & Co. also address the important issue of the misuse of PA/PAD. As we’ve often noted, claims of Parental Alienation can be used by abusive parents as a cover for their abuse, such as in the Joyce Murphy case.

More commonly, one parent may have damaged his or her relationships with his children due to his or her own personality problems, narcissism, substance abuse issues, erratic behavior, etc., but then, rather than assuming responsibility for his or her actions, instead blames the bad relationship on the other parent, under the rubric of Parental Alienation. Fathers & Families sometimes hears from parents, usually mothers, who say that they are being unfairly blamed for the deterioration of their children’s relationships with their former partners, who claim Parental Alienation. We believe that these are legitimate concerns.

However, as we’ve often noted, simply because false claims of Parental Alienation can and are made doesn’t mean that Parental Alienation doesn’t exist or isn’t a problem. Bernet & Co. believe that acceptance of PA/PAD by DSM V will “reduce the opportunities for abusive parents and unethical attorneys to misuse the concept of parental alienation in child custody disputes.” They write:

Having established criteria for the diagnosis of PAD will eliminate the Babel of conflicting terminology and definitions that currently occurs when parental alienation is mentioned in a legal setting. More important is that the entry regarding PAD in DSM-V will include a discussion of the differential diagnosis of visitation refusal. It will be clear that the clinician should consider a number of explanations for a child’s symptom of visitation refusal and not simply rush to the diagnosis of PAD. Also, it will be clear that the diagnosis of PAD should not be made if the child has a legitimate, justifiable reason for disliking and rejecting one parent, for instance, if the child was neglected or abused by that parent.

We believe that when everybody involved in the legal procedures (the parents, the child protection investigators, the mental health professionals, the attorneys, and the judge) has a clear, uniform understanding of the definition of PAD, there will be fewer opportunities for rogue expert witnesses and lawyers to misuse the concept in court. What really matters is whether PAD is a real phenomenon, a real entity. If PAD is a real clinical entity, it should be included in the DSM. If PAD is a real clinical entity, the possibility that the diagnosis will sometimes be misused should not be a primary or serious consideration.

They also note:

[T]he psychiatric diagnosis that is most misused in legal settings is posttraumatic stress disorder. In personal injury lawsuits, the diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder in an alleged victim is used to prove that the individual actually sustained a severe trauma. Also, military veterans and workers’ compensation claimants sometimes malinger posttraumatic stress disorder in order to receive disability benefits. However, we are not aware that anybody has ever proposed that posttraumatic stress disorder should be deleted from the DSM because it is sometimes misused.

Recognizing PA/PAD/PAD will help children of divorce or separation. Bernet & Co. write:

Establishing diagnostic criteria will be helpful for: clinicians who work with divorced families; divorced parents, who are trying to do what is best for their children; and children of divorce, who desperately need appropriate treatment that is based on a correct diagnosis. According to Barbara-Jo Fidler, clinical observations, case reviews and qualitative comparative studies uniformly indicate that alienated children may exhibit a variety of symptoms including poor reality testing, illogical cognitive operations, simplistic and rigid information processing, inaccurate or distorted interpersonal perceptions, self-hatred, and other maladaptive attitudes and behaviors. Fidler’s survey of the short-term and long-term effects of pathological alienation on children reviewed more than 40 articles published in peer-reviewed journals between 1991 and 2007…

The authors of this proposal believe that if PAD were an official diagnosis, counselors and therapists from all disciplines will become more familiar with this condition. As a result, children with PAD will be identified earlier in the course of their illness while it is more easily treated and even cured. Also, if PAD were an official diagnosis (with clear criteria for the diagnosis and for severity of the condition), it will be possible to conduct coherent research regarding its treatment.

The Authors’ Proposed Criteria for Parental Alienation Disorder is as follows:

A. The child – usually one whose parents are engaged in a hostile divorce – allies
himself or herself strongly with one parent and rejects a relationship with the other,
alienated parent without legitimate justification. The child resists or refuses visitation or
parenting time with the alienated parent.

B. The child manifests the following behaviors:

(1) a persistent rejection or denigration of a parent that reaches the level of a
campaign
(2) weak, frivolous, and absurd rationalizations for the child’s persistent
criticism of the rejected parent

C. The child manifests two of the following six attitudes and behaviors:

(1) lack of ambivalence
(2) independent-thinker phenomenon
(3) reflexive support of one parent against the other
(4) absence of guilt over exploitation of the rejected parent
(5) presence of borrowed scenarios
(6) spread of the animosity to the extended family of the rejected parent.

D. The duration of the disturbance is at least 2 months.

E. The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social,
academic (occupational), or other important areas of functioning.

F. The child’s refusal to have visitation with the rejected parent is without legitimate
justification. That is, parental alienation disorder is not diagnosed if the rejected parent
maltreated the child.

Send Your Letter to the DSM-V Task Force and Tell Them Your Story

To write your letter to the DSM-V Task Force, please fill out the form below. Fathers & Families will print out your letter and send it by regular US mail to the three relevant figures in DSM-V. When you write your letter, please:

1) Keep the focus on your child(ren) and how the Parental Alienation has harmed them.
2) Stick to the facts related to the Parental Alienation.
3) Be succinct.
4) Fill in all fields on our form.
5) Be civil and credible, and avoid any profanity or use of insulting language

Together with you in the love of our children,

Glenn Sacks, MA
Executive Director, Fathers & Families

Ned Holstein, M.D., M.S.
Founder, Chairman of the Board, Fathers & Families

NEW CAMPAIGN: Ask DSM to Include Parental Alienation in Upcoming Edition « Fathers & Families.

How to deal with ‘toxic’ parents – The Toronto Star 14MAR09

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Custody for Mothers, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Marriage, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on December 2, 2009 at 12:33 am

How to deal with ‘toxic’ parents
Courts ill-equipped to handle parental alienation, leaving children at greater risk of emotional damage

The Toronto Star, Susan Pigg LIVING REPORTER, March 14, 2009

When Toronto lawyer Brian Ludmer speaks about the suffering caused by parental alienation, the words come from his head and his heart.

He’s seen the devastation of a mother’s orchestrated campaign to make her children hate their father, or how a dad can use a 4-year-old as a weapon against his mother in the ugly aftermath of divorce.

The team at Family Solutions, which helps families move past bitter and angry divorces: (from left) Barbara Fidler, Helen Radovanovic, Linda Chodos, Jan Schloss and Ted Horowitz.

Ludmer is, by training, a corporate lawyer. But he’s being “swamped” by desperate parents looking for help reconnecting with their children. “Experts in this field will tell you that they’ve never met a lawyer who understands this the way that I do,” says Ludmer.

That’s because he’s also lived it.

“Parental alienation is a plague. It’s rampant out there,” says Ludmer, 48, who declined to talk about his own case for fear of upsetting his children. “This stuff has been going on for a hundred years. It’s just that now it has a name.”

Later this month, Ludmer will address the first international conference on parental alienation in Toronto. He’ll join the growing chorus of parents, judges, lawyers, social workers and mental health professionals who believe the courts are ill-equipped to deal with “toxic” parents.

“Canada seems to be a hotbed of parental alienation court activity,” says Amy Baker, a New York-based researcher who’s written two books, one chronicling the emotional suffering that travels in parental alienation’s wake.

“I think there are some very brave judges who are willing to really think through the implications of alienation and really try to deal with it.

“The bottom line is that to turn a child against a parent is to turn a child against himself.”

Two months ago, a Toronto judge stripped a mother of custody of her three daughters after a decade-long campaign to keep the kids from their father. She was ordered to pick up the tab for a U.S. program aimed at helping the girls, ages 9 to 14, reconnect with their dad.

This week, an 18-year-old from Mississauga asked to be awarded custody of his two younger brothers caught up in a decade of family “warfare.” He also asked that parental alienation experts, such as psychologists Randy Rand and Richard Warshak, be forbidden from further contact with the boys. He called programs, such as their controversial Family Workshop for Alienated Children, “voodoo science.”

But there’s so much concern about the snail’s pace of the overloaded family court system and the lack of treatment facilities in Canada that Ludmer has been working with a group of professionals on plans for Toronto’s first Family Reunification Clinic. They hope to have the facility open within a year, offering treatment based on the work of Rand and Warshak.

“The most important part (of undoing alienation) is the after care,” says Ludmer, who’s handled more than 50 parental alienation cases in the last four years. “We don’t want to be bundling kids on a plane and sending them off to the United States. This will make it easier and less disruptive to get the whole family the help they need.”

The planned centre is sure to set off a storm of controversy among those who consider Warshak and Rand’s work cult-like “deprogramming” and question whether Parental Alienation Syndrome isn’t just an excuse for bad, or even abusive, parents.

“I think the therapy often does way more harm than any so-called parental alienation could do. It demoralizes kids, it makes them feel like they’re not being listened to and involved. It demeans them,” says Joyanna Silberg of the U.S.-based Leadership Council on Child Abuse & Interpersonal Violence, a group of health professionals.

“One of the reasons this is so controversial is because it’s become an industry – a money-making industry – where purveyors of these so-called therapies and evaluation procedures are using things that the scientific community doesn’t automatically accept, but know that judges are accepting in court to affect children’s lives in an extreme way.”

Veteran family court judge Harvey Brownstone sums up the growing debate best: “The jury is still out on the whole issue of parental alienation. When a child adamantly refuses to see a parent, it is not easy to know why. It could be they’re bored, or that they don’t like the parent’s new partner. The situation is usually layered and complex.”

If there is a growing certainty about one thing, it’s that these cases need to be dealt with quickly.

“Time is the enemy of the alienated parent,” says Baker, whose book Breaking the Ties that Bind, chronicles the difficult lives of 40 adults who were alienated as children. Since the books, she’s met hundreds of others, including one who went as far as plastic surgery to wipe out the shame of looking like his father. “These cases should be fast-tracked because alienating parents exploit the ability for the courts to delay things to their benefit. The more time they have with the kid, the more time that kid is going to resist reconciliation.”

Veteran family law lawyer Jeffery Wilson – who was involved in Ontario’s first court case around alienation in 1981 and is representing the Mississauga teen fighting for his brothers – believes it’s time for more drastic measures. It’s been estimated that some 60 per cent of litigants in “high-conflict” divorces suffer from personality disorders that can turn a discussion of “Who gets the kids for Christmas?” into a months-long power struggle marked by what Ludmer calls “bad messaging and bad-mouthing.”

Wilson is calling for a government-funded “High-Conflict Response Team” that could step in before these cases hit the courts. They would have the power to sort out complex disputes, impose binding judgments and get the kids – and their parents – counselling and treatment.

Family Solutions is a North York-based team of well-respected psychologists and social workers who started meeting five years ago to compare notes on difficult cases. Now they offer everything from mediation to intensive counselling in high-conflict divorces. They’ve seen a significant growth in parental alienation and have had some success with clients who’ve worked with Rand and Warshak.

“There’s a lot of work we still need to do,” acknowledges Linda Chodos, a social worker with Family Solutions. “We don’t yet have a lot of evidence-based research that shows what kind of intervention works best.”

Rand and Warshak are based in California and Texas respectively and, in the first phase of their workshop, meet the children and the alienated parent for “educational” sessions that can include simple outings where they start to get reacquainted. (Rand apparently travelled to meet the siblings of the 18-year-old in a Montreal hotel room, but their mother, who claims to have been alienated by the father, gave up a day later when they refused to participate in the four-day session.)

“It’s to give the child a break – a chance to catch his or her breath and to give them just a few days not to be torn between the two parents,” says Ted Horowitz, a veteran social worker with Family Solutions.

The alienator is brought in as part of the second part of the program, all of which is aimed at making them aware of the damage they are doing and the need to form a new partnership around parenting.

“There is no deprogramming and never has been,” says Jacqueline Vanbetlehem, a mental health therapist with Family Solutions. “You have to really look at the circumstances of the family before you even recommend such a program. Sometimes the court intervention is a relief to these children because they don’t have to choose (between parents) anymore.”

Warshak told the Ontario Bar Association’s annual meeting last month that 17 out of 21 children who have completed the “expensive” program have forged good relationships with the other parent that continue more than two years later. The results are currently undergoing peer review.

“One of the misperceptions around this is that it’s meant to shift allegiances from one parent to the other,” says Horowitz. “The idea is to balance the family – to pull them together. Both parents need to be part of the treatment, and the children need to see their parents working together.”

How to deal with ‘toxic’ parents – The Toronto Star 14MAR09.

Part II: The State Preference for Splitting up Families Using the ‘Best Interests of the Child’ | Glenn Sacks on MND

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, children's behaviour, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, family court, Family Rights, fathers rights, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Marriage, Non-custodial fathers, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Protective Dads, Restraining Orders on December 1, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Part II: The State Preference for Splitting up Families Using the ‘Best Interests of the Child’

Saturday, November 28, 2009

By Robert Franklin, Esq.

As I said in my previous post on the “best interests of the child,” the authors of the 1973 book, “Beyond the Best Interests of the Child” were so shocked at its misuse by courts, child welfare agencies and adoption agencies, that they wrote another book in 1979 to correct the misinterpretations.

There they clearly stated that the best interests of the child were presumptively served by maintaining intact families unless certain extreme things had occurred.  Those things were the death, incarceration or incapacity of a parent, divorce and custody matters, request by a parent to terminate their rights, sexual abuse of a child by a parent, serious bodily injury done to a child by a parent, repeated injury done to a child by a parent and the refusal by the parents to authorize lifesaving medical care for the child.  Period.  According to the authors, no other situation warranted state intrusion into parental care of children.

Would anyone care to guess which book is cited time and again as authority by appellate courts, and which book is virtually ignored?  California civil rights attorney Catherine Campbell wrote in 2000 that “little notice was taken” of the authors’ second book in which they strove mightily to stop their first book’s being used to take children from parents.  It’s message, Campbell added “was not what child abuse crusaders wanted to hear, and it was not heard.”  Indeed.  The same year as her article, I did a Lexis/Nexis search of state and federal appellate court opinions.  Goldstein, Freud and Solnit’s first book had been cited 279 times versus 46 times for their second.

Campbell pointed out that those adults and children who are most abused by the “best interests of the child” are overwhelmingly poor.  They are the most apt to be found wanting as parents and least able to combat the system of child removal and placement that Campbell called “a form of legalized kidnapping.”

Come to think of it, the New Mexico case I sketched in my first post on this topic involved a man who was poor – he was a laborer.  The fact that he provided for his children and loved and cared for them, and ultimately did everything in his power to stop the adoption train that inexorably took his child from him, mattered little.  As always, state power is wielded most savagely against those least able to oppose it.

And in the arena of family courts and child welfare agencies, among the relatively powerless must be counted fathers.  That’s not because fathers are necessarily poor; of course they’re not.  Fathers aren’t necessarily poor in money, but in family court, they are poor in what matters at least as much – rights.  The range of methods used to separate fathers from their children is truly astonishing, and often enough justified by “the best interests of the child.”

Should a father be informed about the adoption of his child?  No, the child is better off with its adoptive parents.  If he finds out about the adoption and tries to stop it (as in the New Mexico case), he’ll find the child already placed with the new parents and thus its “best interests” lie with them, not him.  Should the dad be notified before his child is placed in foster care?  Not so much; only about half of them are.  What if Mom concealed her pregnancy from him until months or even years later, can he get custody?  Probably not, because, well you know, the child would be upset by a new adult entering its life so, sorry Dad.  What about a plain vanilla divorce and custody case?  Can he get primary custody?  Not likely; just 16% of dads in the United States manage that.

But who’s griping?  It’s all in the child’s best interests, right?

Back to Goldstein, Freud and Solnit, though.  Here‘s a case that, as the article shows, warrants little comment (Dallas Morning News, 11/27/09).  A man and his wife have a “history” of drug use.  He walked into a bakery with their baby in a car seat, placed the child on a table, ordered and walked out without the baby.  Now, no one would argue that that’s appropriate childcare.  Obviously it’s not.  But the question the authors want us to ask is this: “Is it behavior that warrants taking the child from its parents in favor of foster care?”  After all,

[T]o acknowledge that some parents…may threaten the well-being of their children is not to suggest that state legislatures, courts or administrative agencies can always offer such children something better…By its intrusion the state may make a bad situation worse; indeed, it may turn a tolerable or even a good stiuation into a bad one.”

Why Judge Little

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Part II: The State Preference for Splitting up Families Using the ‘Best Interests of the Child’ | Glenn Sacks on MND.

Northern Star Online: Fathers’ rights are unfairly discriminated against in family courts

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Marriage, Non-custodial fathers, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Restraining Orders on December 1, 2009 at 12:39 am
By AARON BROOKS
Last updated on 11/29/2009 at 10:50 p.m.

When President Clinton signed into law the Adoption and Safe Families Act on Nov. 19, 1997, he unbalanced the scales of justice and removed the blindfold of Themis.

A change of philosophy was at hand. No longer did courts seek family preservation; instead, prompted by an extreme minority of neglectful parents, the courts now choose to terminate the parental rights’ of parents that are allegedly harmful.

On Nov. 24, 2009, I interviewed Chicago’s fathers’ rights author, activist and attorney Jeffery Leving about my perception of Themis as a sexist.

“When I started in 79, non-custodial fathers were a class of human beings badly discriminated against, and no one cared. Every once in a while I change a law, reunite a father with his child, and it inspires me and gives me hope for future changes,” Leving said.

To clarify, a non-custodial father refers to a father without physical and/or legal custody of his child by a court order. Leving discussed how in today’s society, these men are still difficult to represent due to “discrimination of our legal system.”

A precedent of sexism seems almost too obvious within our family courts.

“There has been a long history of discrimination in our legal system. Non-custodial men anger people in the position’s power. A judge told me, ‘If a father is accused of abuse, even if he did not do it, he did something else.’ Another judge said, ‘Men are biological requirements, but social accidents,’” Leving said.

The father’s right’s attorney went on to express how society’s expectation of a man’s responsibility is hypocritical. Society wants a man to be responsible while they actually believe he isn’t.

“So when a father wants to step up to the plate, they immediately think it is to get out of paying child support, to hurt the mother or for some other inappropriate reason. Fathers seem to be targeted no matter what they do.”

So, it is obvious that men are not equal in divorce and parental right cases. Due to gender stereotypes in society, women tend to have it much easier. Although the mother physically carries and gives birth to the child, the paternal father’s consent should also be held with high respect as well.

“My opinion is that the father’s consent is necessary, and it is justified to prevent the hardships and trauma that are unavoidable when a father is notified only after the adoption. Not only are men kicked to the curb, but if they appeal it could take years for them to be reunited with their child, and that is traumatizing for everyone involved.”

Besides prejudice, money is a big issue. Leving explained that children are worth a lot of money and the adoption agency is a multi-billion dollar industry. Couples unable to have children of their own will pay any cost in order to get a child. This puts the many young fathers at a disadvantage, since they hardly have the money to compete with both the adoption agency and eager couples.

When it comes to family court rulings and rights of the paternal father, the situation is plainly unfair. Sure there are circumstances to each individual situation, but the entire system is in dire need of evaluation.

Northern Star Online: Fathers’ rights are unfairly discriminated against in family courts.

The ‘Best Interests of the Child’ Concept – Misused from the Beginning | Glenn Sacks on MND

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, fathers rights, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, kidnapped children, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Restraining Orders on November 30, 2009 at 8:12 pm
Saturday, November 28, 2009

By Robert Franklin, Esq.

Even the casual observer of family law and practice can be struck by the astonishing, er, flexibility of the term “best interests of the child.”  For example, in 1995, a New Mexico court approved of the outright theft of a child by an adoption agency and his subsequent placement with an adoptive couple as in the “best interests of the child.”

The boy had lived with the mother and father for all his year and a half of life.  One weekend when the father was out of town working, the mother took the child to the adoption agency, lied about the father’s whereabouts and gave the child up for adoption.  Two days later, the father informed the adoption agency that he had no intention of giving up the child.  But the agency kept the child with the adoptive parents anyway and let the glacial pace of the judicial system do the rest.

A year and a half later, the child was deemed to have “bonded” with the adoptive parents and the father was out of luck.  The “best interests of the child,” you understand, meant that breaking those new bonds was impermissible.  At the same time, the “best interests of the child” did permit breaking the bonds between the father and the child.  That’s what I mean when I say the concept is “flexible.”

The conduct of the mother and the agency violated New Mexico civil law, and the father sued them and won a judgment for monetary damages.  Those damages were never paid as the agency receded behind the impenetrable veil of bankruptcy.

Given the mutability of the ‘best interests’ standard, it’s interesting to know a little of its history.  In 1973, Joseph Goldstein, Anna Freud and Albert Solnit published a book that would have enormous influence on family courts and child protective agencies nationwide, albeit not the one they intended.  They were, respectively, a law professor at Yale, a child psychologist and a researcher at the Child Study Center at Yale.  Their book was entitled “Beyond the Best Interests of the Child.”  It was an effort to guide courts and placement agencies that had to decide issues of family dissolution and child custody about how best to do that.

But by 1979, the same authors were so horrified at the misuse of their book by those very courts and child protective agencies that they wrote another one entitled “Before the Best Interests of the Child.”

With their first book, they meant well; they truly didn’t anticipate the distortions to which judges, social workers and child welfare agencies would subject its message.  In it, they were dealing only with cases in which a family had already broken down and required intervention by the state to protect the children.  The authors limited their discussion to that.  The “best interests of the child” concept was discussed solely as a goal to be obtained after family breakdown.

But the courts and other state agencies had no intention of limiting their use of the book’s concepts in the same way the authors did.  In direct contradiction to the authors’ intentions, states began using the “best interests of the child” concept to achieve family breakdown by state intervention and removal of the children.

That’s what horrified the authors and prompted them to publish “Before the Best Interests of the Child” in 1979.  Here’s what they said:

[W]e believe that a child’s need for continuity of care by autonomous parents requires acknowledging that parents should generally be entitled to raise their children as they think best, free of state interference.  This conviction finds expression in our preference for minimum state intervention and prompts restraint in defining justifications for coercively intruding on family relationships…

So long as a child is a member of a functioning family, his paramount interest lies in the preservation of his family.  Thus our preference for making a child’s interests paramount is not to be construed as a justification in and of itself for intrusion.  (Emphasis in the original.)

I’ll write a bit more on this later, but remember what the authors said: the child’s “paramount interests lies in the preservation of his family.”

It’s a concept that escaped the New Mexico courts back in 1995, even as it continues to escape so many today.

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