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Posts Tagged ‘child abuse’

Mediation – Allow the Child to Love the Other Parent

In adoption abuse, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, Maternal Deprivation, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes on June 15, 2009 at 12:00 pm

The message is: allow the child to love the other parent.

How and Why the UK Ministry of Justice ‘Monitoring Publicly Funded Mediation. Summary Report to the Legal Services Commission’ showed failure in mediation programs and why mothers, the “primary parents” were allowed to continue to keep the children away from the father:

She tells the class: “If parents are cordial and businesslike in taking care of the children’s needs, the children will do fine. But if there’s conflict, using the children as pawns, putting them in the middle, no communication or inappropriate communication, what you’re doing is beating on the children’s wounds. You’re not allowing the child any opportunity to heal.”

Armed with that information, parents go on to a mandatory session with a mediator, usually one and a half hours, to try to reach agreement on a parenting plan.

The mediator sees both parents together, then each separately, and finally together again to try to hammer out a final parenting-time schedule. They have a 10-day cooling off period to change their minds before the agreement is turned into an enforceable court order.

There is a presumption that the children will spend substantial time with each parent, although the final plan will depend on the children’s ages, how close their homes are to each other, and their parents’ work patterns. A “normal” plan for school age children would have them with their father for alternate weekends – Friday to Monday morning – an after-school meeting once a week and half the school holidays.

Programmes for early intervention to divert parents from the court process have been common throughout the US for more than 20 years. Legislation in California and Florida was introduced in the early 1980s in response to research showing that children from broken homes need both parents to go on playing a significant part in their lives.

Unlike in Britain, the right of children to have access to both their parents until 18 is written into statute. In both states, mediation is mandatory and in Florida no parents, including those who have been models of parental cooperation from the beginning, can divorce without taking a four-hour parent education course.

Gap in law

As in England and Wales, about 90% of parents manage the difficult transition to post-separation parenting without involving the courts. But where cases do go to court, the English experience is radically different.

The resident parent, usually the mother, holds all the cards. There is a presumption that the other parent will spend time with the child, but no presumption written into statute that contact will be “frequent and continuous”.

Absent parents, usually fathers, are left to apply to the court if the resident parent denies contact. Fathers can spend years making dozens of court applications, with many months between them, to little effect.

Last year a high court family division judge, Mr Justice Munby, delivered a blistering attack on the system when a father left his court in tears after being driven to abandon a five-year battle to see his daughter, which had involved 43 court hearings.

He called for sweeping changes and suggested that the way the English courts dealt with contact applications might even breach the European convention on human rights, which guarantees the right to respect for family life, the right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time, and the enforcement of court orders.

The judge said he could understand why there was disappointment that the family resolutions pilot scheme, then just announced, only encouraged mediation rather than making it mandatory.

Nine months after the pilot started in three English courts last September, the latest figures – showing that only 47 couples entered it, against an estimate of 1,000, and that only 23 completed the programme – seem to fulfil the prophecy by fathers’ groups that making it optional would doom it to failure.

Although ministers estimate that 90% of separating parents work out their own arrangements for the children without involving the courts, some 40,000 took cases to court in England and Wales in 2003-04. Half were repeat applications and 7,000 applications were for enforcement of contact orders which were flouted by the resident parent.

In Florida, by contrast, very few cases now go to court, according to Judge John Lenderman, a circuit judge on the state’s sixth circuit. He said: “I’m totally con vinced mediation should be mandatory. Every judge that I’ve talked to around the United States says mandatory mediation is the way to go.”

Nor is there anything peculiar to the US about the mandatory schemes: disputes over contact in Norway are dealt with a similar way. “There are distinct cultural differences but people in western civilisation are the same,” said Judge Lenderman. “[Parents] love their children worldwide.”

Senior judges in Britain agree that parents need more support to resolve their cases outside the courts if possible. The retired high court family division judge Dame Margaret Booth told a conference which was trying to get a Florida-type scheme off the ground three years ago: “It is a shame that our country does not easily learn from what other jurisdictions have done successfully for so long.

“In this matter we are years behind. I believe profoundly that the time has come to remove our blinkers.”

Two couples, two sessions with the mediator

Juan and Kelly

At the superior court in downtown LA, Juan, a plumber, and Kelly, an underwriter, have come to court for their mediation session. After an 18-month marriage, they separated six years ago, before the birth of their second daughter, now five (her sister is seven).

Both work long hours. For years after their separation they shared parenting time, with Juan having the girls on alternate weekends and a big input from Kelly’s mother.

Now Juan has filed an application with the court, triggering the compulsory mediation session. “The whole reason we’re here today is the situation where she left the girls with me for three months,” he says.

Kelly says she was “overwhelmed with bills and responsibility” and asked her ex-husband to look after the girls for a time. He had just moved in with a new girlfriend who “didn’t really agree to it but had no choice”.

She agrees to go back to the alternate weekends schedule. But the mediator proposes that the girls also see him one night a week for dinner, drawing on psychological research suggesting the gap between alternate weekends is too long at their age.

He resists, saying he can’t guarantee his boss would let him leave the job early enough. That one issue will go to the judge to decide. “If the judge says I have to do it, I can give it to my boss,” he says.

Marie and Jack

Marie, from France, and her English-born former husband, Jack, have their mediation session by telephone conferencing because Jack, a record producer, is working in Australia. He is due to return to LA the following month after three months away.

This is a “high-conflict” case and the couple, separated for a year but not yet divorced, have been ordered to take the basic parenting class – which should happen before mediation, but which they have not yet taken – and an extra “parenting without conflict” course.

Marie, who gets $5,000 a month child support, and Jack are arguing over whether she should take their daughters, aged six and three, on a previously agreed month-long holiday in France.

He was upset when he came back to LA on a visit and his younger daughter did not recognise him. He had the girls with him for four days then and “could see some serious problems.” He accuses Marie of arguing in front of the children.

Marie and Jack reach an agreement that she will allow the girls to talk to him on the phone every day at 7pm while he is away, but the other issues will be left for the judge.

· Clare Dyer sat in on several mediations at the LA superior court at the downtown and Santa Monica locations. The couples’ names have been changed.

For the original article:

http://eventoddlers.atspace.com/contents.html

From Welfare State to Police State

In adoption abuse, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-IV, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Freedom, Homeschool, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes, Title Iv-D on June 9, 2009 at 7:14 pm

May 4, 2008
by Stephen Baskerville

Family fragmentation costs taxpayers at least $112 billion annually in antipoverty programs, justice and education systems, and lost revenue, according to a report released last week. Astonishingly, the report’s publisher, Institute for American Values, is using these findings to advocate even higher costs, through more federal programs.

As welfare and child support enforcement programs show, there is zero proof that further government intervention into families would be a good investment for taxpayers.

After more than a decade of welfare reform, out-of-wedlock births remain at record highs, and married couples now comprise less than half the nation’s households. “The impact of welfare reform is now virtually zero,” says Robert Rector of Heritage Foundation.

Welfare reform, as currently conceived, cannot possibly make a difference. Out-of-wedlock births no longer proceed only from low-income teenagers. Increasingly, middle-class, middle-aged women are bearing the fatherless children. This excludes children of divorce, which almost doubles the 1.5 million out-of-wedlock births.

The problem is driven not only by culture, but by federal programs not addressed by welfare reform—such as child support enforcement, domestic violence, and child abuse prevention—which subsidize single-parent homes through their quasi-welfare entitlements for the affluent.

It’s not called the welfare “state” for nothing. Even more serious than the economic effects has been the quiet metamorphosis of welfare from a system of public assistance into a miniature penal apparatus, replete with its own tribunals, prosecutors, police, and jails.

The subsidy on single-mother homes was never really curtailed. Reformers largely replaced welfare with child support. The consequences were profound: this change transformed welfare from public assistance into law enforcement, creating yet another federal plainclothes police force without constitutional justification.

Like any bureaucracy, this one found rationalizations to expand. During the 1980s and 1990s—without explanation or public debate—enforcement machinery created for children in poverty was dramatically expanded to cover all child-support cases, including those not receiving welfare.

This vastly expanded the program by bringing in millions of middle-class divorce cases. The system was intended for welfare—but other cases now account for 83% of its cases and 92% of the money collected.

Contrary to what was promised, the cost to taxpayers increased sharply. By padding their rolls with millions of middle-class parents, state governments could collect a windfall of federal incentive payments. State officials may spend this revenue however they wish. Federal taxpayers subsidize state government operations through child support. They also subsidize family dissolution, for every fatherless child is another source of revenue for states.

To collect, states must channel not just delinquent but current payments through their criminal enforcement machinery, subjecting law-abiding parents to criminal measures. While officials claim their crackdowns on “deadbeat dads” increase collections, the “increase” is achieved not by collecting arrearages of low-income fathers already in the system, but simply by pulling in more middle-class fathers—and creating more fatherless children.

These fathers haven’t abandoned their children. Most were actively involved, and, following what is usually involuntary divorce, desire more time with them. Yet for the state to collect funding, fathers willing to care for them must be designated as “absent.” Divorce courts are pressured to cut children off from their fathers to conform to the welfare model of “custodial” and “noncustodial.” These perverse incentives further criminalize fathers, by impelling states to make child-support levels as onerous as possible and to squeeze every dollar from every parent available.

Beyond the subsidy expense are costs of diverting the criminal justice system from protecting society to criminalizing parents and keeping them from their children. The entitlement state must then devise additional programs—far more expensive—to deal with the social costs of fatherless children. Former Assistant Health and Human Services Secretary Wade Horn contends that most of the $47 billion spent by his department is necessitated by broken homes and fatherless children. One might extend his point to most of the half-trillion dollar HHS budget. Given the social ills attributed to fatherless homes—crime, truancy, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, suicide—it is reasonable to see a huge proportion of domestic spending among the costs.

These developments offer a preview of where our entire system of welfare taxation is headed: expropriating citizens to pay for destructive programs that create the need for more spending and taxation. It cannot end anywhere but in the criminalization of more and more of the population.

Stephen Baskerville is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, Associate Professor of Government at Patrick Henry College, and author of Taken Into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family (Cumberland House, 2007).

The original article can be found here: http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=2184

Does Family Preservation Work? – Parental Rights

In adoption abuse, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, HIPAA Law, Homeschool, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, Maternal Deprivation, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Orphan Trains, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, Sociopath, state crimes, Title Iv-D, Torts on June 9, 2009 at 12:00 pm

From the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform / 53 Skyhill Road (Suite 202) / Alexandria, Va., 22314 / info@nccpr.org / www.nccpr.org

Family preservation is one of the most intensively-scrutinized programs in all of child welfare. Several studies — and real world experience — show that family preservation programs that follow the Homebuilders model safely prevent placement in foster care.

Michigan’s Families First program sticks rigorously to the Homebuilders model. The Michigan program was evaluated by comparing children who received family preservation services to a “control group” that did not. After one year, among children who were referred because of abuse or neglect, the control group children were nearly twice as likely to be placed in foster care, as the Families First children. Thirty-six percent of children in the control group were placed, compared to only 19.4 percent of the Families First children. [1]

Another Michigan study went further. In this study, judges actually gave permission to researchers to “take back” some children they had just ordered into foster care and place them in Families First instead. One year later, 93 percent of these children still were in their own homes. [2] And Michigan’s State Auditor concluded that the Families First program “has generally been effective in providing a safe alternative to the out-of-home placement of children who are at imminent risk of being removed from the home The program places a high priority on the safety of children.” [3]

An experiment in Utah and Washington State also used a comparison group. After one year, 85.2 percent of the children in the comparison group were placed in foster care, compared to only 44.4 percent of the children who received intensive family preservation services.[4]

A study in California found that 55 percent of the control group children were placed, compared to only 26 percent of the children who received intensive family preservation services. [5]

A North Carolina study comparing 1,254 families receiving Intensive Family Preservation Services to more than 100,000 families who didn’t found that “IFPS consistently resulted in fewer placements…”[6]

And still another study, in Minnesota, found that, in dealing with troubled adolescents, fully 90 percent of the control group children were placed, compared to only 56 percent of those who received intensive family preservation services.[7]

Some agencies are now using IFPS to help make sure children are safe when they are returned home after foster care. Here again, researchers are beginning to see impressive results. In a Utah study, 77.2 percent of children whose families received IFPS help after reunification were still safely with their birth parents after one year, compared with 49.1 percent in a control group.[8]

Critics ignore all of this evidence, preferring to cite a study done for the federal government which purports to find that IFPS is no better than conventional services. But though critics of family preservation claim that this study evaluated programs that followed the Homebuilders model, that’s not true. In a rigorous critique of the study, Prof. Ray Kirk of the University of North Carolina School of Social Work notes that the so-called IFPS programs in this study actually diluted the Homebuilders model, providing service that was less intensive and less timely. At the same time, the “conventional” services sometimes were better than average. In at least one case, they may well have been just as intensive as the IFPS program – so it’s hardly surprising that the researchers would find little difference between the two.

Furthermore, efforts to truly assign families at random to experimental and control groups sometimes were thwarted by workers in the field who felt this was unethical. Workers resisted assigning what they considered to be “high risk” families to control groups that would not receive help from IFPS programs. In addition, the study failed to target children who actually were at imminent risk of placement.

Given all these problems, writes Prof. Kirk, “a finding of ‘no difference between treatment and experimental groups’ is simply a non-finding from a failed study.”[9]

Prof. Kirk’s findings mirror those of an evaluation of earlier studies purporting to show that IFPS was ineffective. The evaluation found that these studies “did not adhere to rigorous methodological criteria.”[10]

In contrast, according to Prof. Kirk, “there is a growing body of evidence that IFPS works, in that it is more effective than traditional services in preventing out-of-home placements of children in high-risk families.”[11]

Prof. Kirk’s assessment was confirmed by a detailed review of IFPS studies conducted by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy. According to this review:

“IFPS programs that adhere closely to the Homebuilders model significantly reduce out-of-home placements and subsequent abuse and neglect. We estimate that such programs produce $2.54 of benefits for each dollar of cost. Non-Homebuilders programs produce no significant effect on either outcome.”[12]

Some critics argue that evaluations of family preservation programs are inherently flawed because they allegedly focus on placement prevention instead of child safety. But a placement can only be prevented if a child is believed to be safe. Placement prevention is a measure of safety.

Of course, the key words here are “believed to be.” Children who have been through intensive family preservation programs are generally among the most closely monitored. But there are cases in which children are reabused and nobody finds out. And there are cases — like Joseph Wallace — in which the warnings of family preservation workers are ignored. No one can be absolutely certain that the child left at home is safe — but no one can be absolutely certain that the child placed in foster care is safe either — and family preservation has the better track record.

And, as discussed in Issue Paper 1, with safe, proven strategies to keep families together now widely used in Alabama, Pittsburgh, and elsewhere, the result is fewer foster care placements and safer children.

Indeed, the whole idea that family preservation — and only family preservation — should be required to prove itself over and over again reflects a double standard. After more than a century of experience, isn’t it time that the advocates of foster care be held to account for the failure of their program?

Updated, April 24, 2006

1. Carol Berquist, et. al., Evaluation of Michigan’s Families First Program (Lansing Mich: University Associates, March, 1993). Back to Text.

2. Betty J. Blythe, Ph.D., Srinika Jayaratne, Ph.D, Michigan Families First Effectiveness Study: A Summary of Findings, Sept. 28, 1999, p.18. Back to Text.

3. State of Michigan, Office of the Auditor General, Performance Audit of the Families First of Michigan Program, July, 1998, pp. 2-4. Back to Text.

4. Mark W. Fraser, et. al., Families in Crisis: The Impact of Intensive Family Preservation Services (New York: Aldine De Gruyter, 1991), p.168. Back to Text.

5. S. Wood, S., K. Barton, C. Schroeder, “In-Home Treatment of Abusive Families: Cost and Placement at One Year.” Psychotherapy Vol. 25 (1988) pp. 409-14, cited in Howard Bath and David Haapala, “Family Preservation Services: What Does the Outcome Research Really Tell Us,” Social Services Review, September, 1994, Table A1, p.400. Back to Text.

6. R.S. Kirk, Tailoring Intensive Family Preservation Services for Family Reunification Cases: Research, Evaluation and Assessment, (www.nfpn.org/resourcess/articles/tailoring.html). Back to Text.

7. I.M. Schwartz, et. al., “Family Preservation Services as an Alternative to Out-of-Home Placement of Adolescents,” in K. Wells and D.E. Biegel, eds., Family Preservation Services: Research and Evaluation (Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1991) pp.33-46, cited in Bath and Happala, note 3, supra.Back to Text.

8. R.E. Lewis, et. al., “Examining family reunification services: A process analysis of a successful experiment,” Research on Social Work Practice, 5, (3), 259-282, cited in Kirk, note 6, supra.Back to Text.

9. R.S. Kirk, A Critique of the “Evaluation of Family Preservation and Reunification Programs: Interim Report,” May, 2001. Back to Text.

10. A. Heneghan, et. al., Evaluating intensive family preservation services: A methodological review. Pediatrics, 97(4), 535-542, cited in Kirk, note 6, supra.Back to Text.

11. Kirk, note 6, supra.Back to Text.

12. Washington State Institute for Public Policy, Intensive Family Preservation Programs: Program Fidelity Influences Effectiveness. February, 2006, available online at http://www.wsipp.wa.gov/rptfiles/06-02-3901.pdf

The original article can be found here: http://www.nccpr.org/newissues/11.html

Parental Mediation Does Not Work, Wake Up U.S. Courts

In adoption abuse, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-IV, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, Homeschool, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, Maternal Deprivation, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, Sociopath, state crimes, Title Iv-D, Torts on June 8, 2009 at 11:16 pm

Introduction

One of the government’s most exhaustive research reports ever commissioned called ‘Monitoring Publicly Funded Family Mediation’ found that ‘mediation‘ in this country did not ‘meet the objectives of saving marriages or helping divorcing couples to resolve problems with a minimum of acrimony’ and as a result was forced to scrap the idea of making mediation compulsory – see the statement from the former Lord Chancellor Lord Irvine, 16th.January 2000. However it is is still used as a method for deflecting fathers from receiving reasonable contact with their child or children. This section is intended to help fathers by highlighting some of the pitfalls of mediation with reference to the government’s own research report. If you have a query regarding any aspect of the mediation process, for example, Section 10, ‘The Parties Attitudes to Negotiation’, you can consult the government’s own research by clicking alongside!

“The government is committed to supporting marriage and to supporting families when relationships fail, especially when there are children involved. But this very comprehensive research, together with other recent valuable research in the field, has shown that Part II of the Family Law Act (i.e. Mediation) is not the best way of achieving those aims. The government is not therefore satisfied that it would be right to proceed with the implementation of Part II and proposes to ask Parliament to repeal it once suitable legislative opportunity occurs.”

Former Lord Chancellor Lord Irvine,
16th.January 2000

NB For all legal aid certificates ‘mediation’ has to take place before the certificate (or funding) can be issued. However it can be deemed unnecessary if the mother makes an allegation of domestic abuse.

The original article can be found here: http://www.eventoddlersneedfathers.com/

How To Kidnap A Child

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes, Title Iv-D on June 8, 2009 at 3:53 pm

by Stephen Baskerville, PhD

Congratulations! You have embarked on a great adventure. Kidnapping a child is probably unlike anything you have done before. If you are a first-time kidnapper you may be hesitant; perhaps you have lingering scruples. It is true you will probably do irreparable harm to your own child. Children of divorce more often become involved in drugs, alcohol, and crime, become pregnant as teenagers, perform poorly in school, join gangs, and commit suicide.

But look at the advantages! You can be rid of that swine you live with, with all his tedious opinions about child-rearing. YOU call the shots! What could be more rewarding? And a little extra cash each month never hurts, eh?

Few people realize how easy abduction is. It happens 1,000 times a day, mostly by parents! So if you’re thinking, “I could never get away with it,” wake up! Millions do. In fact many only realize the possibility when they become victims. Then they invariably say, “If only I had known how easy it is I would have done it myself!” So don’t be caught off guard. Read on, and discover the exciting world of child kidnapping and extortion.

If you are mother the best time to snatch is soon after you have a new child or pregnancy. Once you have what you want, you will realize that the father is no longer necessary (except for child support).

A father should consider snatching as soon as he suspects the mother might. Once she has the child, you have pretty much lost the game. You will always be at a disadvantage, but it is in your interest (as it is in hers) to snatch first. Preventive snatching may not look good (and unlike her, it can be used against you). But hey, you have the kid. If you hit the road, it could take years to track you down.

Surprise is crucial for an elegant abduction.
Wait until the other parent is away, and clean the place out thoroughly. Take all the child’s effects, because if you don’t grab it now you will never get it, and you will never be forced to return any of it. The more you have, the better “home” you can claim to provide. You also want to achieve the maximum emotional devastation to your spouse. Like the terrorist, you want to impress with how swift, sudden, and unpredictable your strike can be.

Concealing the child is illegal, but it will also buy you time. The police will make the case a low priority, and if you are a mother you will never be prosecuted. In the meantime claim to have established a “stable routine” and that returning the child (or even visits) would be “disruptive.” Anything that keeps the child in your possession and away from their father works to your advantage.

Find superficial ways to appear cooperative. Inform the father of your decisions (after you have made them). At the same time avoid real cooperation. The judge will conclude that the parents “can’t agree” and leave you in charge. Since it is standard piety that joint custody requires “cooperation,” the easiest way to sabotage joint custody is to be as uncooperative as possible.

Go to court right away. The more aggressive you are with litigation the more it will appear you have some valid grievance. The judge and lawyers (including your spouse’s) will be grateful for the business you create. Despite professions of heavy caseloads, courts are under pressure to channel money to lawyers, whose bar associations appoint and promote judges. File a motion for sole custody, and get a restraining order to keep the father from seeing his children. (A nice touch is to say he is planning to “kidnap” them.) Or have him restricted to supervised visitation.

Going to court is also a great opportunity to curtail anything you dislike about your spouse’s child-rearing. If you don’t like his religion, get an injunction against him discussing it. Is he fussy about table manners or proper behavior? Getting a court order is easier than you think. You may even get the child’s entire upbringing micro-managed by judicial directives.

Charges of physical and sexual abuse are also helpful. Accusing a father of sexually abusing his own children is very easy and can be satisfying for its own sake.

Don’t worry about proving the charges.
An experienced judge will recognize trumped-up allegations. This is not important, since no one will ever blame the judge for being “better safe than sorry,” and accusations create business for his cronies. You yourself will never have to answer for false charges. The investigation also buys time during which you can further claim to be establishing a routine while keeping Dad at a distance and programming the children against him.

Abuse accusations are also marvelously self-fulfilling.
What more logical way to provoke a parent to lash out than to take away his children? Men naturally become violent when someone interferes with their children. This is what fathers are for. The more you can torment him with the ruin of his family, home, livelihood, savings, and sanity, the more likely that he will self-destruct, thus demonstrating his unfitness.

Get the children themselves involved. Children are easily convinced they have been molested. Once the suggestion is planted, any affection from their father will elicit a negative reaction, making your suggestion self-fulfilling in the child’s mind. And if one of your new lovers actually has molested the child, you can divert the accusation to Dad.

Dripping poison into the hearts of your children can be gratifying, and it is a joy to watch the darlings absorb your hostility. Young children can be filled with venom fairly easily just by telling them what a rat their father is as frequently as possible.

Older children present more of a challenge. They may have fond memories of the love and fun they once experienced with him. These need to be expunged or at least tainted. Try little tricks like saying, “Today you will be seeing your father, but don’t worry, it won’t last long.” Worry aloud about the other parent’s competence to care for the child or what unpleasant or dangerous experience may be in store during the child’s visit. Sign the child up for organized activities that conflict with Dad’s visits. Or promise fun things, like a trip to Disneyland, which then must be “cancelled” to visit Dad.

You will soon discover how neatly your techniques reinforce one another. For example, marginalizing the father and alienating the child become perfect complements merely by suggesting that Daddy is absent because he does not love you. What could be more logical in their sweet little minds!

And what works with children is also effective with judges. The more you can make the children hate their father the easier you make it to leave custody with you.

Remember too, this guide is no substitute for a good lawyer, since nothing is more satisfying than watching a hired goon beat up on your child’s father in a courtroom.

And now you can do what you like! You can warehouse the kids in daycare while you work (or whatever). You don’t have to worry about brushing hair or teeth. You can slap them when they’re being brats. You can feed them fast food every night (or just give them Cheez Whiz). If they become a real annoyance you can turn them over to the state social services agency. You are free!

November 19, 2001

The original article can be found here: http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig2/baskerville1.html

Why Kids Usually Side with the Custodial Parent Especially If They’re Emotionally Abusive

In adoption abuse, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-IV, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, Sociopath, state crimes, Title Iv-D, Torts on June 7, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Do your children refuse to see you since you and your ex separated? When you actually get to see your kid(s), do they lash out at you? Do they know things about your break up or divorce that they shouldn’t know? Do they “diagnose” or berate you by using adult terms and expressions that are beyond their years?

If so, you’re probably experiencing the effects of parental alienation or hostile aggressive parenting. It’s normal to have hard feelings at the end of a significant relationship, however, you have a choice about how you handle it.

Most cases of parental alienation occur in dissolved marriages/relationships, break ups, and divorces in which there’s a high degree of conflict, emotional abuse, and/or mental illness or personality disorders.

If you were emotionally abused by your ex while you were still together, then your kid(s) learned some powerful lessons about relationships, especially if you had a “no talk” policy about the rages, yelling, and verbal attacks. Children are adversely affected by witnessing constant conflict and emotional abuse, no matter their age.

Emotionally abusive women and men are scary when on the attack, which probably makes it all the more confusing to see your ex turn your child(ren) against you. Don’t your kids see how out of whack their mom or dad is being? Don’t they know that you love them and how much you want to be in their lives? Don’t they realize they need you now more than ever? Yes and no.

On some level, they do know this. Nonetheless, they’re lashing out at you like mini-versions of your ex. Why?

It’s not that confusing if you think about it from a child’s perspective. Children depend utterly upon their custodial parent. Seeing mom or dad lose it and out of control is anxiety provoking, if not downright terrifying. The following are possible reasons why your ex’s campaign of parental alienation may be successful.

1.) You left them alone with the crazy person. You got out and they didn’t. They’re mad that you’re not there anymore to intervene, buffer, protect, or take the brunt of it.

2.) Self-preservation. They see how your ex is treating you because she or he is angry with you. Your kid(s) don’t want your ex’s wrath directed at them. It’s like siding with the bully at school so they don’t beat the crap out of you.

3.) Fear of loss. If they make your ex mad they worry that they’ll be emotionally and/or physically banished, too. This is especially true if your ex used to shut you out, give you the cold shoulder, and/or ignore you when she or he was upset with you. Your kids probably fear your ex will do this to them if they don’t go along with him or her.

4.) They’re mad at you. You’re no longer physically present at home, which they experience as psychological loss. Many kids experience this as betrayal and/or abandonment. Even if they can recognize that you didn’t have a happy marriage, they still want mom and dad to be together.

Loss, whether it’s physical (death) or psychological (divorce), requires a mourning period. Children aren’t psychologically equipped to handle grief and mourning. Pending other developmental milestones, kids don’t have the psychological capacity to successfully navigate loss until mid-adolescence. If you’d died, they could idealize your memory. However, you’re alive and chose to leave (or your ex chose for you). How do you mourn the loss of someone who’s not dead? It takes a level of intellectual sophistication children don’t possess not to vilify the physically absent parent—especially when your ex isn’t capable of it as an adult.

5.) Rewards and punishment. Your ex “rewards” the kids (material goods, praise, trips and fun activities—probably with your support money—oh the irony) for siding with her or him, being cruel to you, or cutting you off. If your kid(s) stand up for you or challenge your ex’s smear campaign, they’re chastised, lose privileges, or have affection withheld from them. Remember how your ex used to treat you when she or he was displeased? It’s way scarier when you’re a kid. You have options as an adult that your children don’t.

6.) The good son or daughter. They see how upset and out of control your ex is and want to take care of and make her or him “better.” They try to do this by doing what your ex wants, which is being hostile toward you and/or excluding you from their lives. This creates what psychologists refer to as the parentified child. Parentification forces a child to shoulder emotions and responsibilities for which she or he isn’t developmentally prepared.

Emotional parentification is particularly destructive for children and frequently occurs in parental alienation cases. The custodial parent implicitly or explicitly dumps their emotional needs on the child. The child becomes the parent’s confidante, champion/hero and surrogate for an adult partner. This is extremely unhealthy as it robs these kids of their childhood and leads to difficulty in having normal adult relationships later in life.

7..) Power and control. They see the power your ex wields by behaving in an abusive and hurtful way toward you. They can wield the same power by acting out and hurting you, too. A child or teenager’s first taste of power can be thrilling for them. Of course, what they’re learning from you ex is how to gain control by being an emotionally abusive bully.

8.) It’s good to be the victim. The more your ex plays the professional victim to friends, family and the legal system, the more benefits she or he gains—deferential treatment, sympathy, power, and money. The kids pick up on this victim mentality and behaviors and use it to net their own gains.

A combination of the above reasons probably applies to your child(ren) siding with your ex, particularly when you’ve been a good and loving parent. It’s demoralizing to have your kid(s) slap or push you away each time you reach out to them. It’s maddening that family court, in many cases, is blind to the abuses of parental alienation. Try to keep in mind that most children aren’t consciously aware that the above phenomena are occurring. Of course, that doesn’t make it any easier to be the emotional and financial punching bag for your ex and children.

The original article can be found here: http://washingtonsharedparenting.com/?p=411

Maternal Deprivation? Monkeys, Yes; Mommies, No…

In adoption abuse, Alienation of Affection, Autism, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Christian, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, HIPAA Law, Homeschool, Indians, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, Maternal Deprivation, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Orphan Trains, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, Sociopath, state crimes, Torts on June 7, 2009 at 5:00 am

Do children do best with one parent over another? Or does biology determine who is the better parent?

If you ask the feminists of the 70s who wanted to be free of restrictive child-rearing and assume an equal station in the workplace and politics, the answer to the first question would be no. Why would feminists give up their biologically superior position of motherhood, in which a mother is the primary caregiver, in favor of a job? What narcissists mother would do that?

And yet, today, if you ask the very self-same feminists who are leading the charge to narrow sole-custody of children in divorce proceedings to a woman based on some “biological advantage” the answer to the second question would be yes.

Upon this, you have the creation of a legally untenable position given to women based on gender. To get around “having your cake and eating it, too,” state family law has created the “imaginary world” of the “primary parent” dictum, which guides family law today, which is just a primary rehashing of “tender years doctrine”, both of which do not have the legal merit whatsover, nor the empirical research to support either.

But if you go back to the Maternal Deprivation nonsense, you quickly find the empirical research that throws this theory back into the area of “junk science” where it belongs. Maternal Deprivation is both empirically wrong and a sexist theory.

The junk science theory and refutation can be found here:
http://www.simplypsychology.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/bowlby.html

“Although Bowlby may not dispute that young children form multiple attachments, he still contends that the attachment to the mother is unique in that it is the first to appear and remains the strongest of all. However, on both of these counts, the evidence seems to suggest otherwise.

* Schaffer & Emerson (1964) noted that specific attachments started at about 8 months and, very shortly thereafter, the infants became attached to other people. By 18 months very few (13%) were attached to only one person; some had five or more attachments.

* Rutter (1981) points out that several indicators of attachment (such as protest or distress when attached person leaves) has been shown for a variety of attachment figures – fathers, siblings, peers and even inanimate objects.

Critics such as Rutter have also accused Bowlby of not distinguishing between deprivation and privation – the complete lack of an attachment bond, rather than its loss. Rutter stresses that the quality of the attachment bond is the most important factor, rather than just deprivation in the critical period.

Another criticism of 44 Thieves Study as that it concluded that affectionless psychopathy was caused by maternal deprivation. This is correlational data and as such only shows a relationship between these two variables. Indeed, other external variables, such as diet, parental income, education etc. may have affected the behaviour of the 44 thieves, and not, as concluded, the disruption of the attachment bond.”

There are implications arising from Bowlby’s work. As he believed the mother to be the most central care giver and that this care should be given on a continuous basis an obvious implication is that mothers should not go out to work. There have been many attacks on this claim:

* Mothers are the exclusive carers in only a very small percentage of human societies; often there are a number of people involved in the care of children, such as relations and friends (Weisner & Gallimore, 1977).

* Ijzendoorn & Tavecchio (1987) argue that a stable network of adults can provide adequate care and that this care may even have advantages over a system where a mother has to meet all a child’s needs.

* There is evidence that children develop better with a mother who is happy in her work, than a mother who is frustrated by staying at home (Schaffer, 1990).

There are many articles relating to this nonsense, and how it has been refuted. The original theory was promulgated by John Bowlby. Bowlby grew up mother-fixated because he did not have a relationship with his father. See why here.

Psychological research includes a shocking history and continuation of maternal deprivation experiments on animals. While maternal deprivation experiments have been conducted far more frequently on rhesus macaques and other monkeys, chimpanzees were not spared as victims of this unnecessary research.
Maternal Deprivation applies to monkeys only.

Custody Relocation: A Negative Effect on Children – In LaMusga

In adoption abuse, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-IV, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, HIPAA Law, Homeschool, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes, Title Iv-D, Torts on June 5, 2009 at 4:00 pm

© 2004 National Legal Research Group, Inc.

A custodial parent’s proposed relocation will almost always have a negative impact on the relationship of the noncustodial parent and the children. The California Supreme Court recently clarified the standard to be used in relocation cases in that state, holding that this impact should be considered as a factor in determining whether the custodial parent’s proposed relocation will result in detriment to the children sufficient to warrant a modification of custody.

In In re Marriage of LaMusga, Cal. 4th 12 Cal. Rptr. 3d 356 (2004), after a contentious custody battle, the parties were awarded joint custody of their two children with the mother being awarded primary physical custody. Several years later, the mother again sought to relocate to Ohio with the children. A child custody evaluation was performed that established that the father’s relationship with the children would deteriorate after the relocation and that, based on the mother’s previous behavior, there was no indication that she would be supportive of the father’s continued relationship with the children despite her claims to the contrary. The trial court found that the mother’s proposed relocation was not made in bad faith but concluded that the effect of the move would be detrimental to the welfare of the children because it would hinder frequent and continuing contact between the children and the father. The trial court held that if the mother chose to relocate, primary physical custody of the children would be transferred to the father.

The trial court’s decision was reversed by the California Court of Appeal. The court of appeal held that the trial court had failed to properly consider the mother’s presumptive right as custodial parent to change the residence of the children or the children’s need for continuity and stability in the existing custodial arrangement. 12 Cal. Rptr. 3d at 371. The court of appeal also found that the trial court had “placed undue emphasis on the detriment that would be caused by the children’s relationship with Father if they moved.” Id.

The court of appeal relied on an earlier California Supreme Court decision, In re Marriage of Burgess, 13 Cal. 4th 25, 51 Cal. Rptr. 2d 444 (1996). In Burgess, the Supreme Court of California held that in relocation cases there was no requirement that the custodial parent demonstrate that the proposed relocation was “necessary.” LaMusga, 12 Cal. Rptr. 3d at 367 (quoting Burgess, 51 Cal. Rptr. 2d at 452). Instead, the burden is on the noncustodial parent to prove that a change of circumstances exists warranting a change in the custody arrangement. LaMusga, 12 Cal. Rptr. 3d at 367. The supreme court also held that “paramount needs for continuity and stability in custody arrangements . . . weigh heavily in favor of maintaining ongoing custody arrangements.” Id. at 371 (quoting Burgess, 51 Cal. Rptr. 2d at 449-50).

The supreme court rejected the court of appeal’s position that undue emphasis was placed on the detrimental effect of the proposed relocation on the father’s relationship with the children. The court of appeal concluded that all relocations result in “a significant detriment to the relationship between the child and the noncustodial parent” and, therefore, no custodial parent would ever be permitted to relocate with the children as long as any detriment could be established. Id. at 373. The supreme court accepted the validity of the court of appeal’s position but noted that the court of appeal’s fears were unfounded. The supreme court stated that “a showing that a proposed move will cause detriment to the relationship between the children and the noncustodial parent” will not mandate a change in custody. Id. Instead, a trial court has discretion to order such a change in custody based on the showing of such a detriment if such a change is in the best interests of the child. Id. The supreme court explained its holding as follows:

The likely consequences of a proposed change in the residence of a child, when considered in the light of all the relevant factors, may constitute a change of circumstances that warrants a change in custody, and the detriment to the child’s relationship with the noncustodial parent that will be caused by the proposed move, when considered in light of all the relevant factors, may warrant denying a request to change the child’s residence or changing custody. The extent to which a proposed move will detrimentally impact a child varies greatly depending upon the circumstances. We will generally leave it to the superior court to assess that impact in light of the other relevant factors in determining what is in the best interests of the child.

Id. at 374-75.

The Supreme Court of California in LaMusga has seemingly retreated from its much broader decision in Burgess. In Burgess, the court essentially established a presumption in favor of maintaining a custody arrangement in the interests of a child’s paramount need for continuity and stability. In LaMusga, however, the court stepped away from this presumption and found that the child’s need for continuity and stability was just one factor in determining whether to modify a custody award. The court found that other factors, such as the detrimental effect of the proposed relocation on the relationship between a child and the noncustodial parent, could also control the outcome of a custody case depending on the unique facts of each case. The supreme court’s decision in LaMusga seems to subscribe to the principle that due to the fact-intensive nature of relocation cases a comprehensive review of all possible factors impacting on a child’s best interest will yield the most equitable results.

LA County Puts the “Fix” on Parents Rights

In adoption abuse, Alienation of Affection, Autism, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Christian, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-IV, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, HIPAA Law, Homeschool, Indians, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Jayne Major, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Orphan Trains, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes, Title Iv-D, Torts on June 4, 2009 at 7:13 pm

Your rights to retain physical and legal custody of your children during divorce proceeding is compromised by California’s new ex post facto law recently passed by the California Senate. As a matter of fact, in Los Angeles County, it already is.

In California counties divorce proceedings in the past 12 years may have been “fixed” in counties where counties supplemented Judges salaries with benefits above the state mandated salary. (Under California Law, only the state may compensate judges for performance of their work. The California Constitution (Sec. 17, 19, 20) states that Judges may not receive money from other parties than their employer, the State of California, and the Legislature has the sole responsibility for setting compensation and retirement benefits.)

However California, like all 50 states and territories, receive hundreds of Billions of $$ from the federal government to run its state courts and welfare programs, including Social Security Act Title Iv-D, Child Support Iv-E, Foster Care and VAWA prevention and intimidation programs against family law litigants. The federal block grants are then given to the counties applying for the monies.

If counties have been paying judges money above state legislated salaries, then counties have been fixing cases for years by maintaining de facto judicial officers to rule in their favor. How does this affect parent’s rights? The money received in block grants is applied for by the counties based on the divorce and custody proceeding awards. For example, the more sole custody or foster home proceedings existing in the county, the more money the county is qualified to receive.

Both the US Constitution, and the California Constitution. California’s wording is even stronger than the US Constitution. Here are the direct quotes:

United States Constitution, Section 9, Article 3
“No bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed.”

Constitution of the State of California – Article I, Section 9
“A bill of attainder ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts may not be passed.”

The law in question is SBX2 11 which retroactively pardons, just about everyone involved in official activity including judges who received money for benefits from the county.

“The California Constitution requires the Legislature to prescribe compensation for judges of courts of record. Existing law authorizes a county to deem judges and court employees as county employees for purposes of providing employment benefits. These provisions were held unconstitutional as an impermissible delegation of the obligation of the Legislature to prescribe the compensation of judges of courts of record. This bill would provide that judges who received supplemental judicial benefits provided by a county or court, or both, as of July 1, 2008, shall continue to receive supplemental benefits from the county or court then paying the benefits on the same terms and conditions as were in effect on that date.”

The law also goes on to state:

“This bill would provide that no governmental entity, or officer or employee of a governmental entity, shall incur any liability or be subject to prosecution or disciplinary action because of benefits provided to a judge under the official action of a governmental entity prior to the effective date of the bill on the ground that those benefits were not authorized under law.”

Is this why attorney Richard I Fine is in a LA County Jail? For more on his story see:

Attorney Richard Fine files suit against judges http://www.dailynews.com/ci_8113733

Richard Fine, a brave and talented California attorney and United States Department of Justice Attorney http://www.ahrc.se/new/index.php/src/tools/sub/yp/action/display/id/2652

Metropolitan News-Enterprise http://www.metnews.com/articles/2009/stur021809.htm

The Full Disclosure Network: http://www.fulldisclosure.net/Programs/538.php and http://www.fulldisclosure.net/Programs/539.php

JUDICIAL BENEFITS & COURT CORRUPTION (Part 3-4) http://www.fulldisclosure.net/Programs/540.php

FISCAL CRISIS: Illegal Payments Create Law For Judicial Criminal & Liability Immunity: Nominees For U S Supreme Court To Be Impacted? See: http://www.fulldisclosure.net/news/labels/SBX2%2011.html

The Bill as passed by the Senate: http://info.sen.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bill/sen/sb_0001-0050/sbx2_11_bill_20090214_amended_sen_v98.html

The Primary Parent Presumption: Primarily Meaningless

In adoption abuse, Alienation of Affection, Autism, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-IV, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, HIPAA Law, Homeschool, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, MMPI, MMPI 2, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Orphan Trains, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes, Title Iv-D, Torts on June 4, 2009 at 11:00 am

By Dr. Richard A. Warshak, Ph.D.
16970 Dallas Parkway, #202, Dallas, TX 75248

Nineteen ninety-three marked the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of The Feminine Mystique, the book that spearheaded the drive to unlace the cultural straitjacket of rigid sex-role prescriptions. As we expanded the conventional image of women to include roles beyond those of wife, housekeeper, and mother, we encouraged men to think of themselves as more than just husbands and bread-winners. We invited them to become active partners in the delivery room . . . and they accepted. We required their participation in Indian Guides . . . and they complied. We extolled the importance of father-child bonding, trumpeted statistics linking a father’s absence to juvenile delinquency. . . and they listened.

The problem, for some divorcing women, is that their husbands listened too well, and took seriously the call to parenthood. They became emotionally attached to their offspring, and, when the marriage ended, they were unwilling to be demoted to the second string; unwilling to sit on the sidelines of their children’s lives. Although lacking in hard data to prove the point, we have at least the perception that more men are seeking and gaining custody of their children after divorce.

Why is this a problem? Because women do not enjoy living apart from their children any more than do men. Also, most women do not want to relinquish the power that goes with custody. This has led to the ironic situation in which some of the same feminists who, in the early 70s, denounced motherhood as “enslavement” now lead a campaign to protect motherhood from divorced fathers who want more involvement with their children. But they face a crucial dilemma: They need to resurrect the belief that women are uniquely suited to rear children and therefore the natural choice for sole custody without appearing to endorse the notions that biology is destiny and that the sexes merit unequal treatment before the law.

The solution to this dilemma is the linguistic sleight of hand known as the “primary parent presumption.” This guideline would give preference to the parent who is designated “primary” in the child’s life, variously defined as the parent who spends the most time with the child, is more responsible for the child’s day-to-day care, or performs more of the daily repetitive maintenance tasks such as chauffeuring, shopping for clothes, preparing meals, and bathing. Although touted as a gender-neutral standard, everyone agrees that the primary parent presumption would give mothers the same advantage that they enjoyed with the tender years presumption. In fact, law professor Mary Becker advocates dropping the pretense of gender-neutrality and renaming the primary parent presumption the “maternal deference standard.”

Briefly, the argument goes that since women are more involved in primary caregiving, they deserve custody.
Fathers’-rights advocates respond that it is unfair to penalize men for reduced involvement with their children, since they are only fulfilling society’s notions of the man’s role as the family’s breadwinner. Neither side’s arguments are compelling. Both are blinded by the pre-19th century premise that children are property to be “awarded” to the rightful owner. Both sides miss the point that a custody decision should be guided by the needs of the child not the parents’ sense of entitlement.

Some of my colleagues offer arguments in support of the primary parent presumption. They point out that a
woman who has been most involved in her children’s daily care already possesses the requisite skills. She has less to learn than the father and, by virtue of her experience, is probably more competent to assume the duties of sole custody. Also, because the primary parent standard appears less ambiguous than the best interests standard, parents would be less likely to litigate over custody — a distinct advantage to the family. But that may be its only advantage. Under critical appraisal, this proposal suffers many serious drawbacks.

Unless we regard custody as a reward for past deeds, the decision about the children’s living arrangements should reflect a judgment about what situation will best meet their needs now and in the future. Differences in past performance are relevant only if they predict future parental competence and child adjustment. But they do not.

The primary parent presumption overlooks the fact that being a single parent is a very different challenge than being one of two parents in the same home. A consensus of research reveals a predictable deterioration in the single mother’s relationship with her children. After divorce, the average mother has less time and energy for her children and more problems managing their behavior, particularly that of her sons. Research has also demonstrated that despite mother’s greater experience in daily child care, fathers who would not be considered primary caretakers during the marriage are as capable as divorced mothers in managing the responsibilities of custody.

And, most important, their children fare as well as children do in mother-custody homes.

A more basic problem with the proposed standard: How do we determine who is the primary parent? Before divorce parents think of themselves as partners in rearing their children. Whether or not they spend equal time with the children, both parents are important, and mountains of psychological research support this.

Before divorce, we do not rank order parents. Only in the heat of a custody battle do Mom and Dad begin vying for the designation “primary parent.”

On what basis do we award this coveted title? We cannot simply measure the amount of time each parent
spends with the child. Research has established that, beyond a certain minimum, the amount of time a parent spends with a child is a poor index of that parent’s importance to the child, of the quality of their
relationship, or of the parent’s competence in childrearing.
In fact, we all know of parents who are too involved with their children, so-called “smothering” parents who squelch any signs of independence.

If more extensive contact does not make a primary parent, what does? Most definitions provide a list of responsibilities: The primary parent shops for food and clothes, prepares meals, changes diapers, bathes and dresses the child, takes the child to the doctor, and drives the child to school and recreational activities. Such criteria, though, ignore the overriding importance of the quality of parent-child relationships.

Furthermore, critics have argued that this list reflects gender bias. Shopping for food and clothes is included, but not earning the money which funds the shopping trips. Also conspicuously absent are responsibilities typically shared by fathers and in which fathers often predominate, activities such as playing, discipline, moral guidance, encouragement and assistance with school work, gender socialization, coaching team sports, and — something whose significance to children is often overlooked — providing a sense of physical protection and security.

Is the primary caretaker the one who does the most to foster the child’s sense of emotional security, the person to whom the child turns in times of stress — the role we most often associate with mothers? Or is it the parent who does the most to promote the child’s ability to meet the demands of the world outside the family — the role we most often associate with fathers? We really have no basis for preferring one contribution over the other. Both are necessary for healthy psychological functioning.

We can say that both parents contribute distinctively to their child’s welfare. And during different
developmental stages a child may relate better to one parent than the other, or rely on one parent more than
the other. But most children form strong attachments to both parents in the first year of life and maintain important ties to both parents throughout their lives. By rank ordering the importance of parents, we dismiss children’s own experiences of their parents’ value, reinforce gender stereotypes, and perhaps discourage fathers from assuming more parenting responsibilities.

In sum, the primary parent presumption is misinformed, misguided, misleading, and primarily meaningless.

Copyright © 1996 by Richard A. Warshak, Ph.D.
16970 Dallas Parkway, #202, Dallas, TX 75248 Dr. Richard A. Warshak is a clinical, research, and
consulting psychologist, clinical professor of psychology at the University of Texas Southwestern
Medical Center at Dallas, and author of The Custody Revolution and Divorce Poison: Protecting the
Parent-Child Bond From a Vindictive Ex. He has published extensively in the area of divorce and
custody and consults with attorneys, mental health professionals, and families. Additional custody
resources, including material on relocation, overnight access, and parental alienation syndrome,
can be found at http://www.warshak.com.

[A version of this essay was published as Chapter 28 (pages 101-103) in 101+ Practical Solutions for the
Family Lawyer, Gregg M. Herman, Editor, American Bar Association (1996).]

The original article can be found here.

The Macabre Dance of Family Law Court, Abnormal Psychology, and Parental Alienation Syndrome – Summary

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Freedom, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Jayne Major, judicial corruption, Liberty, MMPI, MMPI 2, motherlessness, mothers rights, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes, Title Iv-D, Torts on May 31, 2009 at 5:15 pm

by Jayne A. Major, Ph.D. http://www.breakthroughparentingservices.org/index.htm
Copyright 2009: Jayne Major. All rights reserved.

Dr. Major attended the latests Symposium For Parental Alienation Syndrome during March 27-29, 2009 in Toronto, Canada and gave this speech reprinted here:

“Our litigation system is too costly, too painful, too destructive,
and too inefficient for civilized people.”
~ Justice Warren Burger

If we accept that Family Law courts have a moral imperative to seek truth and to do as little harm as
possible, our Family Court system is failing miserably. Too often what prevails in court is not the truth, but the illusion of truth. The current litigation system is not capable of protecting children from the horrendous damage inflicted by those parents who are disturbed. Children lose critical thinking ability, incur the devastating loss of one-half of their heritage and a lifetime doomed for failed social relationships and
psychiatric disorders.

Few lawyers, judges, nor laypersons are able to recognize seriously disturbed people who look and often act
“normal.” Yet, their numbers are large and the damage they do to other parents, their children, and society is
staggering. Sociopaths are cruel—without moral conscience, empathy, sympathy, or compassion. Their purpose is to win by domination. Harvard psychologist Martha Stout, in her book The Sociopath Next Door, states that one in twenty-five people is a sociopath. Furthermore, there is an estimated 20% of the general population with personality disorders. Those individuals who are the most dangerous are described in the DSM IV, Axis II Cluster B. The descriptive labels of these disorders are borderline, narcissistic, histrionic, and anti-social.

We can assume that a much higher percentage of these disturbed people can be found in Family Law courts
because they are unable to compromise or to work out family solutions without conflict. They lack insight, are unable to realize how they contribute to the problem, want their way, blame others, can’t self-correct, have difficulty forming trusting relationships, are unreasonable and demanding, create upset and distress with people around them, and justify inappropriate behavior. They have a “my way or the highway” mindset. Their behavior is not episodic but a pervasive character flaw that has always been present.

Therapy is of little help to these individuals, as their disorder is not fixable. The reason is that you can’t have a conversation about a problem when the problem is answering the question. Thus, the cure-all of sending such people to therapy is of little value. In fact, because sociopaths have no moral conscience, therapy gives them the language and skills to manipulate others more effectively; it helps them become better at being sociopaths. And they often get the upper hand in court by diverting attention off of themselves and onto the targeted parent by making numerous false allegations.

Often judges order a psychological evaluation to help them decide what would be the best orders for a
family. The evaluation is intended to curb the dysfunctional parent from doing more damage; however, this
is often not the outcome. When only one professional evaluates a family, the chance for error is high.
Personal bias is one problem.

Psychologists are not immune to being unduly influenced by a cunning and persuasive sociopath. Another problem is a policy followed by most evaluators to routinely offer a middleof-the-road recommendation rather than address the psychiatric problems directly. A third problem is that evaluators are unwilling to use labels that would identify these disorders. While there are many valid reasons to not label people, the end result is that the psychologists’ report does not provide a clear and accurate picture of the underlying dynamics of the family and causes of the dysfunction.

Imagine a parent who has to deal with the other parent’s crazy-making behavior day in and day out as they watch his or her child deteriorate under the disturbed parent’s care. They do not understand why the alienating person is so difficult and irrational. Most of all, the targeted parent wants to know what they can do to make the situation better. Without clarity, truth is hard to distinguish. The unfortunate outcome of too many psychological evaluations is that hard decisions to protect a child are not made early, which necessitates more litigation and future evaluations… in the mean time, more damage is done.

Furthermore, in litigation, lawyers are supposed to advocate for their clients, not for their clients’ children or
the well-being of the family. It is very easy for a lawyer to manipulate situations to make the healthier parent
look disturbed and their own disturbed client appear superior. For those lawyers who hold litigation as a
sport of winning and losing combatants, the principle of “the best interest of the child” is used as a slogan to
justify what is not in a child’s best interest. The result is often disastrous. The parent who will do the most damage to a child ends up with substantial legal and physical custody. In terms of preserving the mental health of all concerned, litigation of these cases causes profound and permanent damage, a loss of family assets, and untold suffering. The dance between Family Law courts and those who are psychologically abnormal is macabre indeed.

Do we really want to continue to let mentally unstable people get the upper hand and create mayhem? We are the professionals, the leaders, the creative thinkers who have the responsibility to implement a better way of handling family reorganization. The destruction of our families, our children, our wealth, has a horrific ripple effect into all of society.

Following is a paradigm that will not only stop parental alienation syndrome but preserve the well-being of
all members of separating families. The plan relies on mediation, education, and prompt legal intervention.
Highly trained professionals who understand family systems and are able to recognize mentally disturbed
parents work as a team. Families are tracked by a Case Manager.

A 6-week Divorce Education course provides a foundation of knowledge that creates understanding and enhances positive adjustment in the reorganizing family. Financial issues are worked out by professionals who also educate parents about how to manage their money. Parents pay for the services they receive according to their ability to pay. Most of all, parents always have a place to go when they see that the family plan is not working. The cost of this method of resolving family dissolution is minimal compared to the cost of maintaining an elaborate Family Law court system. High-conflict disputes are minimized or eliminated. The result of using this method would have a healthy impact on society as we would not be passing on from one generation to the next abusive practices that carry mental instability to the next generation.

To read more of the article see: http://www.breakthroughparentingservices.org/3-09_Summary_of_Presentation.pdf

Deadbeat Social Scientists – Child Support Myths Debunked

In Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Freedom, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes, Title Iv-D on May 27, 2009 at 12:30 am

By Robert Locke
Monday, July 02, 2001

EVERYBODY HATES DEADBEAT DADS. They are excoriated from the feminist Left to the familyvalues Right. This has resulted in a national frenzy of efforts to tighten up childsupport enforcement, beginning with the Child Support Enforcement Act of 1975 (amended in 1984) and including numerous state statutes. Unfortunately, as a new book persuasively argues, they are largely a myth. In fact, they are frequently victims in their own right. Dr. Braver began his research intending only to refine the received wisdom, but his empirical findings changed his own mind. The prevalence of the myths he has exploded raises serious questions about the entire structure of liberal social science, on which our nation’s public policies are based, and the susceptibility of statistics to manipulation by liberal academics.

Dr. Braver refutes six key antifather myths one by one. He writes:

“1. Divorced dads are not overwhelmingly deadbeats in terms of child support compliance. They actually pay far better than assumed, especially if they remain fully employed.”

The horrifying figures for nonpayment of child support that are usually quoted are wrong for a number of reasons. First, they are based solely on maternal reporting. Second, they are based on lumping together divorcees with nevermarrieds, who pay at a lower rate. Third, some studies of the problem record only payments made through court clerks, not all payments. Fourth, most of the remaining deadbeats are in jail, unemployed, in poverty, or otherwise unable to pay for understandable reasons.

“2. Divorced dads are not overwhelmingly disappearing or runaway dads. Most continue a surprisingly high amount of contact with their children, and much of whatever disconnection does occur can be attributed directly to mothers impeding or interfering with visitation.”

Myth holds that divorced men are generally uninterested in their children, a view that derives mainly from a single inaccurate study and from the popculture stereotype of the divorced father with sports car and girlfriend in tow. But, in reality, roughly threequarters of divorced fathers who live in the same town as their children see them regularly, according to Dr. Braver’s own research. And they would frequently see them even more often if it were not illegal for them to do so under the visitation rules to which they are legally subject. Not to mention maternal denial of these visitation privileges, which is a serious and underappreciated issue in its own right.

“3. Divorced fathers do not end up noticeably more economically advantaged by divorce than mothers… in the long run, many divorced mothers will surpass divorced fathers in economic well being. Divorced mothers and children do not disproportionately end up in poverty, and those few who do almost without exception would continue to be in that state whether or not their ex-husbands paid full child support.”

An entire feminist obsession, which many nonfeminists have been taken in by, has been erected upon the so-called “feminization of poverty.” This turns out to be a statistical mirage generated by biased studies. Those divorced mothers who end up in longterm poverty turn out to be (surprise, surprise) those who were from poor backgrounds in the first place, even when they were married. In only 2% of divorces would full payment of alimony and child support lift a poor mother out of poverty who is now in it.

“4. Divorced fathers are not far better satisfied or advantaged in the negotiations leading to their divorce settlements. In fact, fathers are significantly disadvantaged and dissatisfied compared to mothers, who feel more in control of the settlement process than fathers.”

A substantial feminist inspired mythology claims that because the judicial system is run mainly by men, it favors fathers at every step in the divorce process. Despite the fact that every major feminist demand (starting with abortion and running right down the list) has been passed by maledominated legislatures and courts, this men vs. women mythology is emotionally satisfying and therefore believed in. But in fact, the court system has a demonstrable maternalist bias in custody awards and other issues which can be traced in the history of legislation and court decisions.

“5. Divorced fathers are not more content and better emotionally adjusted after divorce than mothers. In fact, overwhelming evidence suggests that they are far more emotionally devastated by divorce than mothers. Only with respect to calming their anger more quickly than their exspouse do fathers have an emotional advantage over mothers.”

The myth holds that divorced dads don’t have a care in the world, with the possible exception of their new, younger, girlfriends. In fact, they tend to be less well adjusted emotionally than their exwives by standard measures of psychological well being. According to a 1985 USA Today poll believed to be valid, 85% of divorced women claim to be happier postdivorce, compared to only 58% of men. Divorced women still usually have their children; divorced men often end up with nothing, relationshipwise.

“6. Fathers do not generally trigger the marriage’s demise by abandoning their wives and families.”

The myth holds that women are devotedly maternal while contemporary American men are too immature to “commit” enough to make their marriages work and are therefore responsible for most divorces. In fact, 2/3 of all divorces are initiated by the woman. And women tend to initiate divorces not because they are abused or otherwise objectively illtreated, but for emotional reasons like “my husband doesn’t communicate with me.”

Not only does Dr. Braver exonerate deadbeat dads, but he documents a number of ways in which postdivorce custodial mothers misbehave. The big thing mothers do is deprive fathers of their lawful visitation rights. The courts are set up to take very seriously the enforcement of childsupport payments by fathers, but they assign little seriousness to the issue of visitation rights. Mothers in most jurisdictions can arbitrarily deny courtordered visitation rights without fear of sanction from police or the judicial system. It would seem that one appropriate reform is to enable fathers to withhold childsupport payments when visitation rights have not been honored.

Mothers routinely practice more subtle forms of aggression. Because they have custody of the children most of the time, they are well placed to poison their minds against their fathers. They are particularly prone to do this if they remarry and wish to “reprogram” the kids to accept their new spouse as their father. They also have a tendency to do it simply out of spite at their ex-husband. Some mothers cynically exploit the police to falsely claim harassment or domestic violence to keep their ex-husband away, a tactic that the law stupidly encourages in a number of ways. It seems that the maternal instinct may not always be the good thing it is usually depicted as, if it drives women to behave like enraged shebears and clutch their children at the expense of their fathers’ legitimate rights.

So where did these myths come from, if untrue? Basically, our society developed a massive emotional desire to believe the worst of divorced fathers. Then social scientists, despite their pretensions to objectivity and hard statistics, lamely translated these biases into research findings. The negative stereotyping of divorced fathers that routinely appears would get people arrested by the PC police if it were applied to minorities, women, or any other category of person. Dr. Braver suggests that our society is experiencing a great deal of stress over the ongoing decay of the traditional family and needed to find a scapegoat. Deadbeat dads conveniently appealed as villains to both feminists and family values types, guaranteeing political support and ideological cover on both sides of the aisle. Conservatives also sought to cultivate respectability with the liberal bestowers of moral respectability by endorsing the liberal line (a classic case of the negative consequences of allowing the Left the moral high ground.) There was also an appeal to a pseudoscientific version of sociobiology, which claimed that it is the nature of males to seek polygamous or serialmonogamous relationships because of an evolutionary incentive to spread their DNA around. This has been called the “Darwin made me do it” defense and raises obvious questions on its own that this is not the place for. Once again, truth was intimidated out of people by the sheer selfassertion of liberals who arrogated to themselves the right to decide which ideas are “offensive.” We have got to learn to simply ignore them, and to use their mistakes on issues like this one as a battering ram to destroy their credibility. Fortunately, and partly due to Dr. Braver’s research, which was expressed in a Presidential commission in 1996, the political system is starting to recognize the necessity of fathers again. For example, more states are establishing joint custody as the norm.

But the most disturbing thing Dr. Braver shows has nothing to do with divorced families per se, but pertains to the shabby standards of social science research. This research, which forms the picture of society on which government policy is based, is conducted almost entirely by liberal academics, and yet is taken by legislatures and courts, not to mention the general public, as being simply objective truth. He documents in devastating detail the degree to which sloppy research standards have opened the door to liberal bias. Properly disciplined research has epistemological safeguards built in to protect it from the biases of the researchers. Naturally, this makes one wonder what other received truths of our society are myths generated by biased research.

Liberal social scientists have mangled their research on divorce in a number of ways. Here are a few:

1. Almost all studies have been based on what people report to be true, not on verified tax returns or bank statements.

2. This reporting hasn’t even included the father most of the time.

3. One notorious study that claimed to show a 73% decrease in maternal incomes after divorce used incomeadjustment figures based on Labor Department raw data gathered in… 1961!

4. This same study also measured pretax income, not aftertax, ignoring the fact that childsupport is taxfree. (There is also a tax credit for child care.) Headofhousehold mothers are taxed at a lower rate than nowsingle divorced fathers, and can claim their children as exemptions.

5. Divorced fathers spend substantial amounts of money on their children beyond simple child support. They spend significant undocumented amounts on visitation and buying necessities and other items for their children. They must maintain larger residences than they would without children visiting now and then. They bear most visitational transportation costs.

6. Divorced fathers are often ordered to pay for their children’s medical insurance over and above child support. Not only do most studies not count this, some even falsely assume the mother is paying.

7. Divorced fathers and nevermarried fathers behave very differently, the nevermarrieds being consistently worse in almost every way. Studies tend to lump them together.

8. Studies of the decline in maternal standardofliving tend to ignore the fact that after divorce, mothers tend to upgrade their job skills and otherwise move up the economic ladder, as is the general pattern over time of the whole population.

9. In the reams of studies being done about divorced fathers, almost none of the studies ever asked these fathers why they were abandoning their children, which the received wisdom claimed they were doing. Naturally, if they had, they might have found there was no reason, because they weren’t.

No one on the peer review committees that oversee the publication of this research in academic journals, or the giving of grants to fund it, ever blew the whistle on these errors. The system failed.

But it gets worse. Many of the bad figures and illogical analyses are from the Census Bureau reinforcing the view that, like the National Endowment for the Arts, the Census Bureau and its budget should be ruthlessly gutted as soon as possible to restrict it to the narrow duty prescribed to it by the Constitution and keep it from spouting liberal nonsense by collecting figures the Constitution does not authorize it to.

The second great intellectual villain of divorce mythology is one Prof. Lenore Weitzman of Harvard University. She was the author of an immensely influential 1985 study that claimed that after divorce, mothers experience a 73% drop in their standard of living and fathers a 42% rise. This study was the basis for several pieces of legislation. It turns out that her finding was based on a simple misprogramming of the computer analyzing the data which reveal that mothers end up with 73% of their former standard of living, (a 27% drop) not 73% less.

This was not an innocent “computer error.” The computer did what it was supposed to do; the investigator mangled the result. The idea that vast policy changes can come from such incompetence is nothing less than mind boggling. This incident needs to be treated as the My Lai of academic social science, which needs to be dethroned from its privileged position in policy disputes. Dr. Braver, who investigated this error and gave Prof. Weitzman a chance to respond, documents her mendacity and evasive behavior throughout this episode, which ended in her admitting the charges against her, for which she has never been disciplined.

The Left has chased conservative social scientists who could have blown the whistle on these shenanigans out of the academy. When will people learn that having a conservative presence in academia really does matter? If there had been an adequate number of conservative sociologists in the academy, someone could have critiqued these figures when they came out and before they had the chance to mislead the public and influence policy. Frankly, it is time to start pruning government funding for sociological research, which always seems to just prove we need more government spending, and to start cutting back sociology departments at the universities.

Dr. Braver’s Deadbeat Dads is thus probably the most important work of conservative social science in a decade, easily in a class with Charles Murray’s “Losing Ground”

The original article can be found on Frontpage Magazine: http://www.frontpagemag.com/Printable.aspx?ArtId=24190

Newsweek’s Lies about Divorce

In adoption abuse, Best Interest of the Child, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Freedom, Homeschool, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, state crimes on May 22, 2009 at 6:16 pm

Posted: December 30, 2008
1:00 am Eastern

By Stephen Baskerville
© 2009

Divorce is the main cause of family destruction today, and fatherless children are the principal source of virtually every major social pathology. Yet divorce is ignored by the mainstream media to the point of blackout. Now, Newsweek magazine offers a revealing exception that proves the rule. Newsweek’s depiction of divorce is so trite and clichéd that it seriously distorts what is happening.

Most Americans would be shocked if they knew what takes place today in the name of divorce. Indeed, millions are appalled when they discover that they can be forced into divorce, lose their children and even be jailed without trial – all without having violated any law and through procedures entirely beyond their control. Comprised of courts, bar associations and federally funded social services bureaucracies that wield police powers, the divorce machinery has become the most repressive and predatory sector of government ever created in the United States and today’s greatest threat to constitutional freedom.

Yet, we hear not a word of this from Newsweek. As is de rigueur in journalism today, reporter Susanna Schrobsdorff begins not with objective facts or disinterested analysis but by publicly displaying her own divorce. And what a joyous occasion it was. Despite pretentious pathos (also obligatory in today’s media), it is clear that no one forced her into this.

The usual assortment of divorce lawyers and feminists are then trotted out to mouth the standard clichés of the divorce industry: parents must “cooperate” and “put the children first,” caring courts are now generous to fathers, etc. “Their dad and I had read the divorce books and rehearsed our speech about how none of this was their fault, that we loved them,” she recounts. “All of this was true, but it seemed insufficient.”

It was insufficient (by her own account, the children went berserk) because it was not true. Love demands we put the needs of those we claim to love before our own desires. If divorce proceeds from love, then the word has become meaningless.

Fifteen-year-old Amy Harris, quoted in the Sunday Times, offers a scathing rejoinder to Ms. Schrobsdorff’s rehearsed speech: “Parents always say they are not leaving because of the children. Is that supposed to make the children feel better?” she asks. Amy continues:

Does that take all the guilt off the child’s shoulder? No, it’s all rubbish. Children feel that they weren’t enough to keep their parents, that their parents didn’t love them enough to keep them together. I know I did not drive my father away, but I did not keep him either.

Newsweek offers no recognition that parents who oppose divorce in principle are simply divorced without their consent, whereupon their children (with everything else they have) are seized without any further reason given. What Newsweek presents as cooperation “for the children” in reality means “cooperate with the divorce if you ever want to see your children again.”

The mendacity is especially glaring regarding fathers. “Changes in child-support laws, and a push by fathers for equal time, are transforming the way this generation of ex-spouses raise [sic] their children,” claims the carefully worded headline. Yet, Newsweek provides no evidence of any such changes; in fact, it concedes that “Most often, children still end up living primarily with the mother” and that “moms are the official primary residential parent after a divorce in five out of six cases, a number that hasn’t changed much since the mid-’90s.”

One divorce lawyer claims that “most states have provisions that say gender can’t be the determining factor in deciding who is going to be the primary custodial parent,” but he does not tell us that such provisions are ignored.

The magazine’s account of child support is likewise distorted. Advertised as providing for children who have been “abandoned” by their fathers, child support is in reality the financial engine driving divorce, offering generous windfalls to mothers who break their vows, while criminalizing fathers with debts most have done nothing to incur and that are far beyond their means.

“Most states have passed legislation that ties child-support payments to how much time a child spends with the nonresident parent paying the support,” says Newsweek, commenting that “if a father spends more than a given threshold of nights with his kids, he can have his child support adjusted according to formulas that vary by state.” No, what this means is that he is less likely to see his children, because both the mother and the state government will lose child support money. Both have a financial incentive to reduce his time with his children as much as possible. Child support makes children fatherless.

A lawyer from the American Academy of “Matrimonial” Lawyers claims that men want custody half the time so that they can pay half the support. This dishonest slur on fathers constitutes an open admission that child support payments vastly exceed the cost of raising children.

Divorce destroys many more families than same-sex “marriage” – which itself has arisen only because of the debasement of marriage through divorce. It is time for the responsible media to expose the unconstitutional divorce apparat. Otherwise, our professed concern for marriage and the family will ring hollow.

The original article from Stephen Baskerville can be found on World Net Daily: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?pageId=84810

Are Children “Creatures of the State?”

In Best Interest of the Child, child trafficking, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, kidnapped children, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights on May 19, 2009 at 4:15 pm

By David W. Kirkpatrick
posted July 21, 2008
The Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions

Most parents undoubtedly believe that their children are their responsibility.
But a contrary view has a long history.

The point was made by Philadelphian Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Ten years later, in proposing a plan for education in Pennsylvania he wrote, “Let our pupil be taught that he does not belong to himself, but that he is public property.”

His plan died but not the sentiment. It was in Pennsylvania nearly a half century later, in 1834, that the first plan for a common school system was adopted. Its prime sponsor and defender, Thaddeus Stevens, said that the sons of both the rich and the poor are all “deemed children of the same parent – the Commonwealth.”

That Stevens’ view was not shared by the general public was demonstrated when most of the Representatives who voted for that measure were defeated at the next election. Stevens himself was reelected and in one of the most influential speeches in American legislative history, he persuaded a majority in the new session to not repeal the new law, as they had been elected to do.

Fortunately the view that children belong to the state is not shared by the U.S. Supreme Court. In its unanimous Pierce decision in 1925, which still stands, the Court upheld parental rights to control their children’s education, declaring that “The child is not the mere creature of the state,” and “those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.”

This law of the land, however clearly stated, is neither universally accepted nor honored in practice.

Several years ago, in a debate on a Chicago radio station, when I said the schools exist for the benefit of the students, Bella Rosenberg, assistant to then-American Federation of Teachers president Al Shanker, strongly disagreed, saying, “First and foremost, we’re running a public system at taxpayer’s expense for the public good and only secondarily for the good of parents and individuals.”

She didn’t explain how the system can serve the public good if students aren’t successful. Certainly the public good is not served when millions of students drop out every year before graduating from high school, and huge numbers who do graduate possess minimal skills.

In 1976 Arkansas’ governor was promoting education reforms in his state, including mandatory kindergarten. When asked if the state knows better than parents what is good for children, the governor’s response was yes it did. Then he attempted to take himself off the hook by adding, “Look, I can’t change this, it’s Hillary’s bill.” That was later president Bill Clinton.

While few state it quite that bluntly the tendency since Pennsylvania’s 1834 Common School Act has been for the state to continually expand its field of control of children which necessarily restricts control by parents. We’ve gone from Jefferson’s plan for three-years of basic schooling to one embracing young people for thirteen years. Now the drive is to push schooling further down the age ladder and to more schooling at the upper ages.

None of this is to deny the importance of education, especially in a child’s early formative years. But education and schooling are not synonymous terms and there is some indication that too much schooling, even when “successful,” may be harmful. To the degree this is true, the more schooling, the more harm.

The more time students spend in school the more they are with their peers. Urie Bronfenbrenner has cited research suggesting this is harmful. The more time children spend with their peers the more likely they are to adopt the standards of their age group, and have a negative view of themselves, their friends and their future. Compared with those who identify with their parents, peer-oriented children tend to be less responsible and to get in trouble more often.

School staff say problem kids tend to be so because of the family they are in. There is surely some truth here. But it may also be, however unintended or indirect, at least partially because of the schools they are in.

Are they problem kids, or kids with problems?

David W. Kirkpatrick is a Senior Education Fellow with the U.S. Freedom Foundation and The Buckeye Institute.

http://www.buckeyeinstitute.org/print.php?id=1151

Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Lost Parents’ Perspective – Chapter 3 of 5

In California Parental Rights Amendment, child trafficking, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Divorce, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Freedom, judicial corruption, MMPI, MMPI 2, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, state crimes on May 19, 2009 at 1:00 am

by Despina Vassiliou
Department of Educational Psychology and Counselling, McGill University
3700 McTavish, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 1Y2

CHAPTER 3

METHOD AND PROCEDURES OF THE STUDY

This chapter describes the objectives, the sampling technique, the instrumentation for the data collection, as well as the interview protocols. It concludes with a description of the data analyses.

RESEARCH QUESTION

The findings discussed in the literature review pertain mainly to studies on divorce rather than on Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). The purpose of the present study is to examine qualitatively six cases of parental alienation in order to gain a better understanding of its development. Specifically, the focus of the present study is to gain an understanding of factors that result in an intact family becoming an alienated one. With such information it is believed that possible indicators of PAS development can be determined. The following questions are posed:

1. Are there characteristics (e.g., number of children, number of marriages, etc.) common to alienated families?
2. Are there common themes or issues among the conflicts within couples that contribute to marriage dissolution?
3. Are there common themes in the participants’ experience of the alienation process?
4. Given the opportunity, what are some things that the lost parents perceive they might do differently?

PARTICIPANTS

As this is a qualitative study of cases, the sampling procedure was criterion-based. To be included in the sample, the families had to meet a number of criteria, bases, or standards constituting a criterion-based sample (Yin, 1984). All of the participants included in the study met the following criteria:

* they were formerly part of a family unit which included at least one child;
* they had divorced or were in the process of divorcing;
* they identified themselves as having experienced or were experiencing alienation from their ex-spouse.

The participants studied were five fathers and one mother. The fact that the majority of the participants were male is consistent with Gardner’s (1992) findings suggesting that the alienators are more frequently mothers. Two of the participants resided in different areas in the province of Quebec. The remaining participants were residents of various states in the United States. These participants were recruited with flyers, e-mails and letters sent by the investigator (See Appendix A). Letters of consent and self-addressed envelopes were sent to those participants who responded via telephone or e-mail indicating that they were willing to participate in the research (See Appendix B). Finally, all of the participants were telephoned by the investigator once consent was received and appointments were made with the participants to be interviewed.

TOOLS OF INQUIRY

The data were collected through a semi-structured, open-ended, tape-recorded telephone interview questionnaires. The interview method was chosen as a means of achieving a more holistic understanding of the alienating situation.

The interview questionnaire was divided into four parts. The first consisted of ascertaining the current status and characteristics of the family, and establishing rapport to enable the participants to feel comfortable discussing the situation with the researcher. The remaining sections related to the dissolution of the marriage, factors related to the alienation, and a retrospective reflection on the alienation. The content of the interview items were based on previous studies and current theories related to the development of PAS. Questions were designed to determine whether there were any common themes that occurred throughout different individuals’ experiences of alienation. It was hoped that answers to such questions might shed light on possible indicators of the instigation, continuance, and termination of PAS. The actual interview questions are presented in Appendix C.

INTERVIEW APPROACH

Context of Interviews:

Each participant was interviewed separately by the researcher. Because of the different locations of the participants across the continent the interviews were conducted over the telephone and tape-recorded. Before each interview, the researcher reminded each participant that they would be tape recorded and that they were free to decline to answer any question or discontinue the interview at any time. Field notes were taken during the course of the interview to record emerging and unexpected dimensions. Each interview lasted a maximum of one-and-one-half hours. All the interviews were conducted in the months of June and July 1997 in one block of time, except one which was continued the following day. Rapport was established with each participant with the initial telephone call when appointments were made and again prior to the beginning of the interview session.

ANALYSIS OF THE DATA

The tape recorded data were transcribed. Within the transcriptions all “…” represented pauses in the conversations, “uhms” and “uhs” were also included in the transcriptions. See Appendix B for a sample page of the transcribed data. The data were then reviewed to determine possible commonalities among the cases. Seven general commonalities emerged that formed classifications of information which were then labelled to reflect the issues identified.

These classifications and their related issues were labelled as follows:

(1) Family Data including family constellation and relocation
(2) Dissolution of the Marriage including cause of marital dissolution and current relationship with ex-spouse
(3) Relationship with the PAS children including: frequency of visitation/contact, and current relationship with PAS children
(4) Alienation and Alienating Techniques including: alienators’ attitudes and behaviours, other’s contributions, causes of PAS, and control/power issues
(5) Issues related to the classification of experiences with professionals including legal and psychological services
(6) Current perceptions including: looking back, the impact of PAS, causes of PAS, and Termination/Looking to the future and
(7) Miscellaneous. Following the formation of these classifications, the data were reinspected to determine whether they related to these classifications. A third reading of the data was performed to ensure that the data were classified appropriately.

Once the data were categorized, the contents of each classification were summarized with the inclusion of relevant quotes that reflected participants’ responses. For instance, a quote pertaining to the issue of the participant’s frequency of visitation with his child would be as follows: “So right now, it’s about once a month. Uhmm, about three years ago…it was once or twice a week, and since then…so I can see him [his son] about once a month.”

The results of the analysis are presented in the next chapter.


http://www.fact.on.ca/Info/pas/vassil98.htm#CHAPTER%203

Parental Alienation Syndrome: The Lost Parents’ Perspective – Chapter 2 of 5

In California Parental Rights Amendment, child trafficking, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, DSM-IV, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Freedom, judicial corruption, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, state crimes on May 16, 2009 at 11:07 pm

by Despina Vassiliou
Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling, McGill University
3700 McTavish, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 1Y2

CHAPTER 2

REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

A review of the literature concerning the development of parental alienation in families requires a review of the main theories surrounding the development of PAS. The main postulates include: (a) heightened levels of conflict, (b) divorce, (c) the contributions or influence of the legal system, and (d) a combination of various other factors that may contribute to the development of PAS.

HIGH CONFLICT SITUATIONS

As the dissolution of a marriage proceeds and court proceedings begin regarding the custody of the children, there is likely to be increasing conflict among the divorcing parents. It is believed that this conflict propels and heightens the occurrence of PAS. Family conflict may contribute to many difficulties that the individual family members encounter — such as problems in social development, emotional stability, and cognitive skills. These difficulties may instigate long-term consequences that may persist long after the finalization of the divorce (Kurdek, 1981).

Further, when the conflict occurring in a family (whether divorced or intact) is ongoing and heightened, the individual family members have been found to express feelings of lowered self-esteem, increased anxiety, and diminished self control (Slater & Haber, 1984). Particularly at risk are the children. There are reports that adolescents have a greater risk of developing adjustment problems whether the family goes through divorce or remains intact (Hoffman, 1971). Therefore, the level of family conflict is an important dimension which can alter the family structure and affects children’s well-being (Demo & Acock, 1988).

PAS is a syndrome that is usually associated with a heightened level of conflict. Further, the children in PAS families are present not only in the conflictual situation (in this case the denigration of one parent) but often contribute additional conflict to the situation. These conflicts tend to occur in conjunction with long custody proceedings. Johnston, Gonzalez, and Campbell (1987) examined the behaviour of children from separated and/or divorced families who were subjected to “entrenched” parental conflict regarding their custody. These researchers assessed 56 children between the ages of four and twelve during custody disputes and 2.5 years later.

The assessment consisted of three measures:

(1) parental conflict as measured by the Straus Conflict Tactics Scale;
(2) Clinical rating scales that were completed by each family’s counsellor; and
(3) the Achenbach Child Behaviour Checklist which measured the children’s adjustment on four scales: Depression, Withdrawn/Uncommunicative, Somatic Complaints, and Aggression, as well as overall problem behavior. Johnston and her colleagues (1987) found that at the time of the custody disputes, overall behavior problems and aggression could be predicted by (a) the extent to which children became involved in the custody dispute and (b) the occurrence and extent of role reversal between the child and parent.

Specifically, aggression between parents, both physical and verbal, was found to be a significant predictor of overall behavioural problems two years later. Moreover, involving the child in the custody dispute was a more important predictor of overall behaviour problems when it was the father who involved the child rather than the mother. If both parents involved the child in the disputes, then the child was more likely to have a tendency to display more withdrawn and uncommunicative behaviours two years after the dispute.

Finally, overall behavioural problems and depression were also predicted by the role reversal between father and child. These findings are related to the development of parental alienation in that PAS children who are exposed to heightened levels of conflict in combination with the denigration of one parent by the other.

As a means of coping with the heightened levels of stress, PAS children may copy the alienating parent’s behavior primarily by denigrating the lost parent. In doing so, they reduce some stress by believing that one parent is bad while the other is good. Subsequently, they focus on pleasing the alienating parent who is usually the custodial parent. Therefore, they ensure their survival in the alienating home by supporting the alienating parent’s beliefs. Children who do not adapt in this way may feel they run the risk of also being rejected by the alienating parent and losing that parent’s love.

DIVORCE

The effect of divorce itself on the family can be devastating. What was once decided amongst the parents is now decided by third parties like lawyers and judges (Girdner, 1985). Further, access to the children by each parent changes. Where before everyone lived together and parents and children had the freedom to interact whenever they wished, divorce dictates they must now abide by rules set by others.

The most common effect of divorce is that the child remains primarily with one parent while the other parent becomes a “visitor” who is only allowed to see the child on certain occasions. In theory, this “visitor” is allowed to have parental authority, that is to engage in the decision making process regarding the children (e.g., what school they should attend) (Turkat, 1994).

However, divorce often occurs because the parents can no longer make decisions together. Consequently, the visiting parent does not always have the visitation that he or she should have and may be unable to participate in the decision making process for important issues in their children’s lives. One time significant parents can become unwanted visitors for their children. The Children’s Rights Council in 1994 reported that an estimated six million children in the U.S. were victims of interfered visitation by their custodial parents.

Arditti (1992) found that as high as 50% of fathers (usually the non-custodial parents) reported that their visitation with their children had been interfered with by their ex-wives.

Further, as many as 40% of custodial mothers admitted denying their ex-husbands their right to visitation as a means of punishing them (Kressel, 1985). In PAS families, the interference with child visitation is but one of the symptoms, though the most important. It is believed that the goal of the alienating parent is to not only interfere in the lost parent’s visits, but to eliminate both the visits, and the visiting parent as well from the child’s life.

Gardner (1992) postulated that PAS is of a serious nature that may be provoked by a serious emotional issue, such as custody. Consequently, Cartwright (1993) noted that PAS may also be provoked by other serious and emotional issues such as property divisions or finances.

CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE LEGAL SYSTEM

According to Gardner (1992), the legal system contributes to the occurrence of PAS. In his book, The Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Guide for Mental Health Professionals, Gardner devotes two chapters to the history of the legal system and its impact on the occurrence of PAS. He postulates that parental alienation began to occur when courts began replacing the “tender-years” presumption with that of the “best-interests-of-the-child” presumption. The “tender-years” presumption stipulates that certain psychological benefits exist for children who remain with the mother, therefore custody was usually awarded to the mother. In the 1970s the courts began to favour the “best-interests-of-the-child” presumption, a less sexist position. With this presumption, the courts attempted to award custody to the parent who the best custodian for the child regardless of the parent’s gender.

Gardner believes that this change in the legal system exacerbated mothers’ fears that they might lose custody of their children to the fathers. Moreover, for mothers to strengthen their cases they needed to denigrate the fathers, engendering the beginnings of PAS. Gardner supports this notion by reporting that in 90% of his PAS cases, it was the mother who was the alienating parent (Gardner, 1991, conference).

Further changes in the legal system during the 1970s and 1980s, according to Gardner, contributed to the occurrence of PAS. Specific was the adoption in many jurisdictions of the notion of joint custody. Ideally in joint custody, both parents are to contribute equally to the upbringing of the children instead of one parent being the custodian and the other the “visitor”.

For joint custody to be granted it must be established that both parents can communicate with each other and can participate in the upbringing of the child. However, when joint custody is granted, the parents are often placed back in the same situation that led them to seek a divorce initially: the inability to communicate and make decisions together. Although some couples can do so successfully, Gardner notes that this situation presents the opportunity for the children to be used as weapons in parental conflicts that may arise.

Gardner developed several other related notions concerning the development of PAS and the contributions of the legal system are simply a part of this influence on PAS development. Unfortunately, the only statistics that Gardner provided were those that demonstrated that mothers were usually the alienators without detailing the procedure by which he attained these results.

Cartwright (1993) noted that the involvement of lawyers and the prolonged involvement of the court contributes not only to the occurrence of PAS but also to the increase in the severity of PAS. Clawar and Rivlin (1991) conducted a twelve year study regarding the parental programming of children “to influence the outcome of disputes” which was commissioned by the American Bar Association Section of Family Law. They found that 80% of divorcing parents practiced parental programming to varying degrees and 20% of whom did so at least once a day.

Further, Rand (1997) postulated that many allegations of either sexual or physical abuse may be an alienating technique. These allegations are powerful factors in the courts’ decisions for custody and therefore an invaluable tool to the alienators. Cartwright noted that the court requires adequate time to assess each case in order to determine the best interests of the child. However, he cautioned that once identified as a PAS case, then the court needs to make speedy judgments in order to stop the alienation process immediately. Unfortunately, the usual procedure of court postponements and continuances permit the PAS process to continue.

Further, Goldwater (1991) had postulated that the longer the children are in the alienating custodial situation, the “further they will drift away from their non-custodial parent” (p.130). Cartwright also noted that forceful judgment is required to counter the force of alienation. Specifically, clear and forceful judgments are believed to deter possible alienating parents from even beginning the alienation process as they may immediately lose custody of their children.

This is only possible if the judge is aware of PAS as a syndrome and if it has been clearly identified in each case. A second consequence of a clear and forceful judgment against the alienating parent is that such judgements can stop existing alienating processes from continuing.

Support for the notion that the court can counter the occurrence of PAS has been found in a study conducted by Dunne and Hedrick (1994). These researchers are two of the very few who conducted research specifically on PAS. In a qualitative study they interviewed sixteen families who exhibited a specified set of characteristics that met Gardner’s (1992) criteria for PAS.

The findings suggested that various family characteristics, such as the degree of PAS severity, were not indicators of the degree or effect of alienation on the family. Further, they found that the only effective intervention to counter alienation was a court implemented custody change that resulted in the children being removed from the alienating home.

The various types of therapy demonstrated no improvement in any of the families that had undergone therapy; in two of these cases the alienation actually became worse. It appears that the legal system is the most effective mean of terminating the process of alienation, reflecting the strong influence exerted by the legal system on the occurrence of PAS.

Girdner (1985), in an ethnographic study, examined the structure of custody litigation and the strategies used by parents who were contesting the custody of their children. She immersed herself in the legal culture for eighteen months. By observing court proceedings regarding custody she examined the relationships between the legal and the familial processes within the context of those proceedings.

She found that the final custody arrangements were usually made with respect to the economic issues of the divorce. Specifically, her findings suggested that the factors which influenced custody agreements included: (a) the negotiating style of the attorneys involved; (b) the dynamics of bargaining in the legal system; and (c) at which stage of the emotional process of divorce in which the clients were.

COMBINED FACTORS

A number of factors influence the occurrence of PAS. The family unit does not function in isolation. Individual characteristics of family members may also play a role on the occurrence of PAS. A study conducted by Calabrese, Miller, and Dooley (1987) examined the characteristics of 49 parents and their children from two fourth grade classes.

These researchers assessed the parents’ alienation of their children using the Dean Alienation Scale that provides an overall measure of alienation through examining the following dimensions: Isolation, Powerlessness, and Normalesness. They also assessed the children’s school achievement by examining their percentiles, as well as the children’s attitudes toward school.

However, these researchers found that the best predictors of alienation was unrelated to the children’s academic attitudes or performance, but rather to the characteristics of the individuals involved. Specifically, they reported that high levels of alienation were found to be associated with unemployed, single mothers, whose child was female and the child had only a few perceived friends.

While these findings appear to support Gardner’s contention that the alienator is usually the mother, they provide little support for Gardner’s theory that the introduction of the “best-interests-of-the-child” presumption contributed to this phenomenon.

Lund (1995) examined factors that contributed to the development of parental alienation. She assessed families in terms of

(a) developmental factors in the child,
(b) parenting styles, and
(c) level of stress experienced by the child.

She postulated that contributing factors in the occurrence of PAS included the following:

(1) Separation difficulties that are developmentally inappropriate. Specifically, PAS could be related to the occurrence of pre-schooler’s separation problems that may normally occur but are heightened by the stress occurring within a separated home.
(2) The child exhibiting oppositional behaviour. With older children in adolescence and preadolescence the development of oppositional behaviour may be manifested as a rejection of the lost parent in a family with conflicts.
(3) The deterioration of the non-custodial parental skills. The alienated parent usually displays a distant, rigid, and sometimes authoritarian style of parenting, whereas the alienating parent is indulgent and clinging. The children can then more easily reject the harsher parent and defend the more indulgent one.
(4) Conflicts occurring during the divorce. According to Lund (1995), these may prompt the child to seek means of escaping the stress related to such conflict.

Therefore, the child may denigrate the lost parent as a justification of the alienating parent’s actions.

SUMMARY

Relatively few research studies have been conducted specifically on PAS. The literature examined in this section pertained primarily to several articles that described parental alienation, however the majority were not empirical studies. The literature suggests that several factors may contribute to the occurrence of PAS. The heightened levels of conflict that are often associated with the dissolution of a marriage have been shown to have several short- and long-term effects on family members (Demo & Acock, 1988; Hoffman, 1971; Kurdek 1981). Johnston et al., 1987 found that involving the children in the disputes tended to result in the children displaying behavioural problems (e.g., withdrawing and not communicating).

PAS is one area in which heightened levels of conflict are believed to play a large role in the lives of the family members. Therefore, it is postulated that the heightened conflict levels may be an important factor in the occurrence of PAS. Divorce is a difficult time for all family members. With divorce comes a stressful restructuring where one parent, who was once involved in the child’s life, may suddenly become an unwanted visitor (Turkat, 1994).

This is difficult for those involved and there are indicators that these visiting parents (usually the fathers) encounter difficulties with their visits. For instance, Arditi (1992) found that as many as 50% of fathers reported an interference in their visitation rights; similarly, Kressel (1985) found that 40% of mothers admitted to attempting to interfere in the father’s visitation. Some circumstance or factor that occurs in the process of divorce may result in the rejection of one parent by the other.

If this occurs, it is postulated that PAS may follow. The circumstances that lead to the rejection of a parent are as yet to be determined. There may be high levels of conflict or stress involved in the dissolution of the marriage and thus further research is necessary to examine the degree to which these factors are important in the occurrence of PAS.

With the initiation of a divorce, the legal proceedings involved may pertain not only to the divorce but to custody agreements as well. Most of the literature on PAS suggests that various aspects of the legal system have contributed to the occurrence of PAS (Gardner, 1992) and has even heightened the severity of PAS (Cartwright, 1993). Moreover, Dunne and Hedrick (1994) found that the legal system can play an important role in the termination of PAS.

Specifically, a court ordered change in custody was found to be the most effective intervention that resulted in the termination of PAS with time. As Calabrese et al., (1987), and Lund (1995) found, many factors from individual characteristics to stress on the children have been linked to the occurrence of alienation. The number of possible factors that instigate PAS are legion, therefore, there is a need to examine PAS qualitatively to gain better comprehension. A better understanding of how PAS occurs may be helpful in learning how to treat and perhaps prevent PAS.

Parental Alienation Syndrome: The Lost Parents’ Perspective – Chapter 1 of 5

In child trafficking, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, DSM-IV, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Freedom, Jayne Major, judicial corruption, Liberty, MMPI, MMPI 2, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, state crimes on May 16, 2009 at 4:36 pm

by Despina Vassiliou
Department of Educational Psychology and Counselling, McGill University
3700 McTavish, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 1Y2

A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts in Educational Psychology
© 1998, Despina Vassiliou

ABSTRACT

This qualitative study examines alienated parents’ perceptions of their own experience of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). The participants were five fathers and one mother. The data were collected via semi-structured, open-ended interview questionnaires.

A qualitative analysis of the data was performed for each participant in an attempt to answer the following questions:
(1) Are there characteristics (e.g., number of children, number of marriages, etc.) common to alienated families?
(2) Are there common themes or issues among the conflicts between couples that contribute to marriage dissolution?
(3) From the lost parent’s perspective, are there commonalities in the underlying causes of the alienation?
(4) Are there common themes in the participants’ experience of the alienation process?
(5) Given the opportunity what are some things that the lost parents perceive they might do differently? The findings are discussed and the limitations of the present study are given.

CHAPTER 1

THE NATURE OF PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME

Dr. Richard A. Gardner, a forensic and child psychiatrist, has conducted evaluations regarding the custody of children following divorce (Rand, 1997). Through his case work he observed that many divorcing families shared common characteristics which he labeled as Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). PAS was defined as a syndrome where one parent (usually the custodial parent) alienates the child or children from the other parent. PAS includes the alienating parent engaging the child in a series of conscious and subconscious techniques like brainwashing in an attempt to denigrate the other parent. Further, the child also contributes to the denigration of the allegedly hated parent (Cartwright, 1993; Gardner, 1992). The general pattern of characteristics PAS children display during and after the divorce have been described by Gardner (1992) as follows:

1. Campaign of denigration: PAS children denigrate the “lost” parent completely, particularly in the presence of the alienating parent. The children express a profuse hatred for the lost parent. Initially, the children may denigrate each parent in the presence of the other. Eventually they learn that the denigration of the non-custodial or alienated parent is beneficial within the custodial home (Cartwright, 1993; Gardner, 1992). Subsequently, the child rejects the lost parent completely.
2. The children’s unfounded rationalizations: The children base their denigration on rationalizations that are weak or frivolous, e.g. “she snores in her sleep”. Statements such as these are often made with a complete lack of ambivalence by the children. The alienating parent, as well, does not question such statements as the bases for denigration and further uses the children’s statements as evidence of the lost parent’s inadequacy (Cartwright, 1993; Gardner, 1992).
3. Dichotomization of the parents: The alienating parent is perceived by the child as encompassing only positive qualities and as such the children attempt to express themselves as “perfect little photocopies” (Goldwater, 1991 p. 126) of the alienating parent. On the other hand, the lost parent is believed to encompass only negative qualities. This negative attitude is generalized to events that the children and lost parent have shared. Even events that the children once enjoyed are now remembered as being forced, not enjoyed, or never even remembered (Cartwright, 1993; Gardner, 1992).
4. The independent thinker phenomenon: The children present the decision to reject the parent as their own. The alienating parent reinforces this contention by making such statements as “I can’t force her to see her dad, if she does not want to”. Further, the claim that the decision to reject the parent was the child’s own is made suspect by the child’s use of language and phrases that are developmentally inappropriate and indicative of the alienating parent’s influence (Cartwright, 1993; Gardner, 1992).
5. Automatic love of the alienating parent: the children automatically and reflexively support the alienating parent. This automatic love may be a consequence of the belief that the alienating parent is an ideal or perfect person or that the children perceive that parent as weak and in need of support and defending (Cartwright, 1993; Gardner, 1992).
6. Absence of guilt: The children do not express any feelings of guilt about the circumstances surrounding the relationship with the lost parent. There is a lack of gratitude for any gifts, favours, etc.. This lack of guilt cannot be attributed solely to cognitive immaturity but is related to the brainwashing done by the alienating parent (Cartwright, 1993; Gardner, 1992).
7. Borrowed scenarios: The children use language and expressions that are clearly not their own. The quality with which they express their beliefs appears to be coached and rehearsed, and the only source of the borrowed scenarios appears to be the alienating parent (Cartwright, 1993; Gardner, 1992). For instance, a five year old borrows the alienating mother’s words and say “Daddy’s new girlfriend is a whore!” (Cartwright, 1993, p. 207).
8. Generalization of animosity: The lost parent’s extended family is also included in the animosity. These individuals are also perceived as encompassing negative qualities or inappropriate actions since they are associated with the lost parent. For instance, any attempt by the extended family to counter the denigration of the lost parent is viewed by the children as an attack on their beliefs that they must defend (Cartwright, 1993; Gardner, 1992).

Further, Cartwright, 1993 postulated that often allegations of abuse associated with PAS may be virtual. Virtual allegations refer to cases where the abuse is simply suggested in order to cast aspersions the lost parent’s character without the alienating parent having to fabricate real incidents of alleged abuse. For example, in one case, the mother hinted at an allegation of sexual abuse by accusing the father of renting a videotape containing pornography for the child. The mother reported in court that the child was disappointed with the movie because it was “suggestive, erotic, and pornographic”. The movie, a Hollywood comedy starring Chevy Chase, was chosen by the child at a family video store. The judge proceeded to interview the child extensively and, disagreeing with the mother, found that the child was not disappointed in the movie because it was pornographic but rather because it was not funny. Virtual allegations are subtle and, as a result, difficult to prove or disprove. Therefore, Cartwright, 1993 postulates that as lawyers and judges become more aware of PAS and become more skilled at detecting it, the incidence of virtual allegations will increase.

As in most disorders, the severity of PAS can range from mild to severe. As a result, Gardner (1991, conference) has described three levels in the continuum of severity of the syndrome as mild, moderate, and severe. Using these anchor points, Gardner (1992) described the characteristics of the alienating parent and the child.

In a Severe level of PAS, the alienating parent demonstrates paranoid thoughts that may be limited to the lost parent or may generalize to other circumstances. Prior to the divorce, however, the alienating parent may not have demonstrated any paranoia. Another characteristic includes the alienating parent’s obsession with preventing the lost parent from having or exercising any visitation rights. The alienating parent will use any means necessary to ensure this goal. Further, alienating parents project their own negative qualities onto the lost parents, reinforcing their own paranoia and portraying themselves as victims. As a result of this paranoia, alienating parents do not respond with appeals to logic or reason, or even to confrontations with reality. Those who do not support the alienating parents’ beliefs, whether they are mental health professionals, lawyers, etc., are believed either to be against them or to be paid by the lost parent. The children in severe cases of PAS share the alienating parent’s paranoia about the lost parent. They will refuse to visit the lost parent and often demonstrate panic and hostility that renders visits impossible. Further, if visitation does occur, once they are in the lost parent’s home they may run away, become paralyzed with fear, or become destructive to the extent that they must be removed from the home.

The Moderate level of PAS includes alienating parents who exhibit more rage than paranoid tendencies. They are able to make some distinction between a child’s preposterous allegations and those which may have some validity. However, as in severe cases, an alienating parent in a moderate case of PAS will also undertake a campaign of denigration against the lost parent and will tend to prevent the lost parent’s exercise of visitation rights. Prior to the divorce, the moderate alienating parent is more likely to have been a good child rearer. The children of moderate PAS tend to be less persistent with their campaigns of denigration, and are more likely to abandon them in the presence of the lost parents, especially after long periods of time. In this type of case campaigns of denigration by younger children in the presence of their lost parents can only be sustained with the help of older siblings who function as surrogate parents during visitation. The alienated children’s primary motives for maintaining campaigns of denigration are to maintain “healthy” psychological bonds with the alienating parents.

The Mild level of PAS, the parents have generally healthy psychological bonds with their children. They respond to logic and reason in that they recognize that the alienation of the non-custodial parent is not beneficial for the children. Therefore, the alienating parent will be willing to take a conciliatory approach towards the lost parent’s requests. Gardner (1992) also notes that mild cases of PAS require considerablyless therapy than the more severe cases. Further, the children may become healthier when the intervention simply requires the child to remain in the presence of the lost parent over time.

Cartwright (1993) noted that the time that is spent alienating the child may be an indicator of the degree to which the child is alienated; the longer the alienation, the more alienated the child. Further, the excessive alienation may “build up” or increase the risk of mental illness in the child. As a result, the sooner the children are removed from the alienating situation, the healthier it is for the lost parent and the PAS children. It is, therefore, important to gain a better understanding of parental alienation, its development, and its termination, because of the devastating consequences of PAS to the family members who experience it.

Operational Definitions

Alienator or Alienating Parent. The terms “alienator” and “alienating parent” are used to designate the parent who influences the child or children to turn against the other parent.

Lost or Hated or Absent Parent. The lost (and usually non-custodial) parent is the one who is the target of the alienator.

Conflict. This term signifies opposing ideas and beliefs that members of the family experience in the form of arguments that may or may not become violent.

Alienation: This term signifies any actions, whether physical or psychological, that lead to the negative perception of a parent. Specifically, the term alienation refers to tactics utilized in order to induce PAS.

http://www.fact.on.ca/Info/pas/vassil98.htm

Parental Alienation Syndrome And Alignment Of Children

In adoption abuse, child trafficking, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Divorce, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, judicial corruption, Liberty, MMPI, MMPI 2, motherlessness, mothers rights, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights on May 16, 2009 at 1:00 am

by Philip M. Stahl, Ph.D.
CALIFORNIA PSYCHOLOGIST, March 1999, Vol. 32, No. 3, p 23ff

Prior to 1970, it was rare that parents disputed custody of their children. Beginning in the early 1970’s, parents began litigating over child custody as a result of changes in societal factors and custody laws. With this increase in litigation, Gardner (1987) observed and outlined a concept that he referred to as “Parental Alienation syndrome.” Currently, there is a significant dispute among experts whether parental alienation is a syndrome, as well as the causes and remedies of parental alienation. This brief article will describe some of the dynamics related to the alignment and alienation of children and provide some solutions for these children. For purposes of this article, I am accepting the premise that alienation exists and that the child is caught in a battle between the alienating parent and the alienated parent. There is little research on the effects of alienation on children, either the long-term impact on a child being alienated from a parent. the long-term impact of a change of custody to remedy alienation, or which qualities within the child might help to mitigate against the alienating behaviors of both parents.

What Is Parental Alienation?

While Gardner was the first to coin the phrase “Parental Alienation Syndrome.” Wallerstein and Kelly (1980) first wrote about a process which they termed “alignment with one parent.” In their break-through book, Surviving the Breakup, they wrote:

“A very important aspect of the response of the youngsters in this age group (ages nine to twelve) was the dramatic change in the relationship between parents and children. These young people were vulnerable to being swept up into the anger of one parent against the other. They were faithful and valuable battle allies in efforts to hurt the other parent. Not infrequently, they turned on the parent they had (previously) loved and been very close to prior to the marital separation.”

According to Gardner (1992), “The concept of Parental Alienation Syndrome includes much more than brainwashing. It includes not only conscious but subconscious and unconscious factors within the preferred parent that contribute to the parent’s influencing the child’s alienation. Furthermore, [and this is extremely important], it includes factors that arise within the child — independent of the parental contributions — that foster the development of this syndrome.”

He notes that the child becomes obsessed with hatred of the alienated parent. He also suggests that the hatred takes on a life of its own in which the child may justify the alienation as a result of minor altercations experienced in the relationship with the hated parent. Gardner differentiates between three categories of alienation: mild, moderate and severe. He acknowledges that there is a continuum along which these cases actually fall and he believes that fitting them into a single category is not easy. In general, it is the intensity of the reported alienation and the quality of the relationships between the child and each parent that differentiates families between mild, moderate and severe alienation.

Mild Cases Of Parental Alienation

In mild cases, there are subtle attempts at turning the child against the other parent and drawing the child in to the alienated parent’s view of the other parent. This may be both conscious and unconscious and usually the alienating parent is not aware of how this makes the child feel. However, the alienating parent is usually supportive of the child having a relationship with the other parent. For most children, the consequences of mild alienation is minimal and manifests itself with a slight increase in loyalty conflicts or anxiety, but no fundamental change in the child’s own view of the alienated parent.

Moderate Cases Of Parental Alienation

Moderately alienating parents are angry and often vengeful in their behavior toward the alienated parent. Feeling hurt, the alienating parent often expects the child to take sides and be loyal to him/her. Such parents may actively interfere with visitation arrangements, be derogatory of the other parent to the child and actively participate a process designed to limit or interfere with the child’s relationship with the alienated parent. These parents support the concept of a relationship between the child and the alienated parent but will at the same time consciously and unconsciously attempt to sabotage it. In moderate cases, the alienating parent will ignore court orders if he/she can get away with it.

Most of the children in these moderate cases are filled with conflict. They show many of the symptoms, including anxiety, splitting, insecurity, distortion, etc. They often express their own frustrated views about the alienated parent, some of which mirror the allegations made by the alienating parent and some of which are borne from their own relationship with the alienating parent. They tend to view the alienating parent as “the good parent and the alienated parent as “the bad parent.” Yet, they are able to integrate and discuss some good traits about the hated parent and some negative traits about the preferred parent. These children can enjoy a limited relationship with the alienated parent.

Severe Cases Of Parental Alienation

In severely alienated families, there is a clear, consistent derogation of the alienated parent by the alienating parent and by the child which includes programming, brainwashing and hostility. These behaviors and feelings begin with the alienating parent and are taken on by the child. In most instances, the child and alienated parent had previously had a positive and relatively healthy relationship, although the alienating parent can neither admit nor perceive this. Often, the alienating parent feels a tremendous bitterness and anger at the other parent, usually related to feelings of abandonment and betrayal. These families are quite intractable and may be difficult to evaluate when there are simultaneous abuse allegations. The alienated parent is outraged at the change in the child and generally blames the other parent.

Behavioral Manifestations In Parents And Children

The Alienating Parent

Most alienating behavior will fall into categories that include one or more of the following.

1. Unbalanced accounts of behaviors – Talking in extremes and absolutes
2. Merging of feelings between alienating parent and children, e.g. “We do not like the Tuesday night dinner visit”
3. Denial of the relationship between the child and the alienated parent, as if he/she has no right to it any more
4. Behaviors which directly and/or indirectly thwart the relationship between the child and the other parent
5. Intrusive behaviors such as frequent phone calls (e.g. 2 – 3 times per day or more) into the other parent’s home during visits
6. Encouraging the children to act as spies during visits
7. Informing children about adult issues, such as child support, reasons for the divorce, etc.
8. Forcing the children to be messengers of communications
9. Derogatory and blaming statements about the other parent
10. Tribal warfare in which other family members or family friends get brought into the battle between the parents

It is critical to understand the rationale for those behaviors and what causes them. It could be that the alienating behaviors are the direct result of either actual or perceived shortcomings in the alienated parent. This will affect the recommendations. For example, if real problems in the alienated parent are found, recommendations to correct these problems will be made to the alienated parent. However, if the alienating parent is acting on the basis of perceived problems, it will be important to recommend interventions that encourage the alienating parent to alter his/her perceptions and recognize the many ways that the alienation is negatively affecting the children.

The Alienated Parent

For the alienated parent, there is a potentially different set of dynamics to explore. Alienated parents tend to fall into two groups. There is a group of parents who previously had a healthy relationship with the child prior to the separation, but who is now being shutout of the child’s life. These parents are truly being alienated from the child by the behavior of the alienating parent. The second group of alienated parents are those who claim that alienation is the significant source of the problems with their children, but who tend to be fairly defensive, avoidant of relationships, externalize blame and have a very difficult time seeing his/her own role in problems with the children. Such parents are often very controlling and powerful and are used to having things their own way in their relationships. After separation, they expect their relationship with the children to be as they want it to be. These parents are often less child centered and have less empathy than others. When the relationship does not work out the way they want, they are quick to blame the other parent for alienating the children and for creating problems with their children.

Alienated Parents Who Previously Had A Healthy Relationship With Their Child

Parents in this category seem to be truly alienated against. They may be insightful, able to reflect on a wide variety of possibilities for their children’s behavior and are willing to look to themselves as a source of some problems. Typically, these parents have had a history in which they were close to their children and actively participated in their children’s lives and activities. These parents can have a nurturing quality, though there may be a tendency toward some passivity and difficulty dealing with overwhelming emotions. These dynamics provide a fertile atmosphere for the alienation to flourish.

In these families, the alienating parent is typically extreme and emotionally over-reactive and the alienated parent is usually more passive, nurturing and sensitive. The alienated parent is often overwhelmed and does not know what to do when faced with the alienating parent’s behaviors. Rather than confront the alienating parent or reality to the child, these alienated parents have a tendency to detach. This detachment reinforces the alienating parent’s vengeful behaviors. These parents may exhibit sensitivity to the children, nurturing behavior, passivity, insight and a tendency to be overwhelmed with intense emotions.

Alienated Parents Who Previously Had A Poor Relationship With Their Child

Many of these parents have had very little to do with their children prior to the separation and divorce. They may have been workaholics who came home late at night. They may have been fairly self-centered individuals who were more involved in their own activities than the activities of their children. Many of these parents may be quickly involved in a new relationship and are insensitive to the feelings of their children about this new relationship. Rather than recognize that their children may have their own feelings about their new partner. they are quick to blame the other parent for the children’s feelings. Blame is common for these parents.

In exploring the history of the relationship between these parents and their children, we often find that there is a general absence of a quality relationship in the formative years of development. There is a superficiality to the relationship caused by years of neglect or a history in which the other parent was truly the “primary parent’ in the marital relationship. These parents may show up for the “Kodak moments,” but do so in more self-centered way. often for their own enjoyment and interest rather than to participate with their children. These parents may report active involvement in activities such as coaching the children’s sports. yet, upon further exploration. the child often felt pushed into these activities and distant from their parent-coach. Often these parents are not even that interested in the child after the divorce. They claim alienation primarily as a way of continuing the control and blame that they exhibited during the marriage. For these parents who are claiming alienation, but are more likely to be the cause of the rift with their children, we look for indicators like defensiveness, control, externalization of blame, self-centeredness and superficiality.

The Children

The relationships between parent and child are fragile in these families, even if they were positive prior to the separation. When children are brought into the tug of war between the parents, they have a diminished ability to maintain healthy boundaries and relationships. Ultimately, this dynamic causes the alienating parent to reject anyone who perceives things in a way that the alienating parent does not like. In most instances, the family is so heavily invested in the alienating efforts that the root causes may be difficult to understand.

The effect of this alienation is dramatic on children. They suggest that children are most susceptible to alienation when they are passive and dependent and feel a strong need to psychologically care for the alienating parent. In both the child and alienating parent, there is a sense of moral outrage at the alienated parent and there is typically a fusion of feelings between the alienating parent and child such that they talk about the alienated parents as having hurt “us.” The general view is that children in such families are likely to develop a variety of pathological symptoms. These include, but are not limited to:

1. splittings in their relationships
2. difficulties in forming intimate relationships
3. a lack of ability to tolerate anger or hostility with other relationships
4. psychosomatic symptoms, sleep or eating disorders
5. psychological vulnerability and dependency
6. conflicts with authority figures
7. an unhealthy sense of entitlement for one’s rage that leads to social alienation in general

Some children tell very moving stories of how they have not liked or have been fearful of the alienated parent for a long time. They can give specific details of abuse, angry behavior. etc. prior to separation. These children often feel relieved when their parents divorce because they are now free of those problems. The differential understanding will come from the child’s clear account of inappropriate behavior, detachment in the relationship and a convincing sense of real problems (as opposed to the moral indignation of the alienated child).

When we listen to these children in those cases where the child is detached from the alienated parent. there is little evidence that these children are put in the middle by the alienating parent. Rather, there is a sadness to these children who wish (or may have wished in the past) for a different quality to the relationship with the alienated parent. For many of these children, they have observed significant spousal abuse during the marriage or have observed one parent being controlling and hostile to the other parent. It is the sadness and ambivalence about the lack of a relationship that is one of the key differential indicators that these children, while certainly aligned with one parent, are not being alienated.

Other Reasons For Alignment With One Parent

There are two other dynamics that are important to look for in these children. First, many children seem to be aligned with one parent primarily because of shared interests or a goodness of fit in the personality dynamics with one parent. There is a natural affinity between an active, sports-oriented child and his/her active, sports-oriented parent. Other children may have a stronger affinity with the parent who has effectively been the primary and a concomitant need to be with that parent. These dynamics have nothing to do with alienation but are related to the quality of the child’s relationships with each parent. Unlike the alienated children, however, these children want to spend time with the other parent. though on a more limited basis. The evaluator will note that the child’s reasoning is related to these interests or the quality of the relationship rather than imagined problems in the relationship with the alienated parent.

Second, conflict takes an emotional toll on children. As the level of conflict between parents increases and as children are caught in the middle of these conflicts, the child’s level of anxiety and vulnerability increases. For many of these children, an alignment with a parent helps take them out of the middle and reduces their anxiety and vulnerability. When pressed, these children will prefer a relationship with both parents and show no real history of any significant problems with either parent. By making a choice to be primarily with one parent, these children are making a statement that they need to be free of the conflict. For some, it may not even matter of which parent they live with, as long as they are removed from the conflict.

In fact, when the child’s anxiety is driving the split, the intensity and severity of the child’s feelings may be greater than the intensity of the alienating parent’s behaviors. Unlike children who are alienated primarily because of the alienating parent. or children who are aligned because of a rift in the relationship with the alienated parent. these anxious and vulnerable children are experiencing alignment as a direct result of the conflict and behaviors of both parents.

Recommendations For These Families

Within those families labeled moderate to severe, there is wide disagreement about possible solutions. Gardner touched off this debate by suggesting that the best solution is a change of custody from the alienating parent to the alienated parent, with an initial cut-off of all contact between the alienating parent and child. In a variety of court cases in which there were allegations of sexual abuse, he has testified that the sexual abuse allegation was a form of parental alienation and that a change of custody was clearly in order. Turkat supported Gardner’s position and recommended this change of custody in cases of severe parental alienation.

Gardner’s remedy has led to a number of articles written by attorneys (Isman [1996]. Mauzerall, Young, and Alsaker-Burke [1997] and Wood [1994]) who dispute Gardner’s view. They perceive his recommendation as extreme and dangerous. They question the existence of Parental Alienation Syndrome, suggesting that it does not meet any objective standard in the mental health community. They believe that changing custody on the basis of a syndrome that does not exist is potentially damaging to children.

Others (Ward and Campbell [1993], Johnston [1993]. Johnston and Roseby [1997], Waldron and Joanis [1996], Kelly [1997] and Garrity and Baris [1994]) prefer a more cautious approach to these severely alienated families. They feel that caution is indicated in order to balance the risk of harm to the child from being cut off from one parent (i.e. the alienated parent) or harm as a result of cutting the child off from the other parent (i.e. the alienating parent). One solution does not fit all families because children and their parents are quite different.

Cautious recommendations are likely to include many of the following:

1. A court order that recognizes the value of on-going contact between the child and the alienated parent and establishes structure around that contact
2. A mental health professional working with the child and/or family to therapeutically support the contact
3. The use of a case manager, Special Master, guardian ad litem, or parenting coordinator who would monitor the cooperation with the order and have the authority to enforce compliance or report to the court quickly when one parent is out of compliance
4. Avoid changing custody as a corrective tool; there may be times when a change of custody is indicated, but it will be because there is a different problem than alienation
5. Attempt to engage the alienating parent in therapy that is understanding and supportive while simultaneously providing a clear and consistent message that the alienation process is harmful to the child. If the alienating parent is currently in therapy with someone who supports the position of the alienating parent (i.e. contact between the child and the alienated parent should be nonexistent), it may be necessary for the court to order a change of therapists for the alienating parent unless that therapist can understand the dynamics and become part of the treatment team
6. In the most extreme examples, in which nothing seems to be working and the child appears to be at significant risk, it may be necessary to help the alienated parent therapeutically disengage from the child until such time that the child can more adequately re-establish the relationship. From the perspective of the child, this may actually be a less-damaging recommendation than a change of custody

If we understand that alienation is caused by splitting within the family. it is critical that those who try to work with the family (the attorneys, the judges and the mental health professionals) are in agreement in their approach to the family. If we recognize that alienated family systems are emotionally powerful. it is easy to see how the professionals involved can become split amongst themselves. In more extremely alienated families, the case manager will watch that the professionals do not succumb to the family’s splitting, inadvertently escalating the split.

Parentectomies: Do They Help?

As indicated earlier, perhaps the most controversial element of all the alienation literature has been stimulated by Dr. Gardner’s recommendation for a swift change of custody in those families identified as exhibiting severe parental alienation. There may also be a severe limitation on the child’s contact with the alienating parent, at least for the first few months after the change of custody. While there are certainly times when an evaluator might recommend a change of custody from one parent to the other, doing so solely on the basis of a finding of severe parental alienation may not be in the child’s best interest. When a child has a strong attachment, even if it is an unhealthy one, to the alienating parent, it can be emotionally damaging to the child if the relationship is abruptly terminated.

It is important to remember that children in these families are often in an enmeshed relationship with the alienating parent and often feel a strong need to protect that parent. They may be in a hostile-dependent relationship with the alienating parent. An abrupt change in custody may cause significant problems for the child. We must be careful that the proposed solution to alienation does not cause more problems for the child than did the alienation. I have never seen a change of custody by itself lead to a reduction in conflict and improvement in the situation for the child. While it may temporarily help the relationship between the child and the alienated parent, it often comes at an exorbitant price for the child.

Even with case manager and therapeutic support, many of these children continue to long for a relationship with the alienating parent. Sometimes these dynamics will resurface several years later. Rather than a complete change of custody, I believe that a more balanced time-share in which the child has time to be with each parent for a relatively equal period of time in larger chunks (such as two-week blocks or most of the summer) may be more beneficial to the child. Even when this is difficult to achieve, I would always consider the impact to the child of the change of custody and whether this solution will be worse than the alienation that is occurring.

For some families, it will be impossible to help the alienated parent ever have a viable relationship with the child, in spite of the best therapeutic and structural efforts. Some courts are taking to punishing children, placing them in juvenile halls and psychiatric hospitals because they do not see a parent. I do not agree with this approach. I believe that these children should be in therapy, with part of the therapeutic work centered on the alienated parent withdrawing from the child’s life. It is important to do this carefully so that the child does not feel abandoned by the alienated parent. The alienated parent needs to be taught to say the following to the child (in his/her own words, but with the overall intent completely clear):

“I know how hard it is for you when you feel pain. I know that you and I do not see things the same way and maybe we never will. I am sorry for whatever I have done to cause you to feel pain and I know that our divorce has been terrible for you. I love you and do not want you to be in the middle of the war between your (mom/dad) and me. I know it is terrible for you and rather than have you continue to experience that pain, I am going to withdraw for a while.”

“I want you to remember three things. First, I do love you and want what is best for you. Second, I will always be there for you if you need anything. Third, if you ever change your mind and want to rebuild our relationship, nothing could make me happier. I am only withdrawing for now to help you feel less pain and take you out of the middle of our war. I will keep in contact with you every few months or so. I will keep sending you birthday and Christmas cards. I hope you get them and I hope you will write back. I will always make sure you know where I am and how to reach me if I move. More than anything, I want you to have peace in your life and some day, I hope I can be a part of it. I love you and I always will.”

While this is a painful thing for an alienated parent to do, sometimes it is the only viable solution for an intractable situation. I would certainly encourage such a child to remain in therapy, at least periodically, to explore how the situation is working out. I would also encourage the parent to continue sending the cards, inviting a reunification with the child. At the present time, there is no research on these children and families to know if this actually helps but anecdotal evidence for some children suggests that it might.

This article and articles published in the December issue of this publication by Drs. Schuman and Stahl were condensed from Chapter 1 in Complex Issues in Child Custody Evaluations by Philip M. Stahl, Ph.D., (Copyright Sage, Forthcoming)

The original article can be found here: http://www.fact.on.ca/Info/pas/stahl99.htm

Parental Alienation and the Judiciary

In children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, deadbeat dads, Divorce, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Freedom, judicial corruption, Liberty, MMPI, MMPI 2, motherlessness, mothers rights, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, state crimes on May 15, 2009 at 4:01 pm

by Dr L F Lowenstein, MA, Dip Psych, PhD
Medico-Legal Journal (1999) Vol.67 Part 3, 121-123

Increasing numbers of cases are coming before the Courts where one parent feels displaced in relation to the children in the family. The syndrome, parental alienation (PAS),’ as it is now called, is not a new one, but its importance is being highlighted in the United States as well as in the UK. Judges are often uncertain as to how to treat the situation where one parent seeks to make contact with the children following an estrangement, separation, or an unusually unpleasant and vicious divorce.

There is some pressure on the Judiciary to keep the child or children with the person who has major control, usually the mother. Parental alienation however, also affects some mothers denied contact with their children who are resident with the father. On the whole, it is the male member of the partnership who suffers from the alienation situation.

In recent cases in which I have personally been involved, I had the opportunity of talking about PAS and its problems with two judges, on different occasions. The dilemma is how to deal with the case where the resident partner i.e. the alienating partner, fails to co-operate with the courts in providing adequate access for the other partner. I will recreate the general conversation, on an informal basis and hence no names can be mentioned. Interestingly, similar conversations were repeated with both judges, one male and one female, demonstrating how similar problems are often faced by the Judiciary in parental alienation cases.

Psych.: Your Honour, this is a case typical of parental alienation and I feel it is only right that the alienated parent should have contact with the child in question.

Judge: But the mother says that the child does not want any contact with the boy.

Psych.: This is because there has been a considerable amount of programming, I have discovered through my assessment, to make the child respond in this manner.

Judge: This may well be so but how do I deal with this situation when mother stubbornly refuses to allow contact of the child with the father?

Psych.: It is a difficult situation, your Honour, but the question remains: should justice be done or should it be ignored?

Judge: it is not as easy as that. I have spent time with mothers, even sitting in a cell, to try to get them to see reason to allow their former husbands to have access to a child. Sometimes this has worked while at other times, there has been a refusal. This puts me he a very awkward position since I must consider carefully, first and foremost, the children concerned and they are, after all, in the care of their mother who, if they are deprived of her, due to her being sentenced for failing to follow instructions, will lose a mother vital to their welfare.

Psych.: Again it comes down, your Honour, to considering the question of failure to comply with the Court ruling. If an ordinary criminal fails to obey instructions of the Court, some punitive action is taken. Should not some punitive action also follow when a mother, or father for that matter, refuses to accede to the ruling of the judge and the Court?

Judge: Well, I will see what I can do on this particular matter and the case before me but I still feel that it is a difficult one to settle, when one of the partners is totally opposed to contact with the child and the child in question has decided openly and before me, to refuse to have any contact with the other parent. Are you suggesting that I fine the mother in question or place her in a prison for failing to adhere to my instructions and that of the Court?

Psych.: I personally see no other alternative. It may well be that if such a threat is made, the alienating parent may, in due course, accept what has been recommended by the Court and there will be no need to take the action which you and I both feel is undesirable and may even be counter-productive.

Both judges agreed the case before them was typical of parental alienation and the difficulties they faced are only too obvious. Their first concern, and also that of myself, was the children. If the children have been “brain-washed” and “programmed” in a particular direction, this made the judge’s decision all the more difficult.

It is my view that no exception can be made for failing to adhere to the ruling of a court and that justice must be done however painful this may be. It may well be that the alienated parent should eventually gain access following a period of therapy between the psychologist and the child or children in question, to make them aware of what is happening. If older they themselves may well be able to put pressure on the alienating parent to see sense.

From the conversation, it can be seen that many judges are undoubtedly unsure how best to deal with alienating parents – this usually being the mother. Judges are often saved by the fact that fathers cease to pursue their role of wishing to play a part in their childrens’ lives. This is due to the resistance they meet from the former spouse, who has often formed a new relationship and wishes the new partner to take over the role of father. I have even known cases where the mother insisted the child call the new husband “dad” and the natural father by his first name.

Fathers who pursue both their right and their sense of responsibility through the courts are relatively few. Many opt out due to the resistance they meet from their ex-partners, the programmed child and the reluctance of judges to give them justice. This is undoubtedly due to the following:

1. Judges are reluctant to punish and most especially incarcerate obdurate mothers who refuse to comply with a judge’s decision that they must allow access with an estranged father.
2. Judges often are reluctant to ignore the view expressed by children that they do not wish to meet their fathers, despite the fact that such children have been “intensively programmed” to respond in this way by mothers and the mother’s relations.
3. Judges are reluctant to advise that therapy should take place, despite the fact that when such alienation occurs, children are damaged. Such therapy is often recommended by expert witnesses such as a psychologist or a psychiatrist. Such recommended periods of therapy for the child and mother are viewed by judges (with the aid of the mother’s Counsel!) as likely to damage further the children who are involved in this conflict and hostility between the parents.

Despite such reservations, judges have a moral duty to provide justice for the alienated party, this usually being the father. The threat of punishment for the alienator must be supported by punishment, including removing the child from mother’s care to a neutral place or to the alienated parent, and to use incarceration when necessary. Failure to carry out this distasteful, but necessary, action against the obdurate party would constitute a mockery of the judicial system. It is my experience as an expert witness to the Courts as a forensic, clinical psychologist, that most alienating parents, whether mothers or fathers, will obey a court order if punishment is threatened for failure to adhere to the ruling. Hence the carrying out of the various possible measures is rarely necessary.

In connection with PAS many judges have, without always being aware, adopted a double standard. They see mothers who are alienators as “victims” to be protected even when they have committed what can only be described as a form of “emotional abuse”. They have abused their powerful position by influencing the young children and turning them against the other parent. They have usurped the role of the other parent or given it to yet another partner with whom they have become associated. In this way, they have, by destroying the right of the other parent taken away that parent’s opportunity to contribute to the child’s welfare. This is at a time when we are seeking to promote the equality of the sexes. Partners should have equal power and responsibility toward their children.

PAS, when it has been proven, is a vicious form of gender opportunism or gender apartheid, which those seeking through justice can no longer ignore. Judges must stop worrying about public outcries if they remove a child from the care of a vicious programming parent who is showing their hostility toward the former partner.

I therefore suggest that the alienated parents, be they fathers or mothers, be protected. In so doing we are also protecting the children of such a relationship from a gross and calculated mis-use of power or position, that of the resident care giver.

Judges in cases of proven PAS should act as decisively as they would if judging a case of proven crime such as rape or murder. They must remove the child from the emotional damage being heaped upon it, to a safe place, where the non-alienating parent, with the help of therapy for the child, can have his influences felt by the child. At the same time, it is necessary to help the parent who has alienated the child in the first place. He or she has undoubtedly suffered from a considerable amount of pathological hostility towards the former partner.

By removing the child, or children, from the influence of the “brain-washing” alienator, the child has the opportunity of experiencing the dedication of the previously alienated parent and to develop a less biased view of that parent. Also the child can develop a positive view of both parents despite them being at war with each other.

This will do much to ensure for that child that both parents, although hostile towards one another, care and are devoted to him/her. This provides the child with a reasonable start in life, which he or she would not have had, had the influence of the alienator been allowed to continue along with a failure to have any contact with the alienated parent at the same time.

Dr L F Lowenstein
Allington Manor, Allington Lane
Fair Oak, Eastleigh
Hampshire, SO50 7DE
(01703) 692621

References

1. Parent Alienation Syndrome: What the legal profession should know, MLJ Vol 66 ( 1998) pt 4, 151.

The orginal article can be found here:http://www.fact.on.ca/Info/info_pas.htm

Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS): Its Causes, Cures, Costs, and Controversies

In child trafficking, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Divorce, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, Jayne Major, judicial corruption, Liberty, MMPI, MMPI 2, mothers rights, Non-custodial mothers, Orphan Trains, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parentectomy, Parents rights, state crimes on May 10, 2009 at 2:00 pm

by Jayne A. Major, Ph.D.

Introduction

In no other area of family law do people become more polarized than in cases involving parental alienation (PA) and parental alienation syndrome (PAS). And though volumes have been written on this subject, there still exists enormous confusion as to what the real problem is. Because there is rarely enough accurate information to make an informed opinion, most bystanders as well as trained professionals eventually give up trying to figure out which parent in a high-conflict family is “right.” The “he said/she said” quagmire is simply too shaky a place from which to sort out the truth.

In high-conflict families, one or both parents may be guilty of allowing their anger toward the other parent to be expressed in a way that tragically involves their children. Parental alienation (PA) is the term used to describe the attempts by one parent to undermine the relationship a child has with the other parent. Because children are suggestible, many will eventually succumb to the relentless programming or “brainwashing” by an alienating parent toward a target parent. When a child aligns with a disturbed parent and becomes a representative of that parent’s agenda by also behaving in aggressive and hateful ways toward the target parent, parental alienation syndrome (PAS) has developed. A child with PAS becomes an alienator in their own right, independently creating their own scenarios of how horrible the target parent is. These imagined scenarios are often bizarre and bear little resemblance to the truth.

My purpose in writing this article is to share the knowledge I have gained firsthand working as a practitioner with such high-conflict families and to provide a more in-depth understanding of this very serious issue, in particular by offering insight into the causes of PA/PAS, its severe costs, and the controversies that surround it. As you will see, the fallout from PA/PAS is far-reaching. A tremendous amount of community resources are used trying to stabilize these high-conflict families. My focus, therefore, is on the top 15% of chronically litigating parents, as they use an inordinate amount of court time to try to resolve their family issues and are most likely to 1) force their children to take sides with them and 2) obstruct shared custody and mutual decision-making.

Causes of PA/PAS

There are three degrees of PA that can result in PAS.

A mild and very common form of parental alienation is when one parent speaks negatively about the other parent, over what might be the smallest of issues, so that a child hears what is being said. This can be somewhat unintentional. Parents may be so upset at each other that they simply don’t realize that they are inappropriately involving a child in adult affairs. Parent education is often needed to teach these parents to have boundaries that protect their children from upsetting feelings. Without such boundaries, parents are contributing to the psychological insecurity of their children.

In the moderate category of parental alienation are conflicting parents who exercise little control over their anger and go ballistic when they are upset, without any consideration of how their anger affects other family members. The suffering that this ugly behavior causes children and the target parent is severe. Many parents look to the court to stabilize what is a chaotic family system. These are families where there is little ability to use mediation to work out a reasonable parenting plan for their children. But using a court to resolve high-conflict family disputes such as where PA/PAS is present has had limited success at best. The outcome depends almost entirely upon a judge’s ability to understand the nuances of PA/PAS and to make appropriate orders to contain the problem—not an easy thing to do.

In this category, PAS develops as children find the need to protect the angry, alienating parent. To avoid further triggering the parent’s rage, they stop expressing positive feelings for the target parent. They become caught in a vicious cycle of trying to figure out how to be safe while also sorting through the demonizing attacks made toward the target parent.

Falling into the severe category of parental alienation are those parents who become obsessed with destroying the child’s relationship with the other parent and that parent’s family and friends. Dr. Frank Williams describes this goal of cutting a parent out of a child’s life as a “parentectomy.” In these cases, a child will succumb to the alienator’s programming or brainwashing and experience fear, anger, and hatred toward the target parent. When parental alienation is severe enough, children have no choice but to align with the disturbed parent against the target parent, thus destroying their relationship with the target parent. These children no longer have free will or the ability to continue loving the target parent. PAS describes the child’s behavior in response to the brainwashing that has occurred; it does not describe actions on the part of a parent. The focus of this article in on children who are being severely alienated or who are already experiencing PAS.

How can obsessed parents be effective in erasing a child’s love for a parent who showed the child only love and not abuse? In her book Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome: Breaking the Ties that Bind, Dr. Amy J. L. Baker provides solid qualitative research using 40 adults who experienced PAS as children. The subjects of the study reported five primary mechanisms that were used to manipulate their thoughts and feelings as children:

(1) relentless bad-mouthing of the character of the target parent, in order to reduce their importance and value

(2) creating the impression that the target parent was dangerous and planned to hurt the child, in order to instill fear and rejection of that parent

(3) deceiving children about the target parent’s feelings for them, in order to create hurt, resentment, and psychological distance

(4) withdrawing love if the child indicated affection or positive regard for the target parent, in order to heighten the need to please the alienating parent

(5) erasing the other parent from the life and mind of the child through minimizing actual and symbolic contact (Baker 2007)

The outrageous behavior by the disturbed parent is often so shocking that people don’t want to believe it. Their dramatic justifications for their aberrant behaviors defy reason.

Few people understand the psychological underpinnings of PA and why a parent would treat a child so badly. Gregory Lester, Ph.D., describes possible causes that can account for the severity of the psychological disturbance seen in severely alienating parents. They demonstrate egocentricity to a fault and exhibit bullying behavior. He suggests that their brain may be partially wired. He describes them as assuming that they are entitled to special treatment and expect others to take care of them, including their children. They don’t engage in the normal give and take that is customary in social relationships. They are takers, not givers. If they give something, the gift is likely to have strings attached. They talk a fine game, but they don’t deliver.

Drama replaces reason. Individuals with these problems do not solve problems by being rational, but rather by escalating ordinary events into dramatic episodes. They have exaggerated mood swings. A person once revered and respected can suddenly become an object of hatred and contempt. This black-and-white, highly polarized thinking is called “splitting and is typical of these types of personalities. They are unpredictable—one day loving and cooperative, and the next attacking ferociously. They have no internal conflict, because they truly believe they are right. Like Teflon, nothing sticks to them. If a problem arises, it is always someone else’s fault. People comment, “How can they lie like that? How are they able to justify in their own mind any behavior, no matter how excessive?” This is because they are able to make up the truth to suit themselves and then passionately believe the story they made up. They can be very convincing because they themselves are convinced!

They are masters at projection, the strategy that refers to when another person’s feelings, thoughts, and behaviors are reversed and used to describe the person making the complaint. For example, in Sharon’s declaration she described Jack’s irresponsible behavior. Jack’s declaration came back with exactly the same allegations about Sharon. Now Sharon has to defend herself about being abusive, neglectful, and out of control. Jack managed to level the playing field by using projection. Individuals using these tactics do not seem to have an observing ego or consciousness to witness their own mistakes. Therefore, if something is wrong it must be the other person’s fault. In our example, the fact that Jack has no evidence that Sharon behaves the way he does is irrelevant to him.

Often people who exhibit this level of nastiness have come from a disastrously dysfunctional family or have experienced a serious trauma that went untreated. They are unreasonably demanding and resist any discussion or negotiation to make a situation better. They must have their way and are rigid about expecting others to comply with what they want. (Gregory Lester, 2002)

Our court processes are based on the assumption that individuals are law-abiding citizens. However, these abusive people believe that rules and laws apply to other people, but not to them. If they don’t agree with a judicial decision, they are likely to see a court order as a recommendation and not something they must obey. Actually, these disturbed parents are like little children who haven’t reached the age of reason; however, they do respond to rewards and punishment. Sadly, their excessive behavior is constantly rewarded by the way our family law courts are structured. Unfortunately, PA/PAS cases can be stalled for months, even years, with no resolution. This is rewarding to them and easily used to their advantage to advance alienation in their children. Seldom in family law court are sanctions of fines, jail time, or community service applied to individuals for contempt of court orders.

Can PAS Be Cured?

It is safe to say that the average person is utterly perplexed about how to react to such aberrant behavior on the part of the alienating parent. They quickly run out of techniques that would work with a rational person. Furthermore, because so little is known about PA/PAS, target parents often do not even know that there is a name for their child’s increasingly hostile behavior. Unfortunately, this is also true of many therapists who are called upon to help families in crisis. Without a proper understanding of PA/PAS, it is easy to take sides and even provide evidence that the truly abusive person is a wonderful parent. Many therapists are not able to discern if what they are being told is true. Few psychologists understand rules of evidence used in family law courts or are trained in how to work with cases as difficult as these.

In exasperation, target parents often want to “cure” the toxic parent with medication or therapy. The problem with medication as a solution is that it is very difficult to get another person to take it consistently. After all, in their mind, there isn’t anything wrong with them. In fact, the suggestion that they need medication is more likely to be turned on whoever is suggesting it! For example, Jerry said that the raging mother of their son was guided to take psychotropic medication by her family. When she had stabilized, she was profusely apologetic to Jerry for her outrageous behavior. She thanked him for being such a good father and said that they would have no trouble with joint custody. Only three months of peace went by before she decided that she was all better and stopped taking the medication. She quickly deteriorated, becoming more vicious than she had been before.

What about therapy? Surely a therapist can fix them! Individuals who will brainwash a child are the worst candidates for therapy, because therapy implies that a person realizes that there is something wrong with them and that they are motivated to do something about it. These people do not have the ability to self-correct behavioral or emotional errors. The wiring of their brain will not permit it. Therapy doesn’t work because one can’t have a conversation about the problem when the problem is doing the answering! As soon as a therapist suggests that they behave better or that what they are doing is harming their child, splitting occurs. The therapist then becomes the bad guy and the parent leaves, taking the child with them. They do not form trusting relationships with others unless they believe that they are getting their way.

Therapy can, in fact, make these troubled individuals worse. Since they do not feel moral emotions of empathy, sympathy, or compassion, the therapist may unwittingly teach compassionate gestures and language that their client can use to more effectively manipulate people. They are most likely to be a warm body sitting in a chair for the required number of times; they may even be patronizing about how the therapist is saving their life. However, the end result is that they are unfazed by the efforts to make them healthier.

In spite of what they say, they are unable to act in the best interests of their child. It takes a truly disturbed and obsessed person to harm a child by brainwashing them, to remove from a child’s life a loving parent and their extended family and friends who care deeply about the child. The programming of a child is done for personal gain. These are not people with good parenting skills. Children are in their lives to serve them and to help them get their way. They are not nurturing and attentive to their child’s needs, nor do they know how to nurture their child emotionally. A child is not allowed to grieve for the loss of the target parent, extended family, and friends; they are kept busy taking care of the disturbed parent.

In family law procedures, we rely heavily on evaluators to assess the psychological underpinnings of a family. However, it is rare in psychological evaluations to see a specific diagnosis regarding the disturbed parent’s mental health. You might see a comment that there was an elevation in borderline, narcissism, or hysteria, but these labels are rarely used specifically. The reason is that when different psychologists attempt to diagnose a disturbed person, they are likely to arrive at different conclusions. Also, making a diagnosis is tricky, as there are rarely clean-cut distinctions that can be made. Most disorders may also be compounded by complications from drug abuse or alcoholism, post traumatic stress disorder, situational hormonal fluctuations, or obsessive compulsive features. Furthermore, courts rely on evidence, not labels.

However, one label is commonly used, although not necessarily by evaluators. Because alienating parents are socially maladaptive and have no moral conscience, they are called “sociopaths.” Although they may know how to act the part, they are unable to have empathy, sympathy, or compassion for others. Unlike rational people, they do not distinguish between telling the truth and lying. Therefore, they may not know when they are lying. They can get worse by becoming so obsessed that they disassociate from reality and become psychotic—experiencing delusions and hallucinations.

In spite of admonitions from judges and mental health professionals to stop alienating, they cannot. One of the most difficult ideas for the target parent to understand is that the mentally disturbed parent is unable to act differently; nor can a child experiencing PAS act differently. The obsessed parent and child are likely to be experiencing a shared psychosis. There is no protocol to fix the alienating parent—not legally, not therapeutically, and not by reasoning with them. It is also unlikely that they will ever stop trying to perpetuate the alienation, because it has become a gut-wrenching survival issue to them! Douglas Darnall, a leading expert in PAS, points out that we do not have a protocol to treat these people. (Douglas Darnell, 2000)

However, if a child can be isolated from the toxic parent, there are protocols, developed by Dr. Richard Gardner, for reversing the alienation. Others have also developed ways to reverse the programming. In one sense, alienating parents have built a house of cards, as the child really wants to love both parents. If the severe alienator is legally prevented from being able to poison their minds, many children can be brought back with the right treatment; however, traditional talk therapy has not proven to be helpful. The most effective procedure to date is what has been used to deprogram individuals involved in cults. In some cases, though, it is simply too late and unlikely that the child will ever understand what happened. (Richard Gardner, 2001)

Of course, the significance of this result is that PA/PAS is often inner-generational and, once grown, those damaged are at risk of passing the problem on to their own children. These individuals are inclined to continue into adulthood the practice of seeing people in black and white. They are likely to be self-loathing, which creates horrific issues of low self-esteem. To compensate for how badly they feel about themselves, they may desperately attempt to have others see them as special and more important than other people. They have missed out on the social skills they need to gain respect and to get their needs met without having to resort to heavy-handed control and bullying.

Without legal intervention to limit an alienating parent’s access to a child and to have the brainwashed child deprogrammed by a specialist, it is unlikely that a child will ever recover from PAS. The tragedy is that they have lost their free will and ability to make rational choices over their lives. They are likely to experience serious psychiatric disorders, have poor social relationships, and of course pass the problem on to their children. For a greater understanding of the long-term impact of PA/PAS, I highly recommend Dr. Baker’s book, listed in the bibliography.

Costs of PAS

Consider the resources required by families afflicted with PA/PAS. Seeing their once-loving relationship with their child eroding away, many target parents will use all the financial resources they can muster to pay for legal representation to try to preserve their relationship with their children. This is risky. Mounting attorney fees, court evaluations, and multiple other costs involved in making the case that they are a good parent and deserve to be in their child’s life quickly deplete financial reserves. Target parents are likely to borrow against credit cards, siphon money from pension plans, liquidate the equity on a house, or ask extended family to help pay for an escalating and increasingly expensive conflict. Declaring bankruptcy and paying for these costs for years isn’t uncommon. Even still, sadly, all too often there is little to show for such an investment.

Additionally, target parents involved in these difficult cases find that every minute of their spare time is spent preparing legal documents, worrying about whether the next visitation with their child will occur, and managing increasing frustration at not being able to resolve their problems. Trying to communicate with the other parent to resolve issues that are vitally important to their child only results in more stress. In these cases, joint custody simply does not work because one parent refuses to negotiate or change their point of view.

Working parents involved in a high-conflict child custody case find it hard to focus on the job. Court dates and family emergencies repeatedly cause missed workdays. Employers carry a serious liability as their valued employee becomes less able to meet deadlines, makes more errors, and increases the risk of accidents at the workplace. Company profits can be deleteriously affected.

Furthermore, families experiencing PA/PAS consume an enormous amount of community legal and mental health resources. Numerous calls may be placed to the police. The department of social welfare is likely to become involved, requiring an investigation of abuses to children. Therapists are called upon to stabilize the family. Family law judges find their courtrooms repeatedly clogged with chronic litigators.

No one can experience this level of stress and anxiety without suffering serious mental health problems. This population is at high risk for post traumatic stress disorder, depression, suicide, domestic violence, and homicide. Issues of deteriorating physical health arise as stress takes its toll.

Children are likely to suffer academically as their concentration is undermined. Their social relationships are compromised and they often exhibit adjustment disorder. An interesting situation that occurs among many PAS children is that while initially they struggle in school, many are likely to eventually excel academically as well as in sports. One reason is that school and sports offer them logic and stability, and through this, a way to escape the chaos at home. The child’s successes are likely to be seen as evidence that the disturbed and alienating parent is doing a good job of parenting, when this is not the case.

Problems related to divorce will continue long after the final decree is signed and the last court appearance is over. The psychological damage to children and the target parent is unlikely to ever be reversed.

PA/PAS Controversies

Understanding the raging controversies surrounding PA/PAS is extremely difficult. “Thinking” people don’t have the advantage of living with the certainty of seeing things as only black and white. Since rational people aren’t sure what the truth is, they don’t want to take sides until they can decipher the facts. They will research an issue. They realize that people may be solidly convinced of their opinions and that they present their opinions as facts. Thinking people wait, investigate, and figure things out. They realize that they will have to live in mystery until the facts are clear; whereas, for non-thinking people there is no mystery, so real is their certainty.

Polarized, “win/lose” thinking is systemic to our society. There are those who live with the certainty of right and wrong—what is true or false, black or white. People who think in absolutes can easily find others who think as they do. Together they are able to reinforce each other’s beliefs and present a united front about what they perceive as true. “Rigor mortis of the brain cells” has been used to describe their stuck position. Their calcified thinking does not allow them to be bothered with exceptions. The complex issues around PA/PAS invite simplistic thinking. Many people seem to need someone else to do their thinking for them. It is easy to jump on the bandwagon of highly charged issues such as preventing the sexual molestation of children and ending domestic violence. Gender wars are common; one gender sees the other as the enemy. The issue is about human rights, protecting not only children’s rights, but also mother’s and father’s rights. It is about being fair and logical and letting reason, not drama, make appropriate decisions.

To understand current controversies that surround PA/PAS, we need to go back to the 1980s, when a series of events greatly contributed to the problems of today. In 1980, Jim Cook single-handedly lobbied the California legislature to pass a law stating that there is a presumption of joint custody when parents divorce. California became the leader in joint custody laws, and most of the other states followed this lead. Prior to 1980, if there was a disagreement between mother and father about the custody of their child, the mother retained sole legal custody and was allowed to make all of the decisions, including whether her children would have a father in their life.

At the same time, with the rise of feminism in the 1960s, rigid roles for men and women were breaking down. Women had more voice over their lives and were attending college and entering the business world in increasing numbers. Most men were doing some domestic chores and, of course, taking care of their children some of the time. This meant tending to all of children’s needs, including changing diapers—a task once considered solely women’s work. In many families, sharing domestic duties became the order of the day. Most men gladly accepted some responsibility for the care of their children. Computers had made their way into people’s homes, and dads enjoyed working from home while tending to their children. In some families, women became the primary breadwinner.

When parents divorced, many liked the idea that “the best parent is both parents” and were able to share the decision-making and their children’s time. However, with others the idea of shared custody didn’t go over so well. Some women thought that, as before, children should be their sole property. Even though Dad had proven that he was fully capable of caring for his children, some moms stated that he was only a babysitter. Fathers going to family law court to get shared custody caused a burgeoning of family law cases. If a mother refused to share a child, court was a father’s only opportunity to be involved in his child’s life.

In 1983, a tragedy happened in Manhattan Beach, California. Judy Johnson made an allegation that Ray Buckey, the 25-year-old son of Peggy Buckey, who owned McMartin Preschool, had molested her 2½-year-old son. On September 7, 1983, Ray Buckey was arrested and sent to prison. After Police Chief Harry Kuhlmeyer arrested Ray Buckey, he sent a letter to 200 McMartin Preschool parents informing them that Ray Buckey was suspected of child abuse and asked them to question their children about having experienced acts such as oral sex, sodomy, having their pictures taken while naked, and being tied up. Chief Kuhlmeyer asked the parents to keep the letter strictly confidential. His request for confidentiality exploded into headline news across the country.

Ray Buckey was never charged, but he was held under the suspicion that he had done heinous crimes against children. Everyone who worked at the McMartin Preschool became suspect of bizarre and horrific acts against children. Judy Johnson’s reports of misbehavior became increasingly bizarre, claiming that Ray’s mother was involved in satanic rituals and that horrible things had been done with babies, animals, and sexual acts in front of the children who attended the preschool. Nine months later, Judy Johnson died due to complications from alcoholism. She had also been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Day after day the public was bombarded with details of bizarre allegations of what had happened to the children at the McMartin Preschool. Mass hysteria had taken over.

All preschools become suspect. Workers were told to never touch children, to have two people go to the bathroom with a child, to install glass doors at the front of the building so anyone who wanted to could see in. Parents were allowed to visit unannounced at any time to see what was going on. To make matters worse, Kee McFarlane, a consultant at Children’s Institute International, interviewed children at McMartin Preschool using anatomically correct dolls, leading questions, and rewards for answers that they had been molested. She testified that 384 McMartin students had been abused.

After two trials, no substantial evidence was found against the owner or staff at McMartin Preschool, including Ray Buckey. Five years had passed before Ray Buckey was allowed to leave prison, never having been charged with a crime. The government spent $15 million investigating and prosecuting the case over a seven-year period that involved two trials that led to no convictions. The fate of Ray Buckley foreshadowed what was going to happen to many fathers fighting for shared custody of their children.

What responsibility do journalists have to report the truth? As in the case of the McMartin Preschool, the media engaged in “pack journalism,” slanting heavily toward the prosecution, which provided sensational headlines day after day and almost never seriously questioned the allegations. Today, we have a media that continues to focus on lurid and scary news involving children. Politicians can easily exploit parents’ fears about the safety of their children, implying that they are the law-and-order people who will protect their children. Mark Foley was quoted in the Washington Times in 2005 as saying, “We need to stand together and unite cities, communities, and states in the effort to stop the assault on America’s children.” What assault? Mark Foley, who is now a disgraced congressman for his sexually inappropriate contact with high school pages, used this rhetoric for personal political gain. He was exploiting parents’ worst fears about the safety of their children. The problem with media reports of bad things that happen to children is one of proportion. Bad things do happen to children. The media can easily whip people’s emotions into a frenzy by exaggerating such events as happening more frequently than is the case. The mass hysteria unleashed by Judy Johnson in 1983 is still with us today.

The 1980s is a significant decade because of the colliding of joint custody laws and the hysteria of the McMartin Preschool trial. Fathers found that a mere allegation of being sexually inappropriate with a child was enough to have him kicked out of his home. Countless fathers became childless as they tried to prove what didn’t happen—what REALLY didn’t happen.

In 1983, at the beginning of the McMartin Preschool fiasco, there was a sharp rise in the number of reports of sexual molestation of children. Suddenly, people were hyper-vigilant about the issue. Elaborate tests were developed to determine whether a man had pedophilia tendencies and was likely to molest children. There is still a belief by many that children don’t lie about abuse. Kee McFarlane has been widely criticized for leading children to the conclusions that she wanted to hear, ultimately proving how suggestible children can be.

If a mother was driven to be vicious, the climate of hysteria about the sexual molestation of children became a powerful tool to gain her ends. All she had to do was say that she thought the father had molested their child. The tragedy of this kind of parentectomy continues today.

In 1985, Dr. Richard Gardner first introduced a phenomenon found in family law cases called parent alienation syndrome. He pointed out that PA/PAS is related to highly litigious court cases where there is a win/lose mentality. Ultimately, a desperate and obsessed parent could win in court by programming a child to despise the other parent, resulting in a parentectomy, and there was little that anyone could do about it. Dr. Gardner took on this difficulty, and he wrote volumes about how to understand the complexities of these highly volatile cases. He was first to identify the eight characteristics that PAS children display as a syndrome. He published extensively on how to identify false allegations of sexual molestation. He also wrote the book Therapeutic Interventions for Children with Parental Alienation Syndrome to describe a protocol for deprogramming children. His contributions have been profound in helping us understand PA/PAS. He has written and testified extensively about false allegations of sexual abuse that had become common during this period. In this respect, he was a pioneer. Those of us who had the good fortune to know Dr. Gardner, to hear his lectures and read his books, are appreciative of his contributions. In addition to his groundbreaking insights about PA/PAS, he had a long and illustrious career as a psychiatrist specializing in children. (Richard Gardner, 2001)

Litigation over issues of parental alienation of children became common in family law courtrooms. Initially, mothers had more time with children and were the primary cause of PAS in children. A person who programs a child must have a lot of time with that child in order to be effective in the programming. As disturbed, narcissistic fathers gained more child custody, they proved to be just as capable of initiating PAS. Soon, PAS became a hot issue in gender wars, especially when women began losing legal custody of their children when a court ruled that they were guilty of alienating a child against the father.

PA/PAS has been a tragic issue that has polarized men and women.
On one side, malicious mothers who often have legal precedent for primary child custody on their side take children away from good fathers by alienating them. On the other side are vicious fathers whose purpose is to take children away from good mothers. Women have claimed that men are predators on women and children. Men are livid that they have been so labeled and frequently accused of sexually molesting children. The frequency of false allegations of child molestation against fathers has had a backlash from fathers against mothers. Some mothers lost custody because the evidence showed that they were coaching their child to participate in inappropriate behaviors toward the father. These mothers are quick to respond that all a father has to do is say she is guilty of PA/PAS and he will get custody of the child whom she was only trying to protect. It is also claimed that fathers have been awarded primary legal custody when they have in fact been guilty of domestic violence or have molested a child. This has created another backlash of mothers wanting to get back at fathers. No matter who is doing the alienating, it is terribly wrong. It isn’t a gender issue, as both men and women are guilty of initiating PAS in children. It is a human rights issue.

We’ve already seen that parents who alienate can be an angry, difficult group of people. When they go through a trial and a judge issues a court order giving sole legal custody to the other parent and limiting physical access to a child, these parents are not likely to roll over and passively obey. This leads to chronic litigation, as no matter how convincing the evidence against them or what the judge’s decision, they do not let go of the idea that they are right.

Unfortunately, angry, disgruntled women who are in fact guilty of severe parental alienation have found a sympathetic ear in the domestic violence community. Domestic violence groups have been successful in making domestic violence a crime and thus reducing its frequency. In most states, it is against the law for men to hit women, nor can women hit men without the possibility of being arrested. Interestingly, it is still allowed that adults may hit children. Hitting children is also domestic violence, but unfortunately, we haven’t progressed that far in our consciousness.

In an article in Newsweek, journalist Sara Childress stated, “It is…hard to fathom how a judge could award custody to a parent accused of abuse.” Fortunately, the logic and rules of evidence that are necessary to remove a child from a seriously psychologically disturbed parent are extensive. Judges don’t just wake up in a bad mood, disregard all evidence, and say, “Let me take a child away from a good mother.” This makes for good drama, but not good logic. (Childress, Newsweek, October 2006)

The mendacity of non-thinking people creates a maelstrom of trouble in sorting out what is true. Too many members of the domestic violence community will assume that an accusation or allegation is true. Many do not understand the standard of evidence that is needed to turn an allegation into proof. The irony is that unthinking members of this community fan the flames of injustice and contribute to the most unspeakable kinds of violence against children, that of PA/PAS. No innocent father, or man such as Ray Buckley, should be recklessly accused of something he didn’t do. False allegations of sexual misconduct with children and the brainwashing of children where PA/PAS occurs are the worst kinds of domestic violence. The irony is that the very people who are against domestic violence contribute to it by denying the existence of PA/PAS.

Unfortunately, Richard Gardner has been relentlessly slandered, demonized, and dismissed as a pedophile by those who are threatened by his work and by others who have never read his articles and books and have not taken the time to realize that he was on the side of truth and justice in these complicated cases. This aggressive behavior on the part of so many has contributed to the mass hysteria that has done great damage to those parents and children who are impacted by PA/PAS.

There is no greater example of this hysteria than the denunciation of “so-called” parental alienation syndrome in the declaration by the National Organization of Women (NOW). See Appendix A. This declaration from NOW sums up the arguments against the very existence of PA/PAS. Of course, there is no mention of the unfairness of what happens to fathers, the need for a child to have a father, or the very real problem of PAS in children. There is no mention of the countless numbers of mothers who have been victimized by PA/PAS. The problem is not caused solely by one gender against another. It is caused by very disturbed people who have to get their way at all costs. Amazingly, the declaration claims that PA/PAS is non-existent! But anyone can use ordinary observation to find repeated examples of its existence.

Current debate over whether the child has experienced a “syndrome” has created a smokescreen that attempts to ignore the fact that children are, in fact, being manipulated and brainwashed into such states of confusion that their perception of events and people around them is severely distorted. It doesn’t matter what the tragedy is called; it is still a tragedy for children and the target parent.

This is an example of making simple that which is very complex with a maneuver of killing the messenger. Dr. Gardner’s contributions have been taken out of context and twisted to imply that he encouraged inappropriate sexual behavior. For example, he said that if a society has no social prohibition for molesting children sexually, then sexual molestation is common. This has been translated as saying it is okay to sexually molest children if no one says not to. The fabrications about Dr. Gardner are so extensive that it is an example of brainwashing in itself. He is the scapegoat for people who desperately need an enemy to blame. No group is more anti-Gardner than are the domestic violence community and the National Organization for Women.

PAS is the result of terrible domestic violence toward children and target parents. The irony is that those people whose stated purpose is to prevent domestic violence contribute to it by putting the whole body of Dr. Gardner’s work out for target practice, not for analysis. Those of us who appreciate and support Gardner’s contribution and understand that PA/PAS is serious violence to children and the target parent would never support awarding custody of a child to a pedophile or aggressor. The domestic violence community and those who want PA/PAS stopped should be rowing their respective boats in the same direction, instead of engaging in a bizarre tug-of-war characterized by the black-and-white thinking of who is right and who is wrong. Truth suffers. To take a child’s free will and mind away is violence from which they are likely never to recover.

The leadership in women’s groups has a responsibility to come to terms with the injustice of this slander of Gardner, and realize that their organization attracts disgruntled women who can easily find a sympathetic ear for how they were victimized by the father of their child and the court system. Just because someone has a dramatic story to tell doesn’t mean that they are telling the truth. The domestic violence leaders need to bring logic and reason to these issues.

Unfortunately, their efforts against any recognition of PA/PAS are relentless. They lobby for laws that would prevent PA/PAS from being used in family law court as a justification for modifying custody. They have successfully influenced the publishers of the 2006 edition of Navigating Custody and Visitation Evaluations in Cases with Domestic Violence: A Judge’s Guide—a publication of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges—to include anti-PA/PAS information. To the undiscerning eye, information published in such a prestigious document must be true. This is most unfortunate and tragic for the families impacted by these issues. (National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, 2006)

Both sides of the debate have stated that their mission is the same—to protect people from the excesses of violent, disturbed individuals. Unfortunately, much of the domestic violence community focuses only on violence perpetrated by men, rather than also including the violence perpetrated by women against fathers and children. Violence is wrong, no matter who is committing it. The result is that domestic violence has been turned into a gender issue, when the truth is that both men and women are capable of doing serious damage to their children and to each other.

Conclusion

It is unfortunate that too many people will believe a dramatic story more than they will listen to evidence. Drama is the hallmark of people who are psychologically disturbed. Individuals with these severe mental health issues are under-diagnosed. We need more research and clarity on the effects of PA/PAS. The costs are staggering to children, the target parent, and that person’s family. The damage is severe and has long-reaching effects.

The whole fabric of our society is undermined by the behaviors of these severely disturbed individuals. Both men and women with obsessed thinking create PA/PAS situations with children and their target parent. Their irresponsible behaviors siphon off a staggering amount of social resources to stabilize the chaos they create. Any protocol that we use for the regular population is woefully inadequate in making them normal. Every year, hundreds of thousands of children and parents are experiencing the phenomenon of PA/PAS and the resulting devastation it causes. Millions of people are ending up damaged because, up to now, we have not even recognized the phenomenon or truly considered its impact. We all need to take action to educate and help people who have this terrible problem that does such severe damage to children.

Bibliography

* Baker, Amy, R. L. Adult Children of Parental Alienation: Breaking the Ties that Bind. W.W. Norton, 2007.
* Darnall, Douglas. Divorce Casualties: Protecting Your Children from Parental Alienation. Taylor Trade Publishing, 1998.
* Lester, W. Gregory. Personality Disorders in Social Work and Health Care, Third Edition. Cross Country University, 2002.
* “Fighting Over the Kids: Battered spouses take aim at a controversial custody strategy.” Newsweek, September 26, 2006.
* Linder, Douglas. “The McMartin Preschool Abuse Trial: A Commentary 2003 Internet.”
* Gardner, R. A. The Parental Alienation Syndrome, 2nd ed. Cresskill, New Jersey: Creative Therapeutics, Inc., 1998.
* Gardner, R. A. Therapeutic Interventions for Children with Parental Alienation Syndrome. Cresskill, New Jersey: Creative Therapeutics, Inc., 2001.
* Williams, Frank. “Preventing Parentectomy Following Divorce,” Keynote address, Fifth Annual Conference, National Council for Children’s Rights, Washington, D.C., Oct. 20, 1990.
* National Organization for Women, http://www.now.org.
* National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Navigating Custody and Visitation Evaluations in Cases with Domestic Violence: A Judge’s Guide. Reno, Nevada: 2006.

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