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Posts Tagged ‘Parental Alienation Syndrome’

Why Do Mother’s Rights Groups Ignore Parental Alienation? When a Mother does this to Children She is Applauded as a Protective Mother (Kidnapper)?

In Activism, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Marriage, mothers rights, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parents rights on September 28, 2010 at 7:43 pm


This article on angimedia presents a very important point: why do Mother’s Rights groups call Parental Alienation the defense of an “abuser” when the mother has custody, but not so when a father has custody? The woman in this story was treated like millions of men in this country, faced false allegations of abuse, but women’s rights / mother’s rights groups totally ignored what was happening to her because it involved Parental Alienation?  The feminist sexists rhetoric about domestic violence has been proven to be a lie by HHS statistics, yet men are still vilified by exactly what happened to Tonya in this horrendous story.

Tonya Craft’s Ex, Parental Alienator Joal Henke, Shows Kids Will Lie About Sexual Abuse To Hurt Target Parent

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Tonya Craft
Tonya Craft

False sexual abuse allegations are an appalling mainstay in child custody cases today. They cause immense damage to the falsely accused parent and to the children. The false accuser usually doesn’t care who they hurt so long as they get the kids as a result. The courts and government are quick to side with the false accuser, demanding that a careful investigation be done and in the meantime the children will live with the parent making the accusations.

These “investigations” are often nothing but a witch-hunt that takes multiple years to fizzle out. By that time, the children involved are often suffering badly from the lack of a parent who loves them. The falsely accused parent has often not only lost years with his children but has lost his job, career, home, savings, reputation, and quite possibly a new marriage, too. Usually none of this is remedied. The falsely accused parent doesn’t even receive an apology from anyone. Some “mother’s rights” groups don’t care about any of this and view false sexual abuse allegations as a sure-win strategy of choice because they are willing to do anything to get children away from their fathers, even when it results in psychological damage to the children. But the recent case of Tonya Craft may give reason for them to change their positions. That’s because it is a case in which the mother was falsely accused of sexual abuse by her ex-husband, a malicious parental alienator of the most vile sort named Joal Henke.

Blindly Taking Sides Against Accused Parent Is A Mistake

The casual observer not versed in the pathological behaviors of the courts, government, and abusive parents would tend to take either the government’s side or the accusing parent’s side. Such people are quick to jump on the “execute the child molester” bandwagon, often simply after hearing allegations with no proof other than reports of what a child is claimed to have said to a government investigator.

This is a serious mistake. Children, particularly toddlers through early elementary school kids, can be coached to lie or even worse against a parent. The “even worse” can be a lot worse. If you doubt this, consider the case of Dr. Rick Lohstroh whose ten year old son was trained to kill his father and shot him in the back with a handgun owned and supplied to him by his malicious mother, Deborah Geisler. A ten year old ought to know that shooting a gun into the back of another person is wrong, yet this one did it to his father because his mother taught him to do so.

Being familiar with how family law courts work, how alienating and personality disordered parents think and behave, and the many far from rational witch hunts that result from somebody uttering the words “child sexual abuse”, I’ve come to the conclusion that often a child’s claims of sexual abuse are fabricated or distorted. A parent, a law enforcement official, a therapist, or some combination of these three wants a particular answer. It’s not hard to convince a young child to give the wanted answer. Sometimes it is done with malicious intent, other times it is through sheer incompetence. Either way, the result can be a child falsely accusing a parent that never harmed the child and whom the child loves dearly.

Furthermore, government investigators are notorious for asking leading questions that manipulate witnesses, especially naive children, to get the answers they want. Even when they do not answer as desired, the investigator can create the appearance of the desired answer by altering evidence including modifying lengthy transcripts of interviews that few people will spend many hours to carefully review. As more and more people are dragged into the roles of witnesses, reality is quickly replaced by some sick fiction in which nearly everybody questioned has a story about how the accused is obviously a child molester. Many of these people would rather hang an innocent than to risk being tainted by failing to drive an accusatory knife into the back of the government’s target. Mass hysteria overcomes responsible behavior.

Being Charged With A Crime Is Far From Being Guilty

Even when somebody is charged with a crime and put on trial, sometimes it turns out the entire thing is an abusive sham in which either the wrong person is accused or there was never any abuse against the children. More accurately, there was no abuse up until the time which the government got involved and psychologically tormented the children in the name of “investigating” baseless accusations. This is exactly what happened in the case of Tonya Craft.

Tonya Craft was a kindergarten teacher in Georgia. At first, it was her young daughter who was accused of molesting other children. Then the allegations grew and shifted to blame Tonya for molesting her own daughter and other children.

Her kids were removed from her and placed with her ex-husband who conveniently happened to be one of her accusers. She was investigated, arrested, charged, and tried. Yet in May 2010, two years into her nightmare, Tonya Craft was found innocent of all 22 charges of sexually molesting three children including her own daughter.

Why is that? It’s because she was falsely accused by other parents who didn’t like her, including her ex-husband Joal Henke who appears to have been engaging in parental alienation child abuse by encouraging and teaching their daughter to falsely accuse her mother of sexual abuse. The jury could see the evidence was worthless, the prosecution’s witnesses lacked credibility, and the judge and prosecution were in obscene collusion. This is exactly why a jury is needed in any case involving child abuse allegations. If it had been left to corrupt Judge Brian House, Tonya Craft would have been found guilty.

Judge Brian House
Judge Brian House

The Craft case was a kangaroo court disaster every which way, from start to finish. Investigators repeatedly broke the protocols on how to interview children to get accurate answers. The prosecution team lead by Chris Arnt and Len Gregor arranged for improper questioning of the children and brainwashing of Craft’s own daughter to testify against her. The prosecution also hid exculpatory evidence.

Even the judge was complicit in the misconduct. Judge Brian House was Craft’s ex-husband’s former divorce attorney, given this he should have clearly recused himself but he did not. Then House let a tainted jury be seated that included Craft’s former brother-in-law.

Yet despite all of this, the jury could see there was no legitimacy to the case against Craft. One hopes they will have much more to say publicly about the appalling performance of the courts and government in this case as it will take a great deal of public outrage to ensure this never happens again.

Joal Henke’s Actions Constitute Parental Alienation Child Abuse

What Joal Henke did by coaching his daughter to falsely accuse her mother is parental alienation child abuse. There is no question in my mind that Henke is a child abuser given his actions. No parent should ever encourage or coach a child to lie against the other parent, especially not to cause them to be charged with a crime. Getting increased custody is no excuse for such actions.

Even if the impact on the other parent is not considered, such actions are severely detrimental to the children. Can you imagine what their little girl may think about herself when one day she realizes she put her mother in jail and ruined her life? Adults may say “the child is not to blame” but do you honestly think the child is going to feel that way? Kids tend to blame themselves and in this case, the blame is over something very major.

Joal Henke is a sleazy person at best as you can tell from his court testimony in the trial:

(from Who Is Joal Henke?)

Joal Henke is someone who is not easily shamed. For example, when Tonya was suing him for divorce several years ago, he denied her claims that he was having affairs with other women until he was confronted with strong evidence of him engaging in adultery. He had a “change of heart” when he realized he was caught.

Interestingly, when confronted with that material on the witness stand during Tonya’s trial, he claimed to not have been aware that there was evidence of his adultery. That, of course, was perjury, but it was a minor instance to some of the other things he did while under oath.

Henke’s greatest “I just remembered” feat of perjury, however, came with his allegation during his April 23 testimony when he claimed that on the way to court that morning, he had “recalled” an alleged “lesbian” incident involving Tonya and a friend of hers. (That and other whoppers are included in this media link from WRCB-TV for that day.)

First, one does not “just remember” something like what he had described. Such an event would be the kind that he would have told police and prosecutors up front. Second, it also tells us about the prosecutors and “judge” Outhouse that they would have let Henke enter this testimony in the first place, and that from the trial testimony, “Alberto-Facebook” clearly was anxious to make sure Joal made the allegations.

Would Shared Parenting Have Helped Avoid The False Accusations?

As bad a person as Joal Henke appears, one questions if he would ever have engaged in this level of parental alienation if he and Tonya Craft shared child custody more evenly. In their 2004 divorce, the typical sexist pattern of giving full custody to the mother and limited visitation to the father was ordered by the court. Further, it appears even this was not working out well:

Craft ex not opposed to more visitation

In 2004, Ms. Craft, following the couple’s divorce, was granted full custody. In June 2008, when the criminal charges against her surfaced, Mr. Henke requested in court and received full custody of the children. Since then, Ms. Craft has had supervised visitation with her son and no contact with her daughter.

The couple for years has had bad blood, court documents show. There are three large files on their ongoing custody disputes in the Hamilton Circuit Court Clerk’s office.

The files show typical shared-custody disputes such as not dropping off the children on time or not allowing phone calls between the children and parents.

Recent court filings have focused on Ms. Craft’s ongoing legal troubles, including numerous files and documents sealed from public view.

Tonya Craft didn’t deserve what was done to her. More importantly, the children didn’t deserve it. But there should be little question that the government siding with Craft over her ex-husband prior to the false allegations probably had something to do with Joal Henke wanting to help frame her for a fictitious crime in order to have some time with his kids. Shared parenting with a 50/50 time split with the courts refusing to budge from this without a criminal conviction (or some other arrangement mutually agreed to by both parents) would probably have vastly improved the circumstances for everybody. That includes the children, parents, community, and the befuddled taxpayers who footed the huge bill for the judicial and prosecutorial atrocities.

Craft and Henke have reached a secret temporary agreement on child custody. A long-term custody arrangement awaits a court decision no earlier than July 22, 2010.

Judicial and Prosecutorial Misconduct

There are calls for an FBI investigation of the prosecutor’s office for its misconduct. It would be well-deserved, but the FBI probably lacks enough investigators to go after all the abusive and corrupt judges and prosecutors playing these sorts of illegal tricks. The courts of the United States, particularly those influenced by nepotism, money, greed, and the bottom-feeding majority of family law attorneys are a mockery of justice. However, investigating, disbarring, and prosecuting the judge and prosecutors in this case might dissuade at least a few others engaged in similar practices.

False Sex Abuse Cases Elsewhere

Outrageous prosecutions of innocents on trumped up charges are not isolated to backwards areas of Georgia. These kinds of things have happened in big cities like San Diego and Los Angeles, too. These atrocities have spanned many years, many of them starting in the 1980′s or 1990′s and not resulting in innocent people finally being released until the 2000′s.

Obviously, despite debacles such as the Wade and Akiki cases in San Diego, the McMartin Pre-School case in Los Angeles, and the Fells Acres Day Care Center case in Massachusetts , governments have learned nothing and continue to abuse parents even when the accusers have a vested interest in seeing them ruined and their accusations should be viewed with great suspicion.

James Wade

One of the most notable child sexual abuse fraud cases is that of James Wade who was falsely accused of raping his daughter Alicia Wade. A serial child rapist Albert Raymond Carder already being prosecuted for crimes against children in the same neighborhood was the actual perpetrator, but prosecutor Elizabeth Jane Via denied this even when the judge in the case directly queried her about this possibility. This family was split into pieces as the San Diego government raced against time to adopt out the daughter after having paid therapist Kathleen Goodfriend to brainwash her to falsely accuse her father, something that took a year to do given the girl’s strenuous objections to her father’s involvement and statements that some unknown man had climbed through her bedroom window to attack her.

(from Torture of the Wade Family by San Diego CPS)

In a videotaped interview, Alicia was asked with whom she would feel most safe. “My mom, dad, and brother,” she answered. The transcript of the tape, however, chopped the reference to the father. A child-protection official later acknowledged that he never bothered to review the video.

Alicia’s therapist was Kathleen Goodfriend of the La Mesa Village Counseling Group, who worked on the case entirely without supervision. Like the social workers now pawing through the Wades’ lives, Goodfriend ignored the evidence and assumed more or less automatically that Jim Wade had been the attacker, although his daughter continued to staunchly deny this in their sessions. Receiving more than $11,000 in state monies for this case alone, Goodfriend began relentlessly to brainwash Alicia Wade, now totally isolated from her family, pressuring her into naming an “acceptable perpetrator”. That is, her father.

The Grand Jury eventually subpoenaed Goodfriend’s notes, which contained many comments about how Alicia “liked” her therapist. But Alicia’s own testimony makes it clear that the child wanted only to go home. The Grand Jury was also alarmed that Goodfriend taught the child about masturbation “without any parental input or apparent interest by the child”.

While Goodfriend worked on Alicia’s mind, the Wades’ social workers were working on her future. They rejected Alicia’s grandparents, aunts and uncles, the pastor of the family church and the father’s attorney as possible custodians for Alicia because of their “allegiance with the parents”. One social worker told Alicia’s grandmother not even to waste her time coming to San Diego because her son James was guilty of raping Alicia, who would not be coming home to anyone in the family. Instead, they were sticking the girl in a foster home and the social worker and Goodfriend would be controlling all access to it.

Children are put into foster homes as quickly as possible because that act opens the floodgates of federal funds. Foster parents receive $484 a month for a child from ages 5 to 18, almost twice the amount a welfare mother receives for her own offspring. Special care cases can bring up to $1,000 a month. And all funds are tax free. Some foster parents are concerned and caring, but others are entrepreneurs in what the Grand Jury called “the baby-brokering business”. They depend on the goodwill of social workers to get and keep the little human beings who keep the government checks coming.

ADA Chris Arnt
Prosecutor Chris Arnt

The prosecutor in the Wade case, Elizabeth Jane Via, outright lied to the court and was directly responsible for much of the misconduct in the case. The jury recommended she be investigated for misconduct. But surprise, Via reportedly works for the County of San Diego’s abusive District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis in 2010.

Prosecutors who engage in such misconduct often escape without a scratch. So don’t be surprised if House, Arnt, and Gregor escape free of any consequences for their shockingly abusive conduct against Tonya Craft. The government itself will likely not raise a finger to hold them accountable for their actions. Hopefully voters will do so instead, perhaps by recall elections or other means.

Dale Akiki

Not long after the Wade case, in 1993 the San Diego government helped solidify its reputation as an abuser of law and persecutor of innocents via the Dale Akiki “Sunday school satanism” witch hunt. This deeply disturbing story features a community crusade to destroy an innocent man’s life, this time with claims about how Dale Akiki, a disabled and disfigured man who volunteered at Faith Chapel Church, sexually molested the children in his care and somehow murdered an elephant and giraffe in front of Sunday school children, made them drink the blood, and then mysteriously disposed of the carcasses so nobody could find them.
http://www.youtube.com/v/z10cTHEif3o&hl=en_US&fs=1
Adam Lee’s documentary on the persecution of Dale Akiki

As public defender Kate Coyne revealed, the DA prosecutor in charge of the case hand-picked therapists who then proceeded to brainwash the children to get the answers the government wanted. The County of San Diego government and its agents of persecution, including Rady Children’s Hospital and many therapists, were eventually held responsible for their misconduct via a confidential settlement estimated at around $2 million.

Bakersfield Witch Hunt

Some may have taken comfort in Dale Akiki being a disfigured man who made an obvious target for false accusations. If so, they were mistaken. There have been plenty of other false prosecutions of innocent people. Some of the cases have been built up into hysterical dimensions with several people involved in a “sex ring” abusing many children. Sadly, many of these people ended up railroaded even worse than what happened to Craft, Wade, and Akiki.

Some have spent decades in prison due to overzealous government officials who insisted upon throwing people in prison at all costs, regardless of the truth. The 2008 documentary Witch Hunt tells the stories of several families in Bakersfield, California, who were cruelly railroaded for crimes that never occurred.

Among the comments of viewers on the Internet Movie Database page for Witch Hunt, this one is representative and rightly raises the point that anybody can be a victim of a child sexual abuse witch hunt:

(from IMDB User Reviews for Witch Hunt (2008))

America can only remain a free nation if the judicial process is fair, untainted, and subject to review. During the early 1980′s, it seems that the residents of Bakersfield, CA sacrificed their judicial rights for the illusion of Law And Order. WITCH HUNT is a riveting documentary about a group of citizens who became the target of a joint task force of Law Enforcement and Social Services that illegally and immorally usurped their power. The State’s position was that this police and social service unit provided an opportunity for sexually abused children to be heard, and allow the law to apprehend and punish their abusers. However, as the the film clearly demonstrates, Child And Family Services, with the aid of an overzealous police force, were able to orchestrate children’s testimony, and allowed the local government to create a non-existing threat to the community. Bakersfield became a city under siege by pedophiles-perverted by “Sexual Weapons Of Mass Destruction”. WITCH HUNT shows that these ‘dedicated and thoughtful public servants’ invented a phony threat to the community, and then rode it for all it was worth. This ‘Response To Evil’ allowed them to parade before the media and appear to be ‘Tough On Crime’, when really they did nothing but railroad innocent citizens by using Child And Family Services to badger and bully innocent children until they gave them the ‘sexual horror’ that they craved. In no way should this film be viewed as a fair and balanced treatment of child molesters, but what this documentary shows us is that Law Enforcement and Social Service Agencies are able to foster a climate of hysteria which might allow citizens to give up an unbiased legal system for the illusion of Safety. In the commentary to the film, we find that when Child and Family Service personnel were told by the children that ‘nothing happened’, the impressionable children were badgered and bullied and told that they were ‘in denial’. What is truly alarming is that, given these conditions, this gross travesty of justice could happen to any of us.

http://www.youtube.com/v/4JxKy7nC9jM?fs=1&hl=en_US
Trailer for “Witch Hunt”

Government Refuses to Learn

Governments claimed they learned from the many satanic abuse and sexual abuse frauds they pulled on the public in the 1980′s and 1990′s. But now the Tonya Craft case shows that this simply isn’t true. It is clear that anybody with a malicious ex can have his or her life ruined and children harmed because of false allegations mishandled by an abusive government that truly does not care about guilt, innocence, or protecting children.

Mother’s rights groups would do well to remember that. It’s time they dropped their sexist rhetoric and started to put the truth and well-being of children ahead of their anti-father agendas. Otherwise, it is likely there will be many more parents, including many mothers, wrongfully suffering the fate of Tonya Craft and the many other people who have been falsely accused and maliciously prosecuted to satiate the desires of others to see them ruined.

Federal Lawsuit for $25 Million

After her acquittal, Tonya Craft decided she must act to hold accountable those who falsely accused her and participated in generating false evidence. She filed a $25 million lawsuit in federal court in Rome, Georgia, against the county government, the therapists, and the parents of the children who were coached to falsely accuse her. The list includes Sandra Lamb, Sherri and Dewayne Wilson, her former husband Joal Henke, his current wife Sarah, Kelli McDonald, Sgt. Tim Deal, Catoosa County, Catoosa County Sheriff Phil Summers, Suzi Thorne, Stacy Long, Laurie Evans, the Childrens Advocacy Center of the Lookout Mountain Judicial District, and the Greenhouse Childrens Advocacy Center. The judge and prosecutors wrongfully enjoy immunity for their alleged violations of legal standards and the law, so they cannot be named in the lawsuit.

Further Reading

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Eric Moelter Speaks Against Cindy Dumas Distortion Campaign

Gender Polarization Impedes Family Law Reform

Parental Alienation Can Happen to Adults and In Marriages

Defending Against False Child Sexual Abuse Allegations (Part 1)

How to Win Custody by Framing Your Ex for Child Sexual Abuse

The Gregory Mantell Show: Parental Alienation Syndrome

Nassau County judge jails mother who falsely accused ex of sex abuse and alienated him from kids

A New Wave of Prosecutorial Hysteria: The Railroading of Tonya Craft

Truth for Tonya

The Tonya Craft Case: The Mask Slips Off

Live from the Catoosa County Courthouse: Tonya Craft trial, day 20: Defense rests

Tonya Craft Trial Verdict: Will Tonya Craft be Innocent or Guilty? Or will the jury be hung — a McMartin Preschool Trial 2.0?

Tonya Craft strikes custody deal, judge keeps under seal

Who Is Joal Henke?

A Open Letter to Joal Henke, Ex-Husband of Tonya Craft, Regarding the Custody of Their Children

The Accusation and Conviction Machine, Part I

The Accusation and Conviction Machine, Part II

The Accusation and Conviction Machine, Part III

Tonya Craft Prosecution Evokes Shadows of Other Dubious Child Abuse Cases

CA Woman to Do Time for For False Accusations

The Lohstroh Case: Articles published from August 27 to November 2004

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onya Craft’s Ex, Parental Alienator Joal Henke, Shows Kids Will Lie About Sexual Abuse To Hurt Target Parent | angiEmedia.

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US Congress close to a vote on H. Res. 1326, condemning Japan for Parental Child Abduction

In Activism, Best Interest of the Child, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Liberty, Marriage, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parents rights on September 28, 2010 at 6:29 pm

US Congress close to a vote on H. Res. 1326, condemning Japan for Parental Child Abduction

Bring Abducted Children Home began a 3 day push to bring a vote on House Resolution 1326, to the House floor before Congress recesses for further campaigning on October 1, 2010. H. Res. 1326 condemns Japan for allowing parents to kidnap children.
Log (Press Release)Sep 24, 2010 – WASHINGTON – Several Left-Behind Parents of Bring Abducted Children Home (BACHome), began a 3 day push to bring a vote on House Resolution 1326 to the House floor before Congress recesses for further campaigning on October 1, 2010.

H. Res. 1326 condemns Japan over its blatant disregard for human rights in the matter of parnatally abducted children.  Since 1994, three-hundred United States citizens have been abducted to Japan from the United States.  Japan has sanctioned the abductions and refused to recognize United States sovereignty over the abducted children.

Douglas Berg, a left behind parent stated, “Passing this Resolution is just one of many steps needed to put pressure on Japan to take this issue seriously. We will not give up since we are our kids”.

The United States is not alone in attempting to prevent this crime of the innocents.  Earlier this year, the United States Ambassador to Japan, along with the Deputy Head of Mission from the Embassy of Australia and ambassadors from Canada, France, Italy, New Zealand, Spain and the United Kingdom called upon Justice Minister Chiba, to address their concerns over the blatant disregard of children abducted from their countries to Japan illegally.

As of this date, 80 countries and all of the G7 nations, except Japan, are signers to The 1980 Hague Convention, on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The Hague Convention was created to protect children specifically from this type of crime and injustice.

However, Japan has sanctioned and turned a blind eye to the abduction of American born and raised children. The Constitutional rights, human rights and dignity of these illegally abducted children have been stripped away by Japan.

Randy Collins, a Left-Behind Parent from California stated, “It is time for Congress to hold Japan accountable. H. Res. 1326 is the first step towards publicly putting Japan on notice that we have had enough and demand our American children be returned”.

Congressional representatives James Moran (D-VA) and Chris Smith (R-NJ), have rallied under the flag of bi-partisan support to see H. Res. 1326 come to full House vote.

Twenty-five co-sponsors are needed to move H. Res. 1326 to a full vote on the floor of the House, ten of which must come from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Thirty-three co-sponsors have been secured to support this landmark Resolution.

BACHome members spent the past four months working to secure approximately twenty-nine of the thirty-five co-sponsors needed to have H. Res. 1326 scheduled into the 2010 Congress calendar.

This Resolution has clear bipartisan support. Eighteen Republicans and seventeen Democrats have co-sponsored the Resolution. Of those needed in Foreign affairs, there are five Republicans and seven Democrats co-sponsoring H. Res. 1326.

Lending support, Ernie Allen, President and CEO of the National Center for the Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), was in attendance for the May 5, 2010, introduction of H. Res 1326.

With only 2 weeks left before Congress shuts down in preparation for the mid-term elections, BACHome hopes H. Res. 1326 will have a full House vote before October 1, 2010.

At the moment, thirty-five Congressional representatives and BACHome wait for US House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, Howard Berman (D-CA), to place H. Res. 1326 on the calendar for a House full vote.

Captain William Lake, another left-behind parent of an abducted child stated, “The Department of State can no longer coop the citizenship of these American children. They must demand and not ask for the return of these young precious American citizens”.

Ken Connelly, former domestically abducted child and child rights advocate stated, “Parental child abduction should never be a plausible excuse between nation states; at the price of our children’s physical and mental well being”.

If H. Res. 1326 does not come to vote before October 1, 2010, it will be forced to move into the next 2011 Congress and it could take months to start the process again”.

Ken Connelly
BACHome
PO Box 16254
Arlington, VA
22215


# # #

BACHome (Bring Abducted Children Home) is an organization set up to bring awareness to Internationally abducted children, assist in the recovery of children abducted internationally, and end parental alienation.

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US Congress close to a vote on H. Res. 1326, condemning Japan for Parental Child Abduction.

Parental Alienation Syndrome: A New Face of Terrorism – Associated Content – associatedcontent.com

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parents rights on September 14, 2010 at 10:07 pm

How to Tell when Your Child’s Hostility is More Than Divorce Blues

It’s been said there are two sides to every story and somewhere in between lies the truth. Nowhere is this more personified than within the walls of family court. Divorce is rarely amicable. There are instances, however, when routine divorce squabbles spill over into something far more sinister. When one party finds divorce to be synonymous with destruction, no one pays a higher price than the children caught in the crossfire. Regardless of how parents feel about each other, it’s imperative they be adult enough to realize the damage they could inflict upon their children. The fallout of divorce rains heavily upon children of all ages including adults. Divorce is hardly a surprise, but what some parents are doing to their children is alarming.

Mind games and propaganda have long been a staple during war. It’s used to extract information or convince the other side to join ours. Dictators use it to prevent those in their country from learning the truth and making informed decisions. It’s a manipulative and controlling way to make certain the one in charge stays in charge. Weapons of mass destruction or no, it’s the reason we invaded Iraq. And it’s what divorce parents often subject their children to on a regular basis.

In the ’80’s Dr. Richard A. Gardner uncovered a disturbing phenomena among children of divorce. Over an extended period of time, a child subjected to continual, groundless negativity regarding a parent will eventually succumb to the exposure and adapt the distorted view presented to them. In other words, a mother with custody of her children can systematically set about destroying the child’s father so completely that the father-child bond is shredded beyond repair. What the mother doesn’t understand is that it is the child who pays the heftiest price.

Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a mental health condition that has been fingered as the root cause of false abuse allegations and in it’s most extreme condition, murder. To some degree PAS takes place in the early stages of divorce when emotions are still raw, but fades away as emotional wounds heal. There are cases in which parents aren’t aware of what they’re doing and once it’s made clear to them they cease. The greater majority involves malicious intent. Twenty-two states have ruled in PAS cases. What began as an anger fueled attempt on the mother’s part to sever the father-child bond, ends with the mother losing complete custody.

In most cases it is the mother that begins the hate campaign against the father. For the sake of clarity the following list of symptoms assumes the mother to be in that role:

1.Under the guise of trust, care and honesty, the mother chronicles divorce details from a slanted point of view that paints dad as mean and mom as a victim.

2.Refuses to help the child transition to time with the dad by not allowing the child to take toys or other favored items with them and by repeatedly telling the child daddy’s house is not their home but merely a place to visit.

3.Unwilling to be flexible with the visitation schedule.

4.Overbooking the child in activities in order to reduce visitation time. When the dad wants the child to spend time with him rather than be in constant motion, the mother will label the dad as selfish and her as the good parent because she doesn’t restrict the activity time.

5.Denying the father access to medical and/or school records and other important documents.

6.Listening in on the child’s phone conversation and/or coaching them on what to say.

7.Draws the child into a co-dependant relationship by making him/her feel guilty for having fun with dad. She uses minor illnesses as an escape toprevent visitation, proclaiming herself to be the only one capable of caring for the child.

8.Telling the child how sad she is during visitation times, making the child feel guilty for having fun with dad.

Divorce may bring out the PAS behavior but it is not the root cause. PAS is a psychological disturbance that requires the intervention of a mental health professional. Understanding the psychosis of the behavior is paramount in helping you and your child. Don’t labor under the misconception that the alienating parent can stop the destructive behavior at any point. It’s a behavior the perpetrator is oblivious to and unable to stop even if realization dawns.

The PAS parent not only wants but must have control over their child. They are incapable of forming normal healthy relationships with people in their lives. They are severely self-centered, unable to give, only take and lack compassion for others. They’ve lost the ability to sort truth from fiction. They are willing to go to extraordinary lengths to have their way even if it means destroying an essential relationship for their child.

If you believe you are the victim of PAS you need to seek help immediately. The only salvation for a child under the rule of PAS is counseling by a therapist familiar with the mental dysfunction of PAS. Children need a trained third-party individual to help them cope with the continual strife and anxiety present in their daily lives.

The single most important thing you can do for your child is refuse to give up, love them even when they’re unlovable and don’t be party to your own alienation by applying the turn-about-is-fair-play nonsense. For the sake of your child you must rise above the psychotic behavior of your ex-spouse. Many times that means coping with hurtful words and actions from the child you’re trying to protect. Don’t miss appointed visitation dates. Refuse to allow yourself to be coerced by well-meaning friends and relatives into a situation that is not beneficial for your child. In order to keep your sanity you must keep your eye on the future. What you’re doing right now may appear to have no impact but it could be a pivotal moment ten years from now. The hardest part is letting go of the right now in belief that in years to come you’ll reap higher dividends

Parental Alienation Syndrome: A New Face of Terrorism – Associated Content – associatedcontent.com.

Recognizing Parental Alienation Disorder in the DSM V – The Time Is Now

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parents rights on September 2, 2010 at 5:41 pm

September 2nd, 2010 by Terry Kee

Imagine a nightmare scenario where your children hate you. They tell you repeatedly that they hate you; and worse, their actions leave no doubt that they hate you. Moreover, their hatred doesn’t stop with you; it extends to everyone close to you – including your parents – their grandparents – and even to your pets. Imagine that your children do not refer to you with terms of endearment such as “mom” or “dad” – but with your first name or with horrible vulgarities. Imagine being locked out of your house, having the woodwork in your house gouged, the walls defaced, and having your heirlooms destroyed, all the while your child laughs at you, a taunting maniacal laugh, as the dirty deeds are done. Imagine finding snack foods or cereal strewn about the house, or juice in puddles on the floor. Imagine being kicked in the head as you drive. Imagine, if you can, that your child hates you so much that he or she laces your toothbrush with excrement.

Imagine not being able to have dinner with your children because they refuse to eat anything you cook for them. Imagine not being able to go to a restaurant with your children, because they will move to another table rather than sit with you. Imagine not being able to talk to your children at all. In the house, they will turn away or shut themselves in their room. In the car, they will respond to you with vulgarity and contempt. If they ever do attempt to communicate, they will tell you how much they hate you and how perfect the other parent is in their eyes – while you are your children’s number one enemy, your ex-spouse is considered infallible and beyond reproach.

Imagine that these children who hate you are not teenagers, but just 10 years old. Now stop imagining. Welcome to the hellish world of an alienated parent whose children are affected by Parental Alienation Syndrome.

As a father who has been targeted by a vindictive and malicious ex, to the point where my children refuse to see me or their grandparents, I am oftentimes annoyed to hear psychologists and psychiatrists who don’t really understand the difference between Parental Alienation and Parental Alienation Syndrome. Consider this recent excerpt from a US News and World Report article, “I really get concerned about spreading the definition of mental illness too wide,” says Elissa Benedek, a child and adolescent psychiatrist in Ann Arbor, Mich., and a past president of the APA. There’s no question in her mind that kids become alienated from a loving parent in many divorces with little or no justification, and she’s seen plenty of kids kick and scream all the way to the car when visitation is enforced. But, she says, “this is not a mentally ill child.” (US News and World Report, Parental Alienation: A Mental Diagnosis? Some experts say the extreme hatred some kids feel toward a parent in a divorce is a mental illness. By Lindsay Lyon, October 29, 2009)

With all due respect to Dr. Benedek, her example scenario provides too little in the way of information to determine if the child in question is in fact merely alienated or is emotionally incapacitated as a direct result of undue and unjust external influences (PAS).

If you have never personally experienced Parental Alienation Syndrome, it is difficult to fathom how a child can become so completely and utterly transformed from a wonderful, caring, loving being to a mean, angry, hateful individual. Here is a firsthand account from one such child, now an adult, “I did everything in my power to make dad happy and destroy my mother… My main mission was to have her suffer for who I thought she was, not for who she was… I thought about her dying and having a party.” Chrissy Chrzanowski, who as a child was programmed to hate her mother. (Chrissy Chrzanowski, live speech at a Michigan rally: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3z7gEAnFF84)

Parental Alienation Syndrome is the result of a war having children soldiers. Parental Alienation Syndrome takes a commander-in-chief, foot soldiers and a common enemy. In this case, the commander-in-chief is the alienating parent, the children are the foot soldiers, and the common enemy is the child’s other parent and those closest to him or her. And just like adult soldiers who fight in a campaign of terror, death, and destruction and then end up suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, so too do children of PAS end up suffering from the horrors of war.

The DSM recognizes Post Traumatic Stress as a disorder, which, like PAS, is environmentally trigged. You are not born with PTSD. It is a condition that is caused by external events – a condition that could in fact, happen to the best of us given the right environment and set of circumstances. Despite the fact that PTSD is not a mental condition that one is born with, such as Down Syndrome or Tourette’s, it is rightly recognized in the DSM as a negative condition that requires treatment, even though it is possible to lessen with time and treatment.

PAS is also a condition that is inflicted by environment and circumstances, and which carries negative long term consequences. Additionally, vindictive parenting behaviors are highly likely to resurface in the next generation – as these children become parents themselves. As Amy J.L. Baker, PhD, a noted PAS expert has written, PAS is a condition that requires time to abate. And frankly, this is time that targeted parents don’t have. PAS children can remain immersed in the delusion well into adulthood and oftentimes require third party intervention – generally from his or her significant other.

Here’s where The American Psychiatric Association, as the gatekeeper of the DSM, and the American Psychology Association, as front line care providers, can do the right thing and help put an end to the emotional abuse of children that PAS presents. They can put an end to an era where children are programmed to hate. They can put an end to the emotional scarring for those children who will forever carry a burden of guilt. PAS is a great injustice and it is becoming more widespread in the absence of professional guidance and remediation. But to do what must be done, the APA must put aside the politics and emotion of the debate.

The recognition of PAS is being held hostage by special interest groups. Domestic Violence Against Women Special Interest Groups (DVAWSIGs) have long argued that PAS is nothing more than a tactic. Consider the following quote, “PAS has been used in countless cases by abusive fathers to gain custody of their children.” This quote was taken from a television documentary titled “Breaking the Silence; Children’s Stories.” It aired on PBS in October of 2005. In fact, “Breaking the Silence” ended up being discredited as a one-sided, poorly conceived infomercial. PBS received 4,000 e-mails on the subject and 3,500 of them were negative. Here’s what the PBS ombudsman, Michael Getler, had to say on the matter after he concluded his investigation, “”…there was no recognition of opposing views on the program. There was a complete absence of some of the fundamental journalistic conventions that, in fact, make a story more powerful and convincing because they, at a minimum, acknowledge that there is another side….I thought this particular program had almost no balance, and went too far, turning it, at least in my mind, into more of an advocacy, or point-of-view presentation.”

This program was then reviewed by the ombudsman for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Ken A. Bode, who further noted, “I agree with everything Getler says, to a point. He allows that PBS editorial guidelines for fairness and objectivity were ‘bumped up against and maybe breached,’ but does not assert they were clearly breached. I think it is worse than that. There was no alternative point of view presented in ‘Breaking the Silence’ and the producer admits it was intended to be that way. It might be difficult to find a clearer breach of PBS editorial standards unless one concludes there is only one side to child and spousal abuse issues in the country’s custody cases [emphasis added].” (Breaking the Silence Redux, December 19, 2005, Ken A. Bode. http://www.cpb.org/ombudsmen/display.php?id=12)

Still, DVAWSIGs, ignorantly perhaps, misguided certainly, believe that Parental Alienation Syndrome is a tactic and in conjunction, would be misdiagnosed, therefore robbing an innocent parent of custody. But Parental Alienation Syndrome is such an abomination, having unique indicators, that it is relatively easy to diagnose and, conversely, difficult to misdiagnose. A fully entrenched PAS child harbors unreasonable animosity and hatred towards the targeted parent and, due to the programming, will find it difficult to say anything negative about the non-targeted parent. It is a terrible abuse of power, that “so-called” domestic violence groups oppose recognizing the emotional abuse of children caused by a severe and prolonged campaign of alienation enacted by a malicious and vindictive ex spouse.

The “tactic” argument is ancillary to the question of whether PAS should be recognized as a disorder. False claims of abuse by women against men do not invalidate legitimate cases of abuse; neither should false claims of PAS invalidate legitimate cases of PAS. There are, after all, vindictive and malicious parents who poison their children’s mind against good and loving parents – should these individuals not be held accountable?

The DSM V committee must not be misguided by special interest groups purporting to have a greater cause. There is no greater cause. Society has a duty to its most vulnerable members – its children. PAS children are psychologically damaged. This is a preventable tragedy and children who exhibit Parental Alienation Syndrome require specialized intervention.

To the DSM V committee, I say to you, the time is now.

posted from:  GlennSacks.com » Blog Archive.

Brazilian President signs into Law which Defines and Punishes Parental Alienation – Crumbs: Hot – 27/8/2010

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parents rights on August 31, 2010 at 7:37 pm

Following the Sean Goldman case in Brazil, the Brazilian President, just signed into law, which defines and punishes acts of Parental Alienation in Brazil. I sometimes wonder if our President and Vice President are paying attention to the problems of parents and children in this country? Particularly with regard to the 4-6 million children that are alienated from the other parent?

Law 12 318

Sacionada law that defines and punishes parental alienation

See below for the full law 12.318/10 which provides for parental alienation.

_____________

Law No. 12 318, DE 26 AUGUST 2010

Provides for parental alienation and amending Art. 236 of Law No. 8069 of July 13, 1990.

THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC

I know that the Congress decrees and I sanction the following Law:

Article 1 This Law provides for parental alienation.

Section 2 is considered an act of parental alienation interference with psychological training of the child or adolescent promoted or induced by a parent, grandparent or by having the child or adolescent under his authority, custody or supervision so dismissive parent or adversely affecting the establishment or maintenance of ties with it.

Sole Paragraph. Exemplary are forms of parental alienation, and acts as declared by the judge or discovered by expertise, or charged directly with the aid of third parties:

I – opening campaign of disqualification of the parent’s conduct in the exercise of parenthood;

II – hinder the exercise of parental authority;

III – hinder contact with child or teen parent;

IV – to hamper the right of regulated family life;

V – the parent deliberately omit relevant personal information about the child or adolescent, including educational, medical and changes of address;

VI – to present false complaint against parent, family against this or against grandparents, to obstruct or hinder their coping with the child or adolescent;

VII – change the address to the remote site, without justification, in order to hamper the coexistence of the child or adolescent with the other parent, with this family or grandparents.

Article 3 The performance of an act of parental alienation hurts fundamental right of the child or adolescent family life healthier, prevent the implementation of affection in relationships with parent and the family group, is moral abuse against the child or adolescent and noncompliance with duties attached to parental authority or from guardianship or custody.

Article 4 Declared clue act of parental alienation, the application or letter at any time of procedure, or incidentally in autonomous action, the process will have priority processing, and the judge will determine, with urgency, after hearing the prosecutor, the interim measures for maintenance of psychological integrity of the child or adolescent, including to ensure their familiarity with parent or make an effective rapprochement between the two, if any.

Sole Paragraph. It will ensure the child or adolescent and the parent assisted minimum guarantee of visitation, except in cases where there is imminent risk of injury to physical or psychological integrity of the child or adolescent, certified by any professional designated by the judge for monitoring visits .

Article 5 If there is evidence of the practice act of parental alienation in autonomous action or incidental damages, the judge, if necessary, determine biopsychosocial or psychological expertise.

§ 1 The expert report will be based on extensive psychological evaluation or biopsychosocial, as appropriate, including even a personal interview with the parties, examination of documents in the file, the couple’s relationship history, split chronology of incidents, personality assessment involved and the investigation of how the child or adolescent is manifested about possible charges against the parents.

§ 2 The skill will be performed by professional or skilled multidisciplinary team, required in any case, proven by fitness professional or academic history to diagnose acts of parental alienation.

§ 3 The expert or a multidisciplinary team appointed to assess the occurrence of parental alienation will within 90 (ninety) days to submit the report, renewable only by judicial authorization based on detailed justification.

Article 6 Featured typical acts of parental alienation or any conduct that hamper the coexistence of child or adolescent parent, or incidental to autonomous action, the judge may, together or separately, subject to civil or criminal liability arising from and the extensive use of suitable legal instruments to inhibit or mitigate its effects, according to the severity of the case:

I – declare the occurrence of parental alienation and warn the seller;

II – expand the system of family life in favor of the alienated parent;

III – provide fine to seller;

IV – require counseling and / or biopsychosocial;

V – to determine the change of custody to joint custody or its reversal;

VI – to determine the setting of interim home of the child or adolescent;

VII – to declare the suspension of parental authority.

Sole Paragraph. Marked change of address abusive, impracticability or obstruction to family, the court may also reverse the obligation to take or remove the child or teen parent’s residence, during the alternating periods of family life.

Article 7 The allocation or change of custody will be given preference by the parent that enables the effective coexistence of the child or adolescent with the other parent in cases where it is impracticable to custody.

Article 8 The change of domicile of the child or adolescent is irrelevant to the determination of competence related to actions founded on right to family life, unless the result of consensus between the parents or a court decision.

Article 9 (VETOED)

Article 10. (VETOED)

Article 11. This Law shall enter into force upon its publication.

Brasília, August 26, 2010, 189 and 122 of the Independence of the Republic.

Luiz Inacio LULA DA SILVA

Luiz Paulo Teles Ferreira Barreto

Paulo de Tarso Vannuchi

________________
____________

Read more – News

  • 11/20/2009 – House Passes CCJ’s action against a parent who incite hatred child – click here.
  • 08.18.2009 – Parental Alienation can lead to loss of custody of the child – click here.

Read More – Articles

  • 13/8/10 – The “syndrome” that will turn law – Nebo Flávia Azevedo Antunes – click here.
  • 23/7/10 – SAP – Parental Alienation Syndrome – Luiz Fernando Valley Guilherme de Almeida / André Fernando Reusing Namorato – click here.
  • 21/7/10 – In brief, parental alienation is a crime – Denise Perissini Maria da Silvaclick here.

Sanctioned law that defines and punishes parental alienation – Crumbs: Hot – 27/8/2010.

Parental Alienation Syndrome – Case Law

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parents rights on August 21, 2010 at 6:50 pm

The purpose of this page is to provide the visitor with an overview of important PAS case law. The citations are in Blue Book format and are followed by a short explanation of the case.

Need for Proof in PAS Cases

Coursey v. Super. Ct., 194 Cal. App. 3d 147; 239 Cal. Rptr. 365 (Cal. Ct. App. 1987).

Alienated fourteen-year-old daughter refused to visit her father pursuant to the terms of a stipulated order. The mother was found in contempt. On appeal, the court found that absent evidence of intent, it could not be inferred that failure of visitation was willful on mother’s part.

Constitutional Rights and PAS

Schutz v. Schutz, 581 So. 2d 1290 (Fla. 1991).

Alientor mother appealed order to do everything in her power to create in the minds of her children a loving, caring feeling towards their father, claiming a violation of her First Amendment rights. Court found any burden on those rights to be merely incidental.

Best Interests of the Child and PAS

In re Violetta B., 210 Ill. App. 3d 521,524; 568 N.E.2d 1345 (Ill. App. Ct. 1991).

Court reversed decision to transfer custody of four-year-old from foster mother to paternal grandmother based on psychologist’s expert testimony that a transfer of custody would cause irreparable trauma. Court concluded that best interest of the child should control the decision.

Spurious Allegations of Child Abuse

Karen B. v. Clyde M., 151 Misc. 2d 794; 574 N.Y.S.2d 267 (N.Y. Fam. Ct. 1991).

Mother’s allegations of sex abuse of child by father found baseless after court considered trained validator’s testimony as to no abuse and verbatim similarity between mother and daughter’s statements. Court likened mother’s behavior to that of Medea.

Abusing Visitation

Zigmont fka Toto v. Toto, No. 62149, 1992 WL 6034 at *2 (Ohio Ct. App. Jan. 16, 1992).

After considering the appellant’s erratic behavior in exercising his visitation, and the resulting psychological problems of the children, the court found it both just and reasonable for trial court to limit visitation to a specific schedule.

Court’s Discretion re PAS and Custody

Wiederholt v. Fischer, 169 Wis. 2d 524; 485 N.W.2d 442 (Wis. Ct. App. 1992).

Despite psychologist’s testimony that PAS was the worst he had seen, the court concluded that the evidence was not strong enough to be cured by placing children with father, noting that the cure was controversial and the success of the treatment was limited.

Using PAS as a Defense

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

Father claimed that because of PAS, the testimony of the court-appointed special advocate (CASA) was skewed in favor of mother. CASA recommended that custody be changed to mother, citing abuse by step-sister. Bite mark on son tipped the scales for the court.

Attacking the Validity of PAS

In re Marriage of Rosenfeld, 524 N.W.2d 212 (Iowa Ct. App. 1994).

Father severely alienated children from mother. The court found the only way to correct the situation was to place children with mother. On appeal, father attacked validity of PAS and testimony of mother’s expert. Court focused instead on parties’ behavior.

Rebutting PAS through Child Testimony

White v. White, 655 N.E.2d 523, 526 (Ind. Ct. App. 1995).

Psychologist on whom mother had insisted testified that she was engaging in PAS and that she excessively hostile toward father. Mother attempted to rebut expert’s testimony by putting 10-year-old son on stand. Trial court refused to subject son to the process. Affirmed on appeal.

Placing Children with an Alienated Parent

Tucker fka Greenberg v. Greenberg, 674 So. 2d 807 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1996).

In a trial arising over a visitation dispute, court noted that former wife was obsessed with making shared parenting as difficult as possible for father. Both trial and appellate courts decided best decision was to place children with the alienated parent.

PAS not Gender-Specific

Williams v. Williams, 676 So. 2d 493 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1996).

In Williams, the court took custody from an alienating father and vested it with the alienated mother. Williams demonstrates the non-gender-specific nature of PAS.

PAS and Extreme Tactics

Hanson v. Spolnik, 685 N.E.2d 71 (Ind. 1997).

Father and mother were awarded joint custody. Mother then engaged in extreme tactics that included false allegations of sexual abuse and comments that father had AIDS and that he had hired a hit man. On appeal, court found modification of joint custody was necessary.

Contesting Concept of PAS in New York

In the Matter of J.F. v. L.F.,181 Misc. 2d 722; 694 N.Y.S.2d 592 (N.Y. Fam. Ct. 1999).

By order to show cause against mother, father applied for custody. Annexed to order was psychiatrist’s affidavit recommending custody change. Mother bitterly contested concept of PAS. The court nonetheless found that mother had alienated children from father.

Court-Appointed Experts and Bias

Pathan v. Pathan, No. 17729, 2000 WL 43711 (Ohio Ct. App. Jan. 21, 2000).

Court-appointed psychologist showed significant bias against Pakistani father, who asked for an independent evaluation. The court noted that mother was the primary offender. Nonetheless, the court merely opined that if mother did not mend her ways, custody might change.

Mutual Alienation

Spencley v. Spencley, No. 219801, 2000 WL 33519710 (Mich. Ct. App. Apr. 7, 2000).

Parents engaged in mutual alienation made complaints against state for its determination of abuse and neglect. On appeal, mother challenged concept of PAS; however, the court found ample evidence of emotional injury, and that PAS was used in an explanatory manner.

Need to Show Change of Circumstances

Chambers v. Chambers, No. CA99-688, 2000 WL 795278 (Ark. Ct. App. June 21, 2000).

Trial court concluded that prolonged alienation was so successful that there was no hope of re-integration between father and children. On appeal, the court found that father had failed to show requisite change of circumstances to warrant the court’s intervention.

Ignoring Expert Testimony

Kirk v. Kirk, 770 N.E.2d 304 (Ind. 2002).

In Kirk, the Indiana Supreme Court overturned an appellate decision, ignoring copious expert testimony regarding parental alienation syndrome and the spurious nature of mother’s sexual abuse claims.

Parental Alienation Syndrome.

Identifying Cases of Parent Alienation Syndrome–Part II by Leona M. Kopetski

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parents rights on August 19, 2010 at 1:31 am

THE COLORADO LAWYER, MARCH 1998, VOL. 27, NO. 3 p 63-66

IDENTIFYING CASES OF PARENT ALIENATION SYNDROME–PART II

by Leona M. Kopetski

Editors’ Note: This is the second part of a two-part article dealing with parental alienation of children and aiding the courts and counsel in recognizing parental alienation in cases involving custody and parenting time. Part I was published in the February issue at page 65.

The Family and Children’s Evaluation Team (“Team”),(1) which pioneered the team approach to child custody evaluations in Colorado, evaluated both parents and all of the children in approximately 600 cases fiom 1975 to 1995. The conclusions in this article result from the Team’s evaluations.

Psychological Characteristics of Alienating Parent

Parent Alienation Syndrome occurs when individuals who have certain psychological characteristics manage internal conflict or pain by transforming psychological pain into interpersonal conflict. Divorcing parents often experience humiliation, loss of self-esteem, guilt, ambivalence, fear, abandonment anxiety, jealousy, or intense anger. These normal but very painful emotions must be managed. Usually people in crisis rely on characteristic relationship styles and pain management techniques. The Team has found alienating parents to have the following characteristics:

1. A narcissistic or paranoid orientation to interactions and relationships with others, usually as the result of a personality disorder.(2) Both narcissistic and paranoid relationships are maintained by identification, rather than mutual appreciation and enjoyment of differences as well as similarities. Perfectionism and intolerance of personal flaws in self or others have deleterious effects on relationships. When others disagree, narcissistic and paranoid people feel abandoned, betrayed, and often rageful.

2. Reliance on defenses against psychological pain that result in externalizing unwanted or unacceptable feelings, ideas, attitudes, and responsibility for misfortunes so that more painful internal conflict is transformed into less painful interpersonal conflict. Examples of such defenses are phobias, projection, “splitting,” or obsessive preoccupation with the shortcomings of others in order to obscure from self and others the individual’s own shortcomings. “Splitting” results when feelings, judgments, or characteristics are polarized into opposite, exhaustive, and mutually exclusive categories (such as all good or all bad, right or wrong, love or hate, victim or perpetrator), then are assigned or directed separately to self and other. (I am good, you are bad.) The need for such defenses arises because alienating parents have little or no tolerance for internal conflict or even normal ambivalence. The interpersonal result of such defenses is intense interpersonal conflict.(3)

3. Evidence of an abnormal grieving process such that there is a preponderance of anger and an absence of sadness in reaction to the loss of the marital partner

4. A family history in which there is an absence of awareness of normal ambivalence and conflict about parents, enmeshment, or failure to differentiate and emancipate from parents; or a family culture in which “splitting” or externalizing is a prominent feature. Some alienating parents were raised in families in which there is unresolved or unacknowledged grief as the result of traumatic losses or of severe but unacknowledged emotional deprivation, usually in the form of absence of empathy. More frequently, alienating parents were favorite children or were overly indulged or idealized as children.

The Alienated Parent

The alienated parent also has psychological symptoms that are more or less characteristic. The most prominent characteristic is a history of being passive, overly accommodating, or emotionally constricted.

The passivity so often seen in alienated parents is difficult to evaluate during the crisis of the divorce. Some passivity is characterological and is usually detrimental to relationships. Some passivity, however, is an adaptation to a marital relationship with a controlling partner. Only a detailed, careful history of interactions and of functioning in other relationships before and after the marriage can lead to a clear understanding of whether the passive alienated parent has a longstanding characterological problem or has made an adaptation to a disturbed marriage. Although alienating parents often feel victimized and controlled, a thorough history may indicate that, in fact, the parent to be alienated has accommodated or capitulated in conflicts many more times than the alienating parent.

Although self-assertion may be healthy from the viewpoint of individual psychology, it can lead to an intense and destructive power struggle if the partner to the interaction is uncompromising, unable to tolerate awareness of personal flaws or differences of opinion, or prone to make accusations and engender guilt. In many cases of parent alienation, the passive partner not only tolerates criticism and accusation, but engages in self-questioning. Self-questioning is, of course, healthy, but it may lead to an honest conclusion different from the opinion of a critical partner. It can strengthen a relationship if the different conclusion can be accepted by both parties.

In relation to an alienating parent, such disagreements cannot be integrated or resolved. Self-assertion then leads to an intensified power struggle. To avoid intense, intractable, and destructive interpersonal conflict and to preserve the relationship, one partner must then “give in” and accommodate. That partner is usually the parent who is to be alienated.

One confusing aspect of the dynamics of parent alienation cases is that the alienated parent sometimes has more obvious symptoms of psychological distress, such as depression or anxiety, than the alienating parent. When psychological health is defined as the absence of internal distress or conflict, this factor makes it appear that the alienating parent is the healthier parent. However, this appearance is misleading.

The very presence of symptoms of depression or anxiety implies that internal conflict is present. Depression and anxiety both increase with passivity and when there are limited opportunities for self-assertion or directly expressed anger. Depression and passivity, of course, feed on each other. Depressed people do not have the energy to assert themselves and may not feel justified in doing so anyway; the passivity and emotional constriction lead to more depression. Although the intensity and pervasiveness of depression and anxiety must always be evaluated carefully in order to determine how these symptoms impact relationships in general and parenting in particular, it is possible for parents who are hurting internally to protect their children from their own pain and to be good parents.

The accommodating characteristic of the alienated parent sometimes includes a willingness to provide some justification for the alienating parent’s accusations. In general, people seem reluctant to acknowledge irrationality in others, especially those they love and admire. They look for ways to make sense out of the illogical or unrealistic ideas and behavior. When the partner to an interaction is paranoid but not psychotic or bizarre (and this is not only possible but more common than might be thought), the pressure to conform to the paranoid ideation is very strong. Even professionals can begin to doubt themselves, make unusual mistakes, or search hard for barely plausible explanations and rationalizations. The pressure on a spouse, of course, is much greater than that on a professional.


“The accommodating characteristic of the alienated parent sometimes includes a willingness to provide some justification for the alienating parent’s accusations.”



For example, it is well known that some men become physically abusive and intimidating in order to prevent a wife from leaving them. In contrast, some parent alienation cases are justified by spousal abuse, but the process is very different. There are reports of longstanding fear and anticipation of abuse, followed by a “confirming” but isolated incident in which actual abuse took place. The parent who lost control then leaves the marriage, intolerant of his own behavior. By that time he has sabotaged himself and justified the paranoid ideation or accusation of his partner.

In this example, the usually passive, alienated parent may be correctly designated the “cause” of the immediate intensified marital conflict and the incident of physical abuse is clearly an unacceptable way to resolve an intolerable situation. However, the marital pathology is usually much deeper than one incident and is usually longstanding. The spouse who makes a healthy decision to dissolve the very unhealthy relationship is often accused of desertion, abandonment, or seeking an unnecessary divorce. That spouse has often been unable to make the decision to leave prior to the incident because of the guilt it would engender and the accusation that was inevitable.

Parent alienation is not a gender-determined syndrome. Either the mother or the father can alienate; either can be alienated. Some parents have a history of attenuated involvement with their children until just prior to the marital separation. In some cases, this attenuated involvement is longstanding and indicates a lack of interest in parenting. However, in a number of cases that on evaluation were determined to be alienation cases, attenuated involvement was not the result of lack of interest in parenting or concern and caring for the child, but was circumstantial.

For example, some fathers of very young children have reported that they accommodated a maternal desire that they provide economic support for mother and child, emotional support for mother, and refrain from interfering with what would now be called an enmeshed mother/child unit. The marital balance was upset when either the child (because of a normal developmental push such as often occurs around age four, for example) or the father (believing that the child is now old enough to relate to someone other than the mother or responding to a change in the cultural definitions of expectations for parents) insisted on increased involvement.

An another example, some fathers have attempted to alienate mothers whose involvement with their children was compromised by physical or emotional illness or self-development or vocational requirements by making accusations of neglect even when the attenuated involvement was clearly temporary. Such fathers ignore the fact that good parenting is a joint venture. Each parent should be free to expect the other parent to be available and competent as a “primary parent” when the other is temporarily unavailable.

Effects of Parental Alienation on Children

Symptoms of emotional distress are seen in virtually all children of divorce. This distress usually dissipates when a routine that allows frequent and predictable contact with both parents is established. Children then use their energies to cope with and make use of the strengths and weaknesses of both parents and the other important people around them, just as children do in intact families. The importance and impact of the divorce recedes.

In parent alienation cases, routine may not be established for years. Intense conflict between parents may last until all emotional and financial resources are consumed. In the meantime, the child experiences unpredictable changes and interruptions in the relationships with both parents as different legal maneuvers take place. The emotional intensity, the pervasive and all-consuming preoccupation with divorce, danger, and protection, as well as the instability, are overwhelming.

Children of alienating parents face challenges in addition to the high conflict divorce. One important problem is that the relationship between the child and the alienating parent is disturbed. In many ways, parent alienation syndrome is the modern equivalent to school phobia, a common condition twenty years ago. The only difference is that the object of the phobia has changed. The divorced spouse has replaced the school. A researcher in child development who is primarily responsible for the research that led to successful treatment of school phobias clarified the type of attachment phobic children have with a primary parent and the impact of the pathology on the child’s development:

“Strong” attachment and also “intense” attachment are ambiguous; both of them and the former especially, might be thought to imply a satisfactory state of affairs….When we come to know a person of this sort it soon becomes evident that he has no confidence that his attachment figures will be accessible and responsive to him when he wants them to be and that he has adopted a strategy of remaining in close (physical) proximity to them in order to as far as possible ensure that they will be available.(4)

Such attachments are called “anxious attachments.” In a desperate attempt to maintain a relationship in the only ways possible (identification and alliance) with the parent who is, at the end of the alienation process, the only parent from a psychological and sometimes physical point of view, the child will mirror the personality and the distorted perceptions of the alienating parent. The blame for anxiety consequent to the insecurity of attachments will be externalized and attributed to the other parent. The same researcher points out that

[w]henever the patient’s problems can plausibly be ascribed to some extra-familial situation, the parents seize eagerly upon it. Unsympathetic teachers, bullying boys, barking dogs, the risk of a traffic accident–each is caught at hopefully in order to explain the patient’s condition. Thus are phobias born: and, because so often they provide a convenient family scapegoat, they grow to have a life of their own.(5)

Many alienated children develop symptoms of anxious attachment or separation anxiety when they are long past the age where separation anxiety is normal. The psychological distress is a result of the malignant emotional environment. The most common symptoms in young children are unusual distress during transitions from one parent to the other, sleep disturbances, regressions in achievement of regulation of bodily functions, and failure to achieve expected levels of impulse control. In elementary school age children, disorganization, inability to attend school work with resultant lowered grades, social isolation, and moodiness are often seen.

Teenagers often emancipate prematurely from adult control, becoming defiant and rigid. Such emancipation sometimes includes school refusal, with or without the permission of the parent. Alienated children of all ages show more problems with impulse control than normal, and many children show less ability to be considerate of the feelings of others (except when they accommodate a chosen parent) than normal for the child’s age.

Psychological distress is not the same as psychological damage. As the children grow older, there are more signs of actual damage to development, especially if the alienating parent is successful.

In the area of development of realistic self-concept and self-esteem, alienated children can develop several kinds of problems. These children are often overvalued in ways that are detrimental and are undervalued in ways that would be helpful to them. Because their symptoms have strong emotional appeal and thus become a valuable part of the legal evidence, they become the object of intense, nurturing attention, often under the guise of empathizing with the child. Their symptoms are discussed repeatedly with the child, and are blamed on the behavior of the alienated parent.

Psychological symptoms thus can sometimes become a perversely valued part of the child’s identity. Because other equally or more important aspects of the child’s experience are less valued and receive less empathic or sympathetic response, the child must use the acceptable symptoms to engage necessary and life-sustaining attention from others. Attempts to engage around interests or concerns that do not parallel the interests of the adults are unsuccessful. Sometimes, especially if the accusation used to justify alienation is child abuse, the alienating parent and allies that parent gathers will assert that the child has been permanently and irreversibly damaged. Such a prediction ensures that the child’s self-concept will be damaged and ignores both important conflicting research as well as information that can be gained directly hem the child.

Another area in which the development of a child can be harmed by the process of parent alienation syndrome is that of reality testing. That the child mirrors the distorted perceptions of the parent has been stated. There is a more disturbing aspect of this problem. Children need to develop the function of reality testing, not just about their parents, but also about the world in general. It is essential that they learn not to exclude important information just because it makes them uncomfortable or conflicted. It is also important that they learn to correct misunderstandings and change conclusions with new information.

Alienated children tend to become fixed and rigid in their opinions and ideas. They will obviously and actively reject any information that does not confirm their ideas. Too often, their ideas are strongly influenced by feelings, which they often cannot distinguish from facts without help. Having little sense of time (as most people do not during a crisis), they believe that the feelings of today will last forever. If those feelings are exploited or are treated as though they will never change, the child cannot resolve them.

Although alienated children are often taken to mental health professionals, they do not generally get the help they need. In order to be helpful, psychotherapy has to be based on accurate diagnosis. Alienating parents have a diagnosis already in mind when they engage a child therapist. The idea that the child’s symptoms can be attributed to any cause other than the one designated by the alienating parent meets with fierce resistance.

Therapists may be chosen because of a specialty in evaluating or treating the problem the parent has already “diagnosed.” Such therapists may deliberately limit the evaluation to comply with the contract, because of particular interests or because of lack of expertise in evaluating and treating other conditions. Therapists who have the ability and interest in providing general evaluations that consider a variety of alternative diagnoses and treatment plans can be helpful. However, conclusions and interventions that do not agree with the opinion of the alienating parent are often sabotaged, and the therapists who have them are discharged.

If material given by the child in therapy becomes part of the litigation between the parents, the child may feel that it is unsafe to expose thoughts and feelings in any setting. If the child forms a relationship of trust with the therapist and loses or feels betrayed in that relationship, that child’s ability ever to use therapy may be impaired.

Finally, alienated children face the problem of parent loss. If the alienating parent will not change, the child will lose one parent or the other. That loss will have consequences, especially if there is no help with sadness and grieving. Younger children will be vulnerable to the unmitigated pathology of whichever parent is chosen for them. Older children will choose, for better or worse. Some children will emancipate prematurely from both parents. All of them will incur the usual results of parental deprivation.

Final Comments

Although parent alienation cases are very difficult and painful, they also are a fruitful source of knowledge. These cases test therapists’ knowledge, theories, and professional discipline. They are often discouraging and frustrating. Still, an optimistic view can emerge from the struggles.

There is psychological significance to the fact that human beings reproduce sexually, not by cloning. Physically and psychologically, children combine the contributions of two separate, different individuals to form themselves. The child becomes a third individual, unique from either parent. One of the most adaptive aspects of human biology and human social development is that if one adult is not available or helpful, another can take over the parental functions. In an intact family, children quietly and unobtrusively take what they need from those who are available. Their preferences and identifications shift and change over time; different people are favored at different times, preferred according to developmental need and current common interests.

In the social systems humans have evolved, parenting is augmented by a whole variety of resources, including schools, therapists, extended family, and the family court. Children thus have a variety of relationships with many people who are different from them as well as with people who are very much the same. These relationships are important resources. They give perspective.

If children are allowed free access to these different people, they do not need a perfect parent. It is not individual parental mistakes that harm the development of children. It is the exclusion of these different people that places them in danger of becoming psychological clones, doomed to repeat parental mistakes rather than learning from them. Two parents who can recognize their imperfections and who know that they are mutually dependent can augment each other’s efforts, and protect the children from the undue influence of the human flaws and limitations of each other simply by providing a different perspective and experience.

Most children are born with the capacities to think for themselves, to process both negative and positive experience, and thereby restructure things so that each generation can improve over the last. These capacities can be developed. Given opportunities to perceive both healthy and problematic aspects of different people and to respond to those perceptions within the context of an empathic relationship, most children will develop a self that is not only different, but has a good chance of being more functionally effective than either parent has been. Of course, the children will not be perfect, either. They do not need to carry the burden of trying to be. No human being is perfect.

The child who is solely or primarily dependent on one parent is in jeopardy. The child who has access to multiple relationships with people who can help in different ways and learns to process a variety of experiences is our hope for the future.

NOTES

1. The Family and Children’s Evaluation Team was comprised of the author of this article, Leona M. Kopetski, MSSW, and Claire Purcell, Ph.D.

2. Benjamin, Interpersonal Diagnosis and Treatment of Personality Disorders (N.Y.: Guilford Press, 1993) at 140-62 and 313-41; American Psychiatric Assoc., Diagnostic and Statistical Manual III-R (Wash. D.C.) at 348-351; Lyons, Personality Disorders: Diagnosis and Management (2d Ed. 1981) at 65-73 and 163-81.

3. Gabbard “Splitting in Hospital Treatment,” 146 Amer. J. Psych. 444 (1980).

4. Bowlby, Separation (N.Y.: Basic Books, 1973) at 212-13.

5. Id. at 315.

This newsletter is prepared by the CBA Family Law Section. This month’s article was written by Leona M. Kopetski, MSSW who worked as a clinical social worker specializing in the field of custody evaluation, in addition to maintaining a private practice in psychotherapy. She is now retired and living in Seeley Lake Montana, (406) 677-3278.

Identifying Cases of Parent Alienation Syndrome–Part II by Leona M. Kopetski.

“Parental Alienation” – Joel R. Brandes

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parents rights on August 18, 2010 at 6:00 pm

NEW YORK LAW JOURNAL, March 26, 2000

“PARENTAL ALIENATION”

by Joel R. Brandes

Parental Alienation was recently described as a situation where one parent intentionally attempts to alienate his or her child from the other parent, by poisoning his mind, and usually succeeds.(1) Parental Alienation Syndrome (“PAS”) is a disorder that usually arises in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s unjustified campaign of denigration against a parent. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the parent.

Where the child’s animosity may be justified, such as in a case where there is true parental abuse or neglect, the Parental Alienation Syndrome explanation for the child’s hostility is not applicable. The term is applicable only when the target parent has not exhibited anything close to the degree of alienating behavior that might warrant the campaign of vilification exhibited by the child. In typical cases, the victimized parent would be considered by most examiners to have provided normal, loving parenting or, at worst, exhibited minimal impairments in parental capacity. The hallmark of PAS is the exaggeration of minor weaknesses and deficiencies.(2) The parent who programs the child brings about the destruction of the bond between the other parent and the child which, unfortunately, is likely to be lifelong in duration.(3)

We believe that inducing parental alienation in a child is a form of child abuse, which should be punishable as abuse under the Family Court Act. Moreover, a parent who alienates a child against the other parent should be denied visitation with all of his or her children until the child is no longer alienated against the target parent.

Parental alienation has been recognized in New York custody cases since the 1980s, when it was held that a custodial parent’s interference with the relationship between a child and a noncustodial parent is “an act so inconsistent with the best interests of the child as to per se raise a strong probability that the offending party is unfit to act as a custodial parent.”(4)

In Matter of Karen B. v. Clyde M.,(5) the parties originally had a joint and split custodial arrangement and a comprehensive visitation arrangement. In September 1990, the mother filed a petition to modify, requesting that she “retain all custody and visitation to be supervised, if at all.” She alleged a change of circumstances, in that “Mandi had disclosed sexual advances and behavior problems because of concerns. Also it is not good for her physical, emotional and social well being to go back and forth between parents. Social Services is currently investigating.” As a result of her allegations, the court entered a temporary order requiring the father’s visitations with Mandi to be supervised.

According to the mother, in September 1990 Mandi disclosed to her certain sexual abuse perpetrated on Mandi by her father. He allegedly put his finger in her “peer.” When she said that it hurt, he told her that he could do what he wanted. She also claimed that her Daddy’s “dinkie” got bigger and “stuff came out.” The mother reported this to a friend of hers, employed by Community Maternity Services, who went to her home and investigated. The child and mother were interviewed by a child sexual abuse therapist specializing in victims of ages 2-1/2 to 18 years. The mother repeated all of the allegations to the therapist, and additionally stated that on Sept. 9, Mandi had told her that the respondent has put his “peer” on her “peer” and that he had put his hand under the covers of the bed and touched her buns stating, “You know, like you take your temperature.” The expert observed no outward signs of emotion when the mother spoke to her and found that the mother seemed to be repeating the story by rote, and that she couldn’t respond to questions without starting from the beginning and completing the entire story. The expert concluded that there was no information that would indicate that Mandi had been sexually abused by her father.

The court held that a parent who denigrates the other by casting the false aspersion of child sex abuse, and involving the child as an instrument to achieve his or her selfish purpose, is not fit to continue in the role of a parent. It found that it would be in Mandi’s best interests that her custody be awarded to her father. It stated “As the court has no assurance that the mother will not continue to ‘brainwash’ or ‘program’ Mandi, petitioner shall have no visitation nor contact with her daughter.”

The Third Department affirmed.(6) It noted that the Family Court found that petitioner had programmed Mandi to make the sexual abuse allegations in order to obtain sole custody and deny access to respondent. It held that the fact that Family Court made reference to a book regarding parental alienation syndrome, which was neither entered into evidence nor referred to by any witness, was not a ground for reversal, especially in light of all the testimony elicited at the hearing.

In RB v. SB,(7) the trial court found that prior to their separation in October 1994, the father (R.B.) and son (A.B.) had an extremely close relationship. They spent time together playing basketball and working on A.B.’s homework. R.B. walked A.B. to school in the mornings and regularly attended school functions. In August 1994, R.B.’s relationship with A.B. deteriorated substantially. The record was replete with numerous examples of the mother’s (S.B.) campaign to poison A.B.’s relationship with his father. R.B. repeatedly asked S.B. to refrain from speaking to A.B. about these issues until after A.B.’s bar mitzvah the following Sunday. In response, S.B. reiterated her threats involving A.B. The court concluded that A.B.’s four-year estrangement from R.B. was the result of S.B.’s vindictive and relentless decision to alienate A.B. from his father. The court found that beginning in August 1994, S.B. engaged in a campaign to poison the relationship between A.B. and R.B. and effectively alienated A.B. from R.B. for approximately four years. During the four years when A.B. would neither see nor speak to his father, S.B. repeatedly referred to R.B. in front of A.B. as “evil,” a “thief,” an “embezzler” and a “liar.” She told R.B. he would never see his son without her supervision, and attempted to condition visitation upon increased support. She told R.B. she wanted A.B. to “hate his f–guts.”

The court held that S.B.’s intentional interference in R.B.’s relationship with his son, to the point where A.B. refused to see or speak to R.B. for nearly four years, was an appropriate factor for the court to consider pursuant to D.R.L. 236(B)(6)(11) in setting maintenance. It found that S.B. permanently damaged R.B.’s relationship with A.B. The court refused to order support to S.B. so that she could maintain her prior standard of living. Instead, it directed that R.B. pay to S.B. only those amounts S.B. reasonably needed to meet her daily living expenses so as not to diminish A.B.’s lifestyle. The award of maintenance and child support was contingent upon S.B. ensuring that the visitation schedule established by the court at the conclusion of the trial was adhered to. The court directed that it would entertain a motion by R.B. to terminate maintenance and decrease or terminate child support upon a showing that S.B. interfered with the visitation established by the court in any manner.

First New York Court

In Matter of JF v. LF, (8) the Family Court became the first New York court to discuss PAS at length in a custody decision. It pointed out that the theory is controversial, and noted that according to one of the expert witnesses who testified, the syndrome is not approved as a term by the American Psychiatric Society, and it is not in DSM-IV as a psychiatric diagnosis.

Parenthetically, we note that the DSM-IV,(9) which was published in 1994, cautions that “DSM-IV reflects a consensus about the classification and diagnosis of mental disorders derived at the time of its initial publication. New knowledge will undoubtedly lead to the identification of new disorders.”

The Family Court acknowledged that New York cases have not discussed PAS as a theory, but have discussed the issue in terms of whether the child has been programmed to disfavor the noncustodial parent, thus warranting a change in custody.

The court observed the children and found them to be both highly intelligent and articulate. Yet, when discussing their father and his family, they presented themselves “at times in a surreal way with a pseudo-maturity which is unnatural and, even, strange.” They seemed like “little adults.” The court found that the children’s opinions about their father were unrealistic and cruel. They spoke about and to him in a way which seemed to be malicious. Both children used identical language in dismissing the happy times they spent with their father as evidenced in a videotape and picture album as “Kodak moments.” They denied anything positive in their relationship with their father to an unnatural extreme. The court concluded that nothing in the father’s behavior warranted that treatment.

Three expert witnesses testified that the children were aligned in an unhealthy manner with the mother and her family. One expert testified that the “…[M]other has clearly won the war over the children’s minds and hearts and the father is generally helpless to offset that. Children, likewise, are deeply attached in a symbiotic fashion with their mother … Father is painted in a highly derogatory and negative fashion, way out of proportion to any possible deficiencies that he may have. This is clearly a borderline mental device within the mother’s psychology which has been clearly duplicated in the children. The overall prognosis for any major change in their attitude would appear to be quite limited at this time, even with expert psychiatric assistance.”

The court-appointed psychologist concluded that the PAS was “clear” and “definite” with both children.

The father’s expert submitted a report to the court in which he stated that the alienation from the father was probably the most severe case of alienation he had ever witnessed as a child psychiatrist.

The court accepted the testimony of the mental health professionals to the extent that they indicated that the mother alienated the children from the father. It found that the children would have no relationship with the father if left in the custody of their mother, and that they would continue to be psychologically damaged if they remained living with her. Their negative view of their father was out of all proportion to reality. The court found that the mother had succeeded in causing parental alienation of the children from their father, such that they not only wished to cease having frequent and regular visitation, but actually desired to have nothing to do with him. It awarded sole custody to him and suspended her right to visitation.

The court did not specifically base its decision on a finding of PAS. Instead, it relied on the case law, which requires the custodial parent to nurture the child’s relationship with the noncustodial parent, and ensures access by the noncustodial parent,(10) pointing out that interfering with the child’s “relationship with the noncustodial parent, has been said to be so inconsistent with the child’s best interest as to per se raise a strong probability of unfitness.”(11)

1. R.B. v. S.B., New York Law Journal, 3-31-99, page 29, col. 5, Sup. Ct., NY Co. (Silberman, J),

2. Gardner, R.A., The Parental Alienation Syndrome, Second Edition (1998)

3. See Gardner, R.A., The Parental Alienation Syndrome (2d Edition) Addendum I (1999)

4. Entwistle v. Entwistle, 61 AD2d 380, 384-5.

5. Karen B. v. Clyde M., 151 Misc2d 794, aff’d, 197 A.D.2d 753 (3d Dept, 1999).

6. Id.

7. See note 1, supra

8. 694 NYS2d 592, 1999 N.Y. Slip Op. 99408

9. American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, 1994 at p. xxiii.

10. Daghir v. Daghir, 82 AD2d 191, aff’d 56 NY2d 938.

11. CITING, INTER ALIA, MALONEY V. MALONEY, 208 AD2D 603, 603-604; YOUNG V. YOUNG, 212 AD2D 114, 115; ENTWISTLE V. ENTWISTLE, SUPRA.


Joel R. Brandes has law offices in Garden City and New York City. He co-authored the nine-volume Law and the Family New York and Law and the Family New York Forms.

3/28/2000 NYLJ 3, (col. 1)

“Parental Alienation” – Joel R. Brandes.

Identifying Cases of Parent Alienation Syndrome–Part I by Leona M. Kopetski

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parents rights on August 17, 2010 at 1:30 am

THE COLORADO LAWYER, FEBRUARY 1998, VOL. 27, NO. 2 p 65-68

IDENTIFYING CASES OF PARENT ALIENATION SYNDROME–PART I

by Leona M. Kopetski

Editors’ Note: This is the first part of a two-part article dealing with parental alienation of children and aiding the courts and counsel in recognizing parental alienation in cases involving custody and parenting time. Part II, which will appear in. the March 1998 issue, will focus on the psychological dynamics of the family members in a parental alienation case.

In 1987, Richard Gardner identified a serious form of parent-child pathology and named it “Parent Alienation Syndrome.”(1) Simultaneously, but without awareness of his work, The Family and Children’s Evaluation Team (“Team”)(2) evaluated 413 families in custody disputes and in 20 percent of those cases found dynamics that led the Team independently to conclusions that were remarkably similar to Gardner’s conclusions regarding the characteristics of the syndrome. However, the Team’s experience led to somewhat different conclusions regarding frequency, causality, and recommended interventions. Others have now investigated the problem, documenting its frequency and importance.(3)

Parental alienation cases pose a particularly difficult challenge to lawyers and mental health professionals attempting to help families negotiate divorce. The syndrome is seriously harmful to both children and parents. The following ideas are intended to help by providing clarifying criteria for identification.

Definition

Parent Alienation Syndrome is a form of psycho-social pathology. It is most frequently identified in the process of divorce, although it is not a condition limited to divorcing families. It is not caused by the divorce. However, it is exacerbated by legal procedures that coincide with and strengthen the pathological defenses alienating parents use to avoid experiencing the psychological pains of internal conflict, ambivalence, narcissistic injury, or the deflated self-esteem that is part of a normal grieving response to interpersonal loss. Thus, like many forms of psychological pathology, Parent Alienation Syndrome occurs when there is an unfortunate “fit” between the internal psychological dynamics of an individual and a cultural opportunity for living out pathology in an interpersonal setting.

Alienating parents enforce their agenda by aligning with intrinsically sound theories or causes, then accusing the parent to be alienated of behavior that violates the tenets of those theories or causes. Social causes and movements contain particularly powerful resources that can be exploited. Emotional and ideational content from any social causes, however well-intended or intrinsically sound, can be appropriated and used for the pathological purpose of alienating a child from the other parent.

The potential usefulness of a cause is not determined by its content, but by the amount of emotion and action that can be generated when there is an accusation that the tenets or taboos of the cause have been violated. The emotional climate attendant to the cause helps blur boundaries so that questions that need to be raised in a particular case are treated as though the validity of the cause itself is being questioned. However, in parent alienation cases, exclusion of the other parent from the life of the child is not desired for the altruistic reasons that generated the social cause with which the alienating parent hopes to be identified, but for personal reasons that are rooted in complicated emotional and psychological dynamics.

The alienating parent may or may not be consciously aware of manipulating the child and the legal/social systems. Alienating parents often believe that the accusations they make are true, but have developed those beliefs by a faulty reasoning process. The following case illustrates the process of parent alienation.

In the 1970s, child abuse and neglect were the subjects of national attention. The reporting law had just been passed, and systems were being forced to change to respond more effectively to neglected and physically abused children. In one case, a father accused a mother of life-threatening neglect of their four-year-old daughter. The family had experienced the accidental death of an older child, and the father could not overcome his grief. Like many parents who lose children, he believed that finding a reasonable explanation and placing blame would give him “closure” and relief.

The father blamed the mother and focused intense anger on her. Although data from the evaluation of the mother did not support his conclusion, her parenting was not flawless. Needless to say, the loss of her child and the blame and criticism directed at her caused her to be depressed. Depressed people often are not able to be as attuned to their children as would be optimal.

In spite of the Team’s recommendation, the child was placed in the custody of her father. Therapy was ordered and obtained. However, ten years and much litigation later, this child refused any contact with her mother. The mother resigned herself to the loss and made a good adjustment in spite of it.

Sound psychological theories can be exploited and used in pathological ways, just as legitimate social causes can. For example, a child’s normal needs may be exacerbated or exaggerated, then presented as a justification for excluding or severely limiting time with the unwanted parent. Attachment theories and theories about separation anxiety are most often used in this way. Again, there is no acknowledgment of the fact that it is the alienating parent not the child, who wants and would benefit from the exclusion of the other parent.

Differentiating causes from cases requires that there be criteria for making the diagnosis of any condition in a particular case. These criteria can then be used to rule in, and, just as important, to rule out the existence of a syndrome in a family.(4) The following characteristics are common to all of the cases of parent alienation the Team has seen and seem to be useful as diagnostic criteria.

Observable Family Dynamics

It is well known that children need emotional support, comfort, and warmth provided in the context of secure, safe, predicable attachments and relationships with at least one and preferably two parents in order to develop and mature psychologically. However, emotional dependency is not the whole story for children. In all families, the limited experience and perceptual abilities of children make them dependent, not only emotionally but also cognitively, on one or more significant adults.

The child’s cognitive understanding and view of the world and the people in it are shaped by a conglomeration of immediate perceptions combined with perceptions shared with that child by caretaking adults. Who has contributed which perceptions is not always clear, either to the child or to the caretaking adults. Because children, for very good reasons, trust the perceptions of parents more than their own perceptions, they participate in any perceptual distortion or delusion shared with them by a parent unless there are mitigating factors.(5) The most important mitigating factor against sharing a distorted perception is a relationship with another separate, different parent who offers different data and perspectives. The child of an alienating parent is deprived of that relationship and, therefore, its potentially corrective influence.


“Parental alienation cases pose a particularly difficult challenge to lawyers and mental health professionals attempting to help families negotiate divorce.”



The child’s emotional and cognitive dependencies can be exploited by adults. Alienating parents (who should know better) and their children (who cannot be expected to know better) sometimes share a common delusion that one and only one other human being, namely the alienating parent, can provide the child with the relationship necessary for psychological survival. The alienating parent believes and communicates to the child that only that parent or delegates of that parent can be considered safe. This, of course, gives the alienating parent a great deal of power-much more power than is the case if the child knows more than one safe, dependable, trustworthy adult. A child who does not know that there is a nurturing someone else “out there” separate from a symbiotic unit can only be terrified of leaving the only safe world that, in that child’s experience, does exist.

For children, feeling safe and being safe are synonymous; it takes significant growth, the development of a dependable capacity for testing reality as well as the freedom to use that capacity, and considerable experience to distinguish between internal mental content and external reality. Most adults have achieved the ability to make such distinctions, although some adults lose that ability under severe stress and some adults have never developed it because of mental illness or because of deficits in education, personality development, or life experience.

Very young children need adults who can make the distinctions between feelings and facts for them; school age and older children need adults to help them make the distinctions if they can, and to take over that function when the child is unable to make the judgments. Many adults do not recognize how important it is to help children find healthy ways of managing, putting in perspective, and sometimes overcoming feelings, especially such painful ones as anger, fear, or disappointment. The child’s participation in alienation is thus relatively easy to achieve by blurring the distinctions between feelings and facts, then exaggerating and exploiting the emotion.

The following parent-child interactions are observable when children have been engaged in the process of alienating a parent:

1. The alienating parent shares with the child a distorted, essentially negative perception of the parent to be alienated, as well as a lack of interest in or active avoidance of changing that perception. The child begins by being confused, but progresses toward identification with the alienating parent, finally reflecting the distorted perception as his or her own version of “the truth.”

2. A child old enough to assert an opinion refuses to visit the parent to be alienated. A younger child either experiences or is described by the alienating parent as experiencing unusual distress or anger on separation from the alienating parent or on return from contact with the other parent, though often not during the visit itself.

3. The alienating parent attempts to attenuate, control, or exclude contact with the other parent through behavior such as the removal of the child from physical proximity to the parent to be alienated and/or engaging in repeated litigation aimed at enforcing exclusion, indefinite supervision, or attenuation of the relationship. This attempt is accompanied by intense, unconflicted parental affect, usually anger, anger mislabeled as fear, or fear itself and by “protective” behavior toward the child. Similar feelings are attributed to or are provoked in the child by the alienating parent so that the child mirrors parental ideas, attitudes, and emotions. Older children often show these intense feelings in interviews; preschool children say them and seem to believe them cognitively, but often do not show them when seen in a clinical interview. The feelings now attributed to the child are used to justify an exclusion that is in reality the alienating parent’s desire, not the child’s need. Alienation is the only proposed solution to the perceived problems; other possible solutions are either rejected or attempted but sabotaged before they can become or when they do begin to become effective.

4. Entitlement to alienation is often justified by accusing the parent to be alienated of immoral or irresponsible conduct and asserting that the child needs to be protected. It also may be justified by appeals to child development theories that may predict absolute irreversible and devastating consequences from “traumas” such as separations from a “primary parent” (that is, the alienating parent). It sometimes is justified by appeals to “children’s rights,” such as a right to be believed literally and without question or the right to refuse a relationship with an unwanted parent.

5. The alienating parent also asserts entitlement to the desired outcome by arguing, often eloquently and convincingly, a need for “justice.” From the narrow perspective of the alienating parent, justice and revenge are synonymous; only those who have suffered “injustice” are considered to have the right to expect “justice,” especially in the form of protection of the civil right to be heard with the possibility of being believed. It is significant that contact with the child is often discussed as a reward (for the “good” or self-sacrificing alienating parent) or punishment (for the “bad” parent to be alienated).

6. The child’s need for a relationship with two parents is not recognized; the question is which one of the parents will remain in the child’s life.(6)

Understanding Accusations

Accusations are not the same as allegations. Allegations are here defined as serious concerns raised in the form of a question that can be answered negatively or positively by gathering data. Accusations are here defined as preformed convictions or conclusions considered to be beyond question.

The stated fear of the alienating parent in a custody or visitation evaluation is that the examiner will not see the pathology in the other parent. Information that raises questions or conflicts with the conclusion made by the alienating parent is excluded, explained away, or considered invalid. Anyone, professional or otherwise, who questions or disagrees with an accusation may be accused of being naive and charmed or brainwashed by the accused, or of being incompetent or biased. Such dissenters are accused of collaborating with injustice and thereby causing harm to children. Self-defense by the accused is called lying or denial. In the minds of some accusers, denial actually proves guilt.

The normal parent making an allegation is different from an alienating parent making an accusation. Normal parents are not perfectionistic. The capacity to tolerate flaws and imperfections in himself or herself allows the normal parent to take in information that disproves the allegation as well as information that confirms it. Normal parents thus not only allow themselves to be wrong on occasion, but have clear ambivalence about being right in this situation. They do not wish to believe that their children have been hurt, so they want to be mistaken in their suspicions or perceptions, even when they have good data, and they are relieved when good data indicate that the child was not hurt.

The alienating parent is not relieved by a finding that the child has not been harmed, but is both angry and disappointed. Such a parent actively seeks more information or more professional opinions in order to prove that the preformed conviction is true.

Normal parents tolerate flaws in others as well as in themselves. They understand the importance of the child’s relationships with people other than themselves and do not want the child to lose a relationship with the other parent. Accordingly, they will consider alternatives for helping the other parent overcome problems and improve functioning or even will simply allow the child to take advantage of limited parental ability and interest. In addition, normal parents have a minimal residual trust in and fondness for an individual once loved, in addition to the disappointment and anger that attend the failure of the relationship and which may be very intense at times. This minimal trust and fondness allow some cooperation on behalf of the child.

There are, of course, situations in which there is clear evidence that a child or a spouse has been neglected or abused, or clearly observable evidence in which a parent/spouse is emotionally abusive or guilty of serious negled. In alienation cases, however, the evidence is very frequently ambiguous and difficult to sort out. Physical evidence is often sparse or lacking. In younger children, the directly observed relationship between the child and the parent to be alienated is often emotionally positive (loving but sometimes conflicted and lacking in fear or emotional constriction, for example), in contrast to verbalized content.

Older children are sometimes very angry with the parent to be alienated and participate actively, but for different reasons than those that would justify alienation. Although they may say the words that produce the desired effect of engaging the system, their actions and emotions may suggest different motivations. The desire to alienate may be an attempt at retribution for a perceived desertion (“I’ll do to you what you are doing to me!”), and thus an expression of a wish to stop the divorce and reconstitute the family.It may be an attempt to accommodate the needs and wishes of the alienating parent.

The Team has seen children ages twelve and fourteen become infuriated when direct evidence conflicted with a conviction, openly shared with the mother, that the father was uncaring and irresponsible. The children accused the father of “pretending” and thereby deluding the examiners, adding, “You will believe him because he is the adult.”

In one such case, the child was convinced, erroneously, that the father was not paying his child support. This particular case was finally resolved when an accusation of sexual abuse was made. Although the evidence for that accusation was very questionable, the relationship between the father and child was, by then, irretrievably broken, and she stopped all contact with him.

Ambiguity often serves to prolong the litigation and thereby furthers the process of alienation. Relationships between a child and an accused parent are usually attenuated or disrupted during investigations. In ambiguous cases, the investigations can last months or even years in hopes of achieving a level of certainty that can never be achieved. Such prolonged investigations can in themselves be harmful to the family relationships.

Conclusion

Parent Alienation Syndrome complicates the evaluations and legal process in divorce cases by exploiting the normal concerns and anxieties of professionals trying to help families through litigation. Accusations abound and must be carefully evaluated because often they are untrue, only partially true, or remediable by means other than excluding a parent from the child’s Life. The interactions described in this article indicate serious and specific psychological conditions that will be described in a later article.

Although it is uncommon in the Team’s experience, it is conceivable that abuse or neglect and parent alienation could occur in the same case. Both therapists and lawyers are familiar with situations in which the pathology of each parent is used to attempt to obscure the pathology of the other, with the result that neither parent can ever improve functioning enough to parent adequately. Pathologies do not cancel each other out. Obviously, it is important in such circumstances to respond to and provide interventions such as therapy for both conditions. Remediation should almost never consist of excluding a relationship with the problematic parent. Such exclusion increases intractable conflict and litigation and deprives children of adequate parenting from any source.

NOTES

1. Gardner, The Parental Alienation Syndrome and the Differentiation Between Fabricated and Genuine Child Sexual Abuse (Cresskill, N.J.: Creative Therapeutics, 1987).

2. The Family and Children’s Evaluation Team, comprised of Claire Purcell, Ph.D., and Leona M. Kopetski, MSSW, pioneered the team approach to child custody evaluations in Colorado. From 1975 to 1995, the Team evaluated both parents and all of the children in approximately 600 cases. Kopetski, the author of this article, originated the concept that both parents must be evaluated by the same examiner in a custody evaluation and was a founder of the Interdisciplinary Committee on Child Custody.

3. Clawar and Rivlin, Children Held Hostage (Section of Family Law, American Bar Association, 1991).

4. Popper, “Science: Conjectures and Refutations,” in Introductory Readings in the Philosophy of Science (Klemke, Hollinger, and Kline, eds.) (Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, rev. ed. 1988) at 19-26.

5. Bowlby, “Omission, Suppression, and Falsification of Family Context,” in Separation (N.Y.: Basic Books, 1973) at 313-21; Loftus, “When a Lie Becomes Memory’s Truth: Memory Distortion After Exposure to Misinformation,” in 1 Current Directions in Psychological Science 121-23 (Aug. 1992).

6. Bowlby, “Focusing on a Figure,” in Attachment (N.Y.: Basic Books, 1969) at 299-330. Bowlby was the first theorist to study and offer comprehensive information about attachment. Although many theorists have elaborated since, Bowlby is one of the very few who indicated that there are variations in attachment figures, that attachments change over time, and that it is normal to have multiple attachments beyond the first year and abnormal to need to cling to one attachment beyond that time. See also “Patterns of Attachment and Contributing Conditions,” id. at 330-49.

This newsletter is prepared by the CBA Family Law Section. This month’s article was written by Leona M. Kopetski, MSSW, who worked as a clinical social worker specializing in the field of custody evaluation in addition to maintaining a private practice in psychotherapy. She is now retired and living in Seeley Lake, Montana, (406) 677-3278.

Identifying Cases of Parent Alienation Syndrome–Part I by Leona M. Kopetski.

Parental Alienation Syndrome:A ‘Hidden’ Facet of Custody Disputes by L. Cook

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parents rights on August 15, 2010 at 1:06 am

Parental Alienation Syndrome:
A ‘Hidden’ Facet of Custody Disputes

by Lisa Cook

Name: Lisa Cook
S.I.N.: 94111036
Date: April 5, 1995
Course: Children & the Law
Professor: Judge Williams

…extending through the years of childhood and adolescence in his [or her] relations with both parents, [a child] builds up working models of how attachment figures are likely to behave towards him in any variety of situations; and on those models are based all his expectations, and therefore all his plans, for the rest of his life.

John Bowlby, Separation, Anxiety, and Anger

Introduction

Custody determinations are not simple. In fact, there are often complications which are not readily discernible to judges, lawyers, counsellors, or even the parents and children. Such a “complication” occurs when a divorcing parent or parents attempt to brainwash or program their children during a custody dispute. This issue has not been given frank or frequent treatment in either law or psychiatry. However, it has the potential to be the most destructive aspect in custody disputes.

It is apparent, from the limited studies that have been done, that mothers are usually the source of the brainwashing.1 Does this mean that there is a distinct gender differential at play? Two alternate and opposing explanations are available: women simply obtain custody with a greater prevalence this gives the mother the time and physical nexus necessary for successful brainwashing2; or out of a fear of losing sole custody due to the trends of joint custody and reverse discrimination in Family Law, mothers resort to brainwashing tactics.3

Both explanations, however, stem from a common basis: women are generally perceived as the “losers” in a divorce unless they get custody of the children.

Thus, the main catalyst for brainwashing is a combination of fear and loss – because a parent is alienated from the life they knew, they become alienating.4 Consequently, a father can brainwash his children just as easily as a mother provided he finds himself in a vulnerable position.5 The result is that the alienating parent becomes so self-oriented that he consciously or unconsciously detaches himself from the true dynamics of the situation. Tables 1, 2, 3, 5, & 6, in the appendix indicate that parents who brainwash tend to have the following characteristics: Upper-middle class with 2.5 children living in suburbia working in a professional occupation with a fairly high education level. From this one could conclude that brainwashing requires intelligence and skill. However, it may be that parents in a higher social class perceive their children as being another possession they could lose in the divorce. On a related note, they may be trying to keep up appearances as the “perfect” parent – having custody is an important part of this “role.” But one must not make generalizations.

Lower class, less educated parents do brainwash their children – though less frequently. Whether this is a product of social class or intelligence is uncertain. Perhaps the difference is in the brainwashing techniques – lower class parents may not brainwash with the same kind of formality and structure as the upper class, educated parents. Their techniques may not correspond with Clawar’s techniques. This could skew the data. While there is no final explanation for the data, they indicate that brainwashing is not a rare phenomenon. It has also been found that spouses who have a history of physically, socially-psychologically abusing their partner employ brainwashing simply as a new tool of abuse.7 Spousal abuse does not seem to have any social class boundaries. Thus, it is virtually impossible to determine a “brainwasher” profile. The fact is that any divorcing parent involved in a custody dispute – if sufficiently alienated from their own world – could have the potential to become alienating.

Theories

There are multiple theories accounting for brainwashing during custody. However, whether any, all, or a combination of these theories apply to a particular family will depend, to a large extent, on: (1) the distinct personalities of the child and parent and (2) situational factors.8

Parents may brainwash as a result of the typical animosity associated with any custody dispute – as a reaction to situational conflict. However, more sophisticated theories have been devised to explain the phenomenon. Alignment is one such theory.9 It is akin to the recently coined terms Parental Alienation Syndrome (P.A.S.) and the S.A.I.D. (He said, She said, Who said?) syndrome – both of which are similarly defined and had their origins in the United States.10 P.A.S. (or S.A.I.D.) is defined as

…a series of conscious programming techniques such as brainwashing as well as subconscious and unconscious processes by the alienating parent combined with the child’s own contribution denigrating the allegedly hated parent [often referred to as the lost, target, or alienated parent].11

P.A.S. manifests itself in several ways.12 The child usually gives frivolous or absurd rationalizations for deprecating the target parent. There is a loss of the ambivalence found in normal human relationships – the target parent is objectified by the alienating parent as an evil entity. In Humphries v. Humphries (1986), 59 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 1 at 3, the child had to call her natural father “the man” and her stepfather “Mr. Daddy.” Children will do what their parents tell them out of fear, to gain respite from their parent’s relentless interrogations or as the primary way to please their parents. Consequently,

P.A.S. children ‘express themselves like perfect little photocopies of the alienating parent and can see no good in the lost parent and no bad in the loved parent. The process resembles amnesia, wherein the child’s good memories appear to be completely destroyed.13

As a counterpart to this, brainwashed children feel little guilt for their actions.14 There are, however, two more serious manifestations-of P.A.S.: refusal of visitation and sexual abuse allegations.

Refusal of visitation is often so multi-determined that it is difficult to link the refusal directly with P.A.S. Johnston indicates that estimating the

…extent to which disengagement results from voluntary withdrawal of the parent or from being pushed out or excluded by the child [is onerous], because the dropping out is likely to be a subtle process of reaction and counteraction to the mutual disappointment inherent in a failed relationship.15

This emphasizes that P.A.S. is primarily a product of the pain associated with divorce. Parents and children become caught in a cycle. For instance, as the frequency of refusals to visit increase, parental disputes heighten, parents become more skeptical of the value of visitation, and the rejected parent engages in counter-rejection.16 It is this spiral effect which complicates the diagnosis of P.A.S. False sex abuse allegations against the target parent entail similar complexities.

Though the allegations may be false, they are usually “based upon a core of reality.”17 Normal physical affection or bathing a child can be construed by the alienating parent as having sexual overtones. Nonetheless, unlike refusal of visitation, there appear to be criteria which can be applied in the case of sexual allegations.18 Gardner has a seventy point criteria test [22 criteria for the accused, 21 for the child, and 27 for the accuser].19 As the number of positive indicators increase, the greater the likelihood that the allegation is valid.20 For instance,

The alleged perpetrator’s having a large collection of child pornographic materials is a very strong indicator of a true accusation. But a child may say ‘My daddy took a big knife and put it into my wee-wee hole and my poo-poo hole. There was a lot of bleeding. My mommy was there and she got very angry at my daddy and she gave him time out.’ Such a statement argues strongly for a false accusation.21

This sounds like common sense. In fact, most, of the criteria seem to be based on fairly obvious observations and differences between true and false incest victims can be found in their disclosures. Fakers tend to reveal details of the incest almost spontaneously and there are no significant changes in mood or affect. In addition, fakers often use adult terminology and make few retractions or restatements. Most telling, however, is that a true victim

…will rarely describe the sexual activity in the [abuser’s] presence, out of fear and guilt, while the faker will do this if the [alienator] is also present…[the alienator] often control[s] the child by monitoring his or her responses through eye contact and subtle facial expressions.22

Though criteria can be applied, this does not remove all complexity. P. (G.L.) v. P. (J.M.) (1990), 27 R.F.L. (3d) 64 recognized that

The person making the complaint, usually the mother, is damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t. If the complaint is made for the first time in the course of a custody case, there is a tendency to disbelieve the allegation. If the allegation cannot be proven, the mother is viewed as vicious and destructive. Some judges have suggested that an unwarranted allegation of sexual abuse may be grounds to deny custody. [However, this reasoning is not based on the allegations being viewed as a manifestation of P.A.S.]. On the other hand, if a mother suspects abuse, but does not report or raise the issue, she runs the risk of being branded a poor parent and being subject to C.A.S. supervision.23

An even more problematic issue is that divorcing parents might be using the fact that reporting child abuse is in vogue as an apparently easy means of attacking their ex-spouses. The irony is that though the sex abuse allegations may be false, the children are being abused by becoming the pawn in their parent’s “games.”24 What is even more frightening is that

The number of virtual allegations of abuse may be expected to increase in the future because of their more subtle nature, the greater difficulty in disproving them, and because judges and lawyers familiar with P.A.S. are becoming increasingly skilled at detecting [its more obvious manifestations such as those illustrated in Table 8A of the appendix].25

Parents also resort to various brainwashing techniques in attempts to “win” their child over so that they can win them at the custody hearing. Clawar lists several techniques which he refers to as syndromes – suggesting that these tactics have a strong psychological component. Parents often use a combination of these techniques.26 An analysis of Table 8C in the appendix suggests that these techniques are not so effective that the children being brainwashed cannot detect them. Why, then, does the brainwashing continue? The children are afraid to confront their parents – without their parents they might not have a home to live in, food to eat, or clothes to wear. The “Who Me”, Middleman, and Circumstantial syndromes were most easily detected by children – perhaps because the child is more of a direct participant in these techniques. However, for the most part, the “no” awareness percentages were relatively high – some children may be able to detect the brainwashing but this may depend on age, maturity, and past life experiences.

Clawar also indicates some of the motivational factors connected with brainwashing: revenge, jealousy and self-righteousness; fear of losing the child, one’s identity and a sense of history; attempts to maintain the marital relationship through conflict; a desire for emotional and proprietary control and dominance.27 Underlying each of these motivations is an emotional need. This is further supported by the fact that the brainwashing becomes more intense when “situational factors intervene such as changes in location, holidays, court work, or prosperity of the target parent.”28 Also, the hostility of the alienating parent never seems to be proportional to the seriousness of the alienated parent’s actions.29 Related to this idea of “emotional need” is the proposition that brainwashing could be the result of a mental disorder.

The alienating parent may have a mental disorder which is caused by the emotional turmoil of divorce or the disorder could be inherent – distinguishing between the two is difficult. However, data from the Custody Project at the University of Toronto shows that in 72 percent of the families, at least one parent was psychiatrically disturbed.30 It has also been found that the presence of a mental disorder is connected to the propagation of a false sex abuse accusation.31 Nonetheless, there are no straightforward answers despite apparent linkages. This is evidenced in Lapierre v. Lapierre (1991), 34 R.F.L. 129 at 145:

I do not know if this action on her part was the act of a person filled with hatred, or if it was an act of gross bad judgment, or if this evidence was the evidence of-a mentally ill person…

There is also the added confusion of whether pre-divorce influences on children can be separated from the impact of brainwashing:

There are now a number of studies which show that long before parents separate, there are differences in the behaviour of their children as compared with those in other marriages where a divorce does not take place.32

These studies are prospective – before it is known there will be a divorce – so they are not biased by hindsight. Children with a deceased parent do not seem to be as adversely affected as those with separated or divorced parents. But there is variation among individual children.33 Thus, no definitive conclusions can be drawn although the effects on children – of either the brainwashing or the divorce or separation itself – are definite. P.A.S. children exhibit the same kinds of symptoms as abused children – depression, acting-out behaviours, fear of social situations. Basically, they are maladjusted.

There seems to be an overlap between several of these theories. For instance, minus a pre-existing mental disorder, can all of the “theories” be partially explained as being a reaction to the legal process?

There is ample reason to believe that much of the anger and disarray that accompany divorces are not so much a product of grief over the failed relationship as they are the result of what spouses perceive the other doing as part of the legal process.34

Since the legal process is both adversarial and often procedurally convoluted, there are several detrimental reactions which parties to a divorce may experience. The justice system is often wrongly idealized:

Children often invest hope in the judicial process; they fantasize that the judge can put a stop to the brainwashing.35

Clients [parents] become ever more dependent on the judgments made by their lawyers and less able to take initiative on their own.36

This relates to the decision-oriented nature of the legal process – even in custody disputes there is an implicit attempt to distinguish guilt from innocence.37 As a result, the positions of the parties harden to the point where the truth becomes no more than a paradigm for courtroom success. But what about the fact that between 97 to 99 percent of all divorces are settled prior to trial.38 Does this not obviate some of the negativity associated with the adversarial process?

Part of the routine is the use of the impending trial to generate anxiety in the clients that causes them to make the concessions necessary to compromise and settle the case.39

This suggests that even if a case is settled, it is generally a forced settlement – out of fear that a trial would be “unsuccessful.” But what is success? According to Margulies, a successful divorce is one in which “all farnily members are thriving five years after the divorce.”40 However, this definition is not obvious to most lawyers or clients – they want immediate success. Due to this mind-set, it is not surprising that parents resort to brainwashing – it becomes just another “legal” tactic.

Legal Implications

Gardner believes that the more recent judicial preference for joint custody has contributed to P.A.S.’s prevalence: the alienating parent fears either that shared parenting will be too difficult or that joint custody will keep past conflicts alive. The latter point is paradoxical since brainwashing – as a solution to parental fear – does not prevent conflicts, it merely produces new ones. Nevertheless, the answer is not to return to a sole custody system – children need both parents – but for the court to recognize P.A.S. Other than in Quebec, the Canadian legal system has not explicitly recognized an identifiable syndrome such as P.A.S. An article in the Montreal Gazette (November 30, 1992) entitled “Dirty Tricks penalized in Custody Battles: Courts frown on parents who turn kids against spouses” indicates how the legal system in Quebec is aware of the severe implications of P.A.S. for children. In R..M. v. B. R.. [Unreported, 1994] Quebec C.A., the court made three important pronouncements regarding P.A.S.: (1) P.A.S. is neither purely objective and scientific nor purely legal; (2) the court must examine the parent’s conduct in the context of the child’s interest; and (3) expert evidence on P.A.S. should be given extensive weight. It is also significant that most of the Quebec P.A.S. cases went to the Court of Appeal.41 This emphasizes the initial “doubt” surrounding the validity of P.A.S. Nonetheless, the penalty imposed upon alienating parents has been severe – loss of custody. It seems as though Quebec children’s-rights advocates have been the main source of getting P.A.S. recognized in As well, in Sherbrooke, Quebec there is a group called PAIN – Parental Alienation Information Network. The ACAB group in St. John’s, Newfoundland seems to be following this model, though on a lesser scale.

Nonetheless, there have been some advances in the Common Law provinces. In Rutherford v. Rutherford (1986), 4 R.F.L. (3d) at 459 the court did show insight into the rationale underlying P.A.S.:

The process [of brainwashing] may be so subtle and so slow that it escapes notice until too late…I hope the parties will take a step back and examine their own actions and motives rather than simply the actions and motives they perceive in the other…

Other courts have taken different attitudes. Some courts have simply labelled a parent’s brainwashing behaviour as peculiar. “This foolish man did so much in such a diabolical fashion that it all becomes almost unbelievable.”42 Other courts seem to be making excuses for a parent’s behaviour: “…neither party is without imperfections.”43 In Humphries v. Humphries (1986), 59 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 1 at 6 there was a sense of flitility:

I cannot by order change Mrs. H.’s attitude nor has time. I cannot by order prevent her from communicating in many indirect ways the negative feeling she has about Mr. Humphries to her daughter. I conclude that I must sacrifice Rhiannon’s long term gain from access to her father to her current emotional health.

Instead, the judge is sacrificing Rhiannon to the mental tortures imposed by Mrs. H.’s brainwashing. Lapierre v. Lapierre (1991), 34 R.F.L. 129 at 156 similarly held: “I am not here to solve the problems of P., however caused. I am here to stand as parens patriae to the children.” Though it is positive that the court emphasized the child’s interests, the child’s interests will not be adequately addressed as long as the court fails to address P.A.S.

At times, the courts appear to be so innovative that the real issue — the brainwashing — is either ignored or treated as a secondary problem which will somehow resolve itself:

…there will be less reason for conflict between their parents [if decisions regarding visitations are left to the children]. A great deal of the trouble in the past has been caused by the rigid timetable…I have more confidence in them to behave reasonably than I have in their parents…44

Similarly, the courts turn away from P.A.S. for it does not seem to fit conveniently into a legal framework:

While there is no denying that courts have a difficult job at best, on balance it would appear that the prevailing tendency has been toward delaying judgment in the hope that the problem will go away, solve itself, or at the very least prove that no judgment is preferable to a wrong judgment.45

But the role of the court in cases of P.A.S. must go beyond simply determining who gets custody and when P.A.S. must be given direct consideration. Judges must not only specifically refer to it in their decisions – P.A.S. should be the basis for a major portion of their ratio:

…the precedent of clear, forceful judgment may deter some parents from beginning the alienation of their children.46

If parents who engage in P.A.S. know that aware judges may give custody to the innocent parent, and perhaps even apply sanctions against parents who use a child to prevent the other parent’s access to the child, the P.A.S., which is itself a form of child abuse, may suffer a fatal and well-deserved setback.47

Currently, however, this is not the trend. In fact, the judge in Humphries v. Humphries (1986), 59 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 1 at 5 would not order access “merely to ensure that intransigent behaviour in other parents is discouraged.” It is not surprising that deterrence is not a priority given that the seriousness of P.A.S. has not been judicially recognized.

In the United States, the courts are taking more steps towards acknowledging P.A.S.48 In Laurel Schutz v. Richard Schutz (1985), Judge Feder used strong, though somewhat metaphorical, language regarding P.A.S.:

The court has no doubt that the cause of the blind, brainwashed, bigoted, belligerence of the children toward the father grew from the soil nurtured, watered and tilled by the mother. The court is thoroughly convinced that the mother breached every duty she owed as the custodial parent to the non-custodial parent of instilling love, respect and feeling in the children for their father. Worse, she slowly dripped poison into the minds of these children, maybe even beyond the power of this court to find the antidote.49

Judge Feder’s emphasis on a parent’s “duty” is significant. From this perspective, P.A.S. is not just misbehaviour – it is the breach of a legal duty. By placing P.A.S. in a legal context, the American courts appear to have generated some sort of respect for P.A.S.

This is only a first step, however – the legal system must interface with the field of psychiatry and related fields so that conflicting assumptions and practices can be reconciled. Otherwise, the ratio of the dissent in Schutz or the Canadian ambivalence will continue to prevail:

Judge Hendry’s opinion [dissent in Schutz] was that the trial court’s order went beyond the mother’s legal duty to encourage legal visitation by requiring her to express opinions she does not hold and thus infringing on her rights of free speech.50

It is paradoxical that the court speaks of a violation of the parent’s rights when the child’s rights are being equally affected. This kind of judgment makes P.A.S. seem like a figment of the imagination. The judge appears to be condoning brainwashing by framing it as a “right of free speech.” Though this is an extreme example of judicial ignorance, it is not far from the more common judicial mistakes regarding P.A.S. In fact, reducing P.A.S. to pure legality – as in the majority in Schutz – is not ideal. The focus must not be on pure legality.

In general, the legal system appears to de-emphasize the distinction between physical access and social-psychological access – permission to love and identify with the other parent. Even when the court does highlight this distinction, it does not place it directly in the context of P.A.S. For instance, in Smith v. Smith (1991), 34 R.F.L. 367 at 369 the court referred to the “psychological safety of the children” and that the parents “manipulated the children to the point where they constantly live on an emotional roller-coaster.” Once again, the court uses metaphors instead of applying P.A.S.

Any argument that the law is normative should not dissuade proponents of P.A.S.:

…’normative’ in law seems to mean very little other than a specific preference, often in turn based on individualistic value judgments.51

Essentially, judicial interpretation of the law seems to be given priority over judicial interpretation of the facts in conjunction with informational authority on P.A.S. from the social sciences. Consequently, the court seems to be hiding from the evidentiary problems associated with P.A.S. cases.

Evidentiary Dilemmas

Evidentiary issues relating to custody disputes become even more intricate when P.A.S. enters the scene. Interviews with children may reveal verbal compliance but it must be t’evaluated against a behavioral context and with a full understanding of the development of the child’s assertions.”52 Brainwashed children tend to mimic what the alienating parent has told them. Even if a parent is not detected as being responsible for the child’s attitudes, parents often engage surrogate programrners as a means to avoid detection – usually members of the extended family, a new spouse or new in-laws.53 In addition, detection itself is not an elementary task. This can be illustrated by specific examples of statements made by brainwashed children accompanied by a detection commentary. It should be noted that there is a great deal of overlap between the various commentaries and that any differences are the product of subtle psychological analysis.54 Table 7 in the appendix indicates that the methods most capable of detection involved either subtle linguistic or factual turns – contradictory statements, inappropriate or unnecessary information, use of indirect statements – or highly emotional, personalized tactics – character assault, restrictions on permission to be loved, good parent/bad parent, comparative martyr role, anxiety arousal. Thus, in this context, knowledge and love are no longer parental virtues – they are distorted into brainwashing mechanisms.

Thus, detection is not a matter that can be left solely to a judge or lawyer. In fact, sometimes lawyers act in a collusive nature – whether knowingly or unknowingly: (1) to unscrupulously extend the litigation and their profits rather than resolve the conflict and P.A.S. or (2) due to their ignorance of P.A.S., they misinterpret the evidence and their client’s motivations. As well, children often act in a collusive nature as a consequence of being brainwashed:

Children suffering with P.A.S. may present the judge with a convincing picture.. these children have a way of ‘snow balling’ even experienced psychologists and psychiatrists.55

Parents who brainwash also tend to do quite well on the witness stand – they have learned how to manipulate others and colour their behaviours in socially acceptable ways. Another related evidentiary complication pertains to the child’s experiences with previous interviewers:

The greater the number of previous interviews, the greater the likelihood the child’s description will become routinized and will resemble the litany typically provided in early interviews by the child…56

[In Thatcher v. Thatcher (1980), 16 R.F.L. (2d) 263 at 273, there was evidence] that Regan, already having been seen by four psychiatrists, had become quite experienced and sophisticated in these interviews.

In addition, suggestibility during the interviewing process must be accounted for. It may be difficult to distinguish this suggestibility from the alienating parent’s suggestions.

Another detection hurdle is that many alienating parents use a potpourri of techniques to brainwash which do not fall within any identifiable theory. Evidence of this comes from the interviews with ACAB members. One alienating parent used repetition of a single phrase “Daddy wouldn’t let this happen to you [the brainwashing], if he loved you.” Another parent would get the stepfather to beat up the child so that the alienated father would get mad and call the police. Once the police arrived, the alienated father was the one who was arrested for disturbing the peace – putting his character into jeopardy for any future assessments. Another alienating parent tried to get the alienated parent to sign a t’contract’t – with no.lawyer involvement – wherein the alienating parent would ask for no child support or maintenance if the alienated parent would never have anything to do with the child. It is clear that these techniques would not be easily recognized unless the family was under surveillance almost twenty-four hours a day.

There are possible methods to overcome these evidentiary twists. If kept on the witness stand for an extra long period of time, the alienating parent may eventually make inconsistent statements which will reveal their true actions and ultimate goals.57 Similarly, special cross-examination or interviewing techniques may be used. For instance, Gardner has provided a series of explicit questions for judges to use when dealing with children.58 Whether such direct questions will produce genuine answers may depend on the degree of brainwashing present. A more effective method may be the use of corroborating evidence:

[If the parent is] aware that the evaluator would have other sources of information regarding the child – from the other parent, from clinical interviews with the children, and from outside agencies, such as schools, pediatricians, and protective services – [this may limit] an inclination to distort.59

However, the effectiveness of this method may depend on the strength of the alienating parent’s conviction. But in Radford v. Cassiano, [Unreported, 1995] Ont.C.J. – Prov. Div., the presence of a psychological assessment resulted in the alienating parent withdrawing her claim to terminate access after the third day of trial.

Specific methods have been illustrated in various cases. In W. (K.M.) v. W. (D.D.), [Unreported, 1993] Ont. C.J. – Prov. Div., the court included questions of an adverse nature and avoided asking leading questions.60 Lawyers must be careful not to use strong language without having any real foundation for it – without making any reference to P.A.S. This happened in R.. v. R..W. [Unreported, 1993] Ont. C.J. – Gen. Div., wherein the judge stated:

The defence is inviting this court to believe that for four days Mrs. W. would have drilled these lies into the child’s mind.

If counsel had explained that P.A.S. involves brainwashing that extends beyond four days, perhaps the judge would not have misconstrued counsel’s attempt at portraying the truth as an attempt to attack the other party’s character or credibility. Lacaille v. Manger, [Unreported, 1994] Ont. C.J. – Prov. Div., stresses that the court must make allowances for the fact that children:

…do not necessarily see the world as adults do…a flaw, such as a contradiction, in a child’s testimony should not be given the same effect as a similar flaw in the testimony of an adult.

This makes detecting P.A.S. even less straightforward – is the flaw an indicator of P.A.S. or merely the “slip’ of a child probably on the witness stand for the first time?

Two other “methods” are based on the personal interests of children and their parents, respectively. Eighty percent of brainwashed children want the process detected and terminated; 70 percent felt relief when it was discovered. Consequently, 90 percent of these children cooperate in investigations either covertly or overtly. Some children even use secret language to inform others: “Once she starts talking about my dad, she can’t seem to stop.”61 Some alienated parents have taken a more direct approach to counter P.A.S. MERGE [Movement for the Establishment of Real Gender Equality] suggests codifying the amount of access to which a father is entitled.62 In this way, P.A.S. would not interfere with a father’s natural right to have contact with his children. Feminist movements have volleyed for a similar right for alienated mothers.

Given the psychological elements of P.A.S., expert evidence is quite essential to its accurate detection. However, such evidence creates extensive controversy. While the court does encourage the admission of all relevant evidence, expert evidence regarding custody dispute issues has not been held to be definitive:

…psychologists should be clear that their job is to assist in gathering information, not to determine the result of the case…clarification of roles is important…experts should not offer social and moral judgments in the guise of scientific solutions.63

In R.. v. R.. W., [Unreported, 1993] Ont. C.J. – Gen. Div., the trial judge simply rejected the defence’s theory that the allegations of sexual abuse were contrived “without relating his findings to the evidence.” To make matters worse, he placed the onus upon the alienated parent to satisfy the court that the other parent brainwashed the child to believe that the alienated parent was guilty of sexual abuse. However, Lapierre v. Lapierre (1991), 34 R.F.L. 129 at 138 basically held that expert evidence has validity provided it does not overstep its function:

[Expert evidence is] to be just that, assistance. It is for the court, and the court alone, to determine the matter. Yet, were it not for those professional glimpses through wispy veils, I would have, without hesitation whatsoever, labelled P. as an out and out liar.

Nevertheless, “blind adherence to diagnostic criteria could be as damaging as ignoring these criteria.”64 For instance, psychological expertise sometimes becomes psycho-legal expertise wherein

. . .the psychologist [is] cast as the hired gun engaged to put forth to the court the negative opinion of the contesting parent under the guise of an expert.65

It is interesting that expert evidence is questioned because it might be a “guise” when, in fact, the evidence is being tendered to disclose the guise of the alienating parent. Nonetheless, there are situations where expert evidence would not advance a correct assessment of P.A.S. In W. (K.M.) v. W. (D.D.), [Unreported, 1993] Ont. C.J. – Prov. Div., the judge severely criticized a psychologist’s assessment and preferred a Children’s Aid Society worker’s opinion.66 The judge described it as a “‘blitzkrieg assessment’ conducted in 6 hours on one day.” Dr. Albin even admitted that

…he was selective in the information contained in his report.. He disavowed the evidence of other investigators and set himself up as the only viable assessor…

An additional consideration is that no expert is perfect – even the best trained experts will not always reach conclusions of absolute certainty.67

The problem is that the majority of judges do not take the less restrictive view found in Lapierre v. Lapierre (1991), 34 R.F.L. 129. Nanji v. Nanji (1987), 8 R.F.L. (3d) 221 held the court is not to “rubber stamp expert opinion.” In itself this is not detrimental but, in practice, judges go further than simply limiting the weight given to expert evidence. They equate their discretion with knowledge of the facts and equate knowledge of the facts with an intimate understanding of the family dynamics. But how can a judge know and understand all of the substantial incidents which have accumulated during critical stages of a child’s life? In Thatcher v. Thatcher (1980), 16 R.F.L. (2d) 263 at 271 the judge perceived social status as being synonymous with good parenting:

…one expects from a member of the legislature a greater respect for the law than has been demonstrated by him throughout this conflict. One would expect a father, particularly one of such eminence, to show by example to his sons that the law is to be obeyed and the truth told.

Despite the fact that this reasoning did prevent Mr. Thatcher from getting access,

P.A.S. should have been applied instead. But P.A.S. is neither a legal term nor does it fall within legal precedent. This should not be a determining factor. In Martiniuk v. Martiniuk (1978), 2 R.F.L. (2d) 39 at 47 Hughes J. explained the process behind his reasoning:

No book of knowledge contains clear-cut answers as to whether I have reached a correct 6r incorrect decision. Like so many decisions that have to be made in matrimonial matters, knowledge of the law, limited as it may be, is of a secondary nature and has played little part in the decision arrived at.

I cling to no precedent nor authoritative text as supporting the result I have arrived at. In deciding this problem, it has been a matter, after weighing and considering all of the evidence, of drawing on such experience, reason, and common sense that I have at my command, admittedly limited in each instance.

I am mindful that in light of the evidence of Dr. Shepel and his supporting brief that perhaps there is some risk involved in deciding as I have. On balance, I have concluded that cannot deter me from ordering as I feel I must do, and, of course, responsibility for the decision must rest with me.

Though Hughes J. takes responsibility for his decision and makes legal knowledge subservient to comrnon sense and experience, he does not mention P.A.S. Further, it is unlikely that his experiences – being “admittedly limited” – would include P.A.S.

As long as this cycle continues, P.A.S. will remain an ominous term which seems to have no reality outside a social science textbook. This cycle has another negative implication for P.A.S. progress:

…losing parties in a custody or visitation question have a natural, vested interest in contesting the findings of a psychologist. Because trial courts are ordinarily given wide latitude in making custody determinations, complaints regarding the professional behaviour of practitioners may be one of the few avenues open for appeal to a litigant who has lost an opening legal round over custody.68

If P.A.S. has its foundations in psychology and psychological testimony is either ignored, devalued, or openly criticized, then it would seem that P.A.S. has little chance of survival – let alone initial recognition.

Solutions

“The key to the solution usually lies within the child.”69 However, as illustrated by the evidentiary dilemmas, the child’s true mental state is often inaccessible. As well, often the brainwashing does not have to continue – eventually, the child internalizes the alienating parent’s thoughts and opinions. In the absence of the brainwashing, P.A.S. may appear to be eradicated when it has actually become a permanent state of mind. Thus, as stated above, the child must be the focus of any solution. Gardner’s radical treatment – to be used in extreme cases of P.A.S. – seems to reflect this reality. The treatment involves:

…forcibly removing the child from the custody of the [alienating] parent and placing him or her with the ‘hated’ other parent…with supervised access reinstated gradually.70

But when P.A.S. is placed in a legal context – either in the courtroom or settlement proceedings – Gardner’s intervention has resulted in

…the major portion of the blame for the problem being placed upon the parent who is believed to fuel the child’s alienation. That is, less attention is being paid to what the child brings to the situation, whereas the hated parent is viewed entirely as the victim.71

Gardner’s rationale is that the degree of alienation is directly proportional to the time spent alienating. Thus, removal of the child from the alienator should stop the alienation – but this does not mean that the alienating effects are automatically eliminated. For the most part, however, the courts seem to have moved in Gardner’s direction. In Martiniuk v. Martiniuk (1978), 2 R.F.L. (2d) 39 at the court held that

To deny the father his access rights, given the conduct of the mother and her common law husband, would be tantamount to allowing the parties in error to ‘beat the system.’

In Herbeniuk v. Herbeniuk (1985), 44 Sask. R. 52 at 60 a similar approach was taken:

I am not, however, satisfied that the expressed concerns justify a complete denial of access. This, in my view, would merely serve to punish the children for their father’s indiscretions.

Though these cases do not reflect a willingness to reverse custody – as Gardner suggests – the emphasis on not denying access to the alienated parent appears to be a less radical version of the “radical intervention.” Rutherford v. Rutherford (1986), 4 R.R.L. (3d) at 458-459, however, reveals that the more likely — and disturbing — scenario is that

…access will be terminated if it proves sufficiently unsettling to the child, even where the problem may be laid squarely at the feet of the custodial parent.

This is an unfortunate product of being unaware of P.A.S.

The Family Systems framework seems to be more preventative than Gardner’s intervention solution. This framework is premised on the notion that the family is a dynamic system which requires cohesion and continuity even after a divorce or separation. Its supporters contend that

Through participating in the decision-making process, members of the family are more likely to be supportive of the child custody arrangement – [hence, less conflict and less brainwashing].72

Psychological interventions can also be preventative if instigated early enough. According to Roger Ulrich,

Awareness of our own needs and attitudes is our most effective instrument for maintaining our own integrity and control over our own reactions.73

Alienating parents lack such insight into their behaviour. Thus, eradicating the alienation must also involve environmental modifications and knowledge of the actual brainwashing techniques, the motives behind them and their effects. Consequently,

Talk therapy with no focus, no measurements, and no time line is often a waste of time in [brainwashing] cases…it may be counterproductive because nothing may be discovered when, in fact, there are real social causes of the problems. Also, surfacing issues without an awareness of the causal agents may lead to serious mistakes in diagnosis and recommendations to parents and/or the courts.74

Attribution therapy has also been recommended for P.A.S. situations. If the alienating parent can learn how to make interactive attributions – not blaming a single party or incident -regarding the reasons for the divorce, then it is less likely that they would brainwash.75 However, even this forrn of therapy may not be completely effective:

It is still unclear whether interactive explanations for divorce lead to better post-divorce adjustment or whether people who make interactive attributions in general are just happier, more confident, and more active people, or whether both are true. [Perhaps the outcomes are personality-oriented].76

To further limit the effectiveness of psychological interventions, approximately 15 percent of children felt that mental health experts could not help their situation:

So what can anybody do? This has been going on for years. We’ve seen more therapists than I can count. Nothing against you, but if you don’t agree with my mom [or dad], she’ll [or he’ll] try to get you fired too!77

Thus, even court ordered changes in therapists may be futile for the alienating parent will simply seek out another therapist who supports his or her position. On rare occasions, the court acts as a kind of therapist. This was evident in Metz v. Metz (1991), 34 R.F.L. 255 at 260:

…the parents must earn their children’s affections rather than depend upon the court to order the children to associate with them at certain times.

Nanji v. Nanji (1987), 8 R.F.L. (3d) 221 at 224 corresponds with Metz:

If I have misjudged Mr. Nanji or if there is a change of heart, the appropriate adjustment can be made. I am even hopeful that the parties might work something out between themselves.

Basically, court orders cannot be a substitute for the facilitation of an understanding between the parties – it is the latter process which will eventually break the P.A.S. impasse. However, this attitude does not frequent many ratios and even Metz and Nanji do not incorporate P.A.S. into their reasoning.

Nonetheless, the court is usually guided by the Best Interests Test. While this test is theoretically sound, it is not the best means to deal with P.A.S.78 Many courts have held that “if [the] attitude persists against the non-custodial parent, [then] the child should stay with the custodial [alienating] parent.”79 However, this is a superficial application of the Best Interests Test for the child is being forced to stay with an abusive parent simply because brainwashing is not currently within the court’s definition of abuse. For instance, assertions about parent-contact preferences must be proven via careful interviewing techniques since 65 percent of children change their assertions immediately when asked the right questions in the right sequence:

Interviewer: If mom said it was okay, would it help you to see dad more often?
Child: She’d never say it, no way.
Interviewer: But if she would?
Child: Yeah, I guess so.80

Most alienating parents try to use the Best Interests Test to their own advantage. This is referred to as the Independent Thinker phenomenon – “I want him to see his father [or mother], but if he doesn’t want to, I will fight to ensure that his decision is respected.”81

Another discrepancy in the. application of the Best Interests Test is that there is no consistency regarding the age-preference connection. In Lapierre v. Lapierre (1991), 34 R.F.L. 129 the wishes of children aged seven and ten were not considered determinative By contrast, a child of eleven in Metz v. Metz (1991), 34 R.F.L. 255 had his preferences respected even though it was apparent that a parent may have influenced his choice. Smith v. Smith (1991), 34 R.F.L. 367 at 370 takes a more realistic approach than Metz:

Unfortunately, Michael is at an age (12) when he is able to make certain decisions for himself, but is not yet free from the influences of others…

Radford v. Cassiano, [Unreported, 1995] Ont. C.J. – Prov. Div. is perhaps the most extreme application of the Best Interests Test and its approach could be quite damaging where P.A.S. is an issue:

…preferences of children of this age (6 and 7 years old) are generally not determinative of the issue, but when they are so strongly held, apparently arising from their own wishes and being reasonable under the circumstances, they should be taken into consideration…82

However, a P.A.S. child will generally have strong views because of the intensity of the brainwashing and these views may appear reasonable because the alienating parent’s aim is to convince others that the other parent is bad. Perhaps if the best interests of the child were considered in the home rather than being placed within the strictures of a legal test, then P.A.S. would not even be an issue.

The Custody Project at the Department of Psychiatry (University of Toronto) has attempted to combine the psychiatric and legal approaches. Custody Project involves a direct link between court-initiated referrals and child psychiatrists. However, there must be consent between all family members to receive counselling. As well, court-initiated referrals usually take place after litigation has begun., It is in this regard that Custody Project is most innovative:

[If initiated once the litigation has begun], it was hypothesized that this would be months at least after the emotional crisis of separation. On the basis that intervention might be more effective much earlier in the separation process, the members agreed to take referrals initiated by lawyers in the hope that these would be prior to litigation.83

Perhaps this kind of referral system would help reduce the percentage of brainwashed children who reach the point of no return to less than its current 5 percent.84

Given the Custody Project’s positive outcomes one would assume that mediation would be effective in P.A.S. situations. However, most P.A.S. cases reactivated after an agreement was reached even if legal sanctions such as the guilty party pays legal and therapy fees were attached. Catherine Foster, a mediator at the Unified Family Court in St. John’s, emphasized that mediation is not equal to treatment – it is front-end preventative and, in this sense, it is limited. There are three other reasons why mediation generally fails:

(1) The ‘day’ in court serve[s] as an avenue for the programmers and brainwashers to carry on their crusade to demonstrate the ‘truth’…84

(2)…one of the feuding parties is insincere and has little wish to solve the problem. The reason is that insincerity, conscious or unconscious, is one of the hallmarks of the alienating parent.86

(3).. the lack of a swift, forceful court judgment is often perceived by the alienator as denoting approval of the alienating behaviour.87

Mediation’s only advantage regarding P.A.S. is that the brainwashing might be insinuated during the mediation process. This insight may assist therapists, lawyers, or judges in their subsequent assessments.

But are any of these solutions feasible? Though each theory has its flaws, at least each theory is, by its very existence, acknowledging that custody disputes are not clear-cut. Even Gardner’s theory – which explicitly deals with P.A.S. – is not so encompassing and definitive that it can stand on its own. If the virtues of each of the previously mentioned solutions could be unified into a single theory, perhaps P.A.S. could be controlled, if not countered. However, the direct experiences of alienated parents illustrate how few “solutions” are actually being implemented.

Interviews with some members of the ACAB group underline how the “authorities” appear to be oblivious to finding solutions. They felt that more accountability and less apathy on the part of the police, social services, and the courts is essential. But is this an emotional overreaction or a reaction to a real problem? Would these individuals feel invisible, like non-persons, if they were genuinely receiving help? For instance, Mr. A told of a social worker’s naivete or deliberate blindness during a home assessment. His daughter was asleep when the social worker came for the visit. But after a brief discussion the mother brought the social worker to the daughter’s room. The daughter immediately showed the worker a doll and how her father touched her. The social worker believed, without doubt, that this was unsolicited. In addition, home assessments are usually conducted over extremely short time periods [1-1/2 to 2 hours] and often the assessor has no real qualifications [in Mr. A.’s case, the assessor only had a Bachelor of Nursing and a Masters of Education – nothing relating to social work or psychology].

As a consequence of like scenarios, many of the ACAB members have resorted to representing themselves — at least then they can expose the flaws in such “evidence” and raise P.A.S. without having to deal with their lawyer telling them that P.A.S. is fool’s gold. Some members have even proposed solutions:

(1) Consistent use of the polygraph on the alienating parent and on the brainwashed children.

(2) Develop a Children’s Law which is a distinct branch of Family Law.

(3) Place stricter requirements on the content, timing, and enforcement of court orders. For instance,even when sexual abuse charges are dropped, supervised access is maintained for abnormally long periods of time.

(4) The legal system and the mental health system should not fall into the trap of believing that the child is in a ‘stage’ and will probably change their mind about the alienated parent when they get older. The courts should be more informed about child development theories.

These solutions, if implemented, could bring P.A.S. to the forefront. However, in the absence of legal authority, it is unlikely that the courts will be quick to adopt the recommendations of a support group – there is the risk of group self-interest. Nonetheless, with time, perhaps such groups as ACAB will gain more respect from the courts. Maybe then, P.A.S. will gain similar respect.

Conclusions

Whether P.A.S. is a new phenomenon or one which has always been present, it deserves more attention. While there is the danger of placing too much authority in a “syndrome,” there is the even greater risk of allowing innocent children to be victimized in their own homes by their “caregivers.” Children do not choose that their parents divorce -they are victims of circumstance and if that circumstance results in P.A.S. their plight becomes that much worse. Cartwright expresses this idea eloquently:

We often speak of preserving family values, but even disintegrated [divorced] nuclear families have values and rights which must be preserved and respected to prevent further disintegration and total collapse. To do less is to sacrifice entire generations of children on the altar of alienation, condemning them to familial maladjustment and inflicting on them lifelong parental loss.88

This parallels John Bowlby’s words quoted from Separation, Anxiety, and Anger at the outset of the essay.

Underlying all of the theories are three fundamental ideas: (1) brainwashing is a complex product of pain, emotional need, and a desire to “win”; (2) the legal context of divorce intensifies the brainwashing; (3) brainwashing can easily be disguised because it is generally founded on a core of reality. P.A.S. will never become more than a theory, however, if its practical, legal implications are not resolved. P.A.S. must be recognized by the legal system yet, at the same time, it must not be transformed into a legal term. If P.A.S. is to make its way into the courtroom it must be shown the way by lawyers and judges. But, once inside, it has to speak for itself. Once P.A.S. has reached this point, evidentiary dilemmas will be less impenetrable – P.A.S. will be open to discussion which will heighten understanding.

Thus, to search for a solution to P.A.S. is illusory. P.A.S. is multi-faceted in terms of its onset, development, and outcomes. At this point, awareness of the existence of P.A.S. should be given optimum importance. Although this awareness may not encourage an immediate awareness in alienating parents, it may eventually create an atmosphere wherein parents will not feel the need to alienate. Perhaps this will happen when the legalities surrounding divorce become less alienating — when the truth is not being sacrificed for ‘justice” in custody battles. Only then can the parameters of P.A.S. be fully explored., Only then will custody battles have a chance of becoming custody evaluations.

APPENDIX

Sample Description:
Children with Programming/Brainwashing Parents

Number (N) 700
Age Range of Children Infancy through twenty years of age

Source: Clawar, Stanley S., et al. Children Held Hostage. Dealing with Programmed and Brainwashed Children. Chicago: American Bar Association, 1991 at 174-180.

TABLE 1
Social-Class Breakdown Using Income, Education, and Occupation as Class Indicators

Class % N
Upper-upper 10 70
Middle-upper 10 70
Lower-upper 20 140
Upper-middle 30 210
Middle-middle 20 140
Lower-middle 5 35
Upper-lower 2 14
Middle-lower 2 14
Lower-lower 1 7
Total 100 700

TABLE 2
Occupations of Parents

Occupation Mothers Fathers
% N % N
Professional 15 105 30 210
Business 25 175 40 280
Skilled 20 140 19 133
Semi-skilled 15 105 5 35
Unskilled 15 105 5 35
Unemployed 10 70 1 7
Total 100 100 100 100

TABLE 3
Family Size, by Number of Children

Range 1-6
Median 2.5

TABLE 4
Sex of Children

% N
Female 51 357
Male 49 343
Total 100 100

TABLE 5
Educational Levels of Parents

LEVEL Mothers Fathers
% N % N
Middle School 1 4 1 7
High School 14 100 10 70
Some College 40 280 20 140
Four-year college (completed) 30 208 40 280
Advanced Study (beyond four years of college) 16 108 29 203
Total 101 700 100 700

TABLE 6
Urban/Suburban Distribution

% N
Urban 15 105
Suburban 80 560
Rural 5 35
Total 100 700

TABLE 7
Most Common Detection Factors Present, by Percentage of Cases

Detection Factors % of Cases
Contradictory statements 70
Inappropriate and unnecessary information 85
Character assault 60
Collusion or one-sided alliance 50
Child as spy or conduit of information 30
Use of indirect statements 70
Restrictions on permission to be loved 90
Unchildlike statements 30
Good parent v. bad parent 55
Comparative -martyr role 80
Fear of contact with other parent 20
Anxiety arousal 60
Cohort in secret-keeping 30
Child as mirror image of programmer 20
Confusion of birth parent’s importance 21
Manifestation of guilt 40
Scripted views 45
unmanageability for no apparent reason 15
Radical changes and dysfunctional behavior manifested in other spheres 44
Nonverbal messages 38
Coaching behavior 28
Brain twirling 15
Children threatens parent 8
Child as parent’s best friend 12
Physical survival 10

TABLE 8A
Brainwashing Techniques

(1) Denial-of-existence syndrome: Never talks about the other parent; desecrate photos of other parent; do not acknowledge child’s positive experiences with other parent.
(2) The ‘Who, Me?’ syndrome: Parent tries to convince the child that she must be misinterpreting the brainwashing parent – a form of denial.
(3) Middle-Man syndrome: Speaking to the child about issues that should first have been discussed with the other parent – a form of exclusion.
(4) Circumstantial syndrome: By manipulating, rearranging, changing and commenting on time, the parent tries to gain dominance in the child’s eyes.
(5) ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with him’ syndrome: Create and exaggerate differences between themself and the other parent in front of the children.
(6) The Ally syndrome: Sympathy is the key.
(7) The Morality syndrome: Attack morality of other parent to elevate own inorality
(8) ‘Threat of withdrawal of love’ syndrome & ‘I’m the only one who really loves you’ syndrome: self-explanatory.
(9) ‘You’re an endangered species’ syndrome & Physical Survival syndrome: Judgmental, opinionated, negative commentary about the target parent after the child returns from a visitation.
(10) Rewriting-reality syndrome: This is basically the intent behind all of the above techniques.

Source: Clawar, Stanley S. Children Held Hostage: Dealing with Programmed and Brainwashed Children. Chicago: American Bar Association, 1991 at 15-36.

TABLE 8B
Percentage of Parents, by Sex, Using Certain Brainwashing Techniques

Techniques M F
1. Denial-of-existence syndrome 5 50
2. The ‘Who me?’ syndrome
a. Extended family 12 40
b. Career 2 30
c. Living arrangements and travel 22 60
d. Activities 15 43
e. Associates 25 52
3. Middleman syndrome 20 60
4. Circumstantial syndrome 12 40
5. ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with him/her’ syndrome 11 40
6. Ally syndrome 16 85
7. Morality syndrome 10 60
8. Threat-of-withdrawal-of-love syndrome 5 42
9. ‘I’m the only one who really loves you’ syndrome 10 60
10. ‘You’re an endangered species’ syndrome 15 39
11. Rewriting reality syndrome 20 60
12. Physical survival syndrome 5 4

* Higher for Females, except for Physical survival Syndrome (but only a narrow margin).

TABLE 8C
Percentage of Children Aware of Brainwashing Techniques Employed by Parents

Aware: the children understand that the messages sent were inappropriate attempts to influence their views and behaviors.

Techniques (as in Table 8B) Awareness
Yes No
1. Denial-of-existence 10 90
2. “Who Me”
a. Extended Family 5 95
b. Career 4 96
c. Living arrangements and travel 60 40
d. Activities 70 30
e. Associates 75 25
3. Middleman 86 14
4. Circumstantial 62 38
5. “I don’t know what’s wrong with him/her” 48 52
6. Ally 30 70
7. Morality 50 50
8. Threat-of-withdrawal-of-love 9 91
9. “I’m the only one who really loves you.” 5 95
10. “You’re an endangered species” 4 96
11. Rewriting reality 5 95
12. Physical survival 10 90

TABLE 9
Percentage of Parents Who Programme/Brainwash, by Intensity Level

Intensity Level (on average) %
More than once per day 20
About once per day 20
More than once per week 10
Once per week 10
Occasionally 20
No detection of programming/brainwashing 20

TABLE 10
Detection Techniques & Commentaries

Character assault (with moral overtones):
Evaluator/Therapist/Judge: What do you like about being at Mom’s? (open-ended and positive question)
Child: Mommy has lots of boyfriends who sleep over. Daddy says she’s a whore because the Bible says so.
Commentary: Representative of externally imposed definition with negative moral judgments on the target parent. Note child did not answer the question – a frequent occurrence for programmed children.

Use of indirect statements:
E/T/J: How did this weekend go? Does Mom/Dad have an opinion about the time you spend at Mom’s/ Dad’s?
Child: When I get home, Mom says things like, ‘Too bad you had to go with your dad this weekend -you missed a great ski trip. I bet you only watched TV, as usual.’ Mom’s right, he’s boring.
Commentary: Rather than encouraging a child to enjoy the time spent with a parent, the parent convinces the child that he will experience boredom. He will also be programmed to be thinking about what he’s missing, thereby mentally remaining in the mother’s home even though he is physically with his father.

Child appears as a mirror image of the programmer:
E/T/J: Why do you think your father is trying so hard to make sure he has more time with you?
Child: Dad doesn’t really love me or want me to live with him – he just wants custody to hurt mom.
Commentary: Most children who are aware of their parents’ custody conflict do not interpret the legal battles as indicating;that they are not loved or that one parent wants to hurt the other, unless they have been so informed.

Brain Twirling:
E/T/J: On the one hand, you say that the joint custody was good in a lot of ways. On the other hand, you say you don’t want it anymore. How come?
Child: I always thought I wanted joint custody (equal time in this case), and it was working in the beginning. But then my dad started so much trouble with Mom, it just isn’t worth it anymore.
Commentary: A programmer sends the child confused messages of both support and disdain for the relationship the child is having with the target parent. If both positive and negative messages are sent to the child about the target parent, the child will usually be most influenced by the negative ones. Also, the child needs civility and often creates an alliance with the programmer in an attempt to stop the intrapsychic and social conflict.

Coaching Behavior: E/T/J is at a home visit
Child: [Upon entering her father’s home, a four-year-old exclaims this to the evaluators who are present for a home visit]:
E/T/J: How do you know that?
Child: My mommy told me to tell you he did.
Commentary: The repetition of an idea by the programmer is one of the more easily detectable clues. Evaluators often can elicit this programming by asking direct questions, as in this case. However, at other times it is necessary to lead up to the source indirectly. Protectionistic responses by the child include ‘I just know, that’s all,’ or ‘It’s true.’ Pursuing the base of the information – actual observation, parental brainwashing, conjecture, other adults, overhearing a conversation – takes discretion and knowing when to drop a topic and return later. Rapport is often a key element in obtaining full disclosure.

Child threatens parent (reverse situation):
E/T/J: I heard you say that you wanted to tell the judge certain things about your mom. What’s the story?
Child: Yeah, I told my Mom she better do what I want, because my dad told me I should tell him whenever Mom does something wrong, because the judge will punish her.
Commentary: Parents can become the powerless ones in custody conflicts. Children move in to fill the “power vacuum” with the help of a brainwashing parent. The target parent walks on eggshells with the child1 fearing that any disciplinary measures will be relayed and misinterpreted to the other parent and/or to the court.

TABLE 11
Gardner’s Questions for Judges in Interviewing Children

1. Describe your mother to me.
2. Describe your father to me.
3. What do you think about your father’s family?
4. Does your mother interfere with your visiting your father?
5. Why then don’t you want to visit with your father?
6. Does your mother harass you?
7. Does your father harass you?

BIBLIOGRAPHY

BOOKS

Bala, Nicholas. ICPA Update Vol.5: Child Abuse and the Law.

Clawar, Stanley S., et al. Children Held Hostage: Dealing with Programmed and Brainwashed Children. Chicago: American Bar Association, 1991.

Gardner, Richard A. Family Evaluation in Child Custody: Mediation, Arbitration, and Litigation. New Jersey: Creative Therapeutics, 1989.

Gardner, Richard A. The Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Guide for Mental Health and Legal Proftssionals. New Jersey: Creative Therapeutics, 1992.

Goldwater, A. Developpements recents en droit familial. “Le syndrome d’alienation parentale.” Quebec: Les Editions Yvon Blais, 1991.

Johnston, Janet. Non-Residential Parenting: New Vistas in Family Living. California: Sage, 1993.

Langer, Ellen J. The Psychology of Control. California: Sage Publications, Inc., 1983.

Parry, Ruth S., et al. Custody Disputes Evaluation and Intervention. Massachusetts: D.C. Heath and Company, 1986.

Ulrich, Roger, et al. Control of Human Behavior: Expanding the Behavioral Laboratory. Illinois: Scott, Foresman and Co., 1966.

INTERVIEWS

Foster, Catherine. Mediator at the Unified Family Court, St. John’s, Newfoundland. Feb.22, 1995.

ACAB Group. Support Group for Accused and Abused Parents involved in Custody Disputes, St. John’s, Newfoundland. Feb.25, 1995.

JOURNAL ARTICLES

Ash, Peter, et al. “Biased Reporting by Parents Undergoing Child Custody Evaluations.” Journal of the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, September 1991, Vol.30(5).

Bertoia, C., et al. “The Fathers’ Rights Movement: Contradictions in Rhetoric and Practice.” Journal of Family Issues, 1993, Vol.14.

Best, J. “Dividing the Child: Social and Legal Dilemmas of Custody.” Social Science Quarterly, 1994, Vol. 75 (1).

Cartwright, Glenn F. “Expanding the Parameters of Parental Alienation Syndrome.” The American Journal of Family Therapy, Fall 1993, Vol. 21(3).

Cooke, Gerald, et al. “Dealing with Sexual Abuse Allegations in the Context of Custody Evaluations.” American Journal of Forensic Psychology, 1991, Vol.9(3).

Dunne, John, et al. “The Parental Alienation Syndrome: An Analysis of Sixteen Selected Cases.” Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 1994, Vol.21(3/4).

Elliot, Jane, et al. “Parental Divorce and the Life Chances of Children.” Family Law, November 1991.

Emery, R. E. “Interparental Conflict and the Children of Discord and Divorce.” Psychological Bulletin, 1982, Vol.92.

Frost, Abbie K., et al. “The Effects of Marital Disruption on Adolescents: Time as a Dynamic.” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, October 1990, Vol. 60.

Gardner, Richard A. “Differentiating Between True and False Sex-Abuse Accusations in Child-Custody Disputes.” Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 1994, Vol.21(314).

Gardner, Richard A. “Recent Trends in Divorce and Custody Litigation.” The Academy Forum, 1985, Vol. 29(2).

Green, Arthur. ‘1True and False Allegations of Sexual Abuse in Child Custody Disputes.” Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 1986, Vol. 25(4).

Green, Arthur. “Factors Contributing to False Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse in Custody Disputes.” Child and Youth Services, 1991, Vol.15(2).

Healy, Joseph, et al. “Children and their Fathers Afier Parental Separation.” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, October 1990, Vol.60(4).

Johnston, J. R. “High Conflict Divorce.” Future and the Child, Spring 1994, Vol.4(1).

Laurence, Liam. “How Vindictive Mommies Break the Law.” Western Report, December 30, 1991.

Levy, D. “Review of Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Guide for Mental Health and Legal Professionals.” American Journal of Family Therapy, 1992, Vol.20(3).

MacDonald, Peter, et al. “Suffer the Children.” Western Report, February 5, 1990.

Margulies, Sam, et al. “Litigation, Mediation and the Psychology of Divorce.” The Journal of Psychiatry & Law, Winter 1992, Vol.20.

McAnulty, Richard D. “Expert Psychological Testimony in Cases of Alleged Child Sexual Abuse.” Archives of Sexual Behavior, 1993, Vol.22(4).

Muchnian, Madelyn S. “Professional Controversies in Child Sexual Abuse Assessment.” The Journal of Psychiatry & Law, Spring 1992, Vol.20.

Miller, G. “The Psychological Best Interests of the Child.” Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 1993, Vol. 19(1/2).

Palmer, Nancy R. “Legal Recognition of the Parental Alienation Syndrome.” The American Journal of Family Therapy, 1988, Vol.16(4).

Radovanovic, H., et al. “A Follow-Up of Families Disputing Child Custody Access: Assessment, Settlement, and Family Relationship Outcomes.” Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 1994, Vol.12(4).

Rothberg, B. “Joint Custody: Parental Problems and Satisfactions.” Multidisciplinary Journal of Family Study Research and Treatment, March 1983, Vol.22(1).

Saunders, Elisabeth B., et al. “Custodial Fathers, Custodial Mothers and their Former Spouses in Protracted Custody Disputes: Clinical Opinions and Data.” The Journal of Psychiatry & Law, Winter 1987, Vol.15.

Saunders, Richard T. “Some Ethical and Legal Features of Child Custody Disputes: A Case Illustration and Applications.” Psychotherapy, Spring 1993, Vol.30(1).

Schudson, Charles. “Antagonistic Parents in Family Courts: False Allegations or False Assumptions About True Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse?” Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 1992, Vol.1(2).

Von Hauff, Donna. “Framing a Father Fails in Court.” Western Report, March 4, 1991.

Wall, Jack C., et al. “An Integrated Approach to Child Custody Evaluation: Utilizing the “Best Interest” of the Child and Family Systems Frameworks.” Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 1994, Vol.21(3/4).

Warren, Amye, et al. “Inducing Resistance to Suggestibility in Children.” Law and Human Behavior, 1991, Vol.15(3).

NEWSPAPER ARTICLES

Cornacchia, Cheryl. “Dirty Tricks Penalized in Custody Battles.” Montreal Gazette, November 30, 1992 at SA.

CASE LAW

Herbeniuk v. Herbeniuk (1985), 44 Sask. R. 52.

Humphries v. Humphries (1986), 59 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 1.

Lacaille v. Manger, [1994] O.J. No.2880 North Bay Registry No. FC153/93, Ontario Court of Justice – Provincial Division.

Lapierre v. Lapierre (1991), 34 R.F.L. 129. – 7

Martiniuk v. Martiniuk (1978), 2 R.F.L. (2d) 39.

Metz v. Metz (1991), 34 R.F.L. 255.

Nanji v. Nanji (1987), 8 R.F.L. (3d) 221.

Nickerson v. Nickerson (1 991), 34 R.F.L. 341.

P. (G.L.) v.P. (J.M.) (1990), 27 R.F.L. (3d) 64.

Powley v. Wagner and Roy (1987), 62 Sask. R. 222.

Ptashnik v. Ptashnik (1988), 12 R.F.L. (3d) 377.

R. v. R.W., [1993] O.J. No.855 DRS 94-02433, Action No. C7239, Ontario Court of Justice – General Division.

Radford v. Cassiano, [1995] O.J. No.105 Kingston Registry No.460/90, Ontario Court of Justice – Provincial Division.

Robinson v. Robinson (1985), 48 R.F.L. (2d) 264.

Rutherford v. Rutherford (1986), 4 R.F.L. (3d) 457.

Smith v. Smith (1991), 34 R.F.L. 367.

Thatcher v. Thatcher (1980), 16 R.F.L. (2d) 263. Voegelin v. Voegelin (1980), 15 R.F.L. (2d) 1.

W.(K.M.) v. W.(D.D.), [1993] O.J. No.1344 DRS 94-00129 Action No. D47/91, Ontario Coiirt of Justice – Provincial Division.

Zilka v. Zilka (1978), 5 Alta. L.R. (2d) 358.

Zivkovic v. Zivkovic, [1994] O.J. No.2958 Toronto Registry No. D1559/90 A3, Ontario Court of Justice – Provincial Division.

Parental Alienation Syndrome:A ‘Hidden’ Facet of Custody Disputes by L. Cook.

200,000 Children Suffer from Parental Alienation: THE AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC ASSOCIATION CONSIDERS PARENTAL ALIENATION DISORDER FOR THE DSM – 5

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parents rights on August 13, 2010 at 1:57 am

The Canadian Symposium for Parental Alienation Syndrome Educates with Upcoming October 2010 Conference

08.12.2010 – Mental health professionals have been waiting nearly twenty years for the American Psychiatric Association to revise its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, more commonly referred to as, ( the upcoming edition of ), the DSM -5. While the long wait for DSM -5 is nearly over, there is still consideration being given to a number of new diagnostic conditions, including one called Parental Alienation Disorder ( P.A.D. ).This diagnosis is also being considered for inclusion in the International Classification of Diseases (commonly referred to as the ICD -11). Many consider the diagnosis of Parental Alienation Disorder a landmark event for millions of children and families around the world.

The Canadian Symposium for Parental Alienation Syndrome, (http://www.cspas.ca), known for being one of the leading educational organizations on the topic of parental alienation, announced earlier this month their annual conference taking place at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in NYC this coming October 2nd – October 3rd in the Stern Auditorium. The conference is expected to attract 600 mental health professionals, family law lawyers, family mediators and child abuse investigators.

One of the Keynote Speakers at the conference will be Dr. William Bernet, who is one of the principal author’s of the proposal for P.A.D. to be included in DSM-5. He stated, “Since there are various definitions for ‘parental alienation’, we do not know the exact prevalence of this mental condition. However, we know there are thousands of children of divorced parents who shun and avoid one of the parents because the children have a false belief that the parent is evil or dangerous.” Dr. William Bernet, M.D. added, “In order to identify these children and help them have a healthy relationship with both parents, the American Psychiatric Association should adopt a uniform definition for ‘parental alienation disorder’.”

P.A.D has strong public and professional support and members on the DSM -5 Task Force have received thousands of documents from mental health professionals, judges, lawyers and parents; a substantial amount of these documents include scientific data from psychological literature and research, including hundreds of studies and peer reviewed articles, case histories, and information from other psychological societies around the world.

nother important advocate for the inclusion of Parental Alienation Disorder is a family law lawyer from Toronto, Canada – Brian Ludmer. Mr. Ludmer says that the issue of recognition has been held back by polarizing political forces and feminist critics and states, “ Parental Alienation is a power dynamic, not a gender-based dynamic. Feminist critics miss the most obvious point: women suffer in every single case. Far more mothers are targeted parents than most realize.” Ludmer continues, “They tend to be quiet out of embarrassment and concern that they will be viewed as a poor mother. Where a father is the targeted parent, women still suffer – new partners, grandmothers, aunts and cousins, as well as friends of the family are all cut off from the children as well.” Brian Ludmer will join a panel of 10 other Speakers at the upcoming NYC – C.S.P.A.S conference.

The C.S.P.A.S The conference is specifically geared toward the interest of mental health and family law professionals, but it is open to the general public and interested parents are also expected to attend. To register for this conference and learn more about it please visit http://www.cspas.ca, or call 647-476-3170.

About C.S.P.A.S

Founded in 2008 by Joseph Goldberg, The Canadian Symposium for Parental Alienation Syndrome is an educational organization assisting mental health professionals, family law lawyers, family mediators and other professionals to better understand parental alienation and parental alienation syndrome / disorder. Their goal is to assist children and families in need of educational information and referrals to professionals with a specialized expertise for counseling, psychological or psycho-educational services. Parents and professionals in both the family law and mental health communities will be able to locate a number of experts in parental alienation by simply visiting their website. C.S.P.A.S also disseminates information and literature to professionals and to parents. They maintain a strictly educational position and have no political affiliations. The C.S.P.A.S. does not accept funding from any organization affiliated with parental rights, nor do they do they take any position in favor of or against equal parenting.

200,000 CHILDREN SUFFER FROM PARENTAL ALIENATION: THE AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC ASSOCIATION CONSIDERS PARENTAL ALIENATION DISORDER FOR THE DSM – 5 – Beautiful Planning Marketing Group – pitchengine.com.

American Psychiatric Association Considers Parental Alienation for the DSM-5 | Benzinga.com

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parents rights on August 3, 2010 at 5:59 pm

NEW YORK, NEW YORK–(Marketwire – Aug. 3, 2010) – The Canadian Symposium for Parental Alienation Syndrome, (www.cspas.ca), today announced that their upcoming Annual Conference will take place in NYC. The conference is titled “Parental Alienation Syndrome: Past Present and Future”. Many consider this conference to be a landmark event in the history of mental health, in part because the American Psychiatric Association is now giving consideration to Parental Alienation Disorder (P.A.D.) for inclusion in the next edition of the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, more often referred to as the DSM-5. There are some countries around the world that already recognize Parental Alienation as a diagnostic condition. As a recent example of this global shift, Spain’s Psychological Association did so in 2008.

“P.A.D. is a widespread disorder that is little understood and warrants serious study and attention by the mental health and legal community.”, states Dr. Amy J. Baker, a highly respected researcher in the field of parental alienation and the author of peer reviewed articles and books on the subject.”Inclusion of P.A.D. in the A.P.A.’s diagnostic book will go a long way towards creating awareness and helping children and families affected by this disorder.”

Parental Alienation Disorder has been defined as a mental condition in which a child, usually one whose parents are engaged in a high conflict divorce, allies himself or herself strongly with one parent, (the preferred parent), and rejects a relationship with the other parent, (the alienated parent), without legitimate justification. The child’s maladaptive behavior & refusal to see one of the parents is driven by the false belief that the alienated parent is a dangerous or an unworthy person.

The C.S.P.A.S conference will take place in NYC on October 2nd and 3rd at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in the Stern Auditorium. This conference is specifically geared towards the interests of mental health and family law professionals, but is also open to the general public. To register for this conference you can visit the C.S.P.A.S. website at http://www.cspas.ca

“We expect approximately 600 mental health professionals to register and attend the conference and of course everyone has a common interest in updating their clinical understanding of parental alienation because of so many new patients being referred for treatment.” stated Founder of the C.S.P.A.S. – Joseph Goldberg at a recent press conference.

In 2009 the C.S.P.A.S conference made headlines around the globe including the front page of the National Post Newspaper, Canada’s most widely circulated national daily publication. To register for this groundbreaking event, or learn more about C.S.P.A.S. please visit http://www.cspas.ca or call call 647-476-3170.

About C.S.P.A.S

Founded in 2008 by Joseph Goldberg, The Canadian Symposium for Parental Alienation Syndrome is an educational organization assisting mental health professionals, family law lawyers, family mediators and other professionals to better understand parental alienation and parental alienation syndrome / disorder. Their goal is to assist children and families in need of educational information and referrals to professionals with a specialized expertise for counseling, psychological or psycho-educational services. Parents and professionals in both the family law and mental health communities will be able to locate a number of experts in parental alienation by simply visiting their website. C.S.P.A.S also disseminates information and literature to professionals and to parents. They maintain a strictly educational position and have no political affiliations. The C.S.P.A.S. does not accept funding from any organization affiliated with parental rights, nor do they take a position in favor of or in opposition to equal parenting. For more information visit http://www.cspas.ca.

American Psychiatric Association Considers Parental Alienation for the DSM-5 | Benzinga.com.

Parental Alienation Oppponents Defeated Again in California

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Liberty, Marriage, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parents rights, Restraining Orders on July 31, 2010 at 6:45 pm
July 26th, 2010 by Glenn Sacks, MA, Executive Director

Fathers and Families and its legislative allies have succeeded in killing one of the worst family law bills in modern history–California’s AB 612. The bill, put forward by the well-funded advocacy group Center for Judicial Excellence (and supported by the California National Organization for Women), would have banned Parental Alienation from being mentioned in any way, shape, or form in a California family court. Because of California’s tremendous influence in shaping the laws of other states, this loss would have led to a mushrooming of similarly damaging legislation in other states.

Fathers and Families’ legislative representative Michael Robinson helped cobble together a coalition of family law professional organizations and experts to oppose the bill. We were able to bottle the bill up in the Senate Judiciary Committee last year and keep it there until last week, when it died. To learn more about the bill, see our co-authored column Preventing courts from considering parental alienation will harm kids (Capitol Weekly, 2/25/10).

The defeat of AB 612 is a victory for the family court reform movement and for children everywhere. Victories cost money, as does our deep, professional involvement inside the political system—please support our successful work by making a tax-deductible contribution by clicking here.

This is the second time in two months that Fathers & Families has been instrumental in defeating a Center for Judicial Excellence bill—in June, we helped kill AB 2475, which was also related to Parental Alienation. To learn more, see F & F Helps Defeat Radical Bill from Opponents of Recognizing Parental Alienation.

Whereas Fathers & Families’ family court reform bills have been moving swiftly through the California legislature, the Center for Judicial Excellence is now 0-2 in the 2009-2010 legislative session.

The CJE claims that there’s a “crisis” in family courts, and that courts are handing over custody of children to physically and sexually abusive fathers. They promote reforms which will make it easier to deny parents shared custody or visitation rights based on unsubstantiated abuse claims. As we’ve noted before, there is no empirical basis supporting this claim. The vast majority of the cases that groups like the CJE put forward as alleged examples of this “crisis” of abusive fathers winning child custody are being badly misrepresented–to learn more, click here.

The events surrounding AB 2475 and AB 612 are further validation of Fathers and Families’ emphasis on the need for the family court reform movement to employ full-time legislative representatives and engage in the political process on a professional level. To support this work with your tax-deductible gift, please click here.

Together with you in the love of our children,

Glenn Sacks, MA
Executive Director, Fathers and Families

Ned Holstein, M.D., M.S.
Chair of the Board, Fathers and Families

The Proper Role for Mental Health Professionals in Domestic Violence Cases and Attorneys Suspended for Ethical Violations

In Activism, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parents rights on May 21, 2010 at 11:36 pm

Once again Barry Goldstein is on the campaign trails to discredit Parental Alienation. A recent article tries to discredit mental health professional who diagnose Parental Alienation Syndrome in family court.  As we all know the suspension of licenses can be a political matter both with attorneys and mental health professionals.  But in the state of California, Parental Alienation by parents is a recognized fact of children’s existence.

Goldstein who was suspended by the New York State bar for ethical violations is now on the book writing trail. Rather than protecting children’s rights to constant contact with both parents as EVERY mental health professional knows to be correct and proper, Mr. Goldstein is out to destroy and discredit Parental Alienation as part of the “male supremacist agenda” and clearly demonstrates a bias against men in family court, as most feminist attorney do.

Goldstein is sort of like VP Joe Biden, who is proud?? of the fact that VAWA is his greatest accomplishment, and like Biden, he is completely oblivious to the fact that 40,000,000 million children are now cut off from their 25,000,000 fathers.  Unfortunately, there is too much money in discrimination and like the Jim Crow laws of the bygone south, VAWA has taken its place alongside our country’s love affair with creating laws that unconstitutionally discriminate, imprison, and denigrate  a class of people, in this case men.

Here is Glenn Sack’s article from last year lest we forget the Lost Children to Parental Alienation:

Court Delivers Devastating Blow to Leading Feminist Attorney Barry Goldstein

January 8th, 2009 by Glenn Sacks, MA, Executive Director

Los Angeles, CA–Few family law cases are as heartbreaking as those involving Parental Alienation, where one parent has turned his or her children against the other parent, destroying the loving bonds the children and the target parent once enjoyed. Many of my readers have experienced it in various forms and to varying degrees.

Feminist groups, including the National Organization for Women, contend that Parental Alienation is a myth and a ruse used by abusive fathers to win control of their children in custody cases. To pick one example of many, Helen Grieco, until recently the Executive Director of California NOW, calls Parental Alienation Syndrome…..

(I have never denied that there are fathers who have alienated their own children through their abuse or personality defects, and who attempt to shift the blame to their children’s mothers by falsely claiming PAS. Yet parental alienation is a common, well-documented phenomenon. For example, a longitudinal study published by the American Bar Association in 2003 followed 700 “high conflict” divorce cases over a 12 year period and found that elements of PAS were present in the vast majority of the cases studied.)

Feminist attorney Barry Goldstein, Esq. of New York has been one of the leading advocates for this position, and was the primary attorney in the highly-publicized Genia Shockome case in New York. Shockome, lost custody of her two children, now ages 13 and 11, to her ex-husband, Tim Shockome after a contentious custody battle in which Genia accused Tim of abuse. The Shockome case was widely reported, including this sympathetic article in Newsweek magazine, and Shockome was a popular feminist cause celebre a few years ago.

Goldstein (pictured in a suit & tie alongside Shockome) has worked with or been a member of many if not most of the organizations seeking to discredit Parental Alienation and the fatherhood movement.  He has practiced law in New York for almost three decades, has authored a book on custody cases involving allegations of domestic violence, and is scheduled to speak at the annual Battered Mothers Custody Conference next week.

Last week Barry Goldstein, Esq. had his head handed to him.

The New York Appellate Division for the Second Judicial Department imposed a staggering five-year suspension of Goldstein in large part for his conduct in the Shockome case. The Court called numerous statements Goldstein made concerning the Shockome case “dishonest, false, or misleading.” The Court also criticized Goldstein for misuse of funds in another case he handled.

Regarding the Shockome case, the Court criticized what it called the “pervasive nature of [Goldstein’s] deceptive conduct”–conduct which it said included “false accusations” about the case and “noncompliance with multiple court orders.” The Court wrote:

On behalf of his client [Genia Shockome], he prepared and filed with this Court a petition for writ of habeas corpus and a petition in a proceeding pursuant to CPLR article 78. These materials contained sworn statements which were dishonest, false, or misleading.

To learn more, see Georgetown Law Center Ethics Counsel Michael S. Frisch’s write-up here. To read the Court’s decision itself, click here.

Goldstein’s fall is a tremendous embarrassment to many of our opponents in the battle to achieve shared parenting, reform family law, and protect children’s right to a relationship with both parents after divorce. These include: the New York state chapter of the National Organization for Women; Justice for Children; The Battered Mothers Custody Conference; Stop Family Violence; The Leadership Council; and others.

Of far less significance but still worth noting, the Court’s ruling further vindicates my position on the Shockome case–a position for which I was publicly crucified by our feminist opponents. This vindication is nice but not necessary–while Genia’s publicly-stated version of the case seemed superficially compelling, anybody taking a good look at the court records in the case as I did would come to similar conclusions.

One of Goldstein’s statements that the New York Court cited in disciplining him is his public contention that in the Shockome case “Without an evidentiary hearing or any written explanation, Judge Amodeo took the children from the mother who has raised them and sent them to the abuser.” This is false–Judge Amodeo actually bent over backwards to be fair to Shockome, who lost her children to her ex-husband only after repeatedly violating court orders. Moreover, there was no evidence that the ex-husband was an “abuser,” and the Court specifically repudiated this accusation.

I discussed the details of the Shockome case at length in my co-authored Shockome Syndrome. As I’ve noted on several occasions, the major feminist cause celebre custody cases of the past few years have been scams–Genia Shockome, Sadia Loeliger, Bridget Marks, and others.

The latest feminist cause celebre is the Holly Collins parental abduction case. The mother’s version of events in this case is also problematic.

My findings on Shockome can be found here.

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 8th, 2009 at 4:59 pm and is filed under Domestic Violence, False Accusations, Family Law/Divorce/Separation/Child Custody, Feminism/NOW. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

April 25 is Parental Alienation Awareness Day

In Activism, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Brainwashed Children, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parents rights on April 26, 2010 at 1:20 am

Today is Parental Alienation Awareness Day throughout the world. Almost every civilized country in the world and many family and family reform groups recognize the hostility involved in custody fights between parents.

When it escalates out of the courts control, and one parent trys to destroy the relationship between the children and the non-custodial parent, the children or the child becomes alienated from the parent. That is Parental Alienation. It is all to common in homes where one parent makes false allegations of abuse, in fact, it is almost a certainty if one parent does that, then the next step is to keep the child away from the other parent at all costs. When that happens the child suffers from Parental Alienation Syndrome.

My friends at http://www.paawarenessday.com/ have a good definition of the difference between the PA and PAS or Parental Alienation Disorder.

Parental Alienation vs. Parental Alienation Syndrome

Parental Alienation focuses on the parents behavior as opposed to the alienated children’s conditions, which is termed Parental Alienation Syndrome.

Richard Gardner defined Parental Alienation Syndrome as ‘a disturbance in which children are preoccupied with deprecation and criticism of a parent-denigration that is unjustified and/or exaggerated.’

Parental Alienation is damaging to children, whether or not they reject a parent. It’s important to recognize and stop the harmful behaviors of the adults before any ‘symptoms’ develop in the child, and before the behavior escalates to Parental Abduction or Parental Homocide.

Parental Alienation and Fraud by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFC)

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parents rights on March 6, 2010 at 12:23 am

Would you trust a “group” that settled a $300,000 fraud suit out of court with the Federal Government? To me and others in the Father and Family Rights organizations, any claim they make about Parental Alienation being fraudulent, is like Tiger Woods saying he is not womanizer.

Yet, we continue to hear from members of the Pig Pen about how the “NCJFC warns family court judges NOT to accept claims of “parental alienation syndrome” and “parental alienation” in court because of it’s use by Abusers to Get Child Custody Away from Their Victims.”

How about “The Federal Government warns family court judges NOT to accept claims by any group that commits fraud upon the taxpayers and should not to be trusted with what they say and do anymore.”

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Juvenile Judges Group Pays to Settle U.S. Fraud Claim

by Patrick Boyle

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges will pay
$300,000 to settle allegations that it committed fraud to get grant money from the U.S. Department of Justice. The Justice Department charged that the council falsified employee time sheets, billed the federal government for work by “ghost” employees, used grant funds to hire the spouses of employees and fired a worker who questioned those practices, according to the settlement filed this month in U.S. District Court in Reno, Nev.

Council President Judge Susan B. Carbon released a statement Tuesday saying that the council “did not admit liability,” but that the council “takes these allegations seriously and has reviewed its administrative and training policies to insure that the Justice Department will not have such concerns again.”

The council has received $97 million in federal grants since 1985, according to a Justice Department summary of the case, including several grants since the department filed the lawsuit in 2005 under the Civil False Claims Act.

According to that lawsuit and the settlement, which prompted the dismissal of the case on April 15, the Justice Department claimed that the council:

* Collected grant funds by billing for fictitious workers, double-billing for overhead and filling out employee time sheets “to meet predetermined billing targets, regardless of the actual hours worked on each grant by the employee.” Those actions allegedly occurred from 2000 to 2006.
The statement from Carbon said the settlement concerned “allegations about how the National Council recorded staff time on federal funded projects.”

* Hired the husband of Mary Mentaberry, now the executive director, as a real estate agent to negotiate property transactions from 1997 to 2001, for which “he received significant commissions (nearly $95,000),” and hired the husband of another employee as a computer consultant in 2001 and 2002, paying him $2,000. Those actions violate the Justice Department’s conflict-of-interest regulations for grantees, the claim says.

During that time, Mentaberry was director of the organization’s Permanency Planning for Children Department, according to the council. She became executive director in 2004.

* Wrongfully fired an employee, Serena Hulbert, for asking about “questionable practices” regarding grants that the council had appointed her to oversee.

Hulbert ignited the case when she filed a federal complaint in 2005 saying that she had questioned the council’s expenditures and allocations of funds under its federal grants.

Carbon’s statement said the council “determined that it was in the best interests of the national council and its long relationship with the Justice Department to settle these issues and resolve the department’s concerns.”

The attorney reading the statement, Tom Madden, said neither he nor the council would answer further questions about the case. Hulbert filed a new lawsuit for wrongful termination on April 23, according to court records.

Click here to read court documents filed in the cases.

Original Article – http://67.199.2.34/publication/article.cfm?article_id=1801

Disgusted with the system: April 2008.

Why Parental Alienation is the Act of an Emotionally Abusive Bully

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Non-custodial fathers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Restraining Orders on March 3, 2010 at 10:45 am

Why Parental Alienation is the Act of an Emotionally Abusive Bully

By Dr. Tara J. Palmatier
Are you and your ex going through a difficult divorce or break up? Do you worry that she or he is turning your child(ren) against you? Are you shocked and confused by how your once warm and affectionate relationship with your kid(s) has become distant and hostile?

Parental alienation is no joke. It’s a form of child abuse. The custodial parent is usually the mother and it’s typically the custodial parent who engages in parental alienation. However, there are men who also engage in parental alienation.

Original research found women to be the perpetrators of this abusive behavior in 90% of reported cases. Recent research indicates both genders equally engage in parental alienation. It’s difficult to know the exact figures because of under-reporting, false accusations, and the positive bias toward mothers that’s rampant in most family courts.

Profile of Parental Alienation

Individuals who engage in parental alienation are like the mean kids in high school who demand that their friends be angry with whomever they’re angry with and hate whomever they hate. In children, this phenomenon is called relational aggression. Now she or he is a parent. They’re mad because your relationship ended—even if they’re the one who initiated the break-up.

Your ex requires, implicitly or explicitly, that your child(ren) feel and act the same way she or he does. The parent who engages in alienation tactics enlists your children to take on his or her battle against you. This is not the act of a responsible, mature adult, much less a responsible, loving parent. This is a bullying behavior called mobbing.

Bullying, Mobbing and Parental Alienation

Mobbing is usually written about in the context of workplace bullying, but that’s a limited use of the concept. It can occur in any kind of system, including a family system. Mobbing is the impassioned psychological harassment of one individual by a group. The attack is usually instigated and led by one or two people who are typically in a position of authority or a peer leader. The International Herald Tribune describes it as “group victimization of a single target” with the goal of demeaning, discrediting, alienating, excluding, humiliating, and isolating the targeted individual.

Mobbing ringleaders are bullies who try to dominate and control others in most situations and relationships. Namie and Namie (2000) describe them as, “inadequate, defective, and poorly developed people.” They’re generally angry, unpredictable, critical, jealous, and manipulative (Davenport, Schwartz and Elliot, 1999; Namie and Namie, 2000). The emotionally abusive bully who engages in mobbing (or parental alienation) revels in the excitement produced by their animosity. It produces a pleasurable buzz or rush in them. Westhues (2002) refers to this as “the euphoria of collective attack.” Sound familiar?

Parental Alienation and Personality Disorders

People that have no compunction about using their kids to hurt their exes seem to fit the profile of the emotionally abusive Cluster B personality disorders (Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder). These individuals play the professional victim as they emotionally bully anyone who confronts, challenges, or criticizes them. They don’t recognize appropriate boundaries, won’t accept personal responsibility for their actions—in fact, they blame you for the horrible things they do and always have an excuse to justify their indefensible behaviors.

If your ex is actively or passively alienating your child(ren)’s normal affection toward you, he or she was probably emotionally abusive while you were together. Parental alienation is her or his way of continuing to abuse and hurt you via remote access. Generally, most bullies don’t see themselves as such. If you confront your ex about this behavior, they’ll deny it and blame you for your deteriorating relationship with your child(ren), even as you make every effort to be a present and involved parent.

The only way to stop a bully is with the threat of a greater authority. Appealing to their “better nature” is futile. Emotionally abusive bullies don’t have a better nature. Attorneys and the courts will probably need to be involved as well as an UNBIASED children’s therapist and a lot of documentation. If you believe you’re the target of parental alienation, I encourage you to educate yourself about it and to know, protect and fight for your rights.

by Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

via: Tara J. Palmatier [masculinisme].

Parental Alienation: Accuracy and the DSM-IV | Parental Alienation Hurts

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Custody for Mothers, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-IV, DSM-V, due process rights, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, Single Parenting on February 26, 2010 at 4:45 am

Parental Alienation: Accuracy and the DSM-IV

What is the DSM?

“Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the United States and contains a listing of diagnostic criteria for every psychiatric disorder recognized by the U.S. healthcare system. The current edition, DSM-IV-TR, is used by professionals in a wide array of contexts, including psychiatrists and other physicians, psychologists, social workers, nurses, occupational and rehabilitation therapists, and counselors, as well as by clinicians and researchers of many different orientations (e.g., biological, psychodynamic, cognitive, behavioral, interpersonal, family/systems). It is used in both clinical settings (inpatient, outpatient, partial hospital, consultation-liaison, clinic, private practice, and primary care) as well as with community populations. In addition to supplying detailed descriptions of diagnostic criteria, DSM is also a necessary tool for collecting and communicating accurate public health statistics about the diagnosis of psychiatric disorders.”

This morning there was an article titled “Mental health professionals getting update on definitions” by Gary Rotstein from the Post-Gazette in Pittsburgh.  This article misinterpreted a fact about parental alienation and the DSM. Mr. Rotstein  wrote  There was consideration of hoarding this time as a mental health issue, but it failed to make it into the recommendations for full manual treatment. There are always lobbyists for parental alienation syndrome, but they did not win out this time either.”

According to the DSM website, Parental Alienation is still being considered as an addition to the DSM. There are many advocates and professionals that are exerting countless hours in establishing research that validates Parental Alienation would be a worthy addition to the DSM. It is believed that if Parental Alienation is entered into the DSM that it would be considered monumental in recognizing that parental alienation exists. There are numerous amounts of professionals in the mental health and judicial community that do not endorse parental alienation as a valid diagnosis. Parental Alienation is still a very controversial topic with professionals and the general public. It only hurts the efforts when there inaccurate reports to dismay the general masses who are in favor of the inclusion of Parental Alienation.

What can you do to help?

Dr. William Bernet is leading the effort to include Parental Alienation into the newest addition of the DSM-5, which is expected to be released in May 2013. Many parents and adult survivors have assisted in this effort by writing the leadership of the DSM and making them aware of the severity of Parental Alienation.

Any person who wishes to express his or her opinion about the inclusion of parental alienation in DSM-V may want to contact the following individuals:

Dr. Kupfer is chair of theDSM-V Task Force Dr. Regier is vice-chair of theDSM-V Task Force Dr. Pine is chair of the DSM-VDisorders in Childhood andAdolescence Work Group
David J. Kupfer, M.D.Western Psychiatric Institute 3811 O’Hara StreetPittsburgh, PA  15213 Darrel A. Regier, M.D.American Psychiatric Assn.1000 Wilson Blvd., Suite 1825Arlington, VA  22209-3901

Daniel S. Pine, M.D.NIMH15K North Drive, MSC-2670Bethesda, MD  20892-2670

Parental Alienation: Accuracy and the DSM-IV | Parental Alienation Hurts.

California Divorce & Child Custody Experts – Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)

In Activism, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Brainwashed Children, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parents rights, Restraining Orders on February 24, 2010 at 8:45 pm

Parental Alienation Syndrome
Child custody disputes have become increasingly common. As the frequency of child custody disputes has increased, so has the animosity and antagonism parents bring to these conflicts.

Often children are caught in the middle of parental disputes and are enlisted by one parent as an ally against the other parent in a campaign of systematic denigration and alienation of affection.

Often one parent will make vicious and devaluing statements that are designed to thwart one parent’s relationship with his/her child.

Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is the systematic denigration by one parent by the other with the intent of alienating the child against the other parent. The purpose of the alienation is usually to gain or retain custody without the involvement of the father. The alienation usually extends to the father’s family and friends as well.

This condition arises as a distinctive form of psychological injury to children in high conflict divorce. It occurs when the child becomes aligned with one parent as a result of the unjustified and/or exaggerated denigration of the other parent.

This leads to an impaired relationship with the alienated (target) parent and an absolute loss of parenting as a result of the hostility of the parent producing the alienation.

In most cases of high conflict divorce, there are degrees of alienation. In severe cases, the child’s once love-bonded relationship with the target/rejected parent is destroyed.

The following are some links to PAS resources:

  • Family Therapy of the Moderate Type of Parental Alienation Syndrome
    by Richard A. Gardner from The American Journal of Family Therapy. 27:195-212, 1999. This article is a GREAT outline of therapy for the moderate case of PAS that deals with the very specific and knitty-gritty things that the courts and the therapists must do if the therapy is to work.
    Dr. Richard A. Gardner, M.D., who initially derived the name Parental Alienation Syndrome put out a flyer (also in PDF format to advertise his book The Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Guide for Mental Health Professionals and Legal Professionals (available through his website)
  • Parents Who Have Successfully Fought Parent Alienation Syndrome
    by A. Jayne Major, Ph.D. from her website

    This article is a FABULOUS summary of PAS that is very readable and complete. It is, seemingly, only published on her website that is providing information about her parenting course to potential instructors but, because it was so good I have reformatted it and added it to our collection. (It was so good I was ready to sign up for the course!) This document is also available in PDF format.

  • What you do and don’t do when as a loving parent you are confronted with a severe case of PAS in your child
    by William Kirkendale
    Mr. Kirkendale is a father with a child he has not seen for a considerable length of time, and he has put together a list of some of his DO’S and DONTS that many of us have learned to late. Some of his suggestions, especially about approaching the court or accessing the media, are not particularly appropriate in Canada but the underlying fire is right on target.
  • Questioning the Mental Health Expert’s Custody Report
    by Ira Daniel Turkat, Ph.D
    from the American Journal of Family Law, Volume 7, 175-179 (1993).

    This article is not specifically about PAS. However, it is an EXCELLENT article to look at when you are selecting an assessor or an expert in a legal case. I wish selecting an expert was easy – this article does give you some suggestions that are extremely relevant. This document is also available in PDF format from the California Divorce & Child Custody Experts.

California Divorce & Child Custody Experts – Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS).

Arizona Judges OK to use Parental Alienation in Custodial Interference Cases

In Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Marriage, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation on February 20, 2010 at 1:55 am

February 19, 2010 /24-7PressRelease/

Custodial Interference and Parental Alienation in AZ

Police arrested a woman in connection with a child abduction case even though she is not a suspect in the child’s disappearance.

Instead, Tammi Smith of Scottsdale, Ariz., faces custodial interference charges for her lengthy and repeated pressure to adopt the 8-month-old baby. The legally and emotionally complex world of adoption and parental custody is further complicated by custodial interference and parental alienation.

Courts grant various levels of custody to birth parents, adoptive parents and guardians. Physical custody means the child lives with the custodian at least part of the time, who is responsible for the child’s well-being. Legal custody allows rights to decide on schooling, religion and other major factors in a child’s life. It may or may not coincide with physical custody. Both types of custody also can be split in joint custody cases.

Parents or other individuals can be charged with custodial interference if they refuse to return a child to the custodian after visitation or otherwise try to deny the right to established custody.

Custodial interference laws vary widely between states. Under Arizona state law, a person who is not the parent or legal custodian can face a Class 3 felony for keeping a child from their legal custodian. This may bring a sentence of up to 8.75 years in prison.

Smith had brief guardianship over Gabriel Johnson, the 8-month-old baby she wants to adopt. After this 10-day period, she allegedly bullied Gabriel’s father, forged court documents and tried to have the custody case moved to Tennessee, where the laws might be more favorable to her adoption case. These extreme measures led to a charge of conspiracy to commit custodial interference. A second charge of custodial interference was dropped.

The more common type of custodial interference is one parent keeping the child away from another parent in a joint custody situation. Under Arizona state law, this type of custodial interference is a Class 6 felony, bringing sentences ranging from probation to years in prison.

In such cases, judges may also take parental alienation syndrome (PAS) into consideration. Parental alienation is when one parent repeatedly criticizes and disparages the other parent in an attempt to alienate the child from the other parent. Often the result is that the child no longer wants to have contact with the alienated parent. The degree of parental alienation may differ in severity (mild, moderate, severe) based on the circumstances, and the effects may vary ranging from the child acting out when in the alienated parents care to permanent damage to the parent/child relationship.

Due to the harmful nature of PAS, and custodial interference, it is important to speak to a family law attorney in your area if you believe your child may be a victim. A lawyer can provide more information on warning signs to look for in your child, assess the circumstances of your case and answer your questions regarding your legal rights and options.

Article provided by Cates, Hanson, Sargeant & Rakestraw, P.L.C.
Visit us at www.scottsdaleazdivorcelaw.com


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Press Release – Custodial Interference and Parental Alienation in AZ.