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Archive for December, 2009|Monthly archive page

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?.

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The Denial of the PAS is the Primary Defense of the Alienator

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Childrens Rights, Divorce, Family Rights, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parents rights on December 13, 2009 at 10:18 pm

by Richard A. Gardner. M.D.
Department of Child Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons
Columbia University, New York, New York, USA

A parent accused of inducing a PAS in a child is likely to engage the services of a lawyer who may invoke the argument that there is no such thing as a PAS.

The reasoning goes like this: “If there is no such thing as the PAS, then there is no programmer, and therefore my client cannot be accused of brainwashing the children.” This is an extremely important point, and I cannot emphasize it strongly enough. It is a central element in the controversy over the PAS, a controversy that has been played out in courtrooms not only in the United States but in various other countries as well.

And if the allegedly dubious lawyer can demonstrate that the PAS is not listed in DSM-IV, then the position is considered “proven” (I say “allegedly” because the lawyer may well recognize the PAS but is only serving his client by his deceitfulness). The only thing this proves is that in 1994 DSM-IV did not list the PAS.

The lawyers hope, however, that the judge will be taken in by this specious argument and will then conclude that if there is no PAS, there is no programming, and so the client is thereby exonerated. Substituting the term PA circumvents this problem.

No alienator is identified, the sources are vaguer, and the causes could lie with the mother, the father, or both. The drawback here is that the evaluator may not provide the court with proper information about the cause of the children’s alienation. It lessens the likelihood, then, that the court will have the proper data with which to make its recommendations.

via Does DSM-IV Have Equivalents for the Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) Diagnosis?.

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.

Mental Disorder/Illness Opposition to Parental Alienation Syndrome – Part 1

In Activism, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, children's behaviour, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, due process rights, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Fit Parent, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parentectomy on December 10, 2009 at 3:35 pm

When I first discovered the term of Parental Alienation Syndrome, I thought that everyone was in agreement that it was valid since proof of alienating tactics can be seen in parents that train children to hate, and vilify the other parent.

Isn’t it obvious that anyone who does this is mentally ill? To judges, attorneys and parents everyone seems to agree, a parent that does this to a child is an abuser.  Since the vast majority of women have sole custody, most of the abusers are women.  But Parental Alienationn is a gender-neutral sickness, because I have friends that are women that are alienated from the children.  By the dads.

Further reading showed that Parental Alienation Syndrome is generated and perpetuated by an axis of disorders listed in the current DSM book. These include paranoia, histrionic, and borderline disorders. There are a few more that can be added to this disorder, but I have read that these are the core disorders that make up this syndrome.

The American Psychological Association uses a test, shortnamed the MMPI-II test that can actually indicate any of the above mentioned disorder exist.  Collectively and through actions by the abusive parent, this makes up Parental Alienation Syndrome.

By itself, the test does not indicate mental illness.

But answers to the test point to actions and activities that mentally ill persons see as OK.  Denial, lying, slander, libel, self-medicating, etc. are OK with these folk since to them, the end justifies the means.  Sociopathic behavior is fine and dandy, with Parental alienators.

For dozens of children’s and parent’s rights activists, a group of “Anon…..s.” or members of  the Pig Pen as we call them spend their days attacking fathers and children through lies and slander.  They also attack women from time to time, so women are “abusers,” too.

They have also been creating fake IDs on Facebook, and joining father’s groups to stalk them there. Just recently, a person known as “Randi James” (not real name, obviously) was de-friend-ed by dozens of men (and a few women) when she spewed her bittternes against fathers in a comment thread on Facebook.

If you read some of the hatred that comes from their hate websites you can see why they lost their kids and

  1. Denial – Everyone else to blame for their problems. They are “victims” or “battered women”.
  2. Paranoia – Most alienates are paranoid and hide while they lie. they imagine they are being stalked.
  3. Lying – See 1, also they will say anything to win in family court, especially false allegations of abuse, etc. Besides lying in court, they when they blog, or write or when they talk to you.
  4. Hate – See, 1 2.3. above.

There are some websites that glorify in blaming others for “their problems”. Primarily being no one believes them. Either they were “battered” women, or married to “abusers” or the children are now in the hands of “abusers”.

You will also find vicious attacks on Dr. Richard Gardner (he is dead, it is OK to attack a dead person.)  All the stuff about Dr. Garnder is made up.   Attacks on fathers, activists for children, etc. are their primary targets. They go after live dads, too, but never with their own names, since they fear libel and slander laws.

Despite the fact that women are playing on their “home field” in Family Court, these women of the “pig pen” lost a fight that bookies had them winning.

Why is this? See the list above. Nuff said.  Part 2 to come.

clarienne – Musings on the family saga… Another Case of Parental Alienation Syndrome

In Best Interest of the Child on December 9, 2009 at 7:25 pm
Musings on the family saga…
[info]clarienne
Had a weekend visit from my adopted dad. We’ve always had quite a strange relationship – growing up there was a certain distance between us because his marriage with mum was rocky, and she was very good at getting our support and making him out to be the bad guy behind his back. When they divorced we were her loyal troopers, and cut off contact with him, but he has never lost hope of getting back in touch with us. A few years ago I got back in touch and have been slowly rebuilding the relationship, but its taken a few years for the negativity and falsehoods implanted by my mum to start really falling away. We had a good visit this weekend, and its left me with a lot to think about.

This kind of toxic situation has a name and an ancronym these days of course – Parental Alienation Syndrome. Some hotly dispute that it exists, but I can vouch that it does, as the home I grew up in was a textbook case. My half-sister Francine (Mike’s daughter with mum) refuses to even hear his name or discuss him, saying she wants to protect her family from his mental illness. (He’s suffered in the past with schizoaffective disorder, which was scarey for us kids growing up, but is a good person, and in no way a danger to anyone).

Francine has told me she doesn’t even want the subject mentioned. We have drifted apart over the years – and while I’ve sometimes felt cut off, the truth is I’ve distanced myself from her too. If I could be sure she was the bitch I sometimes suspect she is, I would walk away with a sigh of relief, but I’m starting to wonder if in fact she’s hearing things about me behind my back that have encouraged the rift. Since we left home Mum has always had a policy that we don’t both visit her at the same time, that she wants to see us seperately – and I know she’s very keen that I “respect Francines decision” not to have anything to do with Mike. (A decision she made when she was all of 10!).

Francine has two little girls now, and it breaks my heart that they are growing up not knowing me, Chris or Polly, or their grandad Mike.

clarienne – Musings on the family saga….

“Abusive” Parents Alienate and Psychologically “Batter” Children

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, child abuse, Child Custody, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, kidnapped children, Marriage, Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parents rights, Restraining Orders on December 8, 2009 at 9:45 pm

Parents following divorce are called upon to cooperate with the other parent after divorce in case involving children.  Those parents who cannot put aside the anger, hate, and mental illness problems usually wind up “abusing” the children by alienating them from the the other parent.

Alienation has been called a form of psychological “battering” of children.  For children that suffer from a custodial parent’s “battering“, I refer to an article from Jayne Major, Ph.D., an expert in the abuse that “abusive ” that accurately can describe the behavior of parents that commit Parental Alienation against a child”

“The alienating parent’s hatred can have no bounds. The severest form will bring out every horrible allegation known, including claims of domestic violence, stalking and the sexual molestation of the child. Many fathers say that there have been repeated calls to the Department of Family and Child Services alleging child abuse and neglect.

In most cases the investigators report that they found nothing wrong. However, the indoctrinating parent feels that these reports are not fabrications, but very, very real. She can describe the horror of what happen in great detail. Regardless of the actual truth, in her mind, it did happen.

Most of the alienated fathers that I work with are continually befuddled by her lying. “How can she lie like that?” They don’t realize that these lies are not based on rational thinking. They are incapable of understanding the difference between what is true and what they want to be true. A vital part of fighting PAS is to understand the severity of the psychological disturbance that is the source of it.”

For parents on the other end of this intense hatred from the “abusive” parent, most psychologist counsel being as actively involved with your children as possible, but sometimes, the psychological “battering” by the alienating parent eventually turns the child against the targeted parent. In some cases, the child loses all touch with reality, and becomes a carbon copy of the “abusive” parents and hates the everyone and the world.

That is why is has become even more imperative that Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome or even Parental Alienation Disorder (as it has been suggested) be included in the next version of the American Psychological Association DSM book. With recognition by the APA, children can get real help for their problems and can be psychologically rescued from “abusive” and parents that “batter.”

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.

Separation, Divorce and Parental Alienation Syndrome – Reprint

In Family Rights on December 3, 2009 at 7:45 pm

Of course, for children’s and family advocates, the tactics of the hate-speech encouraged by Anonymums, is well-known. Most of the followers of these hate-sites are women that lost their children because of false allegations of abuse. Instead of placing these women in jail, most were placed on supervised visitations because of flight risk to the children.

November 23, 2009, Relationships

Splitting up shouldn’t mean splitting the kids.
The term “splitting” refers to a familiar tactic often used by children to manipulate their parents — if Mommy says, “No.”, then go ask Daddy.
For parent couples in the throes of separation or divorce, the adult version of splitting — largely characterized by one parent vilifying the other in order to manipulate the children into choosing sides and, ultimately, alienating the other parent from them — can be much more insidious.
The children may, at first, be only pawns — tools for gaining some sense of leverage or perceived control — but, in due course, they can become nothing more than weapons of vengeance, unwitting victims of ego and arrogance.

We are not alone in our relationship, nor is our partner. Establishing any relationship is an act of social co-creation in which all parties must be both responsible to, and accountable for, their actions, inactions and the consequences held therein. To that point, a relationship – any relationship — demands cultivation; it doesn’t just happen.

Should a relationship break, it is vital that both parties step back, take a moment to examine their personal role in that break, and hold onto that self-revelation. When the break is something not mutually agreed upon, the “wronged partner” – a term used quite loosely here – in denial and ignorance of their own responsibility, will often attempt to exercise some means for regaining a perceived semblance of control.

When benign, these means can appear as gestures of reconciliation, promises of change, pleas to seek counseling and all manner of self-effacing behavior. In instances more menacing, money is hidden; credit cards cancelled; documents disappear; cell phones are checked; computers scoured and private detectives hired, even when there is nothing to detect. A pattern of latent abuse [1, 2] emerges, escalating from a point somewhat removed from normal, to one that veers dangerously close to pathological.

These efforts to regain control are often fruitless; mostly because they are generally an illusion in the first place. Their abject futility, however, can foster a further, even more ominous, escalation – the co-opting of social connections. Friends, family, co-workers – anyone who will listen to the spinning of fantastical yarns that describe the evils of the other is approached, for good, ill or indifference.

Couched within this drama of social distortion, the saddest moment of all can come when an otherwise reasonable adult utters to a child fateful words that might go something like, “I don’t want a divorce. This is all your mother’s idea. She’s just a selfish bitch.” In that moment, in an ego-driven and one way war of wills, the child becomes so much collateral damage.

The mechanism of parental alienation is fueled by a gross failure of emotional intelligence, and further compelled by the anger and resentment of ego. It is roundly destructive to everyone involved; disrupting or destroying familial connections, rending the fabric of the post-marital relationship and effectively compromising any chance at successful co-parenting.

Indeed, the most oppressive aspect of parental alienation is that it creates a false issue — or set of false issues — for children whom it is very likely do not have the social or emotional intelligence to discriminate between fact and fancy. The inaccuracies and misinformation proffered by one parent in service of discrediting the other shakes the very foundations of a child’s model of the world, leaving them stranded outside the bounds of the very structure and consistency upon which they thrive.

Children caught up in this system of abuse [1, 2] are subject to a campaign of unjustified and unjustifiable denigration focused on one parent and perpetrated by the other. In mild cases, there is some programming fostered on the part of the alienating parent, but, all in all, relationships remain intact.

In moderate cases of parental alienation , the level of programming escalates, introducing two artifacts – firstly, the relationship with the targeted parent is more disrupted, created anxiety for the kids and, second, the children become co-opted into the alienating parent’s system of unjustified accusation and begin to believe it, causing a whole separate set of psychosocial issues for them.

In severe cases, the programming has taken hold and the child/children come to develop an irrational and unfounded hatred of the targeted parent, often disrupting the parent/child bond to the point of breaking.

While this all sounds like a horribly Machiavellian system of social pathology – and, at its worst, it is — some space needs to be held for the unintentional or naïve alienation fostered by simple resentment and frustration. Snarky remarks about financial matters, living arrangements or general behavior not personally directed at the other parent constitute a sort of indirect and somewhat unintentional alienation that a child may or may not take to heart.

A more active, and destructive, form of this is compassed by critical comments that remind a child about past disappointments or situations that had negative outcomes. It might also include more personal attacks on character, or descriptions of alleged (and typically false) activities that would reflect on character.

In severe cases, attempts at alienation are obsessive and irrational. The alienating parent literally subjugates the child, enmeshing them in their own irrational belief system and making it virtually impossible for them to think for themselves. The child is interjected into the social reality of the targeted parent as the mouthpiece of hatred for the alienating parent and, objectified in this way, becomes nothing more – and nothing less – than a weapon of social and emotional destruction.

The take away here is fairly straightforward — if we can’t figure out how to be married, fine, but, with children involved, we need to figure out how to be divorced; and certainly not at the expense of the children’s state of mind simply for our own small, petty and vindictive satisfactions.

So, play nice — and if you see this happening or catch yourself doing it, either speak up, or knock it off. In the end, it serves no one and the only ones who suffer are the kids.

References

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

© 2009 Michael J. Formica , All Rights Reserved

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Separation, Divorce and Parental Alienation Syndrome | Psychology Today.

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.

Attorney Jeffery Leving Urges Lawmakers: Fight for US Children Abducted Abroad

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Hague Convention on December 1, 2009 at 10:55 pm

Attorney Jeffery Leving Urges Lawmakers: Fight for US Children Abducted Abroad

CHICAGO, Dec. 1 /PRNewswire/ — On December 2, the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in the House of Representatives will hear testimony from parents whose children were abducted internationally. The parents are testifying on behalf of two bills introduced by Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) targeting international child abduction and giving these desperate parents hope for a swift reunion with their children.

Fathers’ rights attorney Jeffery Leving (http://dadsrights.com), who was consulted by the US State Department as an expert on international abduction in October, is pushing lawmakers to attend the hearing and work unilaterally to protect families from being devastated by international abduction. The number of American children abducted abroad has increased 60% since 2005, an ominous trend illustrating the urgent need for legislative intervention.

The first bill, H.R. 3240 (International Child Abduction Act 2009), establishes protocols to prevent international abduction, advocate for US children abducted internationally, and assist the families left behind.

The second bill, H.R. 2702 (Suspend Brazil GSP Act), suspends trade preference with Brazil until Brazil complies with its obligations toward the US under the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction.

“Congressman Smith’s proposed laws are a step in the right direction,” says Leving. “Creating a standardized system to prevent international child abduction and streamlining the government’s response when children are abducted will allow families affected by this tragedy to focus on being reunited rather than navigating a bureaucratic maze.”

David Goldman, a left-behind-father who will be testifying at the hearing, inspired Congressman Smith’s bills. Goldman’s son Sean remains in Brazil five years after being abducted by his mother, who passed away last year. Sean is one of at least 64 American children abducted to Brazil who have not been returned to their custodial parents in the US.

Leving adds, “By imposing sanctions on countries like Brazil, whose judges have brazenly disregarded the Hague Convention, the US shows that we will not stand idle while American children remain separated from their parents in foreign lands.”

Known for advocating strong family bonds, Chicago divorce attorney Jeffery Leving and his firm have reunited fathers and children since 1981. He helped reunite Elian Gonzalez with his father in Cuba, winning international support. In August, Leving was selected as an expert resource for the first White House Roundtable and Town Hall Meeting on Responsible Fatherhood.

Contact: Kati Murphy 312.479.7246

SOURCE The Law Offices of Jeffery M. Leving, Ltd.

Attorney Jeffery Leving Urges Lawmakers: Fight for US Children Abducted Abroad.

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.