mkg4583

Posts Tagged ‘Parental Rights Amendment’

The Criminalization of Parents – Parental Rights Under Assault!

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Support, child trafficking, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Freedom, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes on May 23, 2009 at 3:00 pm

By Stephen Baskerville
© 2009

The California appeals court decision criminalizing parents who homeschool their children is only the tip of an iceberg. Nationwide, parents are already being criminalized in huge numbers, and it is not limited to homeschoolers.

During the Clinton years, the trend toward turning children into tools for expanding government power increased rapidly. Otherwise indefensible programs and regulations are now rationalized as “for the children.”

As a result, government now has so many ways to incarcerate parents that hardly a family in America has not been touched. The criminalization of parents is highly bureaucratic, effected through a bureaucratic judiciary and supported by a vast “social services” machinery that few understand until it strikes them. They then find themselves against a faceless government behemoth from which they are powerless to protect their children or defend themselves.

Homeschoolers are usually accused of “educational neglect,” a form of child abuse. Like other child abuse accusations, it does not usually involve a formal charge, uniformed police, or a jury trial. Instead the accusations are leveled by social workers, whose subjective judgment is minimally restrained by due-process protections. As Susan Orr, head of the federal Children’s Bureau points out, these social workers are in effect plainclothes police – but they are not trained or restricted like regular police.

Homeschoolers are not alone. Any parents can be charged with “child abuse” on the flimsiest of pretexts, because child abuse has no definition. Because of our presumption of innocence, crimes are generally defined as they are adjudicated: A crime has been committed if a jury convicts. But the roughly 1 million cases of child abuse annually (out of 3 million accusations) are “confirmed” or “substantiated” not by jury trials but by social workers or (sometimes) judges.

Most such parents are not imprisoned. They merely lose their children.

Virtually every American can now tell of a relative or friend visited by the feared Child Protective Services because of a playground injury or a routine bruise.
Too many dismiss these frightening ordeals as aberrations. In fact, they proceed from a bureaucratic logic that is driven by federal funding. The more “abuse” the social workers find, the more money they get to combat it.

But serious as this is, it is still mild compared to the largest sector of semi-criminalized parents: the involuntarily divorced. The moment one parent files for divorce, even when no grounds are evinced, the government automatically and immediately seizes control of the children, who become effectively wards of the state. Astoundingly, they are then almost always placed in the “custody” of the parent that initiates the divorce, placing the divorcing parent and the state in collusion against the parent that is faithful to the marriage and family. The non-divorcing parent, even if legally unimpeachable, can then be arrested for unauthorized contact with his or her own children. Here too abuse accusations can be readily fabricated out of thin air, further criminalizing the innocent parent. He (it is usually, though not always, the father) can then be arrested, even without a shred of evidence that any abuse has occurred. He can also be arrested if he cannot pay child support that may consume most or even all his income. He can even be arrested for not paying a lawyer or psychotherapist he has not hired.

But what is most striking here – in contrast to homeschoolers – is the absence of opposition. The genius of the feminists is to vilify fathers in terms designed to incur the revulsion of decent people“pedophiles,” “batterers,” “deadbeat dads” – and too many conservatives and Christians are fooled.

In fact, the social science data are clear that these alleged malefactors are rare among biological fathers and almost entirely the creation of feminist propaganda. Accused fathers are no more likely to be criminals or child abusers than are homeschooling parents. They have merely fallen into the clutches of another sector of the child exploitation bureaucracy.

Indeed, it is well-known among scholars that true child abuse takes place overwhelmingly in single parent homes – homes without fathers. By removing fathers under trumped-up abuse accusations, the child abuse apparatchiks create the environment for real abuse, further expanding their business.

Campaigns against homeschoolers and fathers are only the extreme manifestations of the larger attack on all parents. They indicate where we all may be headed if we do not take a united stand for parental rights against a judicial-bureaucratic machine that is not only destroying families but justifying its own expansion in the process.

Though conservatives often misuse the term, two features used by scholars to define totalitarian government were its highly bureaucratic methods and its willingness to invade and destroy the private sphere of life, particularly family life.

Both these tendencies come together in the governmental leviathan that now administers our children: the education establishments, family courts, child protective services, child support enforcement agents, “human services” agencies, counseling services, domestic violence programs and much more.

The very idea that the criminal justice system has been diverted from its role of protecting society from dangerous criminals and instead used to threaten law-abiding parents with jail for educating or raising or simply being with their children should be seen by all Americans as a serious threat to our families and our freedom.

Stephen Baskerville is associate professor of government at Patrick Henry College and author of “Taken Into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family” (Cumberland House, 2007).

The original article can be found on World Net Daily: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=58963

Advertisements

Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Lost Parent’s Perspective – Chapter 5 of 5

In child trafficking, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, DSM-IV, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Freedom, judicial corruption, Liberty, MMPI, MMPI 2, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, state crimes on May 23, 2009 at 1:00 am

by Despina Vassiliou
Department of Educational Psychology and Counselling, McGill University
3700 McTavish, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 1Y2
CHAPTER 5

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

The present qualitative study examined lost parents’ perceptions of the alienating circumstances they and their families experienced in an attempt to gain a better understanding of the nature of Parental Alienation Syndrome and its consequences. The participants included five fathers and one mother who perceived themselves as having experienced PAS. The data were collected via semi-structured, open-ended interview questionnaires. The results consisted of verbatim data transcribed from participants’ tape recorded responses. A qualitative analysis of the compiled data was performed for each participant. This section presents a summary and discussion of all the results. The four previously outlined study objectives are addressed with respect to the findings of the present study.

Question 1: Are there characteristics (e.g., number of children, number of marriages, etc.) common to alienated families?

Previous studies on alienation that have examined the role of family characteristics as possible factors in the occurrence of the alienation have found differing results. For instance, in the study conducted by Dunne and Hedrick (1994) family characteristics were not found to be a factor of PAS, whereas a study conducted by Calabrese et al., (1987) found that characteristics of individuals were better predictors of alienation than family characteristics. Specifically, high levels of alienation were found to be associated with unemployed, single mothers with a daughter. Further, the daughter was found to have had few friends. Although a number of the participants in the present study had tended to only one PAS child, the lost parents tended to remarry after the alienation, and the alienators had tended to relocate with the PAS child. These results were found to be weak indicators of PAS as they were not reported by a majority of the participants (i.e., greater than 50%). Supporting the results of Dunne and Hedrick (1994), it appears that family characteristics such as number of children, number of marriages, and number of relocations are weak indicators in the occurrence of PAS. Though these findings contradict those of Calabrese et al., (1987), they examined different family characteristics reported by the alienator and found that individual family members characteristics, such as the alienator’s employment and the gender of PAS and non-PAS children were relevant in the occurrence of PAS. Further study is required with a larger sample and more detailed questions concerning the number and gender of PAS children and non-PAS children, the number of marriages by both alienator and lost parent, the current marital status and employment of each parent, and the number and reasons for relocations. With these specific questions, a larger sample, and a comparison group of non-PAS divorced families, more light might be shed on the role of family characteristics in the occurrence of PAS.

Question 2: Are there common themes or issues among the conflicts within couples that contribute to marriage dissolution?

Previous studies examined the effects of conflict involved in separation and/or divorce on individual family members. For instance, Johnston, Gonzalez, and Campbell (1987) examined the behaviour of children from separated and/or divorced families who were subjected to “entrenched” parental conflict regarding their custody. It was postulated, in the current study, that an elevated level of conflict contributed to the occurrence of PAS. However, the results suggest that the dissolution of the PAS marriages occurred with varying degrees of conflict, from high levels of conflict including physical aggression, to situations with absolutely no conflict. The current study also found that with time, the majority of the participants reported strained relationships with their ex-spouses, where most had little or no contact with their ex-spouses due to a degradation of communication between the parents. These results suggest that there may be other factors aside from initial marital conflict that contributes to the occurrence of PAS. Lund’s (1995) findings indicated that a heightened number of conflicts occurring during the divorce, not during the marriage, may contribute to the occurrence of PAS. Again, further study of separating families is necessary to determine whether it is other factors that occur during the dissolution of the marriage and subsequent custody proceedings or if it is the time of the conflicts with respect to the divorce that plays a more significant role in PAS. Such studies should consist of a long-term examination of the situations that occur in separating families and the family member’s responses to them. For instance, a future study may have participants maintain daily journals that chronicle the events of the separation and these journals may later be analyzed qualitatively in order to determine whether any similarities exist across different families.

Question 3: Are there common themes in the participants’ experience of the alienation process?

Several common themes among the cases were found in the present study. Interestingly, these commonalties spanned the continent; they were not focused geographically. One commonality was that the PAS children were “enlisted” by the alienating parent as secondary alienators to them (i.e., to the primary alienator) to contribute to the alienation. This finding is consistent with the characteristics of PAS children described by Gardner (1992). Also described by Gardner (1992) and Cartwright (1993), others such as grandparents participated and contributed to the alienation. The reasons for which extended family members participate in that alienation remains unclear. Although there is some support for the notion that the closeness of these other alienators to the alienating parent may play a role, the results were inconclusive. A future study could contribute to the knowledge of PAS by examining the roles of the extended family members of PAS children.

A second commonality was that the lost parents reported feeling powerless as a result of the alienating situation. Others, especially the children, appeared to have gained control of the lost parents’ behaviour. These children could determine when, if at all, they would see their lost parent under what circumstances, and particularly what the lost parent would do with the child. The lost parent had to be careful not to anger their child lest they not see the child again. The sense that power shifted from the parent to the child, although not previously examined in the field of PAS, remains a logical consequence of the custody proceedings. As Turkat (1994) noted, the family undergoes a shift from having two parents who make decisions for the child, to one parent becoming a “visitor” in the child’s life. The “visiting” parent then loses the influence that he or she had previously and is unable to make the same decisions as he or she once did.

Third, the results suggest a lack of satisfaction with the services rendered by both legal and mental health professionals. The participants perceived a lack of knowledge of PAS on the part of the professionals, as well as a failure at the professional level to gather pertinent information prior to drawing conclusions. Participants perceived the psychological services they received as not helping the alienating situation, and perceived the legal professionals as supporting and even contributing to the alienation. The sense of dissatisfaction toward mental health professionals may be merited. Currently, there is a minimal amount of research conducted on PAS by psychologists and psychiatrists. Consequently, the number of these professionals who have any knowledge and understanding of PAS may be limited. Further research and discussion of the topic is imperative in order to provide more mental health professionals with greater knowledge of PAS and the intervention techniques that may be useful.

Legal professionals appear to be more aware of PAS as more articles are published by lawyers. However, the dissatisfaction with the legal system appears to stem from lawyers contributing to the alienation. Many have postulated that the legal system contributes to the occurrence of PAS (Gardner, 1992; 1991; Clawar & Rivlin, 1991; Dunne & Hedrick, 1994; and Girdner 1985). For instance, Cartwright (1993) had noted that prolonged legal proceedings contribute to the occurrence of PAS. Much of the blame for the occurrence of PAS may be related to the dissatisfaction the lost parents experienced with the legal system. This dissatisfaction may be due to the lost parents losing primary custody of their children to alienators. As a result, it is imperative that indicators and precursors of PAS be established in order to better inform judges, lawyers, and mental health professionals about PAS. These professionals, working together, can influence the outcome for PAS families. Their influence is shown with the findings of Dunne and Hedrick (1994) who linked the termination of PAS to the legal enforcement of a change in custody from the alienators to the lost parents. This finding was the only one to suggest an effective intervention for PAS families. Specifically, a possible intervention includes mental health professionals identifying PAS families to the legal professionals, who can then legally enforce the necessary change in custody.

The role of these professionals is also to inform others of PAS and its consequences. Currently, Anita Woolfolk (1998), in her bestselling textbook Educational Psychology, provides some startling information to student teachers. In her note to be “sensitive” to the rights of information for both parents, she suggests the following:

1. “When parents have joint custody, both are entitled to receive information and attend parent-teacher conferences.”
2. “The noncustodial parent may still be concerned about the child’s school progress.” (emphasis added) (p. 96)

In her first point, she neglects to mention the rights of noncustodial parents and when she does so in her second point, she states that they “may still be concerned” about their child. Such remarks provide future teachers with the impression that once a parent loses custody they also lose their parental rights and feelings for their children. Under Quebec law, Article 648 stipulates that a parent retains parental authority even if that parent does not have physical custody of the child (as cited in Department of Justice Canada, 1993). Specifically, parental authority is elaborated in Article 647 of the Quebec Civil Code (as cited in Department of Justice Canada, 1993) is stated as follows:

The father and mother have the rights and duties of custody, supervision and education of their children. They must maintain their children.

Fourth, the results of the present study suggest that the lost parents attributed the cause of the alienation to the alienators’ feelings and desires. Specifically, they perceived the alienators’ actions as motivated by hate and anger, revenge or some combination of these. However, these results lack enough detail to determine whether these motivations may be influenced by the influences that Gardner (1992) had suggested, such as the alienators’ mental health and the legal system. Specifically, the motivations of hate and/or anger and revenge found in the present study may be mediated by the alienators’ mental health as well as the alienators’ reactions to the lengths, processes, and outcomes of their legal cases.

Fifth, the results suggest a change in the frequency of visitation and custody arrangements impact on the relationships between the lost parents and their children. The participants reported that primary custody was given to the mother at the onset of the divorce, regardless of who later became the alienator and who later became the lost parent. Further, the fathers all had a consistent visitation schedule at the beginning of the custody arrangements (e.g., one weekend every two weeks). The final custody arrangements resulted in the alienators receiving custody and the lost parents receiving a significant reduction in their visitation schedules from half the original plan to no contact at all. Of interest is the apparent gender bias in initial custody agreements; specifically, mothers received primary custody. However, following the alienation all the lost parents — even the mother with initial primary custody — had their visitation drastically reduced. Moreover, as expected with a reduction of visitation, the lost parents described limited relationships with their children to whom they often wrote without reply. The only exception were two fathers who related that they probably maintained a relatively steady relationship with their children because the PAS was mild and even one of these fathers was alienated from his eldest child and with whom he had a limited relationship.

Overall, these findings indicate that there are several possible factors, such as changes in relationships among family members, the roles of mental health and legal professionals, as well as custody arrangements, that may be indicators or precursors to PAS. All of these factors lend support to several of Lund’s (1995) findings. First, Lund’s (1995) identified separation difficulties that are developmentally inappropriate as a contribution to PAS. It is possible that the pattern of the change in custody arrangements (where the alienator received primary custody at the end of the custody dispute) may result in the separation difficulties described by Lund’s (1995). Second, a characteristic of PAS children is that they exhibit some form of “oppositional” behaviour at least to the lost parent, as supported in the present study. Third, Lund’s (1995) also found that the non-custodians’ parental skills deteriorated and contributed to the occurrence of PAS. Such deterioration of the parental skills may be a result of the lost parent’s sense of lost power over their situation and, as indicated in the present study, they did not exercise their usual parenting styles. The lost parents reported that they felt that disciplining the PAS child may result in the child becoming angry and retaliating by denying visits with the lost parent. Since there appears to be several factors that may influence the occurrence of PAS, a long-term study that examines these singly and in combination may provide a useful insight as to possible indicators.

Question 4: Given the opportunity, what are some things that the lost parents perceive they might do differently?

The results of the current study suggest that armed with the knowledge they have now, each participant would have taken other means in order to prevent the current alienated situation from ever occurring. Examples of the means they would take include never having married, taking different legal routes, or seeking psychological services at an earlier date. Few studies have addressed this issue, however, the importance of preventing PAS is evident in that all of the participant’s would never want to repeat the experience.

A summary of the findings of the present study is as follows:

(1) Family characteristics, such as number of children, number of marriages, and the alienators number of relocations were weak factors in the occurrence of PAS.
(2) Marital conflicts and their intensity were weak predictors in the occurrence of PAS.
(3) As expected, the relationship between the alienating and lost parents were strained after the onset of PAS.
(4) There was a general decrease in the frequency of visitation for the lost parent which may or may not have been due to PAS.
(5) There was a reduction of other contacts (aside from visitation) between the lost parents and their children that, as expected, limited their relationship.
(6) By the very nature of PAS, all of the participants perceived a general “sabotage” of their relationships with their children by the alienators. The findings confirmed that the alienators used denigrating techniques (e.g., implying that the lost parents were not good people).
(7) The children acted as secondary alienators.
(8) The alienator’s closer family members tended to also alienate.
(9) The participants perceived the underlying cause of the alienation as the hatred toward the lost parents, anger, or revenge, or some combination of these.
(10) The lost parents experienced a loss of parental role and power whether or not they had visitation with their children.
(11) Although the lost parents sought the assistance of both legal and mental health professionals, they remained dissatisfied with these services. Both the legal and mental health professionals have inadequately explored all the parameters implied in PAS.
(12) The participants, provided that they had the knowledge about PAS that they presently have, would have behaved differently towards their ex-spouse.
(13) As expected, the participants perceived the alienating circumstances as exerting serious negative emotional and financial consequences on their lives.
(14) They hoped to be able to be reunited with their children in the future. They would be able to do so by maintaining contact with the children (i.e., by sending letters and cards). These findings illustrate both the complexity and seriousness of PAS. Thus the ability to identify precursors, indicators, and effective interventions for these families is essential.

Limitations of the Study and Recommendations for Additional Research

The research conducted in the present study involved a small sample of participants who described themselves as victims of PAS and consequently, generalizations can only be made cautiously. Although some pre-defined criteria were given as a basis for choosing the participants, additional specific criteria are necessary. For instance, a useful future criterion may be that the participants be identified as PAS subjects by trained professionals. However, due to time limitations, a lack of resources and the difficulty of identifying cases of PAS when there were so few professionals who had any knowledge of PAS, it might be difficult for a researcher to include this criteria. Second, interviews were conducted by telephone due to the great distances involved. Such a means of interview may be prone to overlook or minimize important qualitative data from nonverbal cues. Ideally, with a larger sample size, possibly a random sample, and the inclusion of a comparison group (e.g., families involved in amicable divorces) greater generalizability may be attained in such a study. To date there is very little research specifically on PAS; much that is known remains tentative. Further building on the data base available to researchers to date can provide greater information upon which to base hypotheses for future research.

The importance of a greater wealth of knowledge on PAS is evident by examining the focus placed on problems encountered in custody disputes by the government. The Senate of Canada has debated drafts of legislation Bill-C41, whose principle is to have both spouses share the “financial obligation to maintain the children of the marriage in accordance with their relative abilities” (Chapter 1, article 11-2). As a result, the Senate of Canada and the House of Commons has created a Joint Committee on Custody and Access. The purpose of this committee is to “examine and analyze issues relating to parenting arrangements after separations and divorce” (Senate Debates, October 28, 1997, pp. 253). Senator Anne C. Cools presented a speech to amend certain aspects of the Joint Committee. The amendment passed and has been sent to the House of Commons for their approval. The amendment Senator Anne C. Cools proposed was to have the Joint Committee on Custody and Access examine important issues relating to separation and divorce. Specifically, she noted that issues such as Parental Alienation Syndrome and false allegations of sexual abuse are difficulties that non-custodial parents encounter. As a result the Committee will set out to:

assess the need for a more child-centred approach to family law policies and practices that would emphasize joint parental responsibilities and child-focused parenting arrangements based on children’s needs and best interests; (Senate Debates, p. 257)

The Committee will be examining issues related to custody and access to children after divorce and separation. Mental health professionals will likely be sources of information for this Committee, and Parental Alienation Syndrome will likely be a relevant issue to be examined. Consequently, mental health professionals need to examine PAS further in order to provide both pertinent information to the Committee and more importantly help for the families of PAS.

References

Arditti, J. A. (1992). Factors related to custody, visitation, and child support for divorced fathers: An exploratory analysis. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 17(3-4), 23-42.

BILL-C41, Chapter 1, Statutes of Canada (1997).

Calabrese, R. M., Miller, J. W., and Dooley, B. (1987). The identification of alienated parents and children: Implications for school psychologists. Psychology in the Schools, 24, 145-150.

Cartwright, G. F. (1993). Expanding the parameters of parental alienation syndrome. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 21(3), 205-215.

Child custody and access reform: Special joint committee established, Senate of Canada, Senate Debates, 1997.

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

Demo, A. H. and Acock, A. C. (1988). The impact of divorce on children, Journal of Marriage and the Family, 50, 619-648.

Department of Justice Canada (1993). Custody and access: Public discussion. Canada, Ministry of Supply and Services Canada.

Dunne, J., and Hedrick, M. (1994). The parental alienation syndrome: An analysis of sixteen cases. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 21(3/4), 21-38.

Gardner, R. A. (1991). Psychotherapeutic and legal approaches to the three types of parental alienation syndrome families. In Family evaluation in child custody mediation, arbitration, and litigation. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics.

Gardner, R. A. (1992). The Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Guide for Mental Health and Legal Professionals. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics.

Girdner, L. K. (1985). Strategies of conflict: Custody litigation in the United States. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 9(1), 1-15.

Goldwater, A. (1991). Le syndrome d’alienation parentale[in English]. In Developments en droits familial (pp. 121-145) Cowansville, Quebec: Les Edition Yvons Blais.

Hoffman, M. L. (1971). Father absence and conscience development. Developmental Psychology, 4, 400-406.

Johnston, J.R., Gonzalez, R., and Campbell, L.E.G. (1987). Ongoing postdivorce conflict and child disturbance. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 15(4), 493-509.

Kressel, K. (1985). The process of divorce. New York: Basic Books.

Kurdek, L. A. (1981). An integrative perspective on children’s divorce adjustment. American Psychologist, 36(8), 856-866.

Lund, M. (1995). A therapist’s view of parental alienation syndrome. Family and Conciliation Courts Review, 33(3), 308-316.

Palmer, N. K. (1988). Legal recognition of parental alienation syndrome. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 16(4), 360-363.

Slater, E. J., and Haber, J. D., (1984). Adolescent adjustment following divorce as a function of familial conflict. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 52(5), 920-921.

Rand, D.C. (1997). The spectrum of parental alienation syndrome: Part I. American Journal of Forensic Psychology, 15(3), 23-52.

Turkat, I.D. (1994). Child visitation interference in divorce. Clinical Psychology Review, 14, 737-742.

Woolfolk, A. E. (1998). Educational psychology: Seventh edition (pp. 96). Toronto: Allyn and Bacon.

Yin, R. K. (1984). Case study research, designs and methods. Beverly Hills.

APPENDIX A

LETTERS TO PARTICIPANTS

PARENTAL ALIENATION STUDY

If you or someone you know has experienced Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) and are willing to participate in a study, please contact Despina at (514)-840-1159 or via e-mail at dvassi@PO-BOX.Mcgill.Ca.

*PAS is defined as a syndrome where one parent (usually the custodial parent) attempts to alienate the child or children from another parent. It includes a series of conscious and subconscious techniques, such as brainwashing, by the alienating parent, as well as the child or children’s own contributions for denigrating the allegedly hated parent (Cartwright, 1993, Gardner, 1992).

APPENDIX B

CONSENT FORMS

Note: All consent forms will be kept by the researcher (Despina Vassiliou) until the completion and acceptance of her thesis and graduation. After that time, the consent forms will be destroyed.

Consent Form
McGill University Research Project

The Effects of Parental Alienation Syndrome on Individual Family Members

Dear Sir/Madam,

We are presently conducting research that will examine the development of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)* within the family unit. More specifically, we are interested in examining each of the family member’s role in the alienation process. Participants will be asked a series of questions pertaining to the alienating relationships within the family unit. The questions are straightforward and will take approximately one hour to discuss and will be tape recorded. Your responses will be kept completely confidential and anonymous. You are not under any obligation to participate, and you may choose to discontinue the study at any point. If you agree to participate in this research project, please sign the form below.

We greatly appreciate your consideration of this project. We would be delighted to provide more background information and answer any questions you might have. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Despina Vassiliou
MA student, School Psychology
McGill University
514-398-4257

Glenn F. Cartwright, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Educational Psychology
McGill University
514-398-4240

I, ________________________, agree to participate in the McGill PAS study.
(Please print your name in full)

Participant’s Signature

Date

APPENDIX C

INTERVIEW QUESTIONNAIRES

Interview Questions

Current Status:
1. Describe to me your current family constellation?
· How many children do you have?
· Are they currently living with you?
· If no, how often do you get to see them if at all?
· Have you remarried?
2. Describe your current relationship with your ex-spouse.

Beginning of the Marital Dissolution:

3. When did the conflicts that lead to the dissolution of your marriage begin?
4. Did you see a common theme or issue in the conflicts?
5. How long did these conflicts before divorce became an option?
6. Who initiated the divorce and on what grounds?

Initiating and Proceedings of the Custody Case(s):
7. Describe the events that lead up to the custody proceedings?
8. How long was each of the legal cases (custody and divorce)?
9. Do you remember an occasion during the custody proceedings that lead to the delay of the case?
If yes,
· What effects did the delay have on the case?
· What effects did the delay have on your children and your relationship with them?

Contributions to P.A.S.:
10. Tell me some factors that contributed to the alienation in your case?
11. Do you believe that you had any role or make any contributions to the alienating situation?
12. What were your children’s role in the alienation? Describe some of their behaviours.
· Describe some of your behaviours or actions that contributed to the alienation?
13. Tell me about the effects of the alienation on your relationship with your children?
14. Describe for me your relationship with your children today?
15. Do you remember an occasion when other individuals contributed to the alienation? (How?)

Cause and Possible Termination of P.A.S.:
16. For how long did the alienation occur (in months)?
17. What do you believe was the underlying cause of the alienation?
18. How do you feel about the alienation now?
19. Has the alienation ceased? In your opinion, why is this so?
If the alienation has ceased:
· How long has it been since you have been removed from the alienated situation?
· Can you tell me about the circumstances that have made it possible for the alienation to have been terminated?
If the alienation has not ceased:
· Do you believe that there is a possibility of a reconciliation?
· If yes, what do you believe would make a reconciliation possible?

Looking Back:
20. When and how did you realize the implications of what was occurring, with regard to the alienation?
21. What do you feel is the impact of this whole experience on your life?
22. Had you or any of your family members sought out services for emotional assistance?
If yes,
· Who? And for what reasons?
· What was the outcome? (Were there any diagnoses made? Were you taking any medication?)
If not,
· How did you or they cope with the situation on your/their own?
23. How do you view the experience now as compared to how you viewed it then (while you were experiencing it)?
24. Has your opinion changed over time? How much time? How did it change?
25. Is there anything else that you would like to change or do over again?

APPENDIX D

SAMPLE PAGE OF TRANSCRIPT

APPENDIX E

CERTIFICATE OF ETHICAL RESPONSIBILITY

The original article can be found here: http://www.fact.on.ca/Info/pas/vassil98.htm#CHAPTER%205

How Our Tax Dollars Subsidize Family Breakup

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Support, child trafficking, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Freedom, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes on May 22, 2009 at 10:55 pm

By Stephen Baskerville
© 2009

Divorce and unwed childbearing cost taxpayers at least $112 billion each year or more than $1 trillion over the last decade. This estimate from the Institute for American Values is, as the authors suggest, likely to be an underestimate.

This staggering but plausible tally of the economic costs of family dissolution follows what we have long known about the social costs. All our major social ills – poverty, violent crime, substance abuse, truancy and more – are more closely linked to family breakdown and single-parent homes than to any other factor. A poor black child from an intact home is more likely to succeed than a rich white one from a single-mother home.

It is hardly surprising that massive financial costs follow from this: Welfare, law enforcement, education, health care – all these budgets are justified by the pathologies generated by single-parent homes. Indeed, family dissolution not only creates costs; by destroying society’s basic economic unit, it also prevents generating the wealth to meet those costs.

This is not to deny that we bear responsibility for all this through our sexually dissolute lifestyle, but the consequences of that lifestyle have already become institutionalized in coercive government policies. Diabolically, the very government programs advertised as addressing these social ills are the ones actually generating them. The result is a government perpetual-growth machine that will continue to expand until we have the courage stand up and unequivocally demand that it stop.

It began with welfare. Programs advertised as relieving families that had lost the father’s wages due to war and economic hardship became a bureaucratic mechanism for driving more fathers from the home. The result was the vast welfare underclass we usually associate with low-income minority communities – the vast breeding grounds of crime, drug abuse, truancy, teen pregnancy, child abuse and other horrors that soak up taxpayer dollars.

But now it is becoming even more serious. Divorce has transformed welfare programs into mechanisms for creating fatherless homes in the middle class. And here the welfare bureaucracies go further: After driving out the fathers, they are seizing family wealth and even incarcerating the fathers.

This criminalization of parents is not isolated. Perhaps the earliest welfare state provision was the public school system, which jealously guards its prerogatives of using children as political pawns. The recent California appeals court decision allowing the criminalization of homeschoolers is only one indication of government’s increasingly aggressive stance toward parents. The federal decision in Fields v. Palmdale, ruling that parents have no right to a voice in their children’s public school education, is another.

But schooling is only one arena. The divorce machinery is even more authoritarian. The divorce apparatus has so many methods of seizing children and family assets and for incarcerating parents that it is a wonder any families remain.

For example, child support enforcement is advertised as a way to recover welfare costs by forcing “deadbeat dads” to support children they “abandon.” In reality, it has become a massive subsidy on middle-class divorce, effectively bribing mothers to divorce with the promise of a tax-free windfall subsidized by taxpayers. It is also a means for incarcerating fathers without trial who cannot pay the extortionate sums. Far from saving money, child support enforcement loses money and – far more serious – subsidizes the divorces and unwed births that generate these additional costs.

Programs ostensibly for “child abuse” and “domestic violence” – problems also originating in single-parent welfare homes – have likewise become tools to create single-parent homes in the middle-class through divorce proceedings. Patently trumped-up accusations of child abuse or domestic violence, presented without any evidence, are used to separate fathers from their children and, likewise, to jail them not through criminal trials but through “civil” divorce proceedings and in new, openly feminist “domestic violence courts.” Thus does family dissolution also undermine our most cherished due process protections.

Further, mothers are not only enticed into divorce with promises of lucrative support payments; they are also coerced into it through threats of losing their children themselves. Mothers are now ordered to divorce their husbands on pain of losing their children through spurious child abuse accusations. Intact middle-class families now live in fear of a visit from the dreaded “child protective services” with the possibility of losing their children.

This machinery cannot be brought under control by marriage therapy programs, as the Institute for American Values advocates. While private church-based and community efforts like Marriage Savers should be encouraged, government psychotherapy merely puts more vested interests on the public payroll. We must demand that our tax dollars stop subsiding family breakup and ills that in turn require ever more tax dollars. By subsidizing the destruction of families, we are subsidizing the progressive impoverishing of our society. Indeed, by subsidizing the criminalization of both fatherless children and fathers, we are paying for the destruction of our freedom.

It is simply not possible to allow the family to unravel without having our civilization do the same. Yet that is precisely what we are doing.

Yet, even this is only the beginning. More alarming still are the political costs. For contrary to the beliefs even of most conservatives, divorce and unwed childbearing are not the products merely of a decadent culture. They are driven by government – the same government that is extracting $112 billion annually from our pockets.

The original article can be found on World Net Daily: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=62594

Newsweek’s Lies about Divorce

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

Posted: December 30, 2008
1:00 am Eastern

By Stephen Baskerville
© 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Criminal Defense Attorney’s View of the Family Violence Industry

In Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Support, child trafficking, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Freedom, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes on May 21, 2009 at 4:50 pm

© 2004 Paul G. Stuckle


TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. THE SPECIAL NATURE OF FAMILY VIOLENCE ALLEGATIONS
    1. TRUE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE MUST STOP
    2. INNOCENT FAMILY MEMBERS CAN BE FALSELY ACCUSED OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

II. EXAMPLES OF WHAT IS NOT FAMILY VIOLENCE

III. WHO IS THE REAL VICTIM ANYWAY?

IV. ZERO TOLERANCE AND NO-DROP POLICIES

V. THE FAMILY VIOLENCE INDUSTRY
    1. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS A POLITICAL CRIME
    2. THE FAMILY ADVOCACY CENTER
    3. FOLLOW THE MONEY

    4. TEAM UNITY: TAKE OUT A FAMILY FOR THE TEAM
    5. PSSST…. THEY ARE COMING….OR ARE THEY ALREADY HERE?

VI. CHANGING THE RULES TO CONVICT
    1. LEGISLATIVE CHANGES
    2. HEARSAY EVIDENCE

    3. SYNDROME EVIDENCE MAY BE ADMISSIBLE AGAINST THE ACCUSED
    4. CONVICTIONS WITHOUT PHYSICAL EVIDENCE
    5. SUMMARY : RECIPE FOR CONVICTION

VII. FAMILY VIOLENCE LEGAL FACTS: A CHECKLIST
    1. ISSUES UPON ARREST
    2. CONSEQUENCES OF A CONVICTION

VIII. SELECTING THE RIGHT ATTORNEY
    1. DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS ON YOUR OWN
    2. RULES FOR THE ACCUSED
    3. FINDING THE RIGHT CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY
        A. LENGTH OF PRACTICE AND EXPERIENCE
        B. REJECT PLEA BARGAINS

        C. PREPARE A VIGOROUS PRE-CHARGE DEFENSE TO AVOID PROSECUTION
        D. PREPARE A VIGOROUS DEFENSE FOR TRIAL. 

IX. CONCLUSION

BIBLIOGRAPHY


“HUSBANDS AND WIVES HAVE ARGUMENTS. DOES THAT NOW MEAN A TRIP TO JAIL AND A CRIMINAL
CONVICTION?”

“A CASE OF ALLEGED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE NOW BELONGS TO ‘THE FAMILY VIOLENCE INDUSTRY.’” 

“THE BELIEF SYSTEM IS ALSO ONE OF EXTREME ARROGANCE, THAT THE FAMILY VIOLENCE TEAM KNOWS BETTER THAN ANYONE, PARTICULARLY THE FAMILY ITSELF, OF WHAT IS BEST FOR THEM."
Paul G. Stuckle, Attorney at Law


I. THE SPECIAL NATURE OF FAMILY VIOLENCE ALLEGATIONS

1. True Domestic Violence Must Stop

No rational person condones violence toward anyone, particularly a family member. In America there are many tragic domestic relationships, which involve battered wives, husbands, and members of a household. A true victim in a violent family relationship needs immediate support and protection. A true battering spouse needs to face the legal consequences of their actions.

2. Innocent Family Members Can Be Falsely Accused of Domestic Violence

The legislature has enacted laws to assist police and prosecutors convict the guilty and stop the abuse of spouses and family members. The intent behind these laws is well meaning and necessary. Problems arise when laws designed to protect a victim of domestic violence are used too broadly and are applied to normal families. A big difference exists between an abusive spouse repeatedly committing violent acts, and a nonviolent family in which a single argument went too far.

Unfortunately, the politicians and authorities do not see the difference!!! 
To the self-proclaimed saviors and protectors of abused “victims,” any allegation of domestic violence means the household must be one continuously engaged in abusive
behavior.

‘The domestic violence entrepreneurs and state officials live in a different world from us. A sense of nameless vague threat is always in the background. To hear the pros talk, all the men they deal with are batterers, sexual abusers, or virtually time bombs of violence. Repeated
clichés like “at risk” and “a safe place” and “maintaining safety” pepper their sentences . . . 

John Maguire, Massachusetts News
www.massnews.com, “The Booming Domestic Violence
Industry”

If an argument between spouses was the benchmark for domestic violence, then almost every family in America would be defined as an abusive relationship. This governmental over-reaction and dragnet targeting of normal families and treating them as criminals has led us to massive injustice across the nation.


II. EXAMPLES OF WHAT IS NOT FAMILY VIOLENCE

Human beings make mistakes and act at immaturely at times. Everyone has past conduct they wish could be taken back. Part of being human is sometimes hurting those loved the most. The absurdity is to classify a single out of character nonviolent act as “criminal.” 

For instance, it is not family violence to:

– Yell and scream at our spouse or another household member;

– Use profanity during an argument with a spouse or household member;
– Engage in minor pushing incidents with a spouse or household member;
– Hold the arm or hand of a spouse or household member while arguing;
– Momentarily block the path of a spouse or household member;
– Throw and break items during an argument;
– Say hurtful and mean things to a spouse or household member;

– Use self defense to stop the other spouse or household member from attacking you.

With “Zero Tolerance” arrest policies and “No Drop” prosecutions, the number of arrests for petty family arguments has skyrocketed. A former prosecuting attorney explains the
phenomena:

Christopher Pagan, who was until recently a prosecutor in Hamilton
County, Ohio, estimates that due to a 1994 state law requiring police on a domestic call either to make an arrest or to file a report explaining
why a no arrest was made, “domestics” went from 10 percent to 40 percent of his docket. But, he suggests, that doesn’t mean actual abusers were coming to his attention more often. “ We started getting a lot of push-and-shoves,” says Pagan, “or even yelling
matches.” In the past, police officers would intervene and separate the parties to let them cool off. Now those cases end up in criminal courts. It’s exacerbating tensions between the parties, and it’s turning law-abiding middle class citizens into criminals.
Cathy Young, Vice President, Women’s Freedom Network “Domestic Violations,” Reason On Line, April
1998


III. WHO IS THE REAL VICTIM ANYWAY?

In Texas, the legal definition of a crime “victim” is not what one might think. The word “victim” seems to mean the person who was assaulted, stabbed, murdered, or had their property stolen. Under the law, the “victim” of a crime is the “State.” All criminal cases are therefore styled: “ The State of Texas vs. The
Defendant.”

Once the authorities become involved in a domestic disturbance, they will forever be intertwined with the eventual outcome of the incident. The State, meaning the government, police, and prosecutors, solely decide if a case will be prosecuted or dismissed. Even if the “real victim,” i.e. the person, who supposedly was assaulted, informs the authorities of their desire to have the case dismissed, the charging decision is still left up to the
government.

The allegedly assaulted person can provide the government with an “affidavit of non-prosecution,” a document stating prosecution is not desired and requesting the case to be dropped. Until recently, such affidavits were given substantial consideration from the government. After all, why would the authorities want to prosecute when the actual victim did not desire it? The answer is simple: 

A case of alleged domestic violence now belongs to “The Family Violence
Industry.”

A constant complaint from those at the center of a family violence investigation is how
irrelevant the family is to the investigative team. The team wants to win the case. It wants a criminal conviction. And will do anything to get it. The team, despite its public overtures, does not care about the individual family it is making life-altering decisions for. The family, alleged victim, defendant, and children alike are all mere pawns, literally at the mercy of this governmental machine.

The machine knows very well how to destroy families, yet it knows nothing of healing them.

‘The woman sitting across the table often breaks into tears and fits of trembling. She lives in fear. She says she has been threatened and emotionally battered by those who call themselves “front-line workers” in the war against violence against women.” Since the violence against women specialists invaded their lives a year ago,
husband and wife have developed ulcers, been financially battered and say they survived many attempts to break up their marriage.

Now they’re angry . . . From the start the advice from support workers connected to the Domestic Violence Court was that she should break up her marriage. She should not risk living with a violent man. Her attempts to
defend her husband were met with we- understand- and- we- know- better attitudes; she was afraid of him and was trying to protect him so he wouldn’t be angry. When it became clear she had no intention of separating from her husband, the threats from domestic violence specialists connected to the court moved to a new level that still terrifies her.

“They seemed to be threatening to take my child. They said if I wasn’t going to protect my child from his father, then the system would have
to.”

“ I learned it’s a system that doesn’t listen.”

Dave Brown, The Ottawa Citizen, 2001 “Cult of The Domestic Violence
Industry”


IV. Zero Tolerance and No-Drop Policies

‘In the Domestic Violence industry, when the accusation is made, the case is
closed.’ 

John Maguire, Massachusetts News, www.massnews.com
“The Booming Domestic Violence Industry”

In response to supply the necessary bodies to perpetuate the family violence industry, law enforcement has adopted a new tool:
“Zero Tolerance.” 

What does “Zero Tolerance” mean? Two police officers will be dispatched to a home regarding a domestic disturbance. They will not arrive empty handed. Patrol units, equipped with computers, enable officers to quickly determine if this household has had any prior domestic incidents. Officers will know the complete criminal history of each spouse before arrival.

The police will find a household in which spouses have argued and are emotionally upset. The officers will separate the parties and conduct a brief interview of each’s version of events. The police will look for physical signs of violence, such as bleeding, red marks, or scratches. Then the two officers will confer with each other and compare stories. A decision to arrest will then be made. This entire “investigative” process can be completed in mere minutes, with the arrest decision made in a split second.

‘What couple does not encounter stress, especially when they have children? But in the fever of emotion, a woman can call “911″ and have three police cars there in minutes. After this fateful act, she loses all control. The state
prosecutes her husband whether she likes it or not. He is jailed and prohibited from returning home . . . And all they wanted was the police to defuse a tense situation . . . This policy ( Zero Tolerance) is designed to accustom society (both police and victims) to the intrusion of the state into
private lives. Couples are arrested just for having an argument. Neighbors phone the police. What’s next? Cameras in our homes just like George Orwell’s “1984″’? 

Editorial,
Winnipeg Free Press, “Zero Tolerance,” February 10, 2002

The Dallas County Texas Task Force on Domestic Violence was a federal grant award recipient in 1998 for $1,333,951.00. The title of the award, “Grants To Encourage Arrest Policies,” is a federal directive encouraging “Zero Tolerance.” The grant states: 

‘Purpose: These funds will allow the Dallas County Task Force to continue ensuring arrests and prosecution of domestic violence offenders, provide counseling and support to victims, and ensure that victims have access to
protective orders. Funds will support the addition of staff attorneys and prosecutors.’
www.ojp.usdoj.gov/vawo/map/arrest/1998/txgtea.htm

AND THEN THE CASE WILL NOT BE DROPPED.

“Zero Tolerance” by the police leads to a “No-Drop” policy by the prosecution. An arrest means the case will be prosecuted. Prosecution offices associated with Family Advocacy Centers will proceed with the case even if the family situation has been resolved. An “Affidavit of Non-Prosecution” is ineffective as this legal document merely reflects what the victim wants to do. The affidavit indicates the family is in healing and desires to work on repairing the marital relationship. The Family Violence Industry does not consider salvaging the marital relationship as an acceptable end result. 

The “protectors” view their job entails ending the relationship. Prosecutors are not concerned with the wishes or needs of the real victim. The “No –Drop” policy requires the case to go to trial even if the real victim wants the charges dismissed. “No-Drop” means the government will push the case all the way regardless of hardship upon
the family. To the entrepreneurs of the Family Violence Industry, “helping” the victim
may necessitate separation of the family enforced through protective orders, followed by divorce. In
addition, the helping agenda may include loss of employment for the accused spouse, financial
hardship, and adding unnecessary emotional stress to a family.

“Zero Tolerance” means that the government, not you, the government knows what is best for your
family.

If the government is so concerned about stopping family violence and helping families, why would they push prosecution when the family is asking them not to?


V. THE FAMILY VIOLENCE INDUSTRY

1. Domestic Violence Is a Political Crime

“Hello. I’m from the Government and here to help.” This old saying is satirically funny. Governmental intervention into anything usually creates nameless, faceless bureaucracies, solving nothing, complicating everything, and resulting in higher taxes.

The government has definitely made its way into family violence:

‘Like many crusades to stamp out social evils, the War on Domestic Violence is a mix of good intentions (who could be against stopping spousal abuse?), bad information, and worse theories. The result has been a host of unintended consequences that do little to empower victims while sanctioning interference in personal relationships.’ 
Cathy Young, Vice President, Women’s Freedom Network “Domestic Violations”, Reason On Line, April
1998

Ever few years a new “crime de jour “ (crime of the day) is created. This phenomenon begins with a legitimate social problem needing to be addressed. Examples in recent years of “crimes de jour” include “Driving While Intoxicated” and “Child Sexual Abuse.” The tragic consequences of isolated worst-case scenarios of these crimes are highly publicized. The nation is inundated with media coverage and informed the problem is not being adequately dealt with by the criminal justice system. Crime victims form support groups (such as M.A.D.D.- “Mothers Against Drunk Driving”), and these support groups in turn create lobby groups. The lobbyists influence the media, judges, and politicians. Political candidates sense community outrage and run campaigns with platforms designed to solve the “crime de jour.” After each campaign year and legislative session, new laws address perceived omissions, loopholes, and provide additional punishment for those convicted of the “crime de jour.”

The enactment of such special interest group legislation officially converts the “crime de jour” into a “political
crime.”

‘Some crusaders openly argue that domestic violence should be taken more seriously than other crimes. In 1996, the sponsor of a New York bill toughening penalties for misdemeanor assault on a family member (including ex-spouses and unwed partners) vowed to oppose a version extending the measure to all assaults: “The whole purpose of my bill is to single out domestic violence,” Assemblyman Joseph Lentol said. “ I DON’T WANT THE WORLD TO THINK WE’RE TREATING STRANGER ASSAULTS THE SAME WAY AS DOMESTIC ASSAULTS.”
Cathy Young, Women’s Freedom Network,” Domestic Violations” Reason On Line, April
1998

The new “crime de jour” is domestic
violence.

2. The Family Advocacy Center 

A strange conglomeration of individuals pushing varying agendas comprise the force behind the family violence movement. The movement combines legitimate victims and their advocate supporters with professional vendors who have much to gain through concentrated efforts to expand the industry:

‘These people, some idealistic and some merely pragmatic, have networked, talked with each other, served on various commissions, boosted each other’s careers, and helped to expand the definition of family violence, and the
size of state and federal funding massively . . . Only ten years ago, the women’s safety-advocates were a small group of idealists, operating on pennies. Today the movement has
grown large on state and federal tax monies. Every month, it seems spawns new sub-programs, clinics, shelters, research institutes, counseling centers, visitation centers, poster campaigns. Today, domestic violence is a big industry . . . Mapping the full extent of the domestic violence industry is not easy, because it’s a cottage industry, spread out in hundreds of places. State and federal money (in each state) goes to well over a hundred institutes, clinics, programs for counseling or outreach or coordination or training, computer databases, coalitions, shelters, PR agencies and other groups.’
John Maguire, “The Booming
Domestic Violence Industry, ”Massachusetts News
www.massnews.com 

The media, pressured by women’s safety advocate groups has perpetuated public hysteria by over inflating the true incidence of domestic violence. While a legitimate social problem and cause for reasonable concern, the response to the force-fed hysteria has been legislative overkill. In order to facilitate the legislative demands, bureaucracies must be formed. The result is “The Family Advocacy
Center.”

A typical family advocacy center combines many agencies and individuals into one facility. The center will house police, legal, medical, social service, substance abuse, housing, women’s advocacy, victim’s rights, and counselors in one facility. The Irving Texas “Family Advocacy Center” defines itself as
“one stop shopping for victims.” www.irvingpd.com/IFAC.htm). 

3. Follow the Money

Federal law provides funding to states for the creation, development, and utilization of Family Advocacy Centers through the “Family Violence Prevention and Services Act.” (Title III of the Child Abuse Amendments of 1984, Pub. L. 98-457, 42 U.S.C. 10401). The bottom line for the falsely accused is this:
Domestic Violence is now an enormous financial industry. Each state receives millions of federal dollars in grant money by adopting provisions of federal
law.

‘(Women’s Shelter Centers) provide DSS (Department of Social Services) with additional clients. The women’s groups get more money and DSS gets more state and federal money. They both are artificially inflating their numbers. They inflate domestic violence statistics this way and through the use of coerced restraining orders. By artificially inflating the domestic violence statistics they are able to create political hysteria– leading to more funding.’
Nev Moore, “Unhealthy Relationship between DSS and Domestic Violence Industry.”

In effect, the government has created a self-fulfilling prophecy. Federal money is awarded to communities who can statistically justify the need for a family violence center. In so doing, the government itself perpetuates charges of domestic violence. It creates a “Family Violence Industry.” This circular reasoning mirrors the previous “crime de jour” of child sexual assault in the 1990’s. A comparison of the governmental domestic violence movement with the prior special interest group-driven child sexual assault hysteria
illustrates:

‘According to the late Dr. Richard Gardner, the reason for the alarming rise in child abuse allegations and specifically false allegations can be rationally explained. “ There’s a complex network of social workers, mental health professionals, and law enforcement officials that actually encourages charges of child abuse–- whether they are reasonable or not.” Dr. Gardner is referring to the fact that the Mondale Act (CAPTA) is responsible for the dramatic increase in child abuse charges. “ In effect, the Mondale Act, despite its good intentions, created and continued to fund a virtual child abuse industry, populated by people whose livelihoods depend on bringing more and more allegations into the system”’.
Armin Brott, “A system out of Control: The Epidemic of False Allegations of Child Abuse” 

The Federal Government will award $20 million in grants in 2004 to communities across the nation to plan and develop Family Advocacy Centers. (United States Department of Justice “Fact Sheet” on “The President’s Family Justice Center Initiative”;
www.ojp.usdoj.gov). The DOJ’s “Fact Sheet” reveals hidden financial incentives in the formation of centers to promote domestic violence cases. Family violence “services” will create a large number of jobs and benefit center associated professionals. Dropping cases will not. According to the DOJ Fact Sheet, the Family Violence Centers may include the following
“services”:

– Medical Care, Including On-site or Off-site Primary Physical Care, Mental Health Counseling for Victims and
Dependents, Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Collection;

– Law Enforcement and Legal Assistance Services, Including On-site Help to Get Protective Orders Signed and Enforced, to Investigate and Prosecute Offenders, and Provide Witness Assistance and Court-based Victim Advocates;

– State-of-the-art Information Sharing and Case Management Systems;

– Social Services, Including Federal and State Welfare Assistance for Parents and Children;

– Employment Assistance, Including Employment and Career Counseling and Training Through Local One Stop Employment Centers or Other Local Services;

– Substance Abuse Treatment;

– Child-related Needs Such as Parenting Classes, Teen Pregnancy Services, Supervised
Visitation and Safe Exchange Programs, Services for Child Witnesses of Domestic Violence, Assistance for Relocating Children into New Schools, Truancy Programs, and Youth Mentoring Programs;

– Housing and Transportation Assistance to Cover Immediate Needs and Help with Long-term Housing Solutions; and

– Chaplaincy or Faith-based Counseling Programs Providing Victims and Their Families with Non-sectarian Spiritual Guidance. 

United States Department of Justice
www.ojp.usdoj.gov

Fact Sheet: The President’s Family Justice Center
Initiative

Which professionals directly benefit from a community-based Family Violence Center?

– Medical: Physicians, S.A.N.E (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners), and Nurses;

– Law Enforcement: Police Investigators, Patrol, Polygraph Operators; Supervisors, Staff;

– Legal: District Attorney’s Offices; Assistant District Attorneys, Investigators, Staff;

– Social Services: Department of Protective and Regulatory Services, Caseworkers, Investigators, Supervisors, and Support Staff;

– Employment Offices: Employment Agencies, Workers, and Staff;

– “Forensic Interviewers”; – Substance Abuse Centers: Substance Abuse Counselors;

– Child Related Vendors; Counselors and Therapists;

– Housing Authorities; Placement and Personnel

– Counseling Services: Mental Health, Rage and Anger, Battering Intervention Prevention Program Counselors, Marriage Counselors, Family Counselors;

– Women’s Advocacy Group Personnel – Women’s Shelter Placement Personnel and Shelter Personnel

– Victim Advocate Services Personnel (Advocates to Support Victims and Monitor the Individual Case from Arrest Through
Trial).

Who on the above list benefits if no arrest and charge are made?

Ultimately, this begs the big question:

Is the government interested in the quality or the quantity of domestic abuse cases?
Silverstorn, “The Truth About Child Protective Services”,
www.home.attbi.com/-silverstorm/cps.htm

A critic of the Family Violence Industry, John Flaherty, co-chairman of the Fatherhood Coalition states:

‘This industry is an octopus. It’s got its tentacles in more and more parts of everyday life. It’s a
political movement . . . This industry doesn’t answer to anybody. They’re in it mainly for the
money . . . The industry’s problems may be about to increase, because it is becoming clear
through scientific research that the whole premise of the movement and the industry it spawned
– – that “domestic violence” means bad men hitting helpless, innocent women – – is just plain wrong.’
 
John Maguire, Massachusetts News
www.massnews.com, “The Booming Domestic Violence
Industry”

The Family Advocacy Centers will operate with the group mindset of most bureaucracies.

“ The agencies’ main objective is self preservation: to perpetuate the bureaucracy and to expand the bureaucracy.” 

(Silverstorn,“The Truth About Child Protective Services,” www.home.attbi.com/-silverstorm/cps.htm).

The method for doing this is by seeking and making cases. 

How will the advocacy centers get the number of cases they need? A philosophical change at the most basic level was needed. In order to make the numbers work, the definition of family violence had to be expanded to extend beyond battering spouses and include normal family arguments. In essence, the system adapted by accepting each family violence “911″ call as a potential customer. 

‘A call to 911 is generally mutually assured destruction of a relationship, marriage, family, and the lives of all involved. It doesn’t matter that you’re innocent. Or that she attacked you first. Or that you both went over the line and that both of you want to put it behind you and work it out. The system will prosecute you and persecute you until you’ve confessed your sins– even if you’ve none to confess. And you’re not cured until they say you’re cured– even if you were never sick to begin with.’ 

Charles E. Corry, Ph.D., quoting Glenn Sacks, 
“What Happens When 911 is Dialed Under Current Colorado
Law”

“Zero Tolerance” and “No- Drop” policies create a constant stream of what the advocacy centers need most: bodies. More arrests result in more persons charged. The assembly line then takes over, and the unwitting family becomes passed on from one self-interested protector to another. Post arrest the victim is ”assisted” by the police detective, “forensic interviewer,” and the prosecutor. Incriminatory statements secured, the prosecution team will temporarily lose interest until trial.

At this point, the victim support groups take over, advocates are appointed, and shelters are called, counselors engaged. The list goes on until the family is emotionally, psychologically, and financially drained. And if it all goes perfectly for the team: conviction.

In essence, a great food chain is created, in which many professionals, counselors, physicians, and vendors, are feeding off persons arrested and charged under “Zero Tolerance” programs. Family advocacy salesmen freely admit the concept is a direct springboard from the child advocacy centers. An Allen Texas Police Investigator states: “The children’s advocacy center works very well in Collin County . . . crime victims groups in Collin County work well together. So having a family justice center would encourage that more.” (Dallas Morning News, Collin County Edition, March 14, 2004, “Groups Unite To End Domestic
Violence”).

The financial rewards for Family Advocacy Centers will not be dependent upon criminal convictions. The funding will be given to the centers regardless of the outcome of the case, or truth of the allegations. With absolute immunity from liability, the Family Advocacy Center team members have no fear of any repercussions for their actions.

4. Team Unity: Take Out A Family For the Team

The majority of District Attorney’s Offices in North Texas follow the national model of having specialized family violence units, where assigned prosecutors and investigators handle only domestic violence cases. Many North Texas law enforcement agencies have specialty family violence teams. All of the law enforcement agencies affiliated with an advocacy center assign officers to the center as part of a domestic violence task
force.

The creation of specialized domestic violence prosecution teams has but one goal: conviction of a suspected perpetrator. The advocacy team collaboration of prosecutors, police, social workers, medical professionals, counselors and others are a team in every sense of the word. They share more than a central location. They share belief systems, ideologies, strategies, and a game plan. That game plan is to convict any person charged with domestic violence. The belief system is one that every person charged with domestic violence is a batterer. The belief system also finds every victim of domestic violence to be a battered spouse.

The belief system incorporates extreme arrogance. The family violence team knows better than anyone, particularly the family itself, of what is best for them. The team works together in secret, planning and mapping out strategy to forge the future of the family, whether it is in their best interests or not.

‘Unfortunately, it won’t really matter what happened that night or how capable she (alleged victim) is of deciding for herself whether or not she needs protection– the court and the prosecutors can still say no. They can stand by and tell that victim that she doesn’t really know what’s best for her and her family. She is a victim– how can she possibly know what’s after what she’s been
through?

Many of these people know exactly what is best for them and their families, and yet are revictimized by the powerlessness imposed upon them by a system of people who know better.’
Janeice T. Martin, Attorney at Law,Naples (Florida) Daily News, 
November 3, 2002, “Domestic Violence- The Other Side of Zero Tolerance” 

The above statement is not an aberration. It is common to find family service plans forced upon alleged victims by advocacy center social workers to include conditions, which require:

1. The alleged perpetrator to reside out of the household while the case is pending;

2. The alleged perpetrator to have no contact with the family while the case is pending;
3. The alleged victim to “assist” in the prosecution of the alleged perpetrator.

Assisting in prosecution means the victim must testify against the defendant. It also often means the victim must pursue divorce proceedings against the defendant. If the victim does not want to divorce or testify, advocates for failing to protect her children will eventually threaten her. Then the protectors will threaten removal of the children unless the victim pledges allegiance to the team and assists in convicting the defendant.

‘Women are coerced into accepting their cultish indoctrination via the use of threats, intimidation, and the fear of losing their
children . . . Women are ordered to leave their husbands, even in the absence of real domestic violence or abuse. They are ordered to never let the fathers see their children, or DSS will charge the women with neglect.’

Nev Moore, “Unhealthy Relationship between DSS and Domestic Violence Industry.” 

5. Pssst . . . They Are Coming . . . Or Are They Already Here?

Family Advocacy Centers are a relatively new innovation in the “War on Domestic Violence.” They are quickly following in the footsteps of Child Advocacy Centers. Many communities are combining the two into one super center. The City of Phoenix Arizona may have been the first to create a strictly domestic violence center upon opening the “Family Advocacy Center” in August 1999. The Phoenix model is a good indicator of the self fulfilling prophecy behind Family Advocacy Centers,
“Build It – They Will Come.” Statistics of cases from the Phoenix Center
show:

Since August 1999, Phoenix has had 16,439 domestic violence “contacts” in which 59% have received “services.” Translated, this figure means roughly 9700 domestic violence cases in five years since the opening of the Phoenix Family Advocacy Center. (www.phoenix.gov/CITZASST/fac.html).

How many of those cases resulted in criminal convictions could not be ascertained.

The first known Family Advocacy Center in Texas opened its doors in January of 2002. The City of Irving “Family Advocacy Center” describes its goal to “bring together those police units and outside agencies that provide support, prosecution, and therapy for victims of domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual assault.”
(www.irvingpd.com/IFAC.htm). To no one’s surprise, the Irving Police Department adopted a “Zero Tolerance” stance on domestic violence. Again, not surprisingly, Irving boasts of rising statistical increases in the number of domestic violence cases received since the creation of its Family Advocacy Center. Consistent with Phoenix, the Irving police department website does not cite statistics regarding actual criminal convictions.

Rest assured, the Family Advocacy Center is coming soon to a neighborhood near you.

According to the Department of Justice, the federal government will award $20 million in grants in 2004 to communities across the nation to plan and develop Family Advocacy Centers. (United States Department of Justice Fact Sheet on The President’s Family Justice Center Initiative;
www.ojp.usdoj.gov).

Collin County, Texas is one of the communities applying for the federal grant money. However, a spokesman for the Collin County District Attorney’s office indicated the county “ would pursue the center even if it did not win the grant. But without financial backing, the project would take longer.” (Dallas Morning News, Collin County Edition, March 14, 2004, “Groups Unite To End Domestic
Violence”).

North Texas is an active participant in the domestic violence industry. Dallas and Denton Counties have instituted specialty family violence courts, in which domestic violence cases are primarily the only cases on the docket. Specialized courts allow prosecutors and judges to create a uniform method to streamline cases. The accused faces a tremendous obstacle in a family violence court. The court’s very existence is silently predicated upon convicting as many defendants as possible. Only convictions can feed the system, as with convictions come fines, community supervision fees, battering intervention program costs, and other methods of pouring money back into the industry. Rising numbers of convictions mean the need for more prosecutors, judges, probation officers, domestic violence counselors, domestic violence programs
and more specialized domestic violence courts. Convictions also support the propaganda generating the movement: “family violence is prevalent in your community at an unconscionable
rate.”

The government substantiates its national cry of a plethora of domestic violence through statistical data. Since there is not a nationwide plethora of domestic violence, the protectors needed assistance in the form of fuzzy math. The fuzzy math was easily solved. Simply cite statistics that show the number of domestic violence “contacts” or “services provided” rather than domestic violence convictions. By using “contacts” as the statistical benchmark, family violence crusaders are able to point to every police dispatch to a family argument as a “case.” These “cases” then secure the numbers needed for federal and state grant
money.

Another problem facing the protectors was dealing with the end result of minuscule criminal activity. How would prosecutors secure criminal convictions in court after arresting family members for arguments and trivial push-shove matches? For this, the protectors and politicians needed to change the law.

The legislature responded with open arms.


VI. CHANGING THE RULES TO CONVICT

1. Legislative Changes

Pro football star, Warren Moon, former quarterback of the Houston Oilers and Minnesota 
Vikings was charged with domestic violence assault in July 1995. The case captured national attention as his wife, the alleged victim, Felicia Moon did not want to testify or pursue charges. 

The prosecution forced Felicia Moon to testify after the Texas Legislature amended and limited the “Husband – Wife” privilege. Prior to the change in the law, a spouse could elect not to be a witness for the state to testify against the other
spouse.

‘The couple said they scuffled at their home July 18 after an argument over credit cards provoked Mrs. Moon to throw a 2-pound candleholder at Moon’s back. Mrs. Moon ended up with scratches and bruises around her neck and shoulders. Moon said that he was probably responsible for the injuries but that he was trying to calm his wife, not harm her.

Mrs. Moon likewise insisted her husband never intended o hurt her. She had pleaded with prosecutors to not press charges but was forced to take the stand under a 1995 law eliminating the right to refuse to testify against one’s spouse. More than 40 states have eliminated
the spousal privilege.’
Terri Langford, Associated Press, February 23,
1996.

It took the jury merely 27 minutes yesterday to acquit Warren Moon of the assault.

The 1995 amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure and Rules of Evidence authorize the prosecution to mandate a spouse to testify against the other spouse. The provisions read: 

ART. 38.10 EXCEPTIONS TO THE SPOUSAL ADVERSE TESTIMONY PRIVILEGE

The privilege of a person’s spouse not to be called as a witness for the state does not apply in any proceeding in which the person is charged with a crime committed against the person’s spouse, a minor child, or a member of the household of either spouse.
Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Art. 38.10

(b) Privilege Not to Testify in Criminal Case

(4) Exceptions: The privilege of a person’s spouse not to be called as a witness for the state does not apply:

(A) Certain criminal proceedings.

In any proceeding in which the person is charged with a crime against the person’s spouse, a member of the household of either spouse, or any minor. 

Texas Rules of Evidence 504 : Husband – Wife Privileges

In addition to the legislative changes, Texas Appellate Courts have broadened hearsay exceptions, authorizing the prosecution to introduce supposed prior statements of an alleged victim. 

2. Hearsay Evidence

Hearsay is defined as “ a statement, other than one made by the declarant while
testifying at the trial or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted.” (Tex. Rules. Evid. 803 (2)). In layman’s terms, hearsay occurs when a witness testifies regarding what they heard someone else say. Hearsay is inadmissible at trial; however, there are many exceptions to the hearsay
rule.

In domestic violence cases hearsay evidence is often admitted as substantive evidence of guilt. It is typical for courts to allow a police officer to testify to the officer’s memory of what the victim supposedly said at the time of the incident. This testimony is admitted even though the victim’s alleged statements were not recorded by the officer. Rather, the officer is testifying from notes in the police report
made several hours or even days after the arrest. This testimony is admitted as an “excited utterance.”

An excited utterance is defined as “A statement relating to a startling event or condition made while the declarant was under the stress of excitement caused by the event or condition.” (Tex. Rules. Evid. 803 (2)). It is common for a statement to be admitted at trial as an excited utterance even if the incident occurred several hours prior to the officer obtaining the statement from the victim. The hearsay exception of excited utterances also allows the state to play the recorded “911″ call from the victim to the jury. Whether an “excited utterance” is admissible is within the discretion of the trial court
judge.

A criminal defense attorney will object to hearsay testimony as a violation of the defendant’s right to confront their accuser at trial. When a witness at trial is reciting hearsay testimony, the defendant cannot cross-examine or confront the person who actually made the statement. The person who made the statement, called the declarant, is not the witness on the stand. The United States Constitution and state constitutions guarantee the defense the right to confront the accuser at trial. Generally speaking, an objection on the grounds the confrontation clause was violated is overruled by the trial court judge if the state can prove a hearsay exception.

On March 8, 2004, the United States Supreme Court decided the case of
Crawford v. Washington, 2004 U.S. Lexis 1838, 72 U.S.L.W. 4229. The court interpreted the Sixth Amendment “Confrontation Clause” of the United
State’s Constitution. In Crawford, the Court found the confrontation clause was violated when a recorded statement by Crawford’s spouse was played for the jury. Crawford’s wife did not testify at trial under Washington’s “Husband-Wife” privilege.

The case may not impact traditional hearsay rule exceptions. The Court made a distinction between “testimonial” and “non-testimonial” hearsay. The spouse in
Crawford, had also been arrested and gave her statement while in police custody. The Court found those circumstances to be testimonial hearsay, inadmissible as a violation of the confrontation clause when the recording was played at trial and she did not
testify.

Crawford does not cover “non-testimonial” statements such as when a spouse makes incriminating statements against the alleged battering spouse on a “911″ call. Additionally,
Crawford‘s ruling may not apply to “excited utterance” hearsay statements made by the victim when police first arrive on the scene. That question will be addressed by state appellate courts.
With anticipated pressure from the Family Violence Industry, state appellate courts may take a very narrow view of
Crawford’s holding and allow hearsay statements into evidence.

3. Syndrome Evidence May Be Admissible Against the Accused

A new strategy is being urged by the state in domestic violence cases, particularly when the alleged victim has recanted or changed her story. The prosecutors are borrowing concepts from child sexual assault cases and attempting to expand them to family violence cases. In many states, prosecutors in child abuse cases can offer expert testimony that a child is suffering from the “Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome”(C.S.A.A.S.). This syndrome is based on the theory that abused children will exhibit certain character traits indicative of abuse.

Prosecutors in adult assault cases are now attempting to show a victim who recants or changes the original story is suffering from “Battered Woman’s Syndrome.” The new prosecutorial trend is to use the syndrome to explain why a victim of domestic violence would recant. The state wants the jury to hear expert testimony explaining that a victim is likely to recant, not due to the absence of violence, but because she is a battered
woman.

“Battered Woman Syndrome describes a pattern of psychological and behavioral symptoms found in women living in battering relationships.”
People v. Romero, 13 Cal Rptr 2d 332, 336 (Cal App 2d Dist. 1992). 

The nation’s leading expert on the syndrome, Dr. Lenore Walker, states:

There are four general characteristics of the syndrome:

1. The woman believes that the violence was her fault.
2. The woman has an inability to place the responsibility for the violence elsewhere.
3. The woman fears for her life and/or her children’s lives.

4. The woman has an irrational belief that the abuser is omnipresent and omniscient.

Walker, found nine typical characteristics of the battered wife:

(1) has low self-esteem;
(2) believes all the myths about battering relationships;
(3) is a traditionalist about the home, strongly believes in family unity and the prescribed feminine sex-role stereotype; 
(4) accepts responsibility for the batterer’s actions;

(5) suffers from guilt, yet denies the terror and anger she feels;
(6) presents a passive face to the world but has the strength to manipulate her environment enough to prevent further violence and being killed;
(7) has severe stress reactions, with psychophysiological complaints;
(8) uses sex as a way to establish intimacy; and
(9) believes that no one will be able to help her resolve her predicament except herself. 
Dr. Lenore Walker, ‘The Battered Woman Syndrome’
(1984)

Slowly the syndrome is appearing in domestic violence courts throughout the country as a means to strengthen the state’s case against the accused. The majority of courts are disallowing expert testimony without specific proof the victim in that case suffers from the syndrome. However, it is anticipated this syndrome will soon gain the same status as C.S.A.A.S. and become a routine prosecutorial tactic against defendants in domestic violence cases.

With syndrome evidence, the state replaces its lack of real proof with speculation. Expert
testimony stating the wife is a battered woman is fatal to the falsely accused. A wife testifying for the defendant describing the incident may tell the jury she exaggerated or was the instigator herself. The prosecution in rebuttal will call an expert witness to inform the jury that she is testifying in a manner consistent with being a battered spouse and merely protecting her husband.

A variety of state law cases indicate this prosecutorial trend seeking to introduce evidence the victim belongs to the class of persons known as “Battered Woman’s
Syndrome”:

1. Russell v. State, Court of Appeals of Alaska, 2002 Alas. App. LEXIS 237, ( 2002) (Memorandum decision, not legal precedent);
2. People v. Williams, Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District, Division Four, 78 Cal. App. 4th 1118; 93 Cal. Rptr. 2d 356;
3. State v. Yusuf, Appellate Court of Connecticut, 70 Conn. App. 594; 800 A.2d 590; 2002 Conn. App. LEXIS 349 (2002);

4. State v. Niemeyer, Appellate Court of Connecticut, 55 Conn. App. 447; 740 A.2d 416; 1999 Conn. App. LEXIS 408 (1999);
5. Michigan v. Christel, 449 Mich. 578, 537 N.W.2d 194, 1995 Mich. LEXIS 1477;
6. State v. Cummings, Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth Appellate District, 2002 Ohio 4178; 2002 Ohio App. LEXIS 4353 (2002);
7. Garcia v. State, NO. 01-99-01068-CR, Court of Appeals of Texas, First District, Houston, 2000 Tex. App. LEXIS 3774, (2000)(Unpublished, not legal precedent). 

4. Convictions Without Physical Evidence

Defendants have been convicted of domestic violence without any physical evidence introduced against them at trial. In many cases, the argument resulting in the arrest was so slight the alleged victim does not need or seek medical treatment. Frequently, the accused is convicted for intentionally causing “bodily injury” without any testimony from a qualified medical expert. The victim’s testimony alone that she felt pain or suffered bodily injury is sufficient for a conviction. 

This testimony can be supported by police officer testimony of having observed red marks, scratches, or bleeding, to substantiate the decision to arrest. These claimed injuries may or may not be photographed and preserved for trial. Commonly, a defendant is convicted of causing bodily injury without medical or photographic evidence.

The creation of the Family Advocacy Center is anticipated to follow their Child Advocacy Center predecessors. Medical nurses and employees, whose livelihoods depend upon their contracts with the centers, will give opinions that a victim was abused. Failure to give the right opinion will mean the contract is not renewed. These opinions from medical “experts” will say the findings are “consistent with” abuse. Of course, “consistent with abuse” is not a true medical diagnosis. This testimony, when attacked by the defense attorney will reveal the findings given, as “consistent with abuse” are just as “inconsistent with
abuse”.

Instead of physical and medical evidence, the falsely accused are now and will continue to be convicted upon theories, inferences, and speculation. Prosecutors secure convictions by manipulating the juries’ fear of releasing a battering spouse back into the home. This fear will be combined with hearsay, expert witness “syndrome evidence”, misleading medical testimony, and the biased opinions of family advocacy investigators. Immediately after arrest the alleged victim will be hustled to the Family Advocacy Center to be interviewed. At the center, a “forensic interviewer” with the help of state agents will orchestrate a video taped interview. The prosecutor and police detective will be monitoring the process through a two-way mirror in the adjacent room. The interviewer will be in communication and fed questions from the agents through a wireless microphone earpiece. The interviewer will question the alleged victim when she is still highly emotional and upset, prone to exaggeration and motivated to hurt the accused. Many cases have shown investigators to require an alleged victim to add the phrase “ I felt pain” to any written or verbal description of the incident. The alleged victim is unaware that “pain” is the legal buzzword authorities must have to prosecute. 

5. Summary: Recipe for conviction:

1. “911” call from the alleged victim claiming assault and
injury;

2. Recorded preservation of the “911″ call for trial; 

3. A biased police investigation;

4. A Zero Tolerance policy requiring the police to make an arrest;

5. A biased interviewer requiring the alleged victim to state or write that she felt “pain”; 

6. A biased medical report by a “nurse” contracted by the domestic violence
industry;

7. Syndrome evidence from an “expert” witness if the victim recants or changes her story; 

8. Trial testimony through “excited utterance” hearsay and denial of the husband – wife privilege not to testify against their spouse; 

9. Conviction on little or no physical evidence.


VII. FAMILY VIOLENCE LEGAL FACTS: A CHECKLIST

1. Issues Upon Arrest 

– What Is Family Violence?
Family violence is defined as “an act by a member of a family or household against another member of the family or household that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault or that is a threat that reasonably places the member in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault, but does not include defensive measures to protect oneself.”
Tex. Fam. Code § 71.004 (2004)

– What Is An Assault Family Violence Offense?

There is not a Texas penal code statute entitled “Assault – Family Violence.”
Despite what offense may have been written on the magistrate’s warning or bail bond, the actual offense is for “Assault”. In Texas, an assault offense can range from a Class C misdemeanor (similar to traffic citation) to a felony. The charge is a Class C misdemeanor if the physical contact is merely regarded as “ offensive “ or “provocative”. In those situations, the suspect usually receives a citation and promises to appear later in a Municipal Court where the maximum punishment is by fine up to $500.00.

The vast majority of family violence cases are charged as Class A misdemeanors in which it is alleged the defendant caused ”bodily injury” to the victim. In cases in which “serious bodily injury “ is alleged, the offense is characterized as a felony. It also will be a felony if “the defendant has been previously convicted of an offense against a member of the defendant’s family or
household”.

– What Evidence Do The Police Need To Make An Arrest?
An officer must arrest if probable cause exists to believe that bodily injury has occurred.

– Do the Police Need A Warrant To Arrest Me?

Texas state law authorizes the police to make an arrest without a warrant of:

“ persons who the peace officer has probable cause to believe have committed an assault resulting in bodily injury to a member of the person’s family or household.”
Tex. Code. Crim. Proc. Art. 14.03 (a) (4).

This legal authorization leads to an automatic arrest or “zero tolerance” policy by many police departments. Once a call for assistance was made to a “911″ operator regarding a domestic disturbance, someone is going to jail if there is any evidence, credible or not, of bodily
injury.

– What is Bodily Injury?

“Bodily Injury means physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition”.
Tex. Pen. Code § 1.07 (8) 

It does not take much to make an allegation of “bodily injury”. Bodily injury does not require a trip to the doctor, any medication, or even any sign of injury such as a bruise or red mark. The alleged victims’ statement they felt pain is sufficient for an arrest to be made. This is why the police officer will ask the alleged victim if she was “hurt” or felt “pain”. If the victim says yes, then the officer has been provided with probable cause the bodily injury provision has been
met.

– What Happens If the Alleged Victim Decides She Does Not Want to Prosecute?
The State will prosecute the case anyway.

– What Is Zero Tolerance?
Zero Tolerance means the police will make an arrest without exception after a family argument if they have probable cause to believe any bodily injury has occurred.

– What Is A No Drop Policy
A “No Drop Policy” means the State will prosecute all domestic violence cases without exception, even if the victim wants the case dismissed and has filed an affidavit of non-prosecution. 

– Can I Be Held in Jail Even after I Make Bail?
The magistrate (judge) can hold the arrested person in jail for four (4) hours after making bail, if there is probable cause to believe any violence would continue if the person were immediately released. 

This period can be extended up to forty -eight hours if authorized in writing by a magistrate. If the extended time period exceeds twenty four (24) hours, the magistrate must make a finding the violence would be continued if the person were released and the person has previously been arrested within ten (10) years on more than one occasion for family violence or for any other offense involving the use or exhibition of a deadly weapon.
Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 17.291 (2004)

– What Is the Arraignment?

After an arrest the accused will be brought before the magistrate for the arraignment. At this hearing, the magistrate will read the accused their legal rights, set bail, and usually issue an emergency protective order. 
Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 15.17

– What Is an Emergency Protective Order?
An emergency protective order is issued against the accused by the magistrate at the arraignment hearing. The protective order may:

– evict the accused from their residence for sixty (60) days;

– prohibit the accused from possessing a firearm;
– prohibit the accused from communicating directly with a person protected by the order or a member of the family or household in a threatening or harassing manner;
– going to or near the residence, place of employment, or business of a member of the family or household or of the person protected under the order; or the residence, child care facility, or school where a child protected under the order resides or attends.
Art. 17.292. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Magistrate’s Order for Emergency Protection

– What Happens If I Violate The Emergency Protective Order?

Violation of the emergency protective order results in a separate criminal offense punishable by a fine of as much as $ 4,000 or by confinement in jail for as long as one year or by both. An act that results in family violence or a stalking offense may be prosecuted as a separate misdemeanor or felony offense. If the act is prosecuted as a separate felony offense, it is punishable by confinement in prison for at least two years. 
Art. 17.292. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Magistrate’s Order for Emergency Protection

– Can the Judge Kick Me out of My Own House?
The protective order may evict the accused from their residence for sixty (60) days.
Art. 17.292. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Magistrate’s Order for Emergency Protection

– Can I Be Ordered Not to Have Any Contact with My Wife or Children?

An emergency protective order by itself cannot prohibit the arrested person from making non-threatening communication or contact with the protected person. However, nothing prohibits the magistrate from making an additional “no – contact” condition of bail. Art. 17.40.
Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Conditions Related to Victim or Community Safety

– Can I Get the Protective Order Modified, Changed or Dismissed?
The court, which issued the emergency protective order, can modify all or part of the order after each party has received notice and a hearing has been held. In order to change or modify the order, the court must find:

(1) the order as originally issued is unworkable;
(2) the modification will not place the victim of the offense at greater risk than did the
original order; and

(3) the modification will not in any way endanger a person protected under the order.
Art. 17.292. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Magistrate’s Order for Emergency Protection

– What If My Spouse Says She Will Not Enforce The Protective Order?
Only the Judge who issued the emergency order can change it or set it aside. No other person can give permission to anyone to ignore or violate the order.
Art. 17.292. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Magistrate’s Order for Emergency Protection

– How Long Is The Protective Order In Effect?
An emergency protective order is in effect for not less than thirty-one (31) days and not more than sixty-one (61) days.
Art. 17.292. Magistrate’s Order for Emergency Protection

A final protective order issued by a District Court may be in effect for up to two (2) years.
Tex. Fam. Code § 85.025 (2004)

– Can I Own or Possess a Firearm While out on Bail?

After arrest a magistrate will usually issue an emergency protective order, which can prohibit the arrested person from possessing a firearm, unless the person is a peace officer.
Art. 17.292. Magistrate’s Order for Emergency Protection

The magistrate or judge assigned the case can make additional bond conditions, which prohibit the accused from possessing a firearm while the case is pending.

– What Happens If I Have Right To Carry Handgun License?
The magistrate can suspend a license to carry a concealed handgun.
Art. 17.292. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Magistrate’s Order for Emergency Protection

– What Kind of Conditions Will I Be under While out on Bail?
A magistrate can require any condition to bail that he / she finds to be reasonable as long as it is related to the safety of the victim or the community.
Art. 17.40. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Conditions Related to Victim or Community Safety

In some cases this may mean there is to be no contact between the alleged victim and the defendant. Once the case has been assigned to a court, that judge may order additional conditions of bond. A judge in Collin County, Texas, has made it a practice to require the accused to attend a weekly batterer intervention counseling program for eighteen (18) weeks even though there has been no conviction.

– The Prosecutor Must Notify Family Law Court Of An Arrest For Domestic Violence If Temporary Orders Regarding Custody or Possession of a Child Are In Effect.

The prosecutor must notify a family law court of an arrest for family violence if the family law court had previously entered temporary orders.
Art. 42.23. Notification of Court of Family Violence Conviction

– What Is An Affidavit of Non-Prosecution?
This affidavit is a legal document from the victim informing the authorities prosecution is
not desired and requesting the case to be dropped. 

– What Happens If My Spouse Executes an Affidavit of Non-prosecution?

The charging decision belongs to the government. In all likelihood, the State will prosecute the case anyway. 

– Should We Meet With The Prosecutor To Get The Case Dismissed?
Sometimes the alleged victim wants to meet with the prosecutor to change her story and
get the charge dismissed.

This procedure needs to be skillfully handled by an attorney. If your spouse meets with either the prosecutor or police investigator alone, she will be threatened with arrest and prosecution if she wants to change the original story. The prosecutor will threaten to charge her with making a false statement to a police officer and / or perjury.

– Can The Case Ever Be Dismissed?
Yes, even with a “no-drop” or “zero tolerance” policy, a good attorney can eventually influence the prosecutor to drop the case. Prosecutors, despite great overtures about caring for the victim and similar altruistic posturing, care very much about winning. The only thing that matters to a prosecutor is winning the case and advancing their career. The alleged victims are just numbers whose faces and situations will be forgotten by the prosecutor with the start of the next case.

The defense motivates the prosecutor to dismiss. Prosecutors hate to lose cases. If confronted with a case that cannot be won they will try to deviate from office policy to dismiss, “just this one time”.

– What If There Is No Physical Evidence of Bodily Injury ?
In many cases evidence of injury is slight, or no physical evidence of injury may exist at all. The State will prosecute the case anyway.

– How Could I Be Found Guilty If There Is No Physical Evidence?
The State can get a conviction solely on the testimony of the alleged victim without any physical evidence of bodily injury.

– What If The Victim Does Not Show Up For Trial?
The State will subpoena her for trial. If she does not appear the judge will issue a writ of attachment (arrest warrant). The Sheriff will arrest your spouse and bring her to the courthouse. If she cannot be located, the judge will grant the State’s motion for a continuance. If she cannot be found, even after a continuance, the State will prosecute the case and present hearsay evidence of what your spouse
said:

1. On the 911 dispatch tape;
2. To the investigating police officers;
3. By introducing any written or recorded statements of your spouse. (Written or recorded statements may now be inadmissible after the United States Supreme Court decision in Crawford v. Washington, 2004 U.S. Lexis 1838, 72 U.S.L.W. 4229.)

– Can the Case Be Won At Trial?
These cases are frequently won at trial by skilled criminal defense attorneys. In many situations, the argument involved both parties and any physical assault was actually mutual combat. Self-defense is a defense to prosecution under Texas and all states law.

2. Consequences Of A Conviction

– Will An Arrest Or Conviction Be on My Record?
A conviction, probated sentence, or deferred adjudication will result in a permanent criminal record. In Texas there are only two ways to remove a domestic violence arrest record. An attorney can have the records of arrest expunged (destroyed) if the state never files a case or if the case is won at trial.

A plea of guilty or no contest to the charge or a finding of guilt, will result in a criminal record even if the defendant is placed on probation or deferred adjudication and successfully completes the community supervision period. 

There is no method by law to expunge, destroy, or seal domestic violence convictions, probations, or deferred adjudications.
Tex. Govt. Code § 411.081

– What Happens If I Am Not a U.S. Citizen?
A person charged with domestic violence who is not a United States citizen can face serious penalties.

Deportation is possible even if the case ends in probation or deferred adjudication.
A re-entry into the United States may be denied after arrest, even if the case has not gone to trial.

– Who Would Have Access to My Record?
The records will be available for anyone with access at the courthouse or over the internet. Even a deferred adjudication case will be discoverable to any person. Present or future employers will have access to domestic violence records.

– If I Successfully Complete Deferred Adjudication, Can I Get the Records Sealed?
Deferred adjudication for family violence cannot be expunged or have the records sealed.
It will be a permanent record, even though a formal conviction is not entered.

Tex. Govt. Code § 411.081

– Can I Own or Possess a Firearm?
If the person enters a plea of guilty or no contest or is found guilty at trial they will not be able to possess a firearm for (5) years under Texas law, and not possess a firearm or ammunition at all under federal law. The federal law has no time limitation to it. The loss of the right to possess a firearm applies whether the case ends in a conviction, probation, or deferred adjudication.
Tex. Penal Code § 46.04 (2004); 18 U.S.C. § 922 (g) (9)

– If Placed On Community Supervision, Will I Have to Attend Counseling?

A person on community supervision for domestic violence will be required to attend a year long Battering Intervention Prevention Program counseling course. The average defendant is required to attend once a week for a fifty – two (52) week period. Failure to attend, or missing too many meetings will result in revocation of the community supervision and placement in jail.
Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 42.141 (2004)

– Can I Attend Counseling of My Own Choosing?
The defendant does not get to select a counseling program. This program will be set up in
advance and the defendant will be required to attend. 
Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 42.141 (2004)

– What Are Typical Probation / Deferred Conditions for Domestic Violence Cases?
The defendant is responsible for all costs of counseling and probation. Typical conditions of Community Supervision include:

– Fine; 
– Court Costs; 
– Victim Impact Panels; 

– Counseling for Victim; 
– Contributions to Women’s Domestic Violence Shelters; 
– Weekly Batterers Intervention Prevention Program Counseling; 
– Anger Management Counseling; 
– Monthly Probation Fees of $50.00 per Month; 
– No Contact With Victim; 

– Random Urinalysis Testing; 
– Monthly Reporting To Probation Officer; 
– Community Service; 
– Other Conditions the Judge Finds to Be Reasonable. 
Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 42.14

– A Domestic Violence Conviction Will Result in a Finding of Family Violence.
If the defendant enters a plea or is found guilty, the trial court must make an affirmative finding of family violence and enter the affirmative finding in the judgment.
Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 42.013 (2004)

– What Does it Mean to Have a Family Violence Finding?
A plea of either guilty or no contest will result in a family violence finding even if the sentence is deferred.

A finding of family violence can have drastic consequences for a parent facing a child custody or modification case. There may be a presumption that the accused is not a fit parent. 

– The Trial Court Judge Must Notify Family Court Of A Family Violence Finding.
The trial court judge must notify the family court judge if the defendant was found guilty or pled guilty or no contest to a family violence offense. This must be done even if the defendant is placed on deferred adjudication.
Art. 42.23. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Notification of Court of Family Violence Conviction

– A Final Protective Order Can Be Entered Against a Person Found to Have Committed Family Violence.
A family court judge may enter a final protective order against a person found guilty or pled guilty or no contest to a family violence offense. This can be done even if the defendant is placed on deferred adjudication
Tex. Fam. Code § 85.022 Requirements of Order Applying to Person Who Committed Family Violence

– What Are the Possible Penalties for a Conviction?
In Texas, the accused faces up to a $4,000.00 fine for a conviction, whether by a plea or a finding of guilt at trial. The accused may be incarcerated for up to one year in the county jail upon conviction, whether by a plea or a finding of guilt at trial.

If the accused has a prior conviction for family violence, a second charge will be prosecuted as a third degree felony offense, carrying a range of punishment of not less than two (2) years or more than ten (10) years in the penitentiary and a fine up to $10,000.00.
Tex. Pen. Code. § 12.21; § 12.34


VIII.  SELECTING
THE RIGHT ATTORNEY

1. Do Not Attempt This On Your Own

If informed that surgery is needed to remove a tumor, the patient would not go home and start rummaging through kitchen knives to commence a self-service operation. Obviously this procedure is best left to the skilled hands of a professional physician. The same principle exists when a family desires to have a criminal case dismissed. This is not the time to do it yourself.

The criminal justice system is a great mystery to those who are not familiar with its inner sanctum. There is a right way and wrong way to get things accomplished. The family finding itself facing an accusation does not understand how to approach the system. Common sense and justice, thought to be inherent in the system, does not exist. Rather the criminal justice system is more concerned with power, perpetuation of the appearance of justice, and statistics.

Media and political attention concerning domestic violence may tend to have the naive think the system is concerned with the well being of families. This is incorrect. The system does not care one iota about the families it captures in its web. A family in recovery, healing from domestic conflicts presumes the protectors would be pleased to discover prosecution is no longer desired. This is certainly the public persona exemplified by the protectors. Referring to the Smith County, Texas Family Advocacy Center, Executive Director Carol Langston said: “ I would love for the center not to have to be here 20 or 40 years from now.” (Laura Krantz, Staff Writer, March 20, 2004, Tyler Morning Telegraph).
Baloney.

In fact the exact opposite is true. The protectors want as many cases as possible and are not concerned with what’s best for the family. The system is concerned with what’s best for itself, growth and expansion. Those goals are not met by dropping
cases.

“This is crazy. We had an argument that got out of control. Everything is fine now. My spouse does not want to prosecute. If I talk to them and explain it will go away.” This is the initial feeling of a family who does not want any additional complications, such as a frivolous prosecution in their lives. The family may be experiencing problems and difficulties, but it is not a matter that requires governmental intervention. Husband and Wife desire to work out their issues on their own, their way. All that is needed now is to make an appointment to speak to the prosecutor and have the State to drop the
case.  The State Will Not Drop the Case. 

2. Rules For The Accused

Rule No. 1: There is nothing you can say to these people to make them go away. 

Nothing an accused or alleged victim can say or do will convince the protectors (Family Advocacy Prosecutor, Family Advocacy Center Caseworker, Police Detective) that the abuse did not occur. NOTHING!

Rule No. 2: The case will not be dismissed until the government finds a dismissal is in their best interests, not the best interests of the family. 

The individual effected family means nothing to these people. The family is a mere meal ticket, another in a long line of families the system will victimize. Informing the protectors that the family is fine, has made up, is working out their problems, and does not need prosecution will be met on deaf ears. The system does not care. The protectors need bodies to meet necessary quotas to continue receiving grant money and expand.

It is only when the protectors recognize they will lose the case, possibly in an embarrassing fashion, that a dismissal will be considered. The state must be motivated through its own fear of losing face with a jury before it will consider the needs of the family.

Rule No. 3: Talking to the protectors without an attorney present is the single worst thing a wrongfully accused person can do.

In most cases an experienced attorney will not allow you to talk to the prosecutor or the police or give a statement. The attorney knows whatever you say will be used against you.

The violation of these rules by unaware family members is commonplace. A family desiring to put the incident behind them believes sanity will intervene at some point, and decide to contact the police and prosecution. The alleged victim and suspect will give written and videotaped statements. In addition, they will talk on the phone or offices of detectives and prosecutors without knowing they are being recorded. 

The protectors are not interested in conducting a fair and thorough investigation. The accused and alleged victim who walk into a Family Advocacy Center without an experienced attorney to “tell their side of things” or “clear this all up” is doing exactly what the authorities want. The protectors know what they are doing. At this meeting they will obtain real or implied admissions and circumstances presenting opportunity for battering coming from the accused’s own
mouth.

An attorney can place you in a position so that you are “cooperating” with the investigation without incriminating yourself. The attorney can assist you in making the decision of whether to meet with the authorities. In most situations, the attorney knows the charge decision has already been made and that a meeting will not change the forthcoming prosecution. 

3. Finding the Right Criminal Defense Attorney

Very few attorneys specialize in fighting domestic violence allegations. Many lawyers represent clients with assault charges. These lawyers will handle such cases in addition to a general criminal defense practice. Domestic cases are different from the typical criminal charge and must be handled differently!

Consider the following in hiring the right attorney:

A. Length of Practice and Experience.

A family violence allegation can only be defended successfully by an attorney with significant trial experience and specifically with assault cases. The accused is not in a position to have inexperienced counsel. 

Unfortunately, the police, Family Advocacy Center personnel, and the public will consider you to be guilty. For one charged with family violence, it is important to act immediately. The accused must prove their innocence! An attorney who does not begin an all out defense at the very beginning is wasting valuable time and compromising your future.

There is no “home field advantage” in a domestic violence case. Do not shy away from a good attorney who is located in a different county from where you are being charged. Judges are elected politicians. Judges do not get re-elected if the public views them as soft on family violence. It makes no difference how well a local attorney knows the judge; it will not be of any assistance with this type of charge. An “outsider” who does not care about making the judge or prosecutor happy, but just wants to defend you and win, is much better than a local name.

B. Reject Plea Bargains.

A false allegation of domestic violence must be beaten through either a dismissal or an acquittal (not guilty finding) at trial. There is no victory in a plea bargain with these cases. The innocent persons life will be significantly affected by pleading guilty. At no time in dealing with a false allegation should there ever be an admission of guilt. A plea bargain may seem an easy way out, but it will ruin the life of the falsely accused forever. 

Deferred Adjudication, successfully served will not result in a conviction for the defendant. However, the lack of a formal conviction is meaningless. Whether the accused receives deferred, straight probation, or is released from jail, he will still have a criminal record and a finding of family violence. These records are public and the nature of the charges can be made known to anyone. Family violence findings may result in the loss of employment and the inability to secure future meaningful employment.

Community Supervision for the defendant will require battering intervention program counseling. In this setting, the offender is required to admit that not only the actual charge is true, but also any extraneous charges or allegations made in police or advocacy center reports are true. It matters not that the charge is exaggerated, untrue, or only partially true. It matters not that the extraneous other charges did not occur. Failure to admit that everything alleged is true will result in a revocation of community supervision and incarceration. 

The prosecution will tempt the inexperienced defense attorney with offers of deferred adjudication and “counseling” instead of incarceration. Do not fall for this guise. It can be difficult to complete probation as the rules keep changing. Making community supervision more difficult for family violence offenders is a legislative reality. Politicians enact new laws, which offer the appearance of fighting domestic violence. No lobby group exists for persons charged with domestic abuse and the legislature can make the community supervision process intolerable without
opposition.

A finding of family violence can mean that you will lose your children.

C. Prepare a vigorous pre – charge defense to avoid prosecution.

If an attorney says to wait and see if you are formally charged; walk away immediately; the best time to get a dismissal is before a formal charge.

Many times the best method of winning a false allegation case is to defeat it before it officially starts. Evidence can be collected pre-charge by the defense that does not have to meet the standards of admissible evidence at trial. The defense can produce typically inadmissible evidence such as polygraph examination results, character letters, and other forms of hearsay. The defense can also offer expert witness reports and affidavits explaining the unreliability and tainted evidence procured by the prosecution. Here are some common examples of evidence that can be assessed for a charge dismissal packet:

A. Your Criminal History
B. Honorable Discharge 
C. Education Records
D. Polygraph Results
E. Polygraph Report
F. Psychological and Personality Testing of Client
G. A Factual Summary of the Defense Version of the Case
H. Sworn Statements That the Alleged Victim Has Made False Accusations in the past
I. Legal Research and Case-law to Show Reason to Not Indict 

J. Good Character Letters
K. Availability of Defendant and Others to Testify If Requested.
L. Recantations from Alleged Victims When Available.
M. Expert Witness Testimony and Affidavits Regarding Tainted Evidence Comprising the States’
case. Test Results Showing the Accused Does Not Have the Psychological Characteristics of a Batterer.

If your attorney insists that pursuing a pre-charge defense is a waste of time, fire him.

D. Prepare a vigorous defense for trial.

If the prosecutor accepts the charge, then the case must be prepared for trial. It is rare for the state to dismiss a case once they have formally filed an assault charge. Your attorney must be prepared to try these specialized types of cases. 

Selection of the jury is critical for domestic violence cases. The potential jurors come into the case with heavy emotional attachments regarding allegations of abuse to a spouse. Strong emotions held by jurors about domestic violence must be overcome and their attention placed on being fair and acknowledging that false allegations are made. The jury panel must understand the serious potential for injustice a false allegation can cause. 

In addition, the attorney must educate the jury panel on how false allegations could be made. The panel needs to understand how an alleged victim can make false and exaggerated statements and what motivation exists to do so.

The attorney must be well skilled in cross-examination to show deficiencies in the states investigation through a preconceived assumption of guilt shared amongst the advocacy team. Cross-examination is a skill obtainable only through years of trial practice itself. 

The attorney must also be prepared to offer strong defensive witnesses. Contrary to many criminal cases, the accused must testify in a domestic violence case if the defense wants an acquittal. Until the jury hears it straight from the accused’s mouth that the abuse did not occur, it will convict.


IX. CONCLUSION

True domestic violence is criminal and has resulted in tragic consequences. However, the cure may be as abhorrent as the disease. Governmental overkill has created the Family Violence Industry. The future is here as “Family Advocacy Centers “ are springing up across the nation with hands held out competing for federal funding. A needless bureaucratic machine defining innocent family members as batterers is the inevitable outcome of “zero tolerance” and “no – drop” policies. 

Further, the protectors have assimilated into a system of arrogance and self-righteousness believing it and it alone knows what is best for the family. The protectors protect only themselves and seek not to do justice, but to expand and grow at the expense of those truly victimized, the individual family they claim to assist. A nation of Americans face a well funded and driven system intent upon finding family violence for every minor and insignificant transgression. 

Instead of tackling real and legitimate domestic violence, the industry is content, fat, and happy with prosecution of the minutia. 


BIBLIOGRAPHY 

1. Irving Family Advocacy Center www.irvingpd.com/IFAC.htm

2. “Fact Sheet: The President’s Family Justice Center Initiative”
‘United States Department of Justice’, www.ojp.usdoj.gov

3. “Cult of The Domestic Violence Industry” Dave Brown, ‘The Ottawa Citizen’,
2001

4. “Groups Unite To End Domestic Violence”‘ Dallas Morning News- Collin County Edition’, March 14,
2004

5. “Zero Tolerance Sucks” Editorial, ‘Winnipeg Free Press’, February 10,
2002

6. “Domestic Violence the Other Side of Zero Tolerance” Janice T. Martin, Esq., Naples (Florida) Daily News, November 3,
2002

7. “Domestic Violations,” Reason on Line, April 1998Cathy Young, Vice President, Women’s Freedom
Network

8. “The Booming Domestic Violence Industry” John Maguire, Massachusetts News, August 2, 1999,
www.massnews.com

9. “What Happens When 911 is Dialed Under Current Colorado Law” Charles E. Corry, Ph.D., Equal Justice
Foundation

10. “Mandatory Restraining Order Pursuant to Section 18-1-1001″, C.R.S.
Charles E. Corry, Ph.D. 2002 Equal Justice Foundation

11. “Money and Politics Corrupting Domestic Violence Laws and
Enforcement” Charles E. Corry, Ph.D, 2002 Equal Justice Foundation

12. “Family Violence, A Report from: Family Resources & Research”
Sam & Bunny Sewell, www.landwave.com/family/

13. “Mandatory Arrest And Restraining Orders” From ‘Domestic Violence: Facts and
Fallacies’ Richard L. Davis, A.L.M.

14. “Specialized Criminal Domestic Violence Courts” Julie A. Helling, ‘Violence Against Women Online
Resources’ www.vaw.umn.edu

15. “Advocacy In a Coordinated Community Response” Rose Thelen, Gender Violence Institute, ‘Violence Against Women Online
Resources’ www.vaw.umn.edu

16. “Criminal Prosecution of Domestic Violence” Linda A. McGuire, Esq., ‘Violence Against Women Online
Resources’ www.vaw.umn.edu

17. “Assessing Justice System Response to Violence Against Women: A Tool for Law Enforcement, Prosecution, and the Courts to Use in Developing Effective
Responses” Kristen Littel, M.A., ‘Violence Against Women Online Resources’
www.vaw.umn.edu

18. “Building Bridges Between Domestic Violence Organizations and Child Protective
Services” Linda Spears, ‘Violence Against Women Online Resources’ www.vaw.umn.edu

19. “Legal Interventions In Family Violence: Research Findings and Policy
Implications” Research Report, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice, July
1998

20. “Litigating Domestic Violence Cases: Effective Use of the Rules of
Evidence” American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence, Domestic Violence Civil Law Institute,
2000.

21. “Domestic Violence” NAA Text 2000, Chapter 9. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of
Justice

22. “Domestic Violence Protocol for Law Enforcement” Police Chief’s Association of Santa Clara County,
2002

23. “Family Violence Prevention – Best Practice Guide” Santa Clara County Social Services Agency, Department of Family and Children’s
Services

24. “Domestic Violence: A Model Protocol for Police Response” B.J. Hart, Esq., Minnesota Center Against Violence and
Abuse

25. “ A Process Evaluation of the Clark County Domestic Violence Court”
Randall Kleinhesselink, Clayton Mosher, Minnesota Center Against Violence and
Abuse March 2003.

26. “Creating a Domestic Violence Court: Combat in the Trenches” Randall Fizzier; Leonore M.J. Simon, ‘Court Review’, Spring
200

27. “Specialized Courts and Domestic Violence” Kristin Littel, Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, May
2003

28. “Domestic Violence Court Opens” Amy Wallace, ‘Seacoast Online’,
2002

29. “Domestic Violence Court” www.utcourts.gov/domviolence/domov.htm

30. “Misandry Is No Solution” John Sample, ‘The Backlash’, August
1996

31. “A Tool Kit To Destroy Families” ‘Washington Times’, Commentary Section, December 9,
2001

32. “Irving Police Extend Hand To Crime’s Victims” Robert Miller, ‘Dallas Morning News’, March 28,
2004

33. “ Chandler (Kentucky Attorney General) Declares Zero Tolerance Policy On Violence Against Women,” Jennifer Schaaf, March 12, 1998,
www.kyattorneygeneral.com/news/releases/006

34. “Garrett County To Crack Down On Domestic Violence” Garrett County State’s Attorney’s Office, Press Release, June 12,
1998

35. “Knocked for Six: The Myth of a Nation of Wife-batterers” Neil Lyndon, Paul Ashton, ‘The Sunday Times of London’, January 29,
1995

36. “Zero Tolerance For Domestic Violence” www.co.contra-costa.ca.us./depart/cao/DomViol

37. “Family Advocacy Center, A Safe Place To Get Help” City of Phoenix, Family Advocacy Center General
Information, www.ci.phoenix.az.us./CITZASST/facbroch

38. “Baseball Player’s Domestic Violence Arrest Demonstrates How Men Are Presumed Guilty In Domestic Disputes,” Glenn Sacks, March 26, 2004,
www.glennsacks.com

39. “Advocacy Center Unites Agencies To Battle Abuse” Laura Jett Krantz, March 20, 2004, Tyler Morning
Telegraph

40. “Domestic Violence Information and Referral Handbook” Santa Clara County Probation
Department www.growing.com/nonviolent/victim/vict_res.htm

41. “Advocacy Center Offers Refuge for Battered” A.E. Araiza, ‘The Arizona Daily Star’, March 14, 2004

The original article can be found here: http://familyrights.us/bin/white_papers-articles/stuckle/fv-industry.htm

Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Lost Parents’ Perspective – Chapter 4 of 5

In California Parental Rights Amendment, child trafficking, children legal status, children's behaviour, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Divorce, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Freedom, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parentectomy, Parents rights, state crimes on May 21, 2009 at 1:00 am

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


CHAPTER 4

RESULTS

This chapter presents the results of the data analysis described in Chapter 3.

Family Data

For the determination of indicators of PAS, the study of family data was an important area to examine first as there may have been some characteristics relevant in the occurrence of PAS.

(a) Family Constellation: Information about participants’ family characteristics such as marital status, number of marriages, length of alienating marriage, and number of PAS and non-PAS children were included. The information gathered pertaining to the family constellation was attained primarily through probing with the questions developed by the researcher which were part of the questionnaire shown in Appendix C.

Results: Three of the six participants had remarried after the alienating marriage and another participant reported that he was living with a partner. Of the remaining participants, one was continuing legal proceedings and the other, the only female participant, had remained unmarried since the divorce. The length of the alienating marriages ranged between three and thirteen years.

Four of the six participants each had one child (two of whom were girls) from the PAS marriage, one participant had two children of PAS (two boys) and another had three children (two of whom were boys). Four of the six participants had no other children outside of the PAS marriage (one participant was living with his partner’s children) and two participants had two children outside their PAS marriage. However, the lost parents tended to have had only one child from the PAS marriage and tended to have remarried after the PAS marriage ended. See Table 1 for a summary of the results. These results suggest a lack of common family characteristics inherent in PAS families.

Table 1

Summary of the participants’ family constellations:

Participants Marital Status Total Number of Marriages Length of
PAS marriage (in years)
Number of PAS children Number of non-PAS children
1 Married 2 3 1 2
2 Married 2 13 3 0
3 Divorced 1 9 2 0
4 Married 2 8 1 2
5 Divorced 1 9 1 0
6 Cohabitant 2 5 5 1

(b) Relocation: Information for this area was not probed. The participants related this information primarily when discussing either alienating techniques or the marital dissolution. Specifically, the data gathered pertained to any of the participants’ references to his or her own, or the child’s (with the alienator) change of home(s), whether to a different home, town, city, state or province, or country.

Results:
The number of relocations per alienated family varied. The participants reported that they or their children (of the PAS marriage) had relocated between one and ten times. The father who reported that his ex-spouse and the PAS child relocated approximately ten times, had done so in the same city and simply relocated to ten different houses. Three of these participants reported at least one relocation of the alienator to another city or town. Only one parent attributed his ex-spouses’ repeated relocation to other cities as an alienation technique to prevent him from seeing his child. The remaining participants did not indicate whether or not their ex-spouses with the PAS children had relocated since the divorce. Only one alienated father indicated that he had relocated after the alienating marriage and he reported doing so in order to remain in close contact with his daughter who was being relocated by the alienating mother. The lost parents tended to report the relocation of the alienator with the PAS child or children after the marriage with little or no indication of their own relocation. Further, the nature and the reasons behind the relocations were not given. This information was not probed further as this was not an intended area of study. Thus the results suggest that the alienators’ change of home may not be a salient characteristic of PAS families. The overall results from the family data suggest that family characteristics such as number of PAS children, number of marriages, and the alienators’ relocations were weak indicators of PAS.

Dissolution of the Marriage

Another area indicative of the underlying reasons for the occurrence of PAS concerns the dissolution of the marriage. By broadening the examination of PAS into this area the issues of conflicts may be addressed, as well as indicators of the relationship between the alienator and the lost parent.

(a) Cause of marital dissolution: Primarily via the researcher’s questioning, data were gathered that pertained to any issues and conflicts that occurred within the marriage that the participants perceived as resulting in negative consequences for the marriage (i.e., leading to the dissolution of their marriage).

Results: Participants reported various reasons for the dissolution of the marriage. Those participants (four of the six) who initiated the divorce reported a breakdown in the relationship between themselves and their spouses for various reasons. A participant reported that his friends urged him to initiate the divorce due to the way his wife at the time treated him. He noted that she became physically violent at times:

She ripped my shirt off my back. On one occasion she took the flower pot and almost threw it on the lid of the car when I was backing up…She would just get in this rage when I would leave.

The remaining two participants reported that they were unaware that their wives wanted divorces and they were in disbelief when the divorce proceedings began. One participant described how he found out his wife had left him: her mother informed him of the impending divorce: “X decided to divorce you, that’s the only way she can be happy is if she divorces you and…you just have to live with it, that’s how it is.” In his own words, the participant explained “…she apparently decided to…divorce me and I didn’t know.” These results suggest that marital conflicts and their intensity are weak predictors in the occurrence of PAS as participants either reported no conflicts that led to the dissolution of the marriage or, if conflicts did occur, a variety of issues were reported as resulting in conflicts.

(b) Current relationship with ex-spouse: The researcher had probed the participants to describe their current relationship with their ex-spouses. The issues relating to this topic presented in the data pertained to the verbal and physical interactions between the participants and the ex-spouses in the alienating situation.

Results: The participants reported that they currently engaged in little or no communication with their ex-spouses (the alienators). Three of the six participants stated that they had no contact with the alienator for one to three years. As one participant explained his current relationship with is ex-wife: “…there’s not too much to the relationship. I haven’t talked to her for about three or four years.” Two of the remaining three participants reported that they had some communication, however this communication was often limited to e-mail or to requesting to speak with the children over the phone. Those participants who reported having had some limited contact with the alienators described their relationships as tense. One participant explained her relationship with her ex-spouse as “very tense and… unpredictable at times.” There was one exception, a participant described his relationship with his ex-spouse as a relationship that they were “working on”. Previously their relationship was strained, however a change in their relationship occurred when, recently, his ex-spouse was diagnosed with a terminal illness. The results suggest that the participants’ experienced either an on-going strained or chronic lack of relationship between themselves and their ex-spouses (the alienator).

Overall, the findings indicated that related to the dissolution of the marriage, the conflicts between the participants and their ex-spouses were of varying issues and intensity. Specifically, the nature and intensity of the conflicts appeared to be weak indicators of the occurrence of PAS. The results also suggest, however, that after the dissolution of the marriage and the occurrence of PAS, the relationship between the alienator and the lost parent was virtually strained or non-existent.

Relationship with the PAS children

The importance of studying PAS is evident in its effects on the children and their relationship with their lost parents. Examining the frequency of visitation and the lost parents’ relationship with their children may provide insight as to the impact of PAS on the children and their relationships with their lost parents.

(a) Frequency of visitation/contact: The researcher probed the participants for information pertaining to the amount of contact between the participant and his or her child (or children). Contact was defined as any interaction between individuals whether by conventional mail, e-mail, telephone, or physical (“face to face”) contact.

Results: All of the participants reported that the mother had primary custody of the children at the time of divorce or separation. Visitation for the fathers was approximately every second weekend, with the exception of one father who was allowed visitation five days a week for five hours per day. Since the finalization of the divorce or the implementation of the custody agreement, all of the alienated parents had their visitation drastically reduced, including the alienated mother who initially had primary custody. Upon asking her how often she sees her children, if at all, her response was “none.” Most of the alienated parents had not seen their children via a court implemented visitation for up to four years. Those parents who continued to have visitation had less frequent visits than when they were first divorced or separated (e.g., instead of every second weekend, a father reported that his visitation had been reduced to once a month). For instance, one father described his reduction in visitation as follows: “…about three years ago…it [visitation] was once or twice a week, and since then….I can see him about once a month.” Overall, the results suggest that a change in the frequency of visitation and custody arrangement occurs with these PAS families. The change of visitation and custody arrangement tends to be as follows: At the onset of the divorce, fathers received regular visitation schedules and the mothers (including the alienated mother in the present study) were given primary custody. After the legal proceedings and the onset of PAS there was a significant decrease in the frequency of the visitation schedule with all the alienated parents, including the alienated mother who had been given primary custody at the onset of the divorce. Although this result may be attributed to having primarily male participants in the study who tended to have visitation rather than custody, nonetheless, the frequency of the visitation was drastically reduced after the proceedings for all of the participants. Further, it remains uncertain as to the cause of the change in the visitation frequency. This change may be due to the legal proceedings or to PAS itself or a third unknown factor. If such a change were due to PAS however, it would be indicative of the success of the alienators in having the lost parents removed from the children’s lives.

(b) Current relationship with PAS children: Again, the researcher probed the participants for data pertaining to the type of physical, verbal, and emotional contact between the participant and the children.

Results: Three of the participants reported having little or no relationship with their alienated children. The alienated mother reported that although she had very little contact with her children she still felt “connected” with them. She continued to attempt to be present during important children’s events such as soccer, baseball games and graduations despite various obstacles (e.g., not being told of such events and being “scolded” by the alienator for going). The fathers who had little contact with their children reported that they attempted to maintain contact by writing letters and cards as well as sending various types of gifts (e.g., toys) to their children. Regardless of whether their children responded to their communication attempts, these fathers hoped that their children understood that by these gestures they were demonstrating their affections to their children. One father described his attempts as follows: “…I write every week. I try to send him [his son] something every week. It can be a postcard, it can be a toy… ”

Only two alienated fathers reported having a close relationship with their alienated children. One of these fathers described his case as a mild form of PAS and attributed his closeness to his daughter to her young age and that he continued to maintain daily telephone contact with her. In his words:

I’ve always been very close with my daughter…very, very close…I don’t think they [the divorce/custody proceedings] had anything [to do with it], she was too young. She was only two years old.

The other lost parent reported a close relationship with his two younger children, while his relationship with his oldest daughter remained somewhat strained. This participant’s close relationship with his younger children may be attributed to a milder form of PAS with his younger children than with his daughter and to his relationship with his ex-spouse who was diagnosed with a terminal illness and with whom he is currently re-establishing some communication. Thus, the results confirm that most PAS children and their lost parents did indeed have a strained relationship. However, the severity of PAS was a weak indicator of the extent of such a strain.

Overall, the results pertaining to the issues of the lost parents’ relationships with their PAS children are as follows: First, the results suggest a decrease in the frequency of visitation for the lost parent which may or may not have been due to PAS. Specifically, participants reported that custody was routinely given to the mother at the onset of the divorce, regardless of who became the alienator and who became the lost parent with the onset of PAS. Further, all fathers had a consistent visitation schedule where all had visitation every two weeks with the exception of one father who visited every day. With the onset of alienation, the alienator received custody and the lost parents had their visitations drastically reduced either to absolutely no visitation or no contact, to visitation of approximately once a month. Of interest is that the only lost female parent who initially had primary custody of the children had absolutely no visitation schedule by the time of the interview. Second, as there was a reduction of other contacts with their children, the lost parents described a limited relationship with their children, often writing to them without reply. The only exceptions to these findings were two fathers who related that their ability to maintain a relatively stable relationship with their children was a function of the mild severity of the PAS in their cases. Therefore as expected, the findings mildly suggest indications that the less severe the PAS the better the chance of having a good relationship with their children.

Alienation and alienating techniques

As there is little research on this subject, a more detailed examination of alienation and associated alienating techniques is necessary in gaining a better understanding of its impact.

(a) Alienators’ attitude and behaviors: Data pertained to all references to the alienators’ behaviors and actions that resulted in any negative consequences for the participant or the alienated child or children. Some of the data gathered for this issue was either probed by the researcher or was spontaneously reported by the participants throughout the interview,

Results: The results suggest that the alienators denigrated the lost parents by implying that the lost parents were not good people. For instance, one father accidentally overheard the alienator inform the children that she had hired an attorney to prevent them from having to visit with their father. The alienator did not allow the child to continue a healthy relationship with the lost parent. Another parent reported that whenever his child went back to the alienator’s home after a visit with him, the child would be questioned or “debriefed” about everything that happened there. A way the alienators exercised their power, as described by a father, included attempts offering the children alternate choices (e.g. shopping) to visiting with the father. The results suggest that all of the participants perceived a general “sabotage” of their relationships with their children by the alienators. The lost parents reported that they perceived their relationship with their children as being “eroded” often by not being informed of a child’s activities (e.g., soccer game schedule) that the lost parent may have wished to attend. Whether the alienator used mild “alienating techniques”- for instance whenever the lost parent called, the alienator would call the children to the telephone by saying in an “angry voice” “Its your father!” – or more drastic means by making accusations of physical and sexual abuse, the effect was that all the lost parents perceived that they were denied or deterred access to their children.

(b) Other’s contributions: Data gathered for this group pertained to all references to any individual, with the exception of the ex-spouse, who engaged in any alienating techniques (i.e., that were perceived by the participants as attempts at alienating the lost parent from the PAS child). Some of the responses were due to the researcher’s questioning but the primary source for the data was due to the participants’ spontaneous descriptions of the alienating circumstances involving others.

Results:
In five of the six cases the children of the PAS families were described as “spies” for the alienator. These children reported back to the alienator anything that the lost parent said that the child did not like. This reporting would often result in arguments between the alienator and the lost parent. The female participant in the study reported that her children would copy all of her personal papers and bills for their father. Further, her children would report to him whenever she had a date. The results also indicate that gifts given to the children by the lost parent would often “disappear” or be broken by the children. In the two cases where there was more than one PAS child, the results indicated that the children were “turned against each other” where in one case they would spy on each other and in the other case the oldest child would engage in alienating the younger children (e.g., enticing the younger children to abandon their visit with their father in order to go to “Sea World” with her and her mother). In one of the cases the maternal grandparents continued the alienation when the alienator (the mother) had discontinued all contact with the father and the grandparents were placed in the position of monitoring the child’s visits with his father. In another case the lost parent’s ex-brothers-in-law and ex-mother-in-law also contributed to the alienation by denigrating the father in front of the children (e.g., saying “I am really sorry you have a father like that”). These results suggest that the children acted as the secondary alienator (i.e., the second alienator after the parent) and they would do so primarily by being spies for the alienating parent and by continually rejecting the lost parent via various means (e.g., breaking toys). Grandparents and other extended family members also appeared to play an important role by contributing to the alienation as secondary alienators, provided that they were close to the alienator. The findings suggest that the closer the alienator’s family members, the greater their tendency to alienate as well. These findings raise the question as to why close family members contribute to the alienation. For instance, are some of the alienating parent’s family characteristics indicative of their engagement in alienation or is it something about the alienation itself that engages other family members to contribute to the alienation or is it simply that these family members take sides? Researchers have yet to address this issue and future research will be important in answering this question.

(c) Cause of PAS: Data gathered here pertained to any causes or factors that the participants perceived to be linked to the development or occurrence of the alienation. Some of the data collected on this issue resulted from direct probing by the researcher, and some resulted from the participants descriptions of their circumstances.

Results:
All of the participants believed that the motive behind the alienation was triggered by hate, anger, or a sense of seeking revenge towards them by the alienator or some combination of these. One father reported his belief that the cause of the alienation was “Hate…Hate towards me” and another participant perceived: “She hates my guts and she says it…And she’s trying to get back at me as well.” Another motive suggested in the findings was that the participants perceived the alienation as a means by which the alienators could succeed in severing the participants’ relationships with their children. One participant noted that the alienator may have made accusations of abuse as a means of explaining the reason behind the divorce. He described his belief as follows: “This gives her an excuse for leaving a bad guy and why the marriage broke up, and therefore it’s not her fault.” The findings suggest that the participants perceived the underlying cause of the alienation as the hatred toward the lost parents, anger, or revenge, or some combination of these.

(d) Control/power: All data gathered pertained to references to situations where the participant perceived that an individual’s actions or behaviours led to another individual’s behavioural change or constraint. Moreover, the data were spontaneously generated by the participants rather than elicited by the researcher.

Results:
The results suggest that the participants had lost some power over their relationship with their PAS children. The alienators were often described by the participants as using the child or other means to attempt to produce a desired outcome in the lost parent or the child. An example of an alienator using the child is as follows: an alienator locked her child in a dark closet, to be found “yelling and screaming” by the lost parent, in order to make the lost parent give her some papers.

Feelings of powerlessness were also apparent in the findings as the participants reported feeling constrained as to the way in which they had to behave in the presence of their children. They reported a need to control their behaviour while in the presence of their children for fear of losing their visitation privileges or experiencing other legal consequences when the child reported to the alienator what the lost parent had done. As one father described his feelings:

So I think she [his daughter] has a lot more power than I do, you know. She has the power to just terminate the relationship at any time. I mean, if at any time she would say ‘Well Dad, I don’t feel like seeing you any more.’ Well, her mother’s …she says, you know, ‘whatever your daughter wants, you know…that’s the law type of thing’.

There is a sense of loss of parental role in the life of their children that has been attributed to the alienation. The lost parents cannot exert any of his or her parental responsibilities over their children. For instance, one lost parent reported how he could not discipline his child (e.g., send the child to her room) when the child behaved inappropriately, or she might end the visit the alienator would become angry at him for having disciplined his daughter as he once would normally have done.

Participants who did not have any contact with their children also reported a sense of being controlled or constrained in their behaviour. For instance, one father believed that he had to monitor the frequency with which he sent cards or packages to his child for fear of being charged with “harassment” if he did so too frequently. Further, two of the participants reported a sense of the children being controlled by the alienator. These children had to behave in a certain manner while with the alienated parent to avoid negative consequences by the alienator. For instance, one participant reported that an unscheduled visit to his child (in order to bring her a gift) resulted in the alienator yelling at the child for speaking to him. There was a sense of powerless reported by all the participants forcing them to behave in a certain manner to avoid legal or other consequences. As one father reported, once divorce occurs then “the courts really have the say over what happens to the kids, not you” [the parent]. These findings suggest that the lost parents perceived themselves as powerless with their children and to have lost their traditional parental roles whether or not they had visitation with their children.

Overall, the findings confirmed that the alienators used denigrating techniques (e.g., implying that the lost parents were not good people) and provided ultimata to children and spouses to further the alienation that was motivated by hate, anger, revenge or some combination of these three. Others were enlisted to contribute to the alienation. Children, in particular, were seen as spies to relay information to the alienator and, as such, may be considered secondary alienators. Second, extended family members such as in-laws who shared close relationships with the alienators contributed to the alienation as well. Moreover, the lost parents felt powerless as a result of the alienating situation. The children in particular were perceived as controlling the lost parents, they could determine when, if at all, they would see the lost parent, under what circumstances and in particular what the lost parent would do with the child. The lost parent had to be careful not to anger the child for fear of never seeing their child again and to be careful even sending them letters or toys. This loss of parental role was reported by the participants whether or not they had visitation with their children.

Experience with Professionals

When a marriage dissolves the family undergoes court proceedings to legalize the divorce. If children are involved, then the parents may seek custody in the courts, and the testimony of mental health professionals may be included during these proceedings. Services for mental health professionals may also be sought by any of the family members outside of the legal system before, throughout, or after a divorce. The role of these professionals and the participants’ perceptions of them may provide useful information for these same professionals as to their future dealings with PASfamilies.

(a) Legal services:
The issues gathered here pertained to any legal proceedings, such as interactions with lawyers, judges, and the court system in general. The principle means of data collection for this issue was from the participants’ spontaneous divulgence of information and some data were gathered via the researcher’s additional probing.

Results:
The participants generally reported having negative experiences within the legal system. The participants felt that the judges in their cases either played minimal roles in the final decisions since everything was decided beforehand by the lawyers, or the judges made quick and uninformed decisions, lacking knowledge and experience with respect to PAS. For instance, one father reported that his ex-wife — who was preventing him from having visits with his child — ignored court orders of his visitation rights. The judge did not impose any consequences on her; she received only a warning after ignoring more than one court order. Accusations were made against three of the fathers. The accusations ranged from physical and mental abuse of the ex-spouse and sexual abuse of the child, to accusations of scaring the children because he “talked like a walrus”. The participants perceived the court as an obstruction to seeing their children as well as a financial burden. Some participants reported the cost of the lawyers’ fees between U.S. $12, 000 to $200, 000. One father reported having to pay legal fees of $1, 000 in order to see his child for one weekend. Overall, the participants reported a sense of discontent over the way in which their cases were managed by the legal system. However, the discontent may have been related to the fact that the participants lost custody. A future study examining this issue may indicate whether the discontent with the legal services was due to the process of the legal proceedings or due to the end result (the loss of custody by participants).

(b) Psychological services: Here data gathered pertained to the participants’ experience of receipt of any type of psychological service whether by psychiatrist, psychologist , or counsellor. Once again, the principal sources of data were from the participants’ own descriptions of their experiences with mental health professionals. The secondary means was via follow-up probes by the researcher for the purpose of clarification.

Results:
Half the participants reported receiving counselling with the alienator prior to the divorce. However, the female participant was the only lost parent to continue with the service and one male participant was “hoping” that an intervention by the therapist would be “crucial” for his case in court. Approximately half of the participants reported receiving a psychological assessment of the family for the legal proceedings in court. In general, the results suggest that the mothers in these families tended to receive psychological services around the time the separation was initiated and that they continued to receive counseling or therapy after the finalization of the divorce. The fathers, on the other hand, were asked by their wives to join their counselling sessions prior to the divorce.

Half of the respondents described their experiences with mental health professionals in negative terms. There appeared to be a sense of discontent with the mental health professionals’ knowledge of PAS and how they managed the PAS family. One father initiated a formal complaint against the psychiatrist who tape recorded their conversations without his knowledge. Members of the mental health profession were reported as being utilized as a “legal tactic” by the alienators and their lawyers. The mental health professionals involved with these PAS cases were often described as individuals who lacked the necessary knowledge of PAS and often neglected to collect pertinent information regarding the child’s relationship with their father. For instance, one father, whose daughter was seen by a psychologist, was never telephoned or asked for any information about his daughter until he called and complained to her himself. Moreover, the participants reported that their children primarily received psychological care for the family assessment for the court, with the exception that one child was seeing a psychiatrist for treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), a daughter who was being treated for anxiety, and two other children (from different families) who were being treated for aggression. Results indicate a general dissatisfaction with the psychologists or psychiatrists who were involved in the families of the participants and there was a lack of a positive outcome from seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist. Not one participant reported any positive outcomes from receiving psychological services. When asked how they coped with the alienating situation, three of the participants reported a desire to discuss and teach PAS to others.

Overall, the results suggest that the participants sought the assistance of both legal and mental health professionals. Further, the results suggest a lack of satisfaction with the services rendered by both legal and mental health professionals. There was a general sense of a lack of knowledge of PAS on the part of the professionals, as well as failing to gather “both sides of the story”. These negative perceptions gave rise to the question as to whether or not accusations that flew back and forth in the courtroom might have the impact of fuelling PAS, and suggests that further research is needed..

Current Perceptions

Examining the lost parents’ current perceptions after having undergone PAS may provide insight as to what issues are important for focus in future research, possible indicators of PAS, and the impact of PAS on the lost parents.

(a) Looking back: Here data gathered referred to the participants’ beliefs of any actions that they would have done differently as well as any general perceptions of the past.

Results:
The results suggest that the participants, provided that they had had the knowledge about PAS that they presently have, would have behaved differently towards their ex-spouse. One participant reported that he would have never been married, while two participants reported that they would have taken different legal routes, such as hiring a different type of lawyer and taking a more aggressive legal approach from the onset. Two other respondents reported that they would have sought psychological services earlier on with a professional who was knowledgeable about PAS. The female participant would have allowed more discussions and pictures of the alienator with her children. Armed with the knowledge they now had, every participant would have taken other means to prevent the current alienating situation from ever occurring.

(b) The impact of PAS: Data pertaining to the participants’ perceptions of how the alienating circumstances have affected their life were gathered.

Results: Overall, the results suggest that the participants perceive the alienating circumstances as exerting serious negative emotional and financial consequences on their lives. Specifically, they felt that they had been drained emotionally, most participants reported a sense that the circumstances had “ruined my life completely”, and asserted that PAS had had “devastating” effects. One parent described the alienating experience as traumatic. The participants believe that they had lost a child or at the very least their roles as a parent. A participant described this feeling as if they would “rip one of my arms off” and another participant noted that his three year marriage will impact on him for the rest of his life (or at least until his child marries). A financial impact was also reported by three of the six participants, one of whom described himself as being “ruined financially”. The only positive impact was reported by the female participant who believed that the alienating experience helped her become more understanding of her pain, others’ pain, and this had assisted her to become a more understanding person.

(c) Termination/Looking to the future: Data gathered pertaining to this area included the participants’ belief that certain situations or circumstances are necessary for the termination of the alienating circumstances.

Results: The results suggest that the participants believed that by maintaining contact with the children (i.e., by sending letters and cards) increased the possibility of a reconciliation with their children. Even though the participants’ attempts at communicating with their children often remained unanswered, these parents believed that their attempts would inform their children that they were thinking of them, that they loved them, and that their doors were still open to the children. These participants hoped that as the children grew and matured they would decide to contact their lost parent on their own. However, these participants also reported that they realized that their children may never resume contact with them and that they must prepare for this eventuality. Two participants reported that they believed that by gaining access to their children the alienation might stop, and one of these parents stressed that terminating the contact between the alienator and the child was another means through which the alienation may cease. These results suggest that all the participants hoped that the alienation would terminate. The majority of the participants appeared to behave that this would occur with time; one participant perceived “time as a healer”.

Overall, the results suggest that the participants perceived their experience of PAS as having resulted in negative and devastating impacts on their lives and themselves and they would go to great lengths to avoid experiencing the alienation again. Moreover, the participants believed that their continued attempts at communicating with their PAS children, despite a lack of responses, would someday lead to the termination of PAS. Therefore, the results suggest that although PAS has had serious consequences on these families’ lives that could have been avoided, the lost parents hoped they would be “reunited” with their children in the future.

Miscellaneous

Results:
The remaining data that did not appear to share any commonalities with other participants’ responses were gathered here. For instance, information gathered included detailed descriptions of the participants’ employment and finances as well as some information regarding other lost parents’ experiences as described by the participants. Such information was not related to any issues discussed by other participants and primarily pertained to details of the participants’ lives rather than to PAS.

Summary of Findings

The results of the study suggest that:

1. Family characteristics, such as number of children, and number of marriages, were weak factors in the occurrence of PAS.
2. The alienators’ changes of home were not a salient characteristic of PAS families.
3. Marital conflicts and their intensity were weak predictors in the occurrence of PAS.
4. The relationships between the alienating and lost parents were strained after the onset of PAS.
5. There was a general decrease in the frequency of visitation for the lost parent which may or may not have been due to PAS.
6. There was a reduction of other contacts (aside from visitation) between the lost parents and their children that, as expected, further limited the relationship between them.
7. All of the participants perceived a general “sabotage” of their relationships with their children by the alienators. The findings confirmed that the alienators used denigrating techniques (e.g., implying that the lost parents were not good people).
8. The children acted as secondary alienators.
9. The alienator’s closer family members tended to also alienate.
10. The participants perceived the underlying cause of the alienation to be hatred of the lost parents, anger, or revenge, or some combination of these.
11. The lost parents experienced a loss of both parental role and power whether or not they had visitation with their children.
12. Lost parents were generally dissatisfied with legal and mental health assistance. Both the legal and mental health professionals have inadequately explored all the parameters implied in PAS.
13. Lost parents would go to great lengths to avoid experiencing alienation again. They continued to hope to be reunited with their children in the future. Specifically, the participants believed that maintaining contact with their children (i.e., by sending letters and cards) increased the possibility of a reconciliation with their children.
14. Given the knowledge they now had about PAS, the participants would have behaved differently towards their ex-spouses.
15. The participants perceived the alienating circumstances as exerting serious negative emotional and financial consequences in their lives.

Though tentative, these findings demonstrate both the complexity and seriousness of PAS.

http://www.fact.on.ca/Info/pas/vassil98.htm#CHAPTER%204</a

Jury Trials for Civil Rights in Domestic Relations?

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Support, child trafficking, children legal status, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, deadbeat dads, Divorce, Domestic Relations, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fathers rights, federal crimes, Freedom, Indians, judicial corruption, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes on May 19, 2009 at 7:09 pm

Recently, I received an email concerning support for the federal Parental Rights Amendment.

This is House Joint Resolution 42 in the US Congress, sponsored by Congressman Pete Hoekstra of Michigan. The question concerned why support? the PRA since it does not have to do with divorce or child custody, which are traditional state matters under federal law.

In my response I stated: “Divorce and child custody are state matters once parents “invite” the state in during divorce proceedings. A federal parents rights amendment (PRA) would place a parents right to control “the best interest of the child” over the states’. Custody would be a civil right. It might also force states to recognize childrens’ rights to have both of his parent’s in their lives under the 14th Amendment.

Supreme Court ruling have already done so, (see Parental Rights and Due Process) yet the states continue to ignore SCOTUS rulings because of the massive federal funding to support child care enforcement. A PRA would force the federal judiciary into the family court business, entitling parents to jury trials, since a PRA would make parental rights a constitutional right.

In due course, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine would be moot, as other “domestic-relations” hindrances to parents rights over the state “interest in the child.”

At the very minimum, jury trials for civil rights matters at the federal level would become a routine matter, and place the burden of proof for “domestic violence” and “false allegations” to a higher federal level of “clear and convincing” evidence.

Certainly, throwing men and women in jail for not paying “child support” would come to an end, since criminal due process procedures would be forced upon the states by federal case law. You don’t throw debtors in jail for bankruptcy, why child support?

You might even see states complying with the a Federal court decision in In re Barry, 42 F. 113 (1844) in which family courts become courts of common law and not just courts of equity in which either a plaintiff or respondent has the right to request a jury trial with criminal procedures in place certainly for “domestic violence” or “false allegations.” The federal case In re Barry, 42 F. 113 (1844) was upheld by SCOTUS in Barry v. Mercein, 46 US 103 (1847) and In re Burrus, 136 US 586 (1890) making domestic relations cases under common law jurisdiction.

What do you think?

Are Children “Creatures of the State?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are they problem kids, or kids with problems?

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

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

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

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

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

CHAPTER 3

METHOD AND PROCEDURES OF THE STUDY

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

RESEARCH QUESTION

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

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

PARTICIPANTS

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

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

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

TOOLS OF INQUIRY

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

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

INTERVIEW APPROACH

Context of Interviews:

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

ANALYSIS OF THE DATA

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

These classifications and their related issues were labelled as follows:

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

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

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


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

Children Held Hostage : Dealing With Programmed and Brainwashed Children

In child trafficking, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, deadbeat dads, Divorce, DSM-IV, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, kidnapped children, MMPI, MMPI 2, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights on May 17, 2009 at 5:44 pm

by Stanley S. Clawar and Brynne Valerie Rivlin

Children Held Hostage is a superb book dealing with parental alienation. It is not a long book, but it is based on a body of research conducted by the authors into the specifics of the alienation.

Much of the focus is on the process of the alienation and the frequency of the processes and the motiviation of the abusing parent. However, there is also some good, specific, material on the impact of this alienation on the children. Part of the books message is that Gardner’s proposals in dealing with Parental Alienation Syndrome, the problem induced in the children, is not strong enough because even low levels of alienation create severe problems for the development of children.

This book will open your eyes to what you children might be experiencing if they are being alienated. It will also be good to make you aware to ensure that you don’t do anything to negatively impact your child either if you are involved in a highly charged divorce or separation.

This is a difficult book to find, and it is not inexpensive. Both Amazon and Chapters do have some in stock (likely do to this website’s orders). I would highly recommend ordering a copy if you are interested in parental alienation and the process.

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

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

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

CHAPTER 2

REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

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

HIGH CONFLICT SITUATIONS

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

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

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

The assessment consisted of three measures:

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

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

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

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

DIVORCE

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE LEGAL SYSTEM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COMBINED FACTORS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ABSTRACT

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

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

CHAPTER 1

THE NATURE OF PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Operational Definitions

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

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

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

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

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

The Wholesale Sedation of America’s Youth – Parents Lose Rights

In children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Divorce, family court, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, mothers rights, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parentectomy, Parents rights on May 10, 2009 at 1:00 am

By Andrew M. Weiss, Skeptical Inquirer. Posted May 5, 2009.

Eight million kids today have been diagnosed with mental disorders, and most receive some form of medication. Is this child abuse?

In the winter of 2000, the Journal of the American Medical Association published the results of a study indicating that 200,000 two- to four-year-olds had been prescribed Ritalin for an “attention disorder” from 1991 to 1995. Judging by the response, the image of hundreds of thousands of mothers grinding up stimulants to put into the sippy cups of their preschoolers was apparently not a pretty one.

Most national magazines and newspapers covered the story; some even expressed dismay or outrage at this exacerbation of what already seemed like a juggernaut of hyper-medicalizing childhood. The public reaction, however, was tame; the medical community, after a moment’s pause, continued unfazed. Today, the total toddler count is well past one million, and influential psychiatrists have insisted that mental health prescriptions are appropriate for children as young as twelve months. For the pharmaceutical companies, this is progress.

In 1995, 2,357,833 children were diagnosed with ADHD (Woodwell 1997) — twice the number diagnosed in 1990. By 1999, 3.4 percent of all American children had received a stimulant prescription for an attention disorder. Today, that number is closer to ten percent. Stimulants aren’t the only drugs being given out like candy to our children. A variety of other psychotropics like antidepressants, antipsychotics, and sedatives are finding their way into babies’ medicine cabinets in large numbers. In fact, the worldwide market for these drugs is growing at a rate of ten percent a year, $20.7 billion in sales of antipsychotics alone (for 2007, IMSHealth 2008).

While the sheer volume of psychotropics being prescribed for children might, in and of itself, produce alarm, there has not been a substantial backlash against drug use in large part because of the widespread perception that “medically authorized” drugs must be safe. Yet, there is considerable evidence that psychoactive drugs do not take second place to other controlled pharmaceuticals in carrying grave and substantial risks. All classes of psychoactive drugs are associated with patient deaths, and each produces serious side effects, some of which are life-threatening.

In 2005, researchers analyzed data from 250,000 patients in the Netherlands and concluded that “we can be reasonably sure that antipsychotics are associated in something like a threefold increase in sudden cardiac death, and perhaps that older antipsychotics may be worse” (Straus et al. 2004). In 2007, the FDA chose to beef up its black box warning (reserved for substances that represent the most serious danger to the public) against antidepressants concluding, “the trend across age groups toward an association between antidepressants and suicidality . . . was convincing, particularly when superimposed on earlier analyses of data on adolescents from randomized, controlled trials” (Friedman and Leon 2007). Antidepressants have been banned for use with children in the UK since 2003. According to a confidential FDA report, prolonged administration of amphetamines (the standard treatment for ADD and ADHD) “may lead to drug dependence and must be avoided.” They further reported that “misuse of amphetamine may cause sudden death and serious cardiovascular adverse events” (Food and Drug Administration 2005). The risk of fatal toxicity from lithium carbonate, a not uncommon treatment for bipolar disorder, has been well documented since the 1950s. Incidents of fatal seizures from sedative-hypnotics, especially when mixed with alcohol, have been recorded since the 1920s.

Psychotropics carry nonfatal risks as well. Physical dependence and severe withdrawal symptoms are associated with virtually all psychoactive drugs. Psychological addiction is axiomatic. Concomitant side effects range from unpleasant to devastating, including: insulin resistance, narcolepsy, tardive dyskenisia (a movement disorder affecting 15–20 percent of antipsychotic patients where there are uncontrolled facial movements and sometimes jerking or twisting movements of other body parts), agranulocytosis (a reduction in white blood cells, which is life threatening), accelerated appetite, vomiting, allergic reactions, uncontrolled blinking, slurred speech, diabetes, balance irregularities, irregular heartbeat, chest pain, sleep disorders, fever, and severe headaches. The attempt to control these side effects has resulted in many children taking as many as eight additional drugs every day, but in many cases, this has only compounded the problem. Each “helper” drug produces unwanted side effects of its own.

The child drug market has also spawned a vigorous black market in high schools and colleges, particularly for stimulants. Students have learned to fake the symptoms of ADD in order to obtain amphetamine prescriptions that are subsequently sold to fellow students. Such “shopping” for prescription drugs has even spawned a new verb. The practice is commonly called “pharming.” A 2005 report from the Partnership for a Drug Free America, based on a survey of more than 7,300 teenagers, found one in ten teenagers, or 2.3 million young people, had tried prescription stimulants without a doctor’s order, and 29 percent of those surveyed said they had close friends who have abused prescription stimulants.

n a larger sense, the whole undertaking has had the disturbing effect of making drug use an accepted part of childhood. Few cultures anywhere on earth and anytime in the past have been so willing to provide stimulants and sedative-hypnotics to their offspring, especially at such tender ages. An entire generation of young people has been brought up to believe that drug-seeking behavior is both rational and respectable and that most psychological problems have a pharmacological solution. With the ubiquity of psychotropics, children now have the means, opportunity, example, and encouragement to develop a lifelong habit of self-medicating.

Common population estimates include at least eight million children, ages two to eighteen, receiving prescriptions for ADD, ADHD, bipolar disorder, autism, simple depression, schizophrenia, and the dozens of other disorders now included in psychiatric classification manuals. Yet sixty years ago, it was virtually impossible for a child to be considered mentally ill. The first diagnostic manual published by American psychiatrists in 1952, DSM-I, included among its 106 diagnoses only one for a child: Adjustment Reaction of Childhood/Adolescence. The other 105 diagnoses were specifically for adults. The number of children actually diagnosed with a mental disorder in the early 1950s would hardly move today’s needle. There were, at most, 7,500 children in various settings who were believed to be mentally ill at that time, and most of these had explicit neurological symptoms.

Of course, if there really are one thousand times as many kids with authentic mental disorders now as there were fifty years ago, then the explosion in drug prescriptions in the years since only indicates an appropriate medical response to a newly recognized pandemic, but there are other possible explanations for this meteoric rise. The last fifty years has seen significant social changes, many with a profound effect on children. Burgeoning birth rates, the decline of the extended family, widespread divorce, changing sexual and social mores, households with two working parents — it is fair to say that the whole fabric of life took on new dimensions in the last half century. The legal drug culture, too, became an omnipresent adjunct to daily existence. Stimulants, analgesics, sedatives, decongestants, penicillins, statins, diuretics, antibiotics, and a host of others soon found their way into every bathroom cabinet, while children became frequent visitors to the family physician for drugs and vaccines that we now believe are vital to our health and happiness. There is also the looming motive of money. The New York Times reported in 2005 that physicians who had received substantial payments from pharmaceutical companies were five times more likely to prescribe a drug regimen to a child than those who had refused such payments.

So other factors may well have contributed to the upsurge in psychiatric diagnoses over the past fifty years. But even if the increase reflects an authentic epidemic of mental health problems in our children, it is not certain that medication has ever been the right way to handle it. The medical “disease” model is one approach to understanding these behaviors, but there are others, including a hastily discarded psychodynamic model that had a good record of effective symptom relief. Alternative, less invasive treatments, too, like nutritional treatments, early intervention, and teacher and parent training programs were found to be at least as effective as medication in long-term reduction of a variety of symptoms (of ADHD, The MTA Cooperative Group 1999).

Nevertheless, the medical-pharmaceutical alliance has largely shrugged off other approaches and scoffed at the potential for conflicts of interest and continues to medicate children in ever-increasing numbers. With the proportion of diagnosed kids growing every month, it may be time to take another look at the practice and soberly reflect on whether we want to continue down this path. In that spirit, it is not unreasonable to ask whether this exponential expansion in medicating children has another explanation altogether. What if children are the same as they always were? After all, virtually every symptom now thought of as diagnostic was once an aspect of temperament or character. We may not have liked it when a child was sluggish, hyperactive, moody, fragile, or pestering, but we didn’t ask his parents to medicate him with powerful chemicals either. What if there is no such thing as mental illness in children (except the small, chronic, often neurological minority we once recognized)? What if it is only our perception of childhood that has changed? To answer this, we must look at our history and at our nature.

The human inclination to use psychoactive substances predates civilization. Alcohol has been found in late Stone Age jugs; beer may have been fermented before the invention of bread. Nicotine metabolites have been found in ancient human remains and in pipes in the Near East and Africa. Knowledge of Hul Gil, the “joy plant,” was passed from the Sumerians, in the fifth millennium b.c.e., to the Assyrians, then in serial order to the Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, Persians, Indians, then to the Portuguese who would introduce it to the Chinese, who grew it and traded it back to the Europeans. Hul Gil was the Sumerian name for the opium poppy. Before the Middle Ages, economies were established around opium, and wars were fought to protect avenues of supply.

With the modern science of chemistry in the nineteenth century, new synthetic substances were developed that shared many of the same desirable qualities as the more traditional sedatives and stimulants. The first modern drugs were barbiturates — a class of 2,500 sedative/hypnotics that were first synthesized in 1864. Barbiturates became very popular in the U.S. for depression and insomnia, especially after the temperance movement resulted in draconian anti-drug legislation (most notoriously Prohibition) just after World War I. But variety was limited and fears of death by convulsion and the Winthrop drug-scare kept barbiturates from more general distribution.

Stimulants, typically caffeine and nicotine, were already ubiquitous in the first half of the twentieth century, but more potent varieties would have to wait until amphetamines came into widespread use in the 1930s. Amphetamines were not widely known until the 1920s and 1930s when they were first used to treat asthma, hay fever, and the common cold. In 1932, the Benzedrine Inhaler was introduced to the market and was a huge over-the-counter success. With the introduction of Dexedrine in the form of small, cheap pills, amphetamines were prescribed for depression, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, motion sickness, night-blindness, obesity, narcolepsy, impotence, apathy, and, of course, hyperactivity in children.

Amphetamines came into still wider use during World War II, when they were given out freely to GIs for fatigue. When the GIs returned home, they brought their appetite for stimulants to their family physicians. By 1962, Americans were ingesting the equivalent of forty-three ten-milligram doses of amphetamine per person annually (according to FDA manufacturer surveys).

Still, in the 1950s, the family physician’s involvement in furnishing psychoactive medications for the treatment of primarily psychological complaints was largely sub rosa. It became far more widespread and notorious in the 1960s. There were two reasons for this. First, a new, safer class of sedative hypnotics, the benzodiazepines, including Librium and Valium, were an instant sensation, especially among housewives who called them “mothers’ helpers.” Second, amphetamines had finally been approved for use with children (their use up to that point had been “off-label,” meaning that they were prescribed despite the lack of FDA authorization).

Pharmaceutical companies, coincidentally, became more aggressive in marketing their products with the tremendous success of amphetamines. Valium was marketed directly to physicians and indirectly through a public relations campaign that implied that benzodiazepines offered sedative/hypnotic benefits without the risk of addiction or death from drug interactions or suicide. Within fifteen years of its introduction, 2.3 billion Valium pills were being sold annually in the U.S. (Sample 2005).

So, family physicians became society’s instruments: the suppliers of choice for legal mood-altering drugs. But medical practitioners required scientific authority to protect their reputations, and the public required a justification for its drug-seeking behavior. The pharmaceutical companies were quick to offer a pseudoscientific conjecture that satisfied both. They argued that neurochemical transmitters, only recently identified, were in fact the long sought after mediators of mood and activity. Psychological complaints, consequently, were a function of an imbalance of these neural chemicals that could be corrected with stimulants and sedatives (and later antidepressants and antipsychotics). While the assertion was pure fantasy without a shred of evidence, so little was known about the brain’s true actions that the artifice was tamely accepted. This would later prove devastating when children became the targets of pharmaceutical expansion.

With Ritalin’s FDA approval for the treatment of hyperactivity in children, the same marketing techniques that had been so successful with other drugs were applied to the new amphetamine. Pharmaceutical companies had a vested interest in the increase in sales; they spared no expense in convincing physicians to prescribe them. Cash payments, stock options, paid junkets, no-work consultancies, and other inducements encouraged physicians to relax their natural caution about medicating children. Parents also were targeted. For example, CIBA, the maker of Ritalin, made large direct payments to parents’ support groups like CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) (The Merrow Report 1995). To increase the acceptance of stimulants, drug companies paid researchers to publish favorable articles on the effectiveness of stimulant treatments. They also endowed chairs and paid for the establishment of clinics in influential medical schools, particularly ones associated with universities of international reputation. By the mid 1970s, more than half a million children had already been medicated primarily for hyperactivity.

The brand of psychiatry that became increasingly popular in the 1980s and 1990s did not have its roots in notions of normal behavior or personality theory; it grew out of the concrete, atheoretical treatment style used in clinics and institutions for the profoundly disturbed. German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin, not Freud, was the God of mental hospitals, and pharmaceuticals were the panacea. So the whole underlying notion of psychiatric treatment, diagnosis, and disease changed. Psychiatry, which had straddled psychology and medicine for a hundred years, abruptly abandoned psychology for a comfortable sinecure within its traditional parent discipline. The change was profound.

People seeking treatment were no longer clients, they were patients. Their complaints were no longer suggestive of a complex mental organization, they were symptoms of a disease. Patients were not active participants in a collaborative treatment, they were passive recipients of symptom-reducing substances. Mental disturbances were no longer caused by unique combinations of personality, character, disposition, and upbringing, they were attributed to pre-birth anomalies that caused vague chemical imbalances. Cures were no longer anticipated or sought; mental disorders were inherited illnesses, like birth defects, that could not be cured except by some future magic, genetic bullet. All that could be done was to treat symptoms chemically, and this was being done with astonishing ease and regularity.

In many ways, children are the ideal patients for drugs. By nature, they are often passive and compliant when told by a parent to take a pill. Children are also generally optimistic and less likely to balk at treatment than adults. Even if they are inclined to complain, the parent is a ready intermediary between the physician and the patient. Parents are willing to participate in the enforcement of treatments once they have justified them in their own minds and, unlike adults, many kids do not have the luxury of discontinuing an unpleasant medication. Children are additionally not aware of how they ought to feel. They adjust to the drugs’ effects as if they are natural and are more tolerant of side effects than adults. Pharmaceutical companies recognized these assets and soon were targeting new drugs specifically at children.

But third-party insurance providers balked at the surge in costs for treatment of previously unknown, psychological syndromes, especially since unwanted drug effects were making some cases complicated and expensive. Medicine’s growing prosperity as the purveyor of treatments for mental disorders was threatened, and the industry’s response was predictable. Psychiatry found that it could meet insurance company requirements by simplifying diagnoses, reducing identification to the mere appearance of certain symptoms. By 1980, they had published all new standards.

Lost in the process was the fact that the redefined diagnoses (and a host of new additions) failed to meet minimal standards of falsifiability and differentiability. This meant that the diagnoses could never be disproved and that they could not be indisputably distinguished from one another. The new disorders were also defined as lists of symptoms from which a physician could check off a certain number of hits like a Chinese menu, which led to reification, an egregious scientific impropriety. Insurers, however, with their exceptions undermined and under pressure from parents and physicians, eventually withdrew their objections. From that moment on, the treatment of children with powerful psychotropic medications grew unchecked.

As new psychotropics became available, their uses were quickly extended to children despite, in many cases, indications that the drugs were intended for use with adults only. New antipsychotics, the atypicals, were synthesized and marketed beginning in the 1970s. Subsequently, a new class of antidepressants like Prozac and Zoloft was introduced. These drugs were added to the catalogue of childhood drug treatments with an astonishing casualness even as stimulant treatment for hyperactivity continued to burgeon.

In 1980, hyperactivity, which had been imprudently named “minimal brain dysfunction” in the 1960s, was renamed Attention Deficit Disorder in order to be more politic, but there was an unintended consequence of the move. Parents and teachers, familiar with the name but not always with the symptoms, frequently misidentified children who were shy, slow, or sad (introverted rather than inattentive) as suffering from ADD. Rather than correct the mistake, though, some enterprising physicians responded by prescribing the same drug for the opposite symptoms. This was justified on the grounds that stimulants, which were being offered because they slowed down hyperactive children, might very well have the predicted effect of speeding up under-active kids. In this way, a whole new population of children became eligible for medication. Later, the authors of DSM-III memorialized this practice by renaming ADD again, this time as ADHD, and redefining ADD as inattention. Psychiatry had reached a new level: they were now willing to invent an illness to justify a treatment. It would not be the last time this was done.

In the last twenty years, a new, more disturbing trend has become popular: the re-branding of legacy forms of mental disturbance as broad categories of childhood illness. Manic depressive illness and infantile autism, two previously rare disorders, were redefined through this process as “spectrum” illnesses with loosened criteria and symptom lists that cover a wide range of previously normal behavior. With this slim justification in place, more than a million children have been treated with psychotropics for bipolar disorder and another 200,000 for autism. A recent article in this magazine “The Bipolar Bamboozle” (Flora and Bobby 2008) illuminates how and why an illness that once occurred twice in every 100,000 Americans, has been recast as an epidemic affecting millions.

To overwhelmed parents, drugs solve a whole host of ancillary problems. The relatively low cost (at least in out-of-pocket dollars) and the small commitment of time for drug treatments make them attractive to parents who are already stretched thin by work and home life. Those whose confidence is shaken by indications that their children are “out of control” or “unruly” or “disturbed” are soothed by the seeming inevitability of an inherited disease that is shared by so many others. Rather than blaming themselves for being poor home managers, guardians with insufficient skills, or neglectful caretakers, parents can find comfort in the thought that their child, through no fault of theirs, has succumbed to a modern and widely accepted scourge. A psychiatric diagnosis also works well as an authoritative response to demands made by teachers and school administrators to address their child’s “problems.”

Once a medical illness has been identified, all unwanted behavior becomes fruit of the same tree. Even the children themselves are often at first relieved that their asocial or antisocial impulses reflect an underlying disease and not some flaw in their characters or personalities.
Conclusions

In the last analysis, childhood has been thoroughly and effectively redefined. Character and temperament have been largely removed from the vocabulary of human personality. Virtually every single undesirable impulse of children has taken on pathological proportions and diagnostic significance. Yet, if the psychiatric community is wrong in their theories and hypotheses, then a generation of parents has been deluded while millions of children have been sentenced to a lifetime of ingesting powerful and dangerous drugs.

Considering the enormous benefits reaped by the medical community, it is no surprise that critics have argued that the whole enterprise is a cynical, reckless artifice crafted to unfairly enrich them. Even though this is undoubtedly not true, physicians and pharmaceutical companies must answer for the rush to medicate our most vulnerable citizens based on little evidence, a weak theoretical model, and an antiquated and repudiated philosophy. For its part, the scientific community must answer for its timidity in challenging treatments made in the absence of clinical observation and justified by research of insufficient rigor performed by professionals and institutions whose objectivity is clearly in question, because their own interests are materially entwined in their findings.

It should hardly be necessary to remind physicians that even if their diagnoses are real, they are still admonished by Galen’s dictum Primum non nocere, or “first, do no harm.” If with no other population, this ought to be our standard when dealing with children. Yet we have chosen the most invasive, destructive, and potentially lethal treatment imaginable while rejecting other options that show great promise of being at least as effective and far safer. But these other methods are more expensive, more complicated, and more time-consuming, and thus far, we have not proved willing to bear the cost. Instead, we have jumped at a discounted treatment, a soft-drink-machine cure: easy, cheap, fast, and putatively scientific. Sadly, the difference in price is now being paid by eight million children.

Mental illness is a fact of life, and it is naïve to imagine that there are not seriously disturbed children in every neighborhood and school. What is more, in the straitened economy of child rearing and education, medication may be the most efficient and cost effective treatment for some of these children. Nevertheless, to medicate not just the neediest, most complicated cases but one child in every ten, despite the availability of less destructive treatments and regardless of doubtful science, is a tragedy of epic proportions.

What we all have to fear, at long last, is not having been wrong but having done wrong. That will be judged in a court of a different sort. Instead of humility, we continue to feed drugs to our children with blithe indifference. Even when a child’s mind is truly disturbed (and our standards need to be revised drastically on this score), a treatment model that intends to chemically palliate and manage ought to be our last resort, not our first option. How many more children need to be sacrificed for us to see the harm in expediency, greed, and plain ignorance?

This piece was originally published in the Skeptical Inquirer.
http://www.alternet.org/healthwellness/139796/the_wholesale_sedation_of_america%27s_youth/?page=entire

Preventing Parentectomy Following Divorce

In child trafficking, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Divorce, family court, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Freedom, judicial corruption, Liberty, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Obama, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, state crimes on May 7, 2009 at 1:00 am

By Frank S. Williams M.D.
Keynote Address, Fifth Annual Conference
National Council for Children’s Rights
Washington DC

Frank S. Williams, M.D. Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and Psychoanalyst for children, adolescents and adults, is Director of Family and Child Psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles. Dr. Williams also directs the Cedars-Sinai Program for Children and Families of Divorce.

Introduction

Parentectomy is the removal, erasure, or severe diminution of a caring parent in a child’s life, following separation or divorce.

Parentectomy covers a large range of parent removal from partial parentectomy, “You may visit your Daddy or Mommy every other Sunday”; to total parentectomy, as in Parental Alienation Syndrome, described by Gardner; or complete parent absence or removal. The victims of parentectomy are the children and the parents so severed from each other’s lives. A parentectomy is the most cruel infringement upon children’s rights to be carried out against human children by human adults. Parentectomies are psychologically lethal to children and parents.

In the worst consequential wake of a parentectomy , the victim parent gives up and walks away from the surgically-minded adults and the victim children. When this happens, the victim parent walks away from the chronic warring battlefield with intense ambivalence and confusion, faced with an insoluble dilemma. He or she knows that the chronic war in which one parent tries to erase the other parent, and the other parent struggles to stave off the parentectomy, is itself destructive to the children, as it causes ongoing tension and stress in them, as well as in the ongoing interaction between the children and each of their parents. On the other hand, if a mother or father gives up and walks away from the war, the children feel abandoned by a loved and needed parent, and unusually resent and become depressed over the abandonment.

Although children hate fighting and pray for it to stop, they misinterpret a parent’s giving up the fight as that parent’s not caring enough about them. Yet, clinicians know that, in these cases, even when a father or mother gives up the battle for custody, it is hardly ever due to not caring for their children enough. Rather, they give up the fight because they are emotionally depleted, physically exhausted, worn out, depressed or financially drained; they don’t want to continue to subject their children to the relentless warring; they discover that they have little chance of success against a prejudiced legal/judicial system, and little chance of success against a prejudiced, incompetent or skillful “hired gun” – mental health professional, who has been paid to facilitate a parentectomy. Unfortunately, for the right price, such psychological surgeons can be found.

Further Consequences of a Parentectomy

In addition to the worst scenario of actually being abandoned, when a parentectomy occurs, children lose the rewarding ongoing opportunity to give and receive love to and from a parent who has loved them.

These children frequently become depressed – especially in later adolescence. At times their depression reaches suicidal proportions. In my own clinical work, as well as in school and emergency room consultation experience during the past 15 years, I have found a very high correlation between suicidality in adolescents and a divorce in their earlier years, which virtually results in one parent being erased from their lives.

They often lack self esteem, particularly if they believe the erased parent willfully abandoned them, or when the remaining parent behaves as if the erased parent never existed or never loved and cared for the children.

Children with parentectomies often go on to mistrust and fail in adult intimate relationships, this is for several reasons. first, they tend to see people as good or bad, right or wrong, loving or hateful, worthy of gratitude or worthy of punishment. Secondly, they have usually witnessed models of adult relationships based on mutual accusations and defensiveness, as opposed to the healthier model of tolerating ambivalence about the good and bad in others and in oneself. Further, in cases of Parental Alienation Syndrome, they may leave home prematurely or turn against the “favoured’ parent later in life. Their turning against the one favoured parent may come about in later adolescence, when they realize they were “brainwashed” victims caused by a malicious, angry, or disturbed parent, to unjustifiably hate the other parent.

Methods Used in the Service of Parentectomy

A parent seeking to perform a parentectomy usually enlists the help of attorneys, relatives, friends, and mental health professionals, in the pursuit of the radical removal of the other parent.

They have several methods at their disposal. First they can get the potential parent victim – usually the Father – to see a “friendly,” “brilliant” mental health clinician or child development specialist, who will brain-drill the potential parent victim about a distorted, out-of-context version of the psychological and developmental needs of children. The child development specialist will reiterate that children – especially young children – need the stability, constancy and consistency of one home, and that it is emotionally harmful for the children to be shuttled back and forth between homes. They will reiterate that children need a primary psychological caretaker.

From my own clinical experience with children, I would agree with the position that one home provides stability and continuity. However, when parents are divorced, the children cannot enjoy the benefit of both parents living with them in the same home. Therefore shuttling between homes may be inevitable. In divorce, we usually do not have the option of choosing what is in the best interest of the children. Instead, we most often must choose the least detrimental of several detrimental options. This is especially so when a child has been psychologically bonded to two parents. Of two potential evils for children – the evil of shuttling between the homes of two loving, caring parents versus the evil of losing one such parent – certainly the lesser evil is shuttling between two homes. It is the continued parental bonding, not the number of homes or vehicular travel, that will be the crucial determinant of children’s forward psychological development following divorce. In these days, when both parents frequently work, and rely on sharing the child-rearing with each other, with other family members and with housekeepers and day care personnel, the concept of one “primary psychological caretaker” is outdated. frequently there are two psychological caretakers or a network of caretakers, supervised by two parents.

Should the “friendly,” “brilliant” mental health clinician described above fail to convince the victim of the need for a parentectomy, the determined other parent can then enlist the aid of the “hired-gun” child development expert. After a brief, superficial contact with the other parent, of times without ever seeing the victim parent or without ever seeing the children interact with the victim parent – the “hired-gun” will unequivocally and with utmost scientific certainty declare:

1. that the children mistrust and are afraid of the victim parent;
2. that the victim parent lacks empathy for the children;
3. that the victim parent emotionally abuses the children;
4. that the victim parent is an alcoholic or other substance abuser;
5. that the victim parent is impulsive and prone to potential child physical abuse; and,
6. worst of all, that the victim parent suffers with a serious psychiatric disorder, such as Borderline Personality, Narcissistic, Anti-Social, or Obsessive Compulsive Personality disorder, or perhaps even Paranoia or Schizophrenia.

Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse

Should the “friendly” counselling and “hired gun” approaches fail, the parent determined to perform a parentectomy can make an allegation of Child Sexual Abuse. This is most effective when the child is of preschool age, and easily confused. Such allegations need careful expert professional attention. Proper thorough evaluations must be conducted, during which time the child should not be removed from either parent. In selective situations, following parental separation and divorce, mothers, father and children are highly vulnerable to sexual abuse activity. When a child or parent is quantitively deprived of loving parent-child contact, the child or parent may over-cherish or over-respond to physical contact, which may become eroticized. When there is no other adult to console a lonely parent who feels frightened at night and that lonely parent’s child also feels lonely and frightened at night, the parent and child may wind up sleeping in the same bed together. this increases their vulnerability to erotic, sexual contacts.

Although we should not summarily dismiss the possibility of actual sexual molestation, at the same time we have found that most allegations of child sexual abuse during custody wars are false allegations. Some are calculated manipulations, while others result from parents’ anxieties, misinterpretations, and their clouded perceptions during custody battles.

Absence of Cooperation

If all the above methods fail, the parent determined to perform a parentectomy can then claim, “We can’t cooperate and therefore we cannot share parenting by way of any form of joint custody, as joint custody requires substantial parental cooperation.” Unfortunately, this declaration is often supported by mental health clinicians, because of their misunderstanding or over-statement of the writings of Dr. Richard Gardner. Dr. Gardner’s clinical experience with children and parents of divorce is often misused to reinforce this faulty point of view about parental cooperation.

When Richard Gardner stated that “joint custody” requires a high degree of parental cooperation (1986, 1989), he was using his particular definition of joint custody – one in which there is a free-flowing, flexible arrangement; one in which the children and the parents may frequently shift schedules, may often change the days and times the children are with each parent; and may alter parental responsibilities for the children’s school and social activities. In such flexible arrangements, the shifts in schedule and responsibilities can occur during any given day, week or month. Of course, such an unstructured, ever-changing form of joint custody require frequent parental contact, negotiation and discussion, and often involves the children. Such a form of flexible, free-flowing joint custody would require parental cooperation, and would not work well where one parent hates or is emotionally allergic to the other parent.

This particular form of joint custody however, is now a rare and somewhat antiquated form of joint custody. It reflects the efforts of those few special early “pioneer” parents who respected each other as parents and individuals. They were therefore able to explore flexible joint arrangements in attempts to continue their children’s lives with both parents. In essence they explored and maintained living environments, approximating the pre-divorce situation. In contrast to Dr. Gardner’s definition, my definition of “joint custody” is a multi-faceted one. At one end of the spectrum, it includes such flexible unstructured, free flowing arrangements, defined by Gardner. At the other end of the spectrum it includes a detailed, rigid and highly structured parent-child plan, which minimizes the need for parent contact, negotiation and communication. Between the two extreme ends of the spectrum are varying arrangements in which real significant living time, including overnights, is shared with the children by both parents, with varying degrees of structure and rigidity, as required. Indeed, with warring, unfriendly, uncooperative parents, a highly structured, rigid, inflexible custody schedule is necessary and appropriate. The structure for high conflict parents should include transitions for the children between parents, on neutral grounds; for example, the children can be picked up from and be returned to school, instead of the other parent’s residence. This arrangement avoids points of battle between the parents, and avoids the need for frequent negotiations on a day-to-day, or week-to-week basis, which, in turn, avoids the need to battle over decision-making, residential time, or parental authority in front of the children.

It is unfortunate that Dr. Gardner has been misunderstood and misused by some mental health clinicians advocating for sole custody to one parent. In consultation with Dr. Gardner, I learned that he believes that when there are two highly bonded loving parents, a rigid structured schedule of even 50-50 shared residential overnights, as well as a pre-defined structure decision-making authority plan for each parent may be appropriate to best serve the children. He would just not define such a 50-50, rigid, structured arrangement as “joint-custody”.

Dynamics Behind the Pursuit of Parentectomy

Parental Identity

The fear of losing one’s parental identity is the principal dynamic behind parentectomy efforts. Throughout life, all persons gain and integrate many identities, which become part of their self-images. These identities include one’s identity as: a child member of a family; a student; a peer or team member; a professional or other worker; a mate with marital identity; a person with a parental identity; and a grandparent with a grand-parental identity.

Until recent times, some parents, more traditionally mothers in our western culture, reached a point of divorce with primarily marital and parental identities. For such parents, as their mate or marital identity dissolves, as it does in divorce, the only identity often left for them to hold on to, cherish, and fight for is their parental identity.

Grandparents, especially when they are retired from both work and parenting, often fear loss of their primary remaining identity – their grandparents identity. As they envision sharing or losing valued time with their grandchildren, their fears may prompt them to harp on their sons and daughters to fight for sole custody of the children, so they will not become “unemployed” grandparents.

The appearance of a potential stepmother or stepfather on the scene is highly threatening to parental identity. This is especially so when that newcomer has a great need to parent. Hearing one’s children refer to a step parent as “mommy” or “daddy”, often triggers the search for the parental scalpel.

The Loss of the Family

For adults, the pain of losing one’s family structure is very intense, and in may cases, much more intense than the pain of losing one’s mate. Divorcing parents often desperately hold on to a myth that their family has not fallen apart, in their attempt to not feel the pain and depression which accompanies the rupture of the family. They maintain the myth of a one-family structure, embodying elements of one home and one family. This myth is much easier to hold on to is a parent does not have to see the other parent. It is especially easier to hold on to if a replacement is brought in to fulfill the other parent’s role, namely a boyfriend, stepfather, girlfriend, or stepmother.

In counselling parents of divorce, I have found it much more productive to focus on the pain caused by the loss of family structure, as opposed to focusing on the pain caused by the parent’s prior battle with each other, or the pain caused by their loss of each other.

The literature on divorce leans heavily on the concept that divorced parents chronically battle in an effort to hold on to each other and not lose the marital relationship. Although that dynamic does exist, in my experience it is not a universal post-divorce dynamic, and it is not the primary reason behind prolonged custody struggles or prolonged custody wars. Instead, I find the need to hold on to this myth of one non-ruptured family is a more usual dynamic behind prolonged custody wars. Unfortunately, maintaining that myth of one family, requires erasing the other parent.

Envy, Rage and Revenge

A parent’s desire to punish the other parent by depriving the other parent of his or her children often relates to the other parent’s apparent or fantasied greater success or luck in life. This can create rage and envy. The real or fantasied greater success is in the area of: finding a new and rewarding love relationship; achieving greater financial security; having a wholesome extended support system of family and friends; and most ironic, envy and rage in relation to the other parent’s fantasied or actual greater success in relating to their children in warm, comfortable, loving and trusting ways.

It is this rage, envy, and the wish to punish that we see most often in severe cases of Parental Alienation Syndrome, with very pathologically disturbed parents.

Psychological “Allergic” Reactions to the Other Parent

We frequently see situations in which one parent became psychologically dependent upon the other during the marriage.

Once separated and needing to break the dependency but fearful of the continued power of dependency, such a dependent parent feels and urgent compulsion to avoid the other parent as one avoids poison ivy. Feeling emotionally “allergic” the dependent parent fears susceptibility to renewed dependency. To avoid the allergen – namely the other parent – the dependent parent attempts to achieve complete avoidance which, of course, is easier to achieve if that parent can be kept out of the children’s lives. The allergy medicine – parentectomy – becomes the children’s poison!

Prevention of Parentectomy

The following recommendations on how to prevent parentectomies may, in part, appear drastic. These prevention measures which are presented in the spirit of suggestions, and based on clinical experience, include:

1. Person contemplating marriage and children should consider a proposed mate’s tendency toward relying on the role of being a parent as his or her exclusive identity. Such persons may need to rely totally on full-time control over the children for identity following divorce.
2. One should try to fall in love with and have children with a mate who has great empathy for children’s needs and feelings. A mother or father with empathy who loves his or her children will usually not subject the children to a parent removal.
3. One should not separate from one’s mate without a scheduled, structured, legal custody arrangement, in advance of parting the marital relationship.
4. Once separated, a parent should never speak with and certainly should never see a mental health professional – other than a court appointed one – that he or she has not helped choose in advance, and should further avoid like the plague a friendly-sounding psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or counsellor, who calls and says he or she wants to help the parents and children through the pain of divorce. this is especially so when that professional has already seen the children and the other parent.
5. Parents should seek and hopefully find attorneys not biased by the conviction that all children need a primary home and a primary caretaker after divorce.
6. The first moment it becomes clear that scheduled custodial time with one’s child is being consistently blocked, the parent so blocked should, run not walk, with his or her attorney, to the nearest family court.

Conclusion

Many parents, mental health clinicians, and attorneys have had contact with the process of parentectomy as a victim or as someone close to a victim. Professionals must guide victims or potential victims through the maze of legal, judicial, mental health and family processes which can lead to the radical “surgery” of parent-erasure I call parentectomy. Attempts at parentectomy create a psychological reign of terror, for the intended parent and child-victims. Those victims who survive are emotionally bloodied, bitter, war-torn, and exhausted. They often form and join support groups with committed and caring persons in organisations to protect their children and themselves, or to help others to protect their children and themselves from the dreaded sequelae of parentectomy. Most parentectomy victims and most of those who try to help such victims, experience a great deal of chronic emotional pain.

I wish there were a panacea to help reduce that pain. There is not. The author has shared his experience and thinking around children and parents of divorce, in the hope that increased understanding of the dynamics behind parentectomy, will help clinicians, attorneys, judges and parents eradicate this most dreaded, malevolent and destructive affliction of parents and children who love, care for and need each other.

The original article can be found here: http://www.fact.on.ca/Info/pas/willia90.htm

Is it the U.S. Government’s responsibility to protect and uphold its citizen’s constitutional Rights?

In children legal status, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, family court, Family Rights, fathers rights, Freedom, judicial corruption, Liberty, mothers rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parents rights on May 4, 2009 at 1:00 pm

By Wolfeman77346
Aug 13 2008

Although government promotes itself endlessly as our indispensable “protector” and principle guardian of our Constitutional Rights, it’s not true.

Nevertheless, that self-promotion has effectively conditioned most Americans to believe our Constitutional Rights are respected and vigorously protected by government and public servants. Unfortunately, only a few people realize that government does not automatically protect our Rights, that our inclination to trust government is dangerously misguided, and that our ignorance of our Rights encourages government to abuse those Rights.

The relationship between any government and its citizens is, and has always been, at best, ADVERSARIAL: individual Rights are inversely proportional to government power. The more power the government has, the fewer Rights you have. Government can’t grow in size or power except at the cost of our individual Rights and freedom.

The founding fathers also realized that all governments seek to expand their powers and are therefore driven to diminish their citizen’s Rights. Hence, the Constitution was written to both limit government and maximize our individual Rights.

In truth, the American Constitution is essentially an anti-government document.

The Constitution’s principle purpose is not simply to specify our individual Rights, but to shield us from the single organization that will always pose the greatest threat to those Rights: our own government. That’s why we have three branches of government, checks and balances, elections every two years, the opportunity to call constitutional conventions, the Right to jury trials, and the Right to keep and bear arms – each political mechanism was designed to empower the public to restrict government and thereby to protect the people against government’s inevitable urge to tyranny.

If the principle enemy of any people is their own government, and if the principle defender of the American people is the American Constitution, then it follows that the first enemy of our government is our Constitution. Government understands this conflict, but tries to conceal it from the public by claiming to be the only interpreter and protector of the Constitution.

But if only the government interprets the Constitution, then those interpretations are typically biased to empower government — the Constitution’s archenemy — at the expense of the people.

Given the conflict between government and our Constitution, it follows that:

1) The government is not interested in protecting the Constitution;

2) Although the government uses the Constitution to legitimize itself, it’s principle interest is in DESTROYING the Constitution; and

3) That the only party able to truly protect and defend YOUR Rights is YOU.

Sound far-fetched? It’s not. Even the courts agree.

The individual Rights guaranteed by our Constitution can be compromised or ignored by our government.

For example, in US. vs.Johnson (76 Fed Supp. 538), Federal District Court Judge James Alger Fee ruled that,

“The privilege against self-incrimination is neither accorded to the passive resistant, nor to the person who is ignorant of his rights, nor to one indifferent thereto. It is a FIGHTING clause. It’s benefits can be retained only by sustained COMBAT. It cannot be claimed by attorney or solicitor. It is valid only when insisted upon by a BELLIGERENT claimant in person.” McAlister vs. Henkel, 201 U.S. 90, 26 S.Ct. 385, 50 L. Ed. 671; Commonwealth vs. Shaw, 4 Cush. 594, 50 Am.Dec. 813; Orum vs. State, 38 Ohio App. 171, 175 N.E. 876. The one who is persuaded by honeyed words or moral persuasion to testify or produce documents rather than make a last ditch stand, simply loses the protection. . . . He must refuse to answer or produce, and test the matter in contempt proceedings, or by habeas corpus.”

Note the verdict’s confrontational language: “fighting”, “combat”, and most surprising, “belligerent”. Did you ever expect to ever read a Federal Court condemn citizens for being “passive” or “ignorant”? Did you ever expect to see a verdict that encouraged citizens to be “belligerent” IN COURT…?

Better go back and re-read that extraordinary verdict. And read it again. And commit it to memory, for it succinctly describes the essence of the American legal system.

The court ruled that the Constitutional Right against self-incrimination is NOT automatically guaranteed to any citizen by any government branch or official. Moreover, despite the government’s usual propaganda, this Right is NOT available to all persons: It is not available to the “passive”, the “ignorant”, or the “indifferent”. Nor can this Right be claimed by an attorney on behalf of his client.

The Right against self-incrimination is available only to the knowledgeable, “belligerent claimant”, to the individual willing to engage in “sustained combat” to FIGHT for his RIGHT.

Government is obligated to recognize your Constitutional Right against self-incrimination only if you fight for that right. Our courts are free to ignore this Right for any citizen who is

1) Ignorant of his Right and/or

2) Lacks the courage to fight for his Right. Therefore, anyone who trusts the courts (or even his own lawyer) to protect his Constitutional Right against self-incrimination is a fool and may pay a fool’s price.

If one of our Constitutional Rights is only available to citizens who are both knowledgeable and belligerent, how are the balances of our Rights any different?

They’re not.

Fundamentally, if you don’t know your Rights, the court is under no obligation to inform you, or to protect your Rights. Even if you know your Rights, but lack the guts to fight for them, again, the court is not obligated to protect you. If you are superior to the Government, then why SHOULD they be obligated to inform their Master? Ignorance of the law is NO EXCUSE! In the same respect, if the executive or legislative branch violates the Constitution, it is our duty to fight to restore the limitations provided by the constitution.

In fact, your ignorance or passivity legally empowers your adversary to exploit you in court. If the opposing side tries to railroad you and ignore your Constitutional Rights, the judge is not obligated to protect your Rights. This is particularly true in cases where your opponent is the government (a District Attorney, for example, or the I.R.S.). This is seen repeatedly when the sheep are led into our courts, sheared, bled, and butchered under the kindly gaze of the presiding judge.

That’s the way our courts really are: The ignorant and the passive can be routinely railroaded and abused without ever understanding that the cause for their abuse is their own ignorance or cowardice.

Our cowardice and fear of the courts typically entices us to “play nice” with the judge. But that’s exactly the wrong strategy because by “playing nice”, we become accomplices in our own destruction. By not objecting and defying the courts, we implicitly approve, validate, and accept whatever injustice the court cares to dispense on our lives. By not fighting, we give the government license to destroy us.

The key to a successful defense of our Rights is not to kiss up to the judge with yes-your-honor’s, no-your-honor’s, and pray-the-court’s, but to stand up and belligerently defy the system.

Given that the government does not defend our Rights, what’s a reasonable person to do?

Clearly, we must do SOMETHING, for as Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” But apathy isn’t simply a function of cowardice or indifference; “apathy” is a synonym for “ignorance”.

Ignorance makes the public more “manageable” in the courts and in confrontations with the government. Insofar as government naturally seeks to expand its powers at the expense of the citizen’s Rights, government has a vested interest in the public’s ignorance and consequent apathy. The interest in expanding its powers encourages the government to provide little, no, or even false, education on what our Rights should be.

So first, you must learn your Constitutional Rights. If you don’t know what your Rights are, you can’t “fight” for them.

Second, given the reality of American education, you can’t rely on the state to teach you anything other than basic vocational training. Therefore, you must study your rights, learn about law, history and EDUCATE YOURSELF.

Third, teach your friends and neighbors. It’s not enough to know YOUR Rights. You must also know and respect your neighbor’s. Like-wise, your neighbor must learn to know and respect his, and you’re Rights, too. Our chances of compelling government to concede our Rights are hugely improved when the general public also understands and respects those Rights.

Fourth, knowledge alone is not enough: once you know your Rights, find the courage to fight for them. Courage (“belligerence”) is the final requirement to secure your Rights. Fight for YOUR Rights, and more, learn to respect others, no matter how seemingly bizarre, who also fight for THEIR Rights. Make no mistake — anyone who’s fighting for HIS Rights, is also fighting for YOURS. He’s entitled to your respect.

Fifth, don’t trust the government. Recognize the true nature of a citizen’s relationship to government is ADVERSARIAL.

All governments naturally seek to expand their powers at the cost of their citizen’s Rights, both nationally and internationally. This has been true since time began and will not change in this life. You have what they want: personal power (and as consequence, freedom from government authority). Trusting the government has already enslaved us. It is up to us to break these bonds and restore true liberty and freedom.

The most effective tyrannies begin by luring their subjects with carrots. Only later, after the people are addicted to government and weak, will they use the stick to compel public obedience.

America thrived for nearly two centuries based on the Constitution’s mandate of limited government/maximum freedom. But limited government demands personal self-reliance. As government has grown in size with the carrots of welfare, entitlements, and special interest programs, the public has become increasingly dependent of the government, and the nation has declined.

This is America, boys and girls. It’s more than a piece of land; it’s a political miracle — the only nation in the world with an anti-government Constitution. But this miracle is conditional and dependant on the knowledge, courage, and self-reliance of its citizens. Freedom will not flourish in a nation of ignorant fools and irresponsible weaklings. To live free takes knowledge, nerve, and personal responsibility.

From http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/911242

http://familyrights.us / bin / white_papers-articles / gov_not_protecting_rights.html

Federal Incentives Make Children Fatherless

In California Parental Rights Amendment, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, deadbeat dads, Divorce, DSM-IV, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome on May 1, 2009 at 5:14 pm

Phyllis Schlafly
May 11, 2005

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Parental Rights Amendment Gains 80 Sponsors !!

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

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

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

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

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

Parental Alienation Syndrome Passes Scientific Frye Standard

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

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

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

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

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

Consider the following cases:

——————————————————————————–

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

UNITED STATES (22 States)

Alabama

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

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

Arkansas

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

California

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

Colorado

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

Connecticut

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

Florida

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

Illinois

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

Indiana

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

Iowa

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

Louisiana

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

Michigan

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

Nevada

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

New Hampshire

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

New Jersey

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

New York

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

Ohio

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

Pennsylvania

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

Texas

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

Virginia

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

Washington

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

Wisconsin

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

Wyoming

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

CANADA (8 Provinces)

Quebec

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

Alberta

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

Ontario

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

British Columbia

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

Nova Scotia

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

New Brunswick

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

New Foundland

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

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

AUSTRALIA

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

EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS AT STRASBOURG

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

GERMANY

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

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

GREAT BRITAIN

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

ISRAEL

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

SWITZERLAND

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

PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME REFERENCE LIST

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

MEDIATION AND PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME

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

Considerations for an Intervention Model

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

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

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

MEDIATION IN CHILD CUSTODY DISPUTES–
HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES

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

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

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

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

PAS AND CUSTODY DISPUTES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ISSUES IN MEDIATOR QUALIFICATIONS FOR PAS CASES

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

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

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

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

ETHICAL ISSUES FOR MEDIATORS DEALING WITH PAS

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

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

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

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

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

WHEN IS MEDIATION NOT APPROPRIATE IN CUSTODY CASES?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A MEDIATION MODEL FOR SUSPECTED PAS FAMILIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEED FOR EXPERTISE IN MENTAL HEALTH

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

NEED FOR SWIFT, CLEAR JUDICIAL ACTION

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

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

POWER IMBALANCE FAVORING ALIGNED PARENT

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

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

DEALING WITH MANIPULATION, DECEPTION, AND UNCOOPERATIVENESS

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

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

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PAS MEDIATORS

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

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

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

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

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

REFERENCES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Parental Alienation: Not In The Best Interest Of The Children

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

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

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

I. INTRODUCTION

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

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

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

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

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

II. BACKGROUND

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

A. THE NATURE OF PARENTAL ALIENATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

B. SIGNS OF ALIENATION:

1. In Parents

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

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

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

2. In Children

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

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

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

C. IDENTIFYING ALIENATION

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

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

1. Expecting the Children to Keep Quiet

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

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

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

2. Having Secrets and Codes with the Children

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

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

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

3. Using the Children as Spies Against the Other Parent

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Using the Children as Witnesses in Court

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

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

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

5. Dealing with Children Who Volunteer Information

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

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

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

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

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

III. EFFECTS OF ALIENATION ON VISITATION AND PARENTING TIME

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

A. BACKGROUND

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

B. COMMON ALIENATION-RELATED VISITATION PROBLEMS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IV. CONFIRMING SUSPECTED ALIENATION

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

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

A. DEPOSITIONS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

38. (If no) Why not?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

56. Would you explain what those plans are?

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

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

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

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

61. Could you explain your reasons for your opinion?

62. Who initiated the divorce between you and Parent?

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

64. Do you blame Parent for the divorce?

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

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

67. Is Child presently having visits with Parent?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

B. COURT-ORDERED PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATIONS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

C. THE COURT

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

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

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

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

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

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

V. COMBATING ALIENATION

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

A. STRATEGIES FOR SELF-HELP

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

1. The Naive Alienator

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

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

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

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

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

— Listen to what the child has to say;

— Give hugs and kisses if they are receptive;

— Brag about the children to others;

— Attend school sport and social functions;

— Have their pictures around the house.

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

2. The Active Alienator

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

— Don’t panic;

— Become a supportive listener;

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

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

— Don’t violate court orders;

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

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

3. The Obsessed Alienator

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

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

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

— Don’t give up on the children;

— Keep anger and hurt under control;

— Don’t retaliate;

— Be sure the court supports continued visits;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Don’t violate court orders;

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

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

B. PURSUING A CHANGE IN CUSTODY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

C. COUNSELING OR MEDIATION

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

1. Mediation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Counseling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VI. CONCLUSION

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

VII. BIBLIOGRAPHY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ohio Senate Bill 3 (1991). Columbus, Ohio

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

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

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