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Symptoms of Parental Alienation

 

To prevent the devastating effects of Parental Alienation, you must begin by recognizing the symptoms of PA. You will notice that many of the symptoms or behaviors focus on the parent. When the child exhibits hatred and vilifies the targeted parent, then the condition becomes parental alienation syndrome. After reading the list, don’t get discouraged when you notice that some of your own behaviors have been alienating. This is normal in even the best of parents. Instead, let the list help sensitize you to how you are behaving and what you are saying to your children.

1. Giving children choices when they have no choice about visits. Allowing the child to decide for themselves to visit when the court order says there is no choice sets up the child for conflict. The child will usually blame the non-residential parent for not being able to decide to choose whether or not to visit. The parent is now victimized regardless of what happens; not being able to see his children or if he sees them, the children are angry.

2. Telling the child “everything” about the marital relationship or reasons for the divorce is alienating. The parent usually argues that they are “just wanting to be honest” with their children. This practice is destructive and painful for the child. The alienating parent’s motive is for the child to think less of the other parent.

3. Refusing to acknowledge that children have property and may want to transport their possessions between residences.

4. Resisting or refusing to cooperate by not allowing the other parent access to school or medical records and schedules of extracurricular activities.

5. A parent blaming the other parent for financial problems, breaking up the family, changes in lifestyle, or having a girlfriend/boyfriend, etc.

6. Refusing to be flexible with the visitation schedule in order to respond to the child’s needs. The alienating parent may also schedule the children in so many activities that the other parent is never given the time to visit. Of course, when the targeted parent protests, they are described as not caring and selfish.

7. Assuming that if a parent had been physically abusive with the other parent, it follows that the parent will assault the child. This assumption is not always true.

8. Asking the child to choose one parent over another parent causes the child considerable distress. Typically, they do not want to reject a parent, but instead want to avoid the issue. The child, not the parent, should initiate any suggestion for change of residence.

9. Children will become angry with a parent. This is normal, particularly if the parent disciplines or has to say “no”. If for any reason the anger is not allowed to heal, you can suspect parental alienation. Trust your own experience as a parent. Children will forgive and want to be forgiven if given a chance. Be very suspicious when the child calmly says they cannot remember any happy times with you or say anything they like about you.

10. Be suspicious when a parent or stepparent raises the question about changing the child’s name or suggests an adoption.

11. When children cannot give reasons for being angry towards a parent or their reasons are very vague without any details.

12. A parent having secrets, special signals, a private rendezvous, or words with special meanings are very destructive and reinforce an on-going alienation.

13. When a parent uses a child to spy or covertly gather information for the parent’s own use, the child receives a damaging message that demeans the victimized parent.

14. Parents setting up temptations that interfere with the child’s visitation.

15. A parent suggesting or reacting with hurt or sadness to their child having a good time with the other parent will cause the child to withdraw and not communicate. They will frequently feel guilty or conflicted not knowing that it’s “okay” to have fun with their other parent.

16. The parent asking the child about his/her other parent’s personal life causes the child considerable tension and conflict. Children who are not alienated want to be loyal to both parents.

17. When parents physically or psychologically rescue the children when there is no threat to their safety. This practice reinforces in the child’s mind the illusion of threat or danger, thereby reinforcing alienation.

18. Making demands on the other parent that is contrary to court orders.

19. Listening in on the children’s phone conversation they are having with the other parent.

20. One way to cause your own alienation is making a habit of breaking promises to your children. In time, your ex-spouse will get tired of having to make excuses for you.

Parental Alienation Syndrome Is Real And It Needs To Be Addressed

Parents are psychologically fragile when they separate and as their emotions escalate, they might feel the need to control the child.

Definition:

Parental Alienation occurs during divorce, when a child rejects one parent, due to unreasonable programming or brainwashing by the other parent. Parents are psychologically fragile when they separate and as their emotions escalate, they might become overly involved with, feel entitled to or feel the need to control the child.

They project their anger, anxiety or fear of the other parent onto the child by making (often unfounded) allegations, being overly negative and “turning the child against” the other parent. As a result, the child becomes entrenched in the divorce battle and is forced to take sides. Not only does the child’s relationship with the alienated parent deteriorate dramatically, but the child is emotionally scarred, robbed of a normal developmental childhood and at risk of also being an alienator when grown up.

Examples:

1. A mother who had been the primary caregiver of her children all her life and never learnt how to make a living to support herself, is alienated when, upon separation, the father restricts all her access to financial resources and the children are removed from her care because she is unable to support them.

The children will suffer the loss of their primary carer and become estranged from their mother.

2. A mother who greets her child before going to visit the father, says: “Call me as soon as you get there to let me know that you are okay. If you get scared, call me immediately.”

The child will not feel safe with the father and prefer to stay with the mother.

3. A father who was betrayed by the mother, tells the child all the details of the affair as well as his emotions regarding the matter, as if the child is his therapist.

The child will absorb the father’s negativity and feel responsible to protect him against the mother.

4. A mother who is angry with the father because he left her, makes false accusations of domestic violence and gets him arrested in front of the child.

The child will pity the mother and develop feelings of anger, resentment and even fear toward the father.

5. A father allows his eight year old child to watch movies with higher age-restrictions, while telling the child that the mother will not allow it, because she is over-protective and unreasonably strict. The father also encourages the child not to tell the mother about it.

The mother’s authority is undermined and the bond with the child is threatened as a result of dishonesty.

6. A father arrives at the family home to collect the child for a mid-week visit, as arranged prior to the date, but finds nobody home. The mother claims that “the child has other more pressing engagements” or “the child does not want to visit”.

Apart from the child being robbed of an opportunity to spend time with the father, the father’s feelings are hurt and he might refrain from arranging another visit. Thus the child and the father become estranged.

The intensity of conflict between divorcing parties often lead to bitter custody disputes, which manifest in a bizarre joint campaign by the alienating parent and the indoctrinated child, against the alienated parent. This disorder is known as Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). The child ends up feeling obliged to protect the alienator and afraid to bond with the alienated parent, therefore unable to freely express affections for either.

What Court Action is Warranted in Parental Alienation?

Justice Martinson of British Columbia (Martinson 2010) argues that courts are “… publicly funded institutions that exist to serve the public. They must be accountable to the public.” And yet, one of the most frequent complaints parents make regarding their custody litigation is that repeated violations of orders go unpunished, with some parents making a mockery of the court’s authority. According to Kelly (2010):

A significant number of these parents have come to believe that noncompliance with court orders, whether for facilitating contact between the child and the rejected parent or attending divorce education classes or therapy, brings no negative consequences.

There is an assumption that in severe cases, all or most children are likely to be traumatized or go into crisis when separated from the alienating parent. Although we do not have empirical studies for this particular population, comparing alienated children who were separated and those who were not separated from their favored parent, Bernet and colleagues (2010) offered that examination of the child protection literature may be instructive. Research from retrospective studies and clinical anecdotes reported by many seasoned clinicians has suggested that for the most part, the suspected trauma is short-lived if it occurs at all.

To facilitate a transition from the polarized environment of an alienator, Warshak (2010b) recommended that rather than assessing the relative blame of each parent for the children’s difficulties, the court could simply determine that alienator contact is likely to interfere with the children’s improvement. To lessen the “blame” attributed in the adversarial process, Justice Martinson (2010) of Canada offered that the trial process must be carefully managed. The negative, destructive behaviors of alienators often become more pronounced during the trial, as parents see trial as a means for achieving vindication. Judge Michele Lowrance (2010, in press) of Chicago stresses the corrosive power of anger in these circumstances and offered many recommendations to redirect it. Sauber (2006) pointed out that the court that has the power and the influence, more so than the mental health professional, “… so the education, coaching, and threats of a judge can be a prime motivator for change.” Many times in these circumstances, children adapt quickly to firm court orders. This was a phenomena documented in the largest study of alienated children (Clawar & Rivlin, 1991). When “a powerful third party (or parties) enters the scene and imposes a settlement,” wrote Pruitt and Kim (2004), conflict de-escalation is often an immediate result.

Bala, Fidler, Goldberg, and Houston (2007), speaking about the importance of case management in the alienation context, wrote

It is important for judges to take control of alienation cases, to limit the possibility of manipulating the court process by the parents, and to ensure a firm and quick response to violations of court orders. These are cases for which judicial case management is especially appropriate. Given the need for timely assessment and intervention, judges should ensure that assessments are completed in a reasonable time (say 90–120 days). Further, cases that cannot be settled should be brought to trial as soon as possible after completion of the assessment, so that it does not become stale and require an update.

This view is reinforced in Fidler, Bala, Birnbaum, and Kavassalis (2008), where the authors emphasize the importance of early identification, case management, and post-judgment control. As Sullivan and Kelly (2001) exclaimed more than a decade ago:

A clear mandate for support, with a threat of court sanctions if alienating behavior persists, is essential to the intervention process. These sanctions may include financial payments or enforcement of an order that the aligned parent’s primary legal or physical custody is conditional on supporting therapy and facilitating reasonable access.

Justice Martinson (2010) of British Columbia recommended:

“several steps are necessary in order to maintain the focus on the best interests of the children and move the case to a resolution in a just, timely and affordable way:

  • Early identification of the high conflict cases;
  • Early identification of the issues that need to be resolved;
  • Setting, right at the start, firm rules about the expected conduct of the parents towards the litigation, the children and each other, both in and out of the courtroom; advising them that there will be consequences if they do not comply, and spelling out what the consequences will be, and then, if necessary following through with appropriate sanctions;
  • Setting a time frame within which the case must be concluded that ensures that the case will be resolved in a timely manner, through either judicial or other dispute resolution processes or after a trial;
  • Setting a schedule within the time frame for all the steps that must be taken before a solution can be reached including any necessary psychological or other assessments, or, where permissible and appropriate, therapeutic intervention;
  • Sticking to the time limits; not permitting changes to the schedule unless there would be a miscarriage of justice not to do so; and
  • Putting temporary (interim) court orders in place relating to the care and financial security of the children, and in doing so:
    • Limiting the number of interim applications to the ones that are required to move the case to the resolution stage;
    • Monitoring the nature of the evidence that is presented to make sure that it focuses on the issues, is not inflammatory and/or irrelevant and does not inappropriately involve the children;
    • Ensuring that any court orders that are made are specific, clear and comprehensive; and
    • Ensuring that the temporary orders are followed.”

It is essential, argued Martinson, that the resolution is one that provides long-term stability and financial security for the children and significantly reduces conflict. To address this problem she reasoned, the trial judge must do two things: first, clearly explain in the judgment what the basis of the custody decision was and, second, issue orders that are detailed, comprehensive, and clear, and she argued, courts must enforce their orders because if the order was intended to promote the best interests of a child, its violation is contrary to the child’s best interests. Judge Martinson argued that enforcement of the court’s decision is critical to the process.

By way of example, Bala et al. (2010) discussed the Canadian case of Cooper v. Cooper to point out that often the defense offered during contempt proceedings in alienation cases is that it is the child(ren) and not the parent refusing contact. In Cooper, the custodial mother was found in contempt for having “willfully and deliberately sabotaged” telephone access between the children and their father. Although she made the children “available” by having them at home when the father called, she would neither answer the telephone nor, in her words, “put the telephone to the children’s ears.” The court rejected her argument that “it was up to the children to decide whether or not they would answer the phone” and found her in contempt for “shirking her responsibility and obligation directly, and … indirectly conveying to the children her disapproval of telephone access.” The sentence included an order to secure counseling for the children, and to pay a fine of $10,000.

New York State Supreme Court Justice Robert A. Ross led a movement to change New York’s matrimonial system. He presided over numerous sensational courtroom dramas, and in Lauren R. v. Ted R., he carefully handled a celebrated custody battle. In this case, Justice Ross faced Mrs. Lauren Lippe, “a vengeful roadblock, the barbed wire standing in the way of her two daughters and their desperate dad” according to the New York press. On the other side of the trauma was Ted Rubin, an alienated 52-year-old marketing executive. In months of hearings and over two hundred thousand dollars in fees and costs, the story of Mrs. Lippe’s behavior unfolded. The court records documented that Mrs. Lippe, the Plaintiff in the original divorce:

… intentionally scheduled their child’s [ names of children withheld by author] birthday party on a Sunday afternoon during defendant’s weekend visitation, and then refused to permit defendant to attend … Plaintiff threatened to cancel [−]’s party, and warned her that her sister, too, would be punished “big time” for wanting to spend time with her father … when she completed [−]’s registration card for [ names of schools withheld], she wrote that defendant is ‘not authorized to take them. I have custody. Please call me.’ … plaintiff wrote to [names of school personnel withheld], demanding that they restrict their conversations with the defendant to [−]’s academics, as plaintiff is ‘solely responsible for her academic progress and emotional well being.’ … she identified her new husband [−], as [−]’s parent/guardian.

Justice Ross carefully analyzed the extensive testimony and noted that Defendant father testified:

that there were countless times when plaintiff deliberately scheduled theater tickets, family events and social activities for the girls during his visitation, and he was compelled to consent or risk disappointing the girls. These occurrences continued even during the time span of proceedings before me.

Plaintiff Lauren Lippe testified that it was the two girls “…who refused to see their father, because they were angry with the ‘choices’ he had made on their behalf…” “Choices” noted Justice Ross, that Lippe had forced the father into after the fact. Justice Ross took special note that the two girls “parroted their mother’s demands” and on several occasions actually “…read from a script…” during dinner’s dad was allowed to attend with them. Justice Ross reasoned:

The fact that the children were as angry as they were with the defendant … demonstrates, in my view, that efforts to alienate the children and their father were seemingly effective … Plaintiff’s contention that she had no involvement in these children’s ‘demands’ was belied by the very fact that the children had intimate knowledge of their mother’s position on all of these issues.

Justice Ross, was especially taken with Lauren’s sabotage of holidays:

I observed the plaintiff smirk in the courtroom as defendant emotionally related how he was deprived of spending Hanukkah with his children, and was relegated to lighting a menorah and watching his daughters open their grandparents’ presents in the back of his truck at the base of plaintiff’s driveway on a December evening.

Justice Ross found the proofs so compelling, he found that they went past the usual clear and convincing standard and rose to proofs beyond a reasonable doubt. He was especially troubled that, Mrs. Lippe:

… frequently disparaged the defendant in the presence of the children, calling him a ‘deadbeat,’ ‘loser,’ ‘scumbag’ and ‘f–g asshole.’ On one particular occasion, while holding [−] and [−] in her arms, plaintiff said to the defendant, ‘We all hope you die from cancer.’

Chagrined as he was over the terrible alienating behavior witnesses described in Lauren Lippe, Justice Ross noted that it just got worse and worse:

The crescendo of the plaintiff’s conduct involved accusations of sexual abuse. Plaintiff falsely accused defendant of sexual misconduct … shortly after defendant moved to [−] and the children’s friends were enjoying play dates at defendant’s home … Undaunted by the lack of any genuine concern for [child]’s safety, plaintiff pursued a campaign to report the defendant to Child Protective Services. To facilitate this, she spoke with [psychologist] at the school [−] attended. Plaintiff also ‘encouraged’ [−] to advise [ the children’ s pediatrician] that defendant inappropriately touched her—but he saw no signs of abuse. Plaintiff also advised Dr. [−] Ms. [−] Dr. [−] … and family friends of the allegations …”

Justice Ross noted that after a thorough investigation, the Children’s Protective Services investigators found the entire allegation process to be baseless. Ross explained “… by making such allegations, plaintiff needlessly subjected the child to an investigation by Child Protective Services, placing her own interests above those of the child.”

Described as an “an extraordinary supervising judge,” Justice Ross won numerous awards including a Memorial Tribute from the Nassau County Bar Association Matrimonial Law Committee. His findings of law are a veritable template for judges in the USA. In brief, this is what he did:

    1. He explicitly and in great detail explained the court’s jurisdiction in custody cases and the various mechanisms available for enforcement of the court’s orders in these matters.
    2. He explained in detail the court’s powers to maintain jurisdiction in post-judgment custody cases in contradiction to arguments of res judicata.
    3. He outlined statutes and cases that state “Visitation is a joint right of the noncustodial parent and of the child.”
    4. He outlined how a court must determine what is “in the best interests of the child” in custody cases; and laid out the standards in these cases.
    5. He cited with specificity court cases that have found that parental alienation is not in the best interests of the child and how it amounts to custodial interference; how it is a pernicious violation of court orders in these cases and a direct violation of the target parent’s rights.
    6. He explained the resultant court procedures in his jurisdiction and specifically pointed out how it is in the best interests of the child that there be a prompt evidentiary hearing to determine appropriate custody/visitation time and any remedial issues that may be necessary to insure that the court’s orders be followed and the target parent’s rights are restored.
    7. He explained what the appropriate procedure is for determining if criminal contempt charges are appropriate, where that court power derives from, what the burden of proof is, and how it is met.
    8. He explained how and why the defendant has reached his burden of proof.
    9. He delivered the factual findings with very specific details and specifically included his impressions and observations of the alienator plaintiff both during her own testimony and the testimony of the target parent. He included with painstaking detail many instances of the plaintiff alienator’s egregious behavior and the effects on both the target parent and the children.
    10. He explained exactly what remedies in civil contempt; criminal contempt; criminal sanction via the state’s law prohibiting custodial/visitation interference and remedies in tort for money damages.
    11. He summarized from precedent and the record before him reiterating the court’s role in custody hearings, specifically in cases of Parental Alienation, and again explained why and how the court maintains jurisdiction in the children’s best interests.
    12. Justice Ross concluded by setting up a hearing to determine Lauren Lippe’s responsibility for the hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs and attorney fees and then sentenced Mrs. Lippe to 12 days in jail.

Experience shows that environmental changes can be very effective in helping children overcome unreasonable negative attitudes (Clawar &Rivlin, 1991; Dunne & Hedrick, 1994; Gardner 2001a, 2001b; Rand et al., 2005; Warshak, 2010b). Experienced clinicians and those reporting on their qualitative research using case studies have reported on the benefits of changing custody or enforced parenting time in severe alienation cases (Clawar & Rivlin, 1991; Dunne & Hedrick, 1994; Gardner, 2001a; Lampel, 1996; Rand et al., 2005; Warshak, 2010b). For example, Clawar and Rivlin (1991) reported improved parent-child relationships in 400 cases where an increase in the child’s contact with the target parent was court ordered. Indeed, when they discussed the effectiveness of changes in living arrangements, Clawar and Rivlin (1991) reported, “Children may say, ‘I hate her. I’ll never speak with her if you make me go see her,’ ‘I’ll run away,’ or ‘I’ll kill myself if he comes to see me.’ However, in some cases, children were told to say these things by the programming and brainwashing parent…. It is not uncommon to see these threats disintegrate after court orders change.”

Warshak (2010b) argued that when judges make it clear to the children that the court expects them to work on repairing their damaged relationship with the target parent, “…that failure is not an option, that refusal to cooperate will not result in a custody award to the favored parent, and that the sooner the children heal their damaged relationship with the rejected parent, the sooner they will have contact with their favored parent” things tend to improve quickly. Today, there is general recognition that a reversal of custody may be warranted in severe cases (Drozd & Olesen, 2009; Gardner, 1998; Johnston & Goldman, 2010; Johnston, Roseby, & Kuehnle, 2009; Sullivan & Kelly, 2001; Warshak, 2010b). Bala et al. (2010) pointed out that a number of recent Canadian appellate decisions have affirmed a transfer of custody from an alienating parent. For example, in J. W. v. D. W., the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal affirmed a trial judge’s finding that the mother had “demonized” the father to the children and that they were emotionally abused. Describing another recent Canadian case, Bala et al. (2010) documented that in A. A. v. S. N. A., the trial judge recognized that he faced a “stark dilemma” in whether to leave the child with a “highly manipulative” and “intransigent” mother who would never permit her child to have any sort of relationship with her father. The other side of this “stark dilemma” was to transfer custody to the father, who had little contact with the child for over a year. Despite the finding of alienation, Justice Preston refused to award custody to the father due to the Justice’s concern that “the immediate effect of that change will be extremely traumatic.” Justice Preston wrote:

The probable future damage to M. by leaving her in her mother’s care must be balanced against the danger to her of forcible removal from the strongest parental connections she has … I conclude that the forcible removal of M. from her mother’s and her grandmother’s care has a high likelihood of failure, either because M. will psychologically buckle under the enormous strain or because she will successfully resist re-integration with her father.

In reversing this decision and awarding custody to the father, the British Columbia Court of Appeal observed:

the trial judge wrongly focused on the likely difficulties of a change in custody—which the only evidence on the subject indicates will be short- term and not ‘devastating’—and failed to give paramountcy to M.’s long-term interests. Instead, damage which is long-term and almost certain was preferred over what may be a risk, but a risk that seems necessary if M is to have a chance to develop normally in her adolescent years.

The Court of Appeals carefully explained that:

The obligation of the Court to make the order it determines best represents the child’s interests cannot be ousted by the insistence of an intransigent parent who is ‘blind’ to her child’s interests … The status quo is so detrimental to M. that a change must be made in this case.

Understanding Lawyers and Judges

The competent custody evaluator must know her audience. A substantial body of research exists on the personality characteristics of attorneys and law students. Research informs that attorneys tend to be more logical in their decision-making than members of the general population (Daicoff, 1996). This same research compared attorneys to the general population and found that attorneys and law students tend to be uniformly less interested in people, in emotions, and in interpersonal concerns (Daicoff, 1996). Other researchers found that although many attorneys have good social skills, most show low interest in emotions or others’ feelings (Shneidman, 1984). Solkoff (1968) found that the lowest ranked law students tended to obtain higher humanitarian scores. In fact, altruistic concerns were a motivating factor for no more than 20% of entering law students (Anderson, Western, Boreham, 1973; Stevens, 1973; Hedegard, 1979).

In an extensive study of the personality types of law students, Miller (1967) reported that the personality type that is most prevalent in law school is typically “dependable and practical with a realistic respect for facts, who absorbs and remembers great numbers of facts and is able to cite cases to support his evaluations, and who emphasizes analysis, logic and decisiveness.” And the least common personality type in law school belongs to the type of person who is “concerned chiefly with people, who values harmonious human contacts, is friendly, tactful, sympathetic, and loyal, who is warmed by approval and bothered by indifference and who tends to idealize what he admires” (Id.).

It’s lawyers who become judges. What does research have to say about lawyers when they take the bench? Posner (2010) points out that politics, ideology, and strategic concerns infuse judicial decision-making. Commenting that the law is shot through with politics, Posner used Bayesian decision theory to explain that judges clearly possess preconceptions that influence their decision-making (Posner, 2010). Posner went on to comment that “judges are not moral or intellectual giants (alas) . . . They are all-too-human workers, responding as other workers do to the conditions of the labor market in which they work” (Id.). Researcher Laura Langer (2002) explained that judges are “. . . rational actors who pursue at least two goals: (1) translating their sincere preferences into public policy, and (2) retaining their seat on the bench.” The competent custody evaluator must recognize as Marjorie Silver (2004) explained, many judges fear being transformed into glorified social workers without any training.

As if this were not bad enough, recent analysis of judicial decision-making is chilling. Michigan trial court judge Donald E. Shelton graduated from the University of Michigan Law School and began his career in 1970 as a staff attorney for the U.S. Army Judge Advocate, in Germany. He then served as an attorney for the litigation division of the U.S. Army in Washington, D.C. and then as a small town mayor and trial lawyer. In 1990 he was elected to the trial court bench where he has served for twenty-four years. Shelton earned a master’s degree in criminology and criminal justice in 2007 and a Ph.D. in judicial studies in 2010. During his graduate study Shelton researched juror and judicial decision-making in court trials (Shelton, Kim, & Barak, 2006; Shelton, 2010; Shelton, 2012). In his 2012 analysis of juror and judicial decision-making, Shelton drew on the work of many commentators on science in the court room and quoted Faigman, Saks, Sanders, and Cheng (2013-2014) for the proposition that “…judicial decisions for the most part do not indicate that the judges, trial or appellate, weighed the scientific validity of the proffered evidence in any meaningful way” (Shelton, 2012 emphasis added).

The Post-Divorce-Parenting Glossary

Parental Alienation

What is parental alienation?

Parental alienation is a term used to describe the act, by one parent, of attempting to make his or her child, reject the other parent. Stated more eloquently by Jayne Major, Ph.D. (Parenting Educator & Child Custody Consultant, Breakthrough Parenting Services, Inc. ), “Parental Alienation is the behavior of a parent that engages a child in a discussion, so that the child can either participate or can hear this parent denigrate the other parent.” She goes on to say it is, “anytime a parent speaks badly about another parent where the child can hear it.”

Parental alienation (PA) is common in high-conflict divorces. Parental alienation happens over time when a parent, which could be either the custodial parent or the non-custodial parent, makes negative comments about the other parent in front of or to the children, asks the children to report on the other parent during visitation, or disrupts visitation with the other parent intentionally.

What are the different levels of parental alienation?

Mild parental alienation
Mild parental alienation (or low-level parental alienation) is characterized by subtle, inappropriate remarks or behaviors that communicate to the child that the other parent isn’t as important as the parent committing the alienation. Mild parental alienation could be passive, and the offending person may not be aware that they are engaging in parental alienation at all.

A common trait of mild parental alienation is that the parent behaves in a passive-aggressive manner. They may actually say and do things that indicate they want the child to have a relationship with the other parent; however, they will occasionally slip in minor comments if they feel the child is having too much of a bond with the other parent.  They behave this way because they feel threatened by their child’s relationship with their other parent.

While mild parental alienation is extremely common and less damaging than moderate or severe parental alienation, the challenge is that the offending parent may not believe that what they are doing is alienation. If confronted about it, they may become defensive and conflict could increase. Yet, not confronting them about it could also be an issue if the parent never corrects their behavior. Fortunately most cases of mild parental alienation tend to subside with time.

Moderate parent alienation
The difference between moderate parental alienation and mild parental alienation is the existence of noticeable anger. In mild parental alienation, the alienating parent may be very kind when they are alienating the other parent. In moderate parental alienation, the alienating parent is angry and obviously upset with the other parent when they denigrate them.

Expecting the child to choose them over the other parent is a trait of moderate parental alienation. The child begins to feel stressed and guilty over a relationship with the other parent, because if they attempt to have a real relationship with the other parent, it feels as though they are betraying the one who is committing the alienation.

When parents refuse visitation (parenting time) or virtual visitation, the parental alienation has reached the moderate level. It is also important to note that in moderate cases of parental alienation, the alienating parent may still say that they support the child’s right to have a relationship with the other parent. This should not be taken as a sign that the alienation is mild. If the parent is angry and putting the child in the middle of the conflict, they are beyond mild.

Severe parental alienation
The difference between moderate parental alienation and severe parental alienation is that there is a consistent loathing of the other parent with severe cases of parental alienation. The child is consistently subjected to denigrating discussions about why the other parent is bad. For the child, there is no confusion about whether the alienating parent wants them to have a relationship with the other parent. They don’t. The child knows that wanting a relationship with the other parent means they are betraying the alienating parent.

In severe parental alienation, the child may begin to believe that the other parent was never good – that they never had a positive relationship with the other parent. It turns into an outright rejection of them. They begin to actually feel hatred toward the other parent, but cannot articulate any real reason why they feel that way, beyond what they have heard the alienating parent say about them.

What are some of the effects of parental alienation on children?

Parental alienation not only impacts the alienated parent, but often causes signficant emotional and behavioral problems for the children, as well. Research shows single-parenting, without both parents involved in the child’s life, can be done effectively. But conflict tends to make children prone to a wide range of negative effects after the divorce. Such effects may include lower grades, a harder time making friends, an increased likelihood of committing a crime, and an increased rate of abusing drugs or alcohol.

Some researchers hypothesize that children may identify with both parents in the process of forming their identity. They then interpret alienating messages of the other parent as a rejection of signficant aspects of themselves. When one parent denigrates or rejects the other parent in front of them repeatedily, children may feel compelled to reject aspects of themselves that they inevitably associate with the other parent.

What is the difference between parental alienation versus parental alienation syndrome (PA vs PAS)?

Parental alienation differs from parental alienation syndrome, in that parental alienation is the “act” of inducing parental alienation syndrome. The syndrome (PAS) is characterized by eight symptoms that a child might have, after being subjected to parental alienation from one parent over time. These symptoms of PAS are:

  • A hatred toward the alienated parent.
  • Weak rationalizations for the hatred toward the alienated parent.
  • Little or mixed emotions toward the alienated parent.
  • A denial that their rejection of the alienated parent was the result of the other parent who instigated parental alienation.
  • An automatic, instinctive feeling of support toward the parent who instigated the alienation when their is a conflict.
  • Little or no guilt or remorse over how the alienated parent feels or is treated in conflict by the parent who instigated the alienation.
  • Using situations and discussions that came from the alienating parent as support for their own basis of negative feelings toward the other parent.
  • Strong irrational dislike for other acquaintances, friends, and family of the alienated parent.

How do courts deal with parental alienation?

Family courts typically lag significantly behind research about parental alienation. Many judges ignore it as an issue, and some consider it controversial since PAS is not yet in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V), which is used to categorize and standardize psychological and mental disorders. Still, courts are obligated to follow the best interest of the child doctrine. A particular court may rule one way about parental alienation and another court another way, based on how the judges involved interpret what is best for the children.

Why do children succumb to parental alienation?

Ludwig F. Lowenstein, Ph.D states, “The result of alienation as I have found it is that the child develops a hatred for the other person that is the non-resident other parent and seeks to denigrate and vilify that parent much as has been done by the alienating parent.” In other words, Dr. Lowenstein is stating that a child will be forced to choose one parent over the other if one parent is committing parental alienation. To have a bond with the one parent that is providing the child with love and support means the child must adopt that parent’s beliefs, even if that is the outright rejection of the other parent.

What to do if you believe your child already has parental alienation syndrome?

The deeper and longer the parental alienation has gone on, the more difficult it is undo the effects of parental alienation syndrome. Trying to bond again with a person that has been subjected to parental alienation will likely take time and effort on the part of the alienated parent. That parent must reach out to the child, and show their child that they love them unconditionally. This should be done again-and-again.

The alienated parent should not expect the child to change his or her mindset quickly. From the child’s perspective, by accepting the alienated parent, they may feel like they need to reject the parent that caused the alienation. Doing this without destroying the bond that the child has with the parent that caused the alienation is the goal. If it turns into a battle between parents, it will likely not work.

What strategies do not help when dealing with parental alienation?

Paraphrasing Dr. Reena Sommer, author of the book, The Ten Biggest Divorce Mistakes, the following techniques do NOT work when faced with a parent who is engaging in parental alienation tactics:

Waiting: Children are not likely to change on their own, and the alienating parent may not adjust either.

Negotiating: A parent that commits parental alienation is purposefully attempting to destroy the bond that the child has with the other parent, and negotiating with that parent is unlikely to work. Furthermore, precious time is wasted in trying to change that parent’s mindset and conflict likely increases, which means more negative comments and an more alienating events are occurring.

Mediation: For mediation to be effective, both parties have to be in the mindset that they want what is best for the children. A parent that is committing parental alienation is not in that mindset. They view raising the child as a win/lose arrangement. If you win, they lose.

Appeasing: The parent committing the alienation is motivated by wanting to destroy the child’s bond with that parent. A person in this state-of-mind cannot be appeased.

How can divorced parents prevent parental alienation before it begins?

Prevention is the best cure for avoiding parental alienation or parental alienation syndrome. If parents can begin their post-divorce parenting life with a child-centered approach to parenting, they can likely prevent parental alienation before it begins.  A loving relationship with both parents and a strong parent/child bond are critical elements to avoiding the negative consequences of divorce on children. The following guidelines can help divorced parents reduce and prevent the damaging effects of parental alienation from happening:

  • Never ask your child to provide information about what is going on at the child’s other house.
  • Never badmouth the other parent in front of the child.
  • Always encourage your children to love and respect the other parent.
  • Always respect the child’s time with the other parent.
  • Never argue with the other parent in front of the child.
  • Be on time for custody exchanges and respect visitation or the other parent’s time with the children.
  • Review the Divorced Children’s Bill of Rights, often!

How do parents approach children that have been subjected to parental alienation from an ex spouse?

We strongly encourage families experiencing issues with parental alienation to seek counsel from a therapist that specializes in working with divorced families. A parenting coordinator, a mediator, and a therapist may be able to help improve the situation.  Often parents feel stuck in how to approach a situation where their child(ren) has received alienating messages from the other parent. As a result often parents don’t say anything. However, there is a saying that you can’t not communicate, meaning not communicating is communicating. In other words, saying nothing is actually saying a lot and serves to confirm in the child’s mind the alienating messages they have received from the other parent.

A skilled therapist may address the child(ren) and correct them regarding the misinformation they have received from the offending parent. This can obviously be a very triggering situation; however, even if the alienating messages have been very offensive, it is necessary to not respond by bad-mouthing the offending parent to the child(ren). This is not placing the child’s needs first but rather only placing them in the middle of escalating conflict and will likely only serve to increase further parental alienation.

Dr. Richard Warshak, in his book Divorce Poison suggests using words like “mistake” or “mistaken”. For example, you wouldn’t say to your child, “your dad is a liar,” but rather you would say, “your dad was mistaken.”  The following is an example of a way of approaching a child who has been given alienating messages:

Sometimes parents get upset or mad just like kids do. When upset, sometimes we make mistakes like calling someone a name or saying something that we didn’t mean. So, what your father said was a mistake and he probably said it because he is mad about something. He and I will talk and try our best to make up. Sometimes that takes time. But what I want you to know is that your dad and I love you very much and that will not change.>/i>

Alienated parents face heartbreak

The Sunday Star (Used by permission)

• When children become pawns in the battle

A young mother in Ipoh turned to the MCA Public Services and Complaints Department last month for help in finding her daughter who had been snatched away by her ex-husband. Coping with the absence of a child or children after a marriage fails is heartbreaking, as some estranged parents are finding out.

ONE of the happiest moments in Prasanth’s* life is when his then one-year-old daughter uttered the word accha (Father) for the first time. That was on Christmas Day two years ago, and it was a perfect present for him.

These days, though, Prasanth, a sales executive, has to sometimes hear the most hurtful things from her. She would tell Prasanth “I only want anna (mother) and pathi (grandmother). I don’t want accha,” before slamming down the phone.

“How does she know how to say things like that? She is only three years old,” relates a distraught sounding Prasanth during a telephone interview.

Prasanth, 43, is a victim of parental alienation, a situation where one parent, after a marriage breaks down in a bad way, intentionally attempts to alienate his or her child from the other parent, by poisoning his/her mind, and usually succeeds. (www.pemalik.org). It is a situation that affects both fathers and mothers.

When divorce or custody proceedings are going on, the domineering parent will not allow access of the child to the other parent, says lawyer Lee Swee Seng.

“The parent will say that the child has tuition or co-curricular school activities. They will make up any excuse to prevent the other parent from having any contact with the child,” he explains.

In worse case scenarios, children can be snatched away, as happened to the young mother in Ipoh whose plight was reported in a local English tabloid last month.

When Prasanth’s marriage broke down, his wife and daughter moved to Penang, and he claims he was not allowed to see the child.

“It is one of the worst feelings that any father could go through,” says Prasanth who lives in Perak.

The only time he was permitted to see his daughter was when she came for her medical check-up, he says. And even then, it was only for five minutes – to pay for her medical bill, he adds.

“When she was a baby, I used to jump when she cried. Sometimes, I even dream of her crying only to wake up alone at night,” says Prasanth, who took to overeating and even had to take sleeping pills to cope with the loss of his daughter.

For want of something to do, he took up studying law, and is in the midst of completing his degree.

Recently, his daughter went to live with his brother-in-law, a lawyer in Kuala Lumpur.

“He knew my legal rights to visit my daughter,” says Prasanth. So, every Saturday, he takes a bus to Kuala Lumpur to visit his daughter for the day.

“She is always excited and jumping. When it’s time to go back, I try not to see her, as both of us will start crying,” he says.

Harjit Kaur*, 42, says she had to endure two months of anguish when she couldn’t see her one-and-a-half-year-old son, who was taken away by her husband.

Her marriage was on the rocks, she says, but she was fine about ending it: all she wanted was her son.

Harjit had no choice but to go to court to get interim custody of the boy. During the process, she was only granted access during the weekends.

“The judge was concerned that I could not look after him when I went to work. Furthermore the judge did not want to uproot the child from his environment,” says Harjit.

In the end, her son chose to stay with his father, a decision that Harjit claims is due to his wanting to be with his paternal grandmother.

“He is very diplomatic and wanted to keep the peace,” she says.

“Later on, my son told me his grandmother used to talk bad about me.”

Nowadays, Harjit gets to see her son who is 11 during weekends and holidays.

Sia*, another father who has faced problems gaining access to his children, has to be persuaded before he agrees to relate his story.

And when he finally opens up, his voice is tinged with bitterness as he describes the ordeal he has been through in the past few years since his marriage ended and his wife took the children with her.

Sia, a businessman, was married at the age of 32 after one year of courting his wife. Two years later, the couple had a daughter, and Sia proclaimed himself to be the “happiest man in the world.” They had a son two years after their daughter was born, and life was perfect, he says.

They had a maid, cars and a large house and his relationship with his children was good. But then the economic crisis hit the country in the late 90s and changed everything.

“I worked very hard to pay off the loans and instalments for the house and cars. In the process, I spent long hours at work but I still managed to pay off the loans and took on the responsibilities as any father should,” he says.

At one point, he says, he did not see his kids for almost nine months as he was avoiding being served divorce papers.

“My focus was lost and I couldn’t work. I couldn’t sleep well and I learnt the meaning of depression in my prime years. There was a sudden emptiness. It felt like everything was taken away from me,” he relates.

Sia can see his children once a week now, but he feels it’s like being “an uncle” to them.

“I get to see my nephews and nieces even more,” he laments.

And even when he does see them, the situation is always tense at the start, says Sia, who is convinced that their mother has brainwashed them.

“They will be cautious for about half an hour and try to dictate the terms. Without their mother’s influence, they are free to express themselves,” he says.

Sia recalls once telling his daughter to pray for the well-being of the family, but she told him it was not possible.

“That is not the way a child should talk to a father,” he says.

Deep down, though, Sia believes his children love him, and he shows a text message he received from his son enquiring about his well-being.

The last time engineer Adam Johan*, 56, saw his nine-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son was two years ago in their school when he went to enquire about their progress from the teachers.

When his marriage ended a few years ago, his wife was given interim custody of the children, and he was allowed to visit them once a week.

However, he doesn’t even get to exercise the right to visit his two children because his wife doesn’t allow him to do so. Adam can take his wife to court for contempt, but he does not want to make things worse.

“I don’t want to antagonise things. Why make things worse for the child and the whole situation,” says Adam who is now fighting for custody of his children.

Adam believes that both parents should get equal access to their kids as long as neither parent is abusive.

Adam Johan, a member of Pemalik (Association Against Parental Alienation Kuala Lumpur and Selangor), is looking for people who are in a similar situation. He can be contacted at adam_ak56@yahoo.com

*Names have been changed for privacy


When children become pawns in the battle

IT is the children who suffer the most when the “battle” for their custody takes place between parents.

“It is a tense moment when the family court judge asks the child who they want to follow. They are sometimes not sure what to answer. They are torn between both parents,” says Lee Swee Seng, a lawyer with experience in family law.

“The child is also used as a bargaining chip in the battle. I have seen some friends of children grow up insecure and have stereotypes about trust issues,” he adds.

Francis Yeoh C. L, Secretary of the Association Against Parental Alienation Kuala Lumpur and Selangor (Pemalik) says that both parents are vital when it comes to the upbringing of a child.

“A mother can’t replace a father and vice versa.

“Taking out either side will only cause an imbalance,” he says.

The most practical solution, according to Yeoh, would be joint custody where children spend equal time with both parents.

“Why make it difficult for the children? Parents should keep channels of communication open among children for the sake of the child,” says Lee who is also president of Focus on the Family (Malaysia), a non-profit organisation that promotes traditional family values.

“There should be more exploration of mediation and counselling before cases are brought to court. It is good for the couples and ultimately their children,” he says.

Meanwhile, Pemalik is advocating for a change in some laws, which generally lean towards the mother in divorce and custody cases.

For example, the Law Reform Act (Section 88 (3) – Marriage & Divorce Act 1976, which says “There shall be a rebuttable presumption that it is for the good of a child below the age of seven years to be with his or her mother but in deciding whether that presumption applies to the facts of any particular case, the court shall have regard to the undesirability of disturbing the life of a child by changes of custody.”

“This law does not apply to this day and age as the roles of mothers have changed,” says Pemalik President Ratna R. S.

“Developed countries such as Canada, the US, Singapore and Australia who once had similar laws have long abolished them,” he adds. – By Rashvinjeet S. Bedi

How can you hold your judge or lawyer accountable for misconduct?

How can you hold your judge or lawyer accountable for misconduct?

 

cartoons

A picture tells a thousand words in divorce and family court

By Dr. Leon Koziol

Parenting Rights Institute

Judicial misconduct is the most censored, least publicized and gravest aspect of our federal, state and local governments. You can simply ignore it and move to your next on-line entertainment, but chances are it will find you especially in our nation’s domestic relations courts. So read on and share this post. It may be the most important one you will read in a long time.

The judiciary is our least accountable branch of government. Anyone who dares to reform it can expect severe retributions with no recourse. Judges enjoy absolute immunity for their reckless and even malicious acts. Judicial conduct commissions from New York to California are window dressing entities influenced by politics, typically investigating less than 10% of complaints.

So what does that mean to you? How do you know if your case is not already fixed, rigged or bought-off? You’re spending thousands, even millions of dollars in lawyer fees while your judge has already decided against you due to a bribe or political influence. Are you shocked by that, naive about the people in robes? Well here at Leon Koziol.com and Parenting Rights Institute, we have generated shocking examples of judicial and lawyer misconduct from our work all across America.

Continue reading How can you hold your judge or lawyer accountable for misconduct?

8 Things Your Child REALLY Thinks About Their Deadbeat Parent

8 Things Your Child REALLY Thinks About Their Deadbeat Parent

PHOTO: WEHEARTIT

deadbeat parent

The child doesn’t realize that you — the deadbeat parent — are a loser until the damage is done. Of course, the deadbeat never cares about the damage he or she has made.

And if eventually the deadbeat gets it, he or she spends a lot of time playing “make up”; although, in the present parent’s mind there can never be an apology strong enough or real enough to make up for the days, weeks, months, years and maybe decades of neglect that happened.

To the child you’ve left in the shadows while putting your ego and needs front and center, the relationship and feelings are more nuanced and complex.

It’s harder for the child you left behind than the present parent who is left to pick up your slack. The present parent has more than enough love to give the child you shoved in the backseat of your mind while you are off being an egomaniac and narcissist.

Sure, maybe you were or are sick mentally. Maybe you’re battling addiction. The present parent empathizes with your plight, but believes you should pick yourself up by the bootstraps and get help because, here’s a news flash:

While you’re being sick, the present parents don’t get a chance to have a sick day for anything. We don’t get to take off and heal. We don’t get a minute alone to grieve for the broken hearts your selfish BS left in your wake.

Here are 8 things your child thinks about you, deadbeat parent. But the question is, are you even listening?

1. They love you, even though they shouldn’t.


Bestanimations

Underneath the anger, your child still loves you. At this point, it may be a tiny drop of love, but it’s there. Your child wants so badly for you to be a better parent, Deadbeat.

The only time acceptance usually comes is when a child is old enough to process that your deficiencies, Deadbeat, are not a sign of the child’s worth but a sign of your morals, values and mental health. So you have your child’s love, even though you don’t deserve it.

2. They wonder what they did wrong to make you this way

 

While you’re busy with your new boyfriend or girlfriend or off living out your midlife crisis, your child is wondering what they did wrong to make you this way. Your child will run down a list of imaginary and real scenarios and wonder how he or she could have done something differently to make you change.

Your child will wonder if it was something he or she did or said to make you this way. And until your child is older, that poor baby is taking your sh*t behavior as a sign that something is wrong with him or her.

 

 

Continue reading 8 Things Your Child REALLY Thinks About Their Deadbeat Parent

A child of divorced parents should not have to choose between them

A child of divorced parents should not have to choose between them

Paul Yip and Melissa Chan say the ‘parental responsibility model’ that the Hong Kong government proposes should guide our custody laws would reduce stress on the affected children

The government recently launched a pubic consultation on how to amend our legislation on child custody and access, in response to the rising number of divorces in Hong Kong. Data shows that the total number of divorce decrees granted in 2013 (22,271 cases) was more than 10 times the number in 1981 (2,060 cases) in Hong Kong, and so more children are affected. The government should be commended for taking this step.

The custodial model, where the court grants one parent sole custody of the child, would be replaced by the “parental responsibility model” in use in England, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand. Under this new model, it is proposed that the law would no longer grant one parent all the power in making major decisions for the child. Instead, both parents would continue to have responsibility. And the child could continue seeing both parents if it was in the child’s best interest.

In our recent study on divorces in Hong Kong, commissioned by the Central Policy Unit, child custody and access has been the top issue for the court, followed by maintenance. In the early 2000s, over half of screened cases required the court to deal with child custody issues. In the past five years, this figure has dropped to between 35 and 45 per cent, probably as a result of an increase in the number of childless couples filing for divorce. Nevertheless, it is estimated that the percentage of children affected by divorce in the population has risen from 4 per cent in 2001 to 7 per cent in 2011 – some 81,000 children in 2011, up from 57,000 in 2001.

Continue reading A child of divorced parents should not have to choose between them

Update on Parent-Child-Alienation and the Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)

Update on Parent-Child-Alienation and the Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)

In recent years psychiatrists and psychotherapists are confronted in their clinical work more and more often with severe psychiatric and psychosomatic consequences of the Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) in now adult “children of divorce” as well as in parents, who have been traumatized by alienation and rupture of contact with their children. In PAS we deal with a special subcategory of parent-child alienation mainly in separation/divorce conflicts in the sense of an induced disorder in the child, as a result of severe manipulative and aberrant parental behavior in which the child irrationally and without true reason radically refuses contact with a once loved, caring parent.

Research in recent times refers to the condition resulting from induced alienation between parent and child as “pathological alienation”, “parental alienation”, “parental alienation disorder”, “alienated child” or “parental alienation syndrome”. The term “parental alienation syndrome” was introduced in 1985 by the american child psychiatrist Richard A. Gardner, who died in 2003. Standard works on PAS include his book “The Parental Alienation Syndrome – a guide for mental health and legal professionals”, first edition published in 1992, second edition 1998, and Gardner/Sauber/Lorandos (eds., 2006) “The International Handbook of Parental Alienation Syndrome”.

Dr. Gardner, M. D. defined PAS as follows:
“The Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a disorder that 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 the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrina­tions and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the target parent. When true parental abuse and/or neglect is present the child’s animosity may be justified, and so the parental alienation syndrome explanation for the child’s hostility is not applicable.”

The concept “Parental Alienation Syndrome” thus is characterized by three elements:

  1. Rejection or denigration of a parent that reaches the level of a campaign, i.e., it is persistent and not merely an occasional episode;
  2. the rejection is irrational, i.e. the alienation is not a reasonable response to the alienated parent’s behavior; and
  3. it is a partial result of the non-alienated parent’s influence.

If any of these three elements is absent, the term PAS is not applicable.

Continue reading Update on Parent-Child-Alienation and the Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)

Parental Alienation Syndrome — The Parent/Child Disconnect

Parental Alienation Syndrome — The Parent/Child Disconnect
By Amy J. L. Baker, PhD
Social Work Today

Divorce and separation can breed bad blood between parents and children when one partner uses the children to target the other partner.

Among the many areas of concern for social workers working with divorced or separated couples with children are two related problems: parental alienation, or the efforts on the part of one parent to turn a child against the other parent, and parental alienation syndrome, or a child’s unwarranted rejection of one parent in response to the attitudes and actions of the other parent. Social workers may encounter these problems in a number of settings, such as family service agencies, schools, and family court, as well as in private practice working with high-conflict divorcing couples, parents who believe that the other parent has or will turn the children against them, alienated children refusing to see a parent, adults who are still alienated from a parent, or elders who have “lost” their children to parental alienation.

While some social workers may be unaware of the name for this particular phenomenon, they have probably dealt with it over the course of their careers. For example, clients may enter individual therapy presenting with anxiety, depression, or relationship problems and later reveal that they have been cut off from one parent by another parent. These clients may be unaware of the meaning of the lost relationship and may even minimize its effect on their growth, development, and current mental health concerns.

Children referred to a school social worker for acting out or experiencing academic problems may casually reveal that they have no contact with a “hated” parent. When questioned about the absent parent, these children may vehemently denounce the parent as “good riddance to bad rubbish.” The family of such a child may be maneuvering behind the scenes to exclude the other parent from the child’s school life by misrepresenting that parent’s intentions to school staff, withholding information from that parent to create the appearance of a lack of interest, and removing contact information from school records.

Continue reading Parental Alienation Syndrome — The Parent/Child Disconnect

Family court: a liability to our children

Family court: a liability to our children

Letters sent to Malaysiakini http://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/91623

Family court: a liability to our children
Francis Yeoh | Oct 20, 08 3:34pm

In response to the various calls and comments recently, I can’t help but identify with the many fathers being denied access to their children today as well as the many members of the Association Against Parental Alienation (Pemalik).

Theirs are the plaintive cries of fathers who have been denied access to their children. Time after time, case after case, the result is so predictable – the pronouncement by the judge – “the children don’t like you and I cannot force them to see you” after the award of custody is made. Not only is one parent denied custody, they are also denied complete access to the children.

The family court for some reason, refuses to look beyond the fact that some of these children have been brainwashed or that parental alienation has been undertaken by the custodial parent so that the child prefers to have no contact whatsoever with the other parent for fear of offending the custodial parent.

The whole family court system from the marriage tribunal to our family court – various sections in the Law Reform Marriage & Divorce Act 1976 and Child Protection Act 2001 need amendments to conform with changes in today’s society.

With the increasing rates of divorce cases and with only one ‘family’ court to handle so many cases, can you imagine the trauma facing the children brought to court for a hearing at the behest of an affidavit?

To make matters worse, divorce and custody battles in court take years. With one presiding judge and numerous backlog of cases – do you think the judge will be able to ‘judge’ wisely, with no help from ‘experts’ on children?

Concerned groups should interview more embattled parents to gain an insight into their plight and to take a holistic view, including on the issue of joint responsibility.

Continue reading Family court: a liability to our children

Custodial Parent

 

What is the custodial parent in a child custody case?

The term custodial parent is often misunderstood.  In a child custody case, the custodial parent is parent with sole custody, or if joint custody is awarded, the parent with the majority of the parenting time.  The term is sometimes misunderstood because courts might refer to one parent as the custodial parent in legal documents, even in joint custody arrangements with equal custody, but to truly be the custodial parent one would need to be awarded sole custody or if in a joint custody arrangement, be given significantly more parenting time than the other parent.

 

Is there always a custodial parent in child custody arrangement?

In 50/50 joint custody arrangements, where physical custody is split equally between both parents, neither parent is established as the primary custodial parent.  Both parents have an equal role as a custodial parent in true joint custody arrangement.  This means neither parent has more authority than the other, and no parent is called the primary custodial parent or the non-custodial parent.

 

Does the non-custodial parent have legal custody of the children?

Legal custody can, and is often split equally between both parents, even if one is the custodial parent.  Legal custody gives a parent the authority to make decisions about bigger, long-term issues like what religion to follow, what schools to attend, etc.  If the primary custodial parent and the non custodial parent both have shared legal custody, then they must communicate these matters to each other.  It is important to note that the term “custodial parent” only applies to physical custody.  Legal custody is a separate.

Continue reading Custodial Parent

Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative Divorce

What is meant by a collaborative divorce?

Collaborative divorce is a way for divorcing couples to resolve disputes in a way that may reduce conflict during the divorce process.  While both parties must be represented by lawyers, in collaborative divorce, cooperative techniques are applied to help the affected parties resolve their conflicts.

In a collaborative divorce, no court proceedings can take place until negotiations between the divorcing parties have been completed.  The following bullets illustrate key concepts that exist in a collaborative divorce:

  • The lawyers representing the parties have a duty to help the parties reach an agreement.
  • There will be fair and effective communication as the process continues. Neither of the parties involved are supposed to take advantage errors made by another party.
  • If the divorcing couple has children, the spouses must consider what is in their children’s best interest.   This is aimed at promoting a good environment for the children and their parents, which will minimize the chances of the children experiencing emotional instability.
  • There is an option of obtaining neutral experts.
  • There should be no changes made to the insurance, assets, or any other sensitive matters.  Moreover, there should be a status quo especially if the divorce involves parents who had children.
  • Issues that have not been agreed upon will be settled by further negotiations by the parties involved.

Continue reading Collaborative Divorce

The Post-Divorce-Parenting Glossary

The Post-Divorce-Parenting Glossary

What is parental alienation?

Parental alienation is a term used to describe the act, by one parent, of attempting to make his or her child, reject the other parent. Stated more eloquently by Jayne Major, Ph.D. (Parenting Educator & Child Custody Consultant, Breakthrough Parenting Services, Inc. ), “Parental Alienation is the behavior of a parent that engages a child in a discussion, so that the child can either participate or can hear this parent denigrate the other parent.” She goes on to say it is, “anytime a parent speaks badly about another parent where the child can hear it.”

Parental alienation (PA) is common in high-conflict divorces. Parental alienation happens over time when a parent, which could be either the custodial parent or the non-custodial parent, makes negative comments about the other parent in front of or to the children, asks the children to report on the other parent during visitation, or disrupts visitation with the other parent intentionally.

What are the different levels of parental alienation?

Mild parental alienation
Mild parental alienation (or low-level parental alienation) is characterized by subtle, inappropriate remarks or behaviors that communicate to the child that the other parent isn’t as important as the parent committing the alienation. Mild parental alienation could be passive, and the offending person may not be aware that they are engaging in parental alienation at all.

A common trait of mild parental alienation is that the parent behaves in a passive-aggressive manner. They may actually say and do things that indicate they want the child to have a relationship with the other parent; however, they will occasionally slip in minor comments if they feel the child is having too much of a bond with the other parent.  They behave this way because they feel threatened by their child’s relationship with their other parent.

While mild parental alienation is extremely common and less damaging than moderate or severe parental alienation, the challenge is that the offending parent may not believe that what they are doing is alienation. If confronted about it, they may become defensive and conflict could increase. Yet, not confronting them about it could also be an issue if the parent never corrects their behavior. Fortunately most cases of mild parental alienation tend to subside with time.

Continue reading The Post-Divorce-Parenting Glossary

Parental Alienation Syndrome By Michael Wayland

Parental Alienation Syndrome By Michael Wayland

I want to talk to you about Parental Alienation Syndrome. It sounds like a fancy diagnosis but it is a simple to understand phenomenon. It varies from mild to severe. You may have experienced it if you have been through a divorce.

Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is when one parent attempts to sway the child into favoring the initiating parent and despising the target parent. Usually this occurs when one parent has custody and the other (target) parent has less time with the child. It can be purposeful or it can be subconscious.

It is usually only seen in custody situations. In most instances the mother is the instigating parent and the father is the target or victim, although certainly not always. Mainly the extent to which a child is consciously or unconsciously being programmed by the alienating parent to reject the targeted parent determines the presence of PAS. It is found more frequently in cases where a parenting schedule is forced on the parties by a judge than when the parties engage in a mediated divorce where a mediation session leads to a custody arrangement that satisfies both parents. A decision imposed by a judge through a trial process leaves the parties out of control and feeling as if the outcome was forced on them.

Continue reading Parental Alienation Syndrome By Michael Wayland

Can I Sue My Former Spouse For Destroying My Relationship With My Children?

Amanda W. Figland concentrates practices in family law, where she handles divorce, dissolution of civil unions, partition, and child support and custody issues. She works out of Obermayer’s Cherry Hill, NJ office and can be reached at 856-795-3300 or at Amanda.Figland@obermayer.com.

 

Sometimes in custody disputes, one parent attempts to get a leg up in the custody case by bad-mouthing the other parent to the children. Additionally, in more extreme cases, a parent in a litigation may even try to persuade a child to make false claims of abuse or neglect against the other parent.  Courts take these matters very seriously and this type of behavior is strictly prohibited.  In New Jersey, judges will often include a “Childrens’ Bill of Rights” directly into court orders to prohibit parents from discussing any litigation or drawing their children into disputes with the other parent.  Unfortunately, because these activities occur behind the scenes, it can be difficult to prove that these events are actually occurring.

A parent faced with this problem can bring a custody or divorce action or he or she can file a post-judgment motion to preclude this conduct or to modify an existing order. A family court judge in New Jersey has the authority to order compensatory, make-up parenting time.  A family court judge also has the authority to reduce or limit the custodial rights and parenting time of the offending parent if it can be proven that the alienating behavior is causing harm to the children.

Most of the time, if a parent raises these types of claims against another parent, these claims may only be litigated in the family part.  This means that other than possible awards of counsel fees, or court sanctions there would be no substantial money damages awarded against the offending parent for this type of conduct.

A New Jersey appellate court in Segal v. Lynch, 413 N.J. Super. 171 (App. Div. 2010), addressed whether or not a parent could seek civil redress against the other parent for emotional damages relating to custody and parenting time cases.  In Segal, a mother had had made frequent numerous alienating statements to the parties’ children, which resulted in the loss of the relationship between the father and his two children.  The father brought a civil tort suit against the mother, alleging that the mother committed intentional infliction of emotional distress.  The lower court dismissed the action.  A New Jersey appellate court reviewed the decision of the lower court. The appellate court held that parents should not be permitted to routinely bring civil suits against each other for alienation of the affections of their children.  The Court stated that routine claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress arising out of one parent’s alienation of the affections of the children were against public policy.  The Court explained that these claims would almost always require the children to act as witnesses against one or both of their parents and it would not be in the best interests of the children for these cases to proceed.

Continue reading Can I Sue My Former Spouse For Destroying My Relationship With My Children?

Parental Alienation is a Stalker. Learn How to Gain Awareness and Stop the Abuse

Parental Alienation is a Stalker. Learn How to Gain Awareness and Stop the Abuse

Parents who have become victims of parental alienation often don’t see it coming.  Parental alienation, unlike other forms of abuse, isn’t always clear. You don’t pick up your child and see a parental alienation scar or bruise.

Your child rarely outwardly tells you what the other parent has said or done. Even more mature children, including teenagers, are hit hard by alienation without understanding what the other parent is doing. This sometimes affects a child’s custody preference and is used in Court. That is what awareness of parental alienation so difficult.

Parental alienation is a stalker.

It does not immediately physically strike you. It does not scream, “Help! I am being alienated.” It is a penetrating form of psychological abuse that permeates through a child’s heart and mind. And that is where you must pick up the subtle clues the alienating parent and the children leave for you. That is where your vigilance and diligence becomes essential.

Recognizing the alienation before it takes complete control may be the single most important factor in stopping it. It stops alienation from becoming a “syndrome.” All of the court orders in the world may not save your child if your child has been completely alienated from you and wants nothing to do with you. The amount of therapy involved as well as time and effort that you must undertake in the most extreme cases can be too much to bear for some parents.

We’ve had those extreme cases. We’ve had success. But we write this article because we want you to know what to look for so you do not have to be one of those cases. We want you to take action early and often to combat the parental alienation. Let’s look at this topic closer.

If you have any questions, contact our experienced Orange County child custody attorneys. We offer an affordable strategy session.

You want to neutralize parental alienation? Spend quality time with your children.

Continue reading Parental Alienation is a Stalker. Learn How to Gain Awareness and Stop the Abuse

A Word to Mothers: You can lose your children to parental alienation

A Word to Mothers: You can lose your children to parental alienation

As mother’s day approaches I want to take a moment to unequivocally state that yes mothers even good mothers can lose their children to parental alienation. One common myth that seems to be “out there” in the world is that parental alienation is something that only happens to fathers and that mothers, because they tend to have residential custody and because (the theory goes) the courts are biased against fathers, rarely lose their kids this way. While no one has data about the exact gender break down, I can say that without a doubt some mothers do and have been victimized in this way. I believe that part of why this is not talked about as much as fathers’ experiences of parental alienation is that mothers who do lose their kids this way are overcome with shame and humiliationand tend to not want to go public with their story. In my conversations with targeted mothers a common theme is that they perceive other people as thinking that they must have done something wrong for their child to reject them. Many stay silent for this reason, to avoid being blamed and shamed.

Continue reading A Word to Mothers: You can lose your children to parental alienation

Recommendations for Dealing with Parents Who Induce a Parental Alienation Syndrome in Their Children

Recommendations for Dealing with Parents Who Induce a Parental Alienation Syndrome in Their Children

by RICHARD A. GARDNER

ABSTRACT: The parental alienation syndrome is commonly seen in highly contested child-custody disputes. The author has described three types: mild, moderate, and severe$each of which requires special approaches by both legal and mental health professionals. The purpose of this article is to correct some misinterpretations of the author’s recommendations as well as to add some recently developed refinements. Particular focus is given to the transitional-site program that can be extremely useful for dealing with the severe type of parental alienation syndrome. Dealing properly with parental-alienation-syndrome families requires close cooperation between legal and mental health professionals. Without such cooperation therapeutic approaches are not likely to succeed. With such cooperation the treatment, in many cases, is likely to be highly effective.

THE PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME

The parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a disorder that arises almost exclusively in the context of child-custody disputes. It is a disorder in which children, programmed by the allegedly “loved” parent, embark upon a campaign of denigration of the allegedly “hated” parent. The children exhibit little if any ambivalence over their hatred, which often spreads to the extended family of the allegedly despised parent. Most often mothers are the initiators of such programming, and fathers are the victims of the campaigns of deprecation. However, in a small percentage of cases it is the father who is the primary programmer and the mother who comes to be viewed as the “hated” parent. Furthermore, we are not dealing here with simple “brainwashing” by one parent against the other. The children’s own scenarios of denigration often contribute and complement those promulgated by the programming parent. Accordingly, I introduced the term parental alienation syndrome (PAS) to refer to both of these contributions to the disorder. Because of the children’s cognitive immaturity their scenarios may often appear preposterous to adults. Of course, if the hated parent has genuinely been abusive, then the children’s alienation is warranted and the PAS concept is not applicable.

There are three type of parental alienation syndrome: mild, moderate, and severe. It goes beyond the purposes of this report to describe in full detail the differences between these three types. At this point only a brief summary, however, is important here. In the mild type, the alienation is relatively superficial and the children basically cooperate with visitation, but are intermittently critical and disgruntled. In the moderate type, the alienation is more formidable, the children are more disruptive and disrespectful, and the campaign of denigration may be almost continual. In the severe type, visitation may be impossible, so hostile are the children, hostile even to the point of being physically violent toward the allegedly hated parent. Other forms of acting out may be present, acting out that is designed to cause formidable grief to the parent who is being visited. In many cases the children’s hostility has reached paranoid levels, that is, delusions of persecution and/or fears that they will be murdered in situations where there is absolutely no evidence that such will be the case.

Continue reading Recommendations for Dealing with Parents Who Induce a Parental Alienation Syndrome in Their Children

The Impact of Parental Alienation on Children

The Impact of Parental Alienation on Children

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What children of divorce most want and need is to maintain healthy and strong relationships with both of their parents, and to be shielded from their parents’ conflicts. Some parents, however, in an effort to bolster their parental identity, create an expectation that children choose sides. In more extreme situations, they foster the child’s rejection of the other parent. In the most extreme case, children are manipulated by one parent to hate the other, despite children’s innate desire to love and be loved by both their parents.

What is parental alienation ?

Parental alienation involves the “programming” of a child by one parent to denigrate the other “targeted” parent, in an effort to undermine and interfere with the child’s relationship with that parent, and is often a sign of a parent’s inability to separate from the couple conflict and focus on the needs of the child. Such denigration results in the child’s emotional rejection of the targeted parent, and the loss of a capable and loving parent from the life of the child. Psychiatrist Richard Gardner developed the concept of “parental alienation syndrome” 20 years ago, defining it as, “a disorder that 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 the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the target parent.” Children’s views of the targeted parent are almost exclusively negative, to the point that the parent is demonized and seen as evil.

As Baker writes, parental alienation involves a set of strategies, including bad-mouthing the other parent, limiting contact with that parent, erasing the other parent from the life and mind of the child, forcing the child to reject the other parent.

The Impact of Parental Alienation on Children

 

Devastated Fathers Speak Out About Parental Alienation

Devastated Fathers Speak Out About Parental Alienation

Written by Jasmin

For any parent who is alienated from their child, every single day brings the painful realisation that they are missing a vital piece of their heart and soul. To me it is an unimaginable pain, and yet one I encounter on an almost daily basis as I support men who through no fault of their own, have had this inflicted upon them.

Birthdays, holidays, and festive occasions are all exceptionally difficult times for alienated parents and after Christmas Day there is perhaps none more damaging or hurtful for men than being alienated on Father’s Day.

Many Australian families will be celebrating the role of father’s in their children’s lives this week. Little children will be rushing into Dad’s room to give him the present they made at school, or purchased from the school fete. Older children will be giving Dad a hug, making him breakfast and letting him know he is loved. Sadly though, many fathers will inevitably be alone on Father’s Day and prevented from seeing their children from whom they are cut off and intentionally alienated.

Born from nothing short of spite, hatred and monetary gain, many women will refuse contact on this day if it doesn’t fall on the ‘right’ weekend. For men who are fully alienated and have no contact, often through false allegations, they will know like other years before that they must yet again face this painful day and somehow survive it.

I asked some men from my support group to share their words of what it means to them to be an alienated Dad on Father’s Day. Here are there heartfelt replies.

Hurt. On the most important day in a Father’s life after birth, being with your children on Father’s Day and denied by the mother. It is a knife to the heart, it reduces you to tears and desperation and questions your own worth.

Devastated, heartbroken, confused. I see my daughter for 30 hours in a whole year and they have canceled repeated scheduled visits through no fault of my own. I tried to arrange to see her on Father’s Day, but the mother won’t agree.

You loose hope and you feel suicidal anger and it changes you in a big way , so you move on in this difficult life and carry the pain for the rest off your life.

Continue reading Devastated Fathers Speak Out About Parental Alienation

What Can Yet be Done With Older Children Who Have Been Long Term Victims of Parental Alienation?

What Can Yet be Done With Older Children Who Have Been Long Term Victims of Parental Alienation?

Ludwig.F. Lowenstein Ph.D

Southern England Psychological Services

2012

Abstract & Summary

One of the most difficult tasks facing expert witnesses (psychologists/psychiatrists) is seeking to reverse parental alienation of long standing when the child has reached adolescence or become an adult. Despite the difficulty the author describes a strategy which is sometimes effective to make a victim aware of the constancy of the alienated parent.s love, and to provide a rational explanation, via a letter, for the now adult explaining the process of parental alienation.

What Can Yet be Done With Older Children Who Have Been Long Term Victims of Parental Alienation?

Introduction

I begin with the two recent letters received which follow and show the concerns of two long term alienated parents who have not had contact with their older children (16+) for many years. The parents who were so alienated have in many cases been virtually obliterated in the minds of these now older children, adolescents and adults. The children.s names in these scenarios have been changed to avoid identification since they are based on real cases. We will consider first the causes and long term effects of the alienation of children followed by some possible strategies for dealing with the long term effects of parental alienation in the older child, adolescent, and even adult.

Causes and long term effects of alienation of children

The causes of long term alienation is most often the unceasing, implacable hostility of the custodial parent against the now long term alienated parent. It may be noted, in at least one of the letters, that the process of turning a child against a parent starts early and is ongoing and relentless. The innocent parent often is not permitted to have any contact with the child and the child eventually adopts the view of the alienator and rejects what is so often a good parent. The alienated parent is not allowed to play any part in bringing up the child and of guiding that child. Such animosity of the hostile parent.s action is eventually difficult to reverse. The child, and later adolescent, increasingly believes he/she has indeed only one good parent and the other is a bad parent. The latter is the vilified, rejected father/mother.

The alienated parent suffers tremendously from the unjust rejection he/she has to endure. Some parents such as those so unjustly treated eventually follow the advice of an expert psychologist understanding family problems and start another family. At the same time they should .keep the door open. for the child who has been alienated to make contact. This unfortunately seldom happens, especially with the passage of time. Judges frequently predict wrongly, that the child when an adult will untimately make contact with the rejected parent of their own volition. Here unfortunately is where we have the situation where the absence does not make .the heart grow fonder.. It is just the reverse: absence leads to the forgetting or total rejection of the absent parent.In the back of their minds, however, such children have a memory of eventually understanding how they have been unjustly and cruelly turned against the alienated parent. Sometimes this does not occur and they should be made aware of this by the psychologist seeking to remedy the situation.Frequently, I have told such parents that they should have counteracted such alienation earlier, and if necessary, to have sought a change of residence for such emotionally abused children. There response is a combination of regret, anger and a feeling of betrayal as well as helplessness now that they are seeking help so belatedly.

Continue reading What Can Yet be Done With Older Children Who Have Been Long Term Victims of Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation: the impact on men’s mental health.

Parental alienation: the impact on men’s mental health.

Abstract

Parental alienation is defined as a mental state in which a child, usually one whose parents are engaged in a high-conflict separation or divorce, allies himself strongly with one parent (the preferred parent) and rejects a relationship with the other parent (the alienated parent) without legitimate justification. Parental alienation may affect men’s mental health: a) parental alienation negatively influences mental health of male children and adolescents who are victims of parental alienation. Alienated children/adolescents display guilt, sadness, and depressed mood; low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence; distress and frustration; lack of impulse control, substance abuse and delinquent behavior; separation anxiety, fears and phobias; hypochondria and increased tendency to develop psychosomatic illness; suicidal ideation and suicide attempt; sleep and eating disorders; educational problems; enuresis and encopresis; b) parental alienation negatively affects the mental health of adult men who were victims of parental alienation when they were children and/or adolescents. Long-term effects of parental alienation include low self-esteem, depression, drug/alcohol abuse, lack of trust, alienation from own children, divorce, problems with identity and not having a sense of belonging or roots, choosing not to have children to avoid being rejected by them, low achievement, anger and bitterness over the time lost with the alienated parent; c) parental alienation negatively influences mental health of men who are alienated from their children. Fathers who have lost some or all contact with their children for months or years following separation or divorce may be depressed and suicidal.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26565536

Parent Alienation & It’s Devastating Effects

Parent Alienation & It’s Devastating Effects

Parent alienation syndrome was first identified and documented by psychiatrist, Richard Gardner, in the 1980’s.

While there continues to be controversy and debate over whether this diagnostic label should or should not be used when working with a family system where these behaviors and dynamics exist, the fact is that parent alienation does occur. The higher the conflict between separating or divorcing parents, the higher the likelihood that behaviors and attitudes associated with parental alienation will occur.

Every day, the family court system is inundated with cases where a 730 custody evaluation has been ordered to determine what is in the “best interest of the child” based on who is the most “fit” parent. I have found that when a 730 child custody evaluation is ordered by a family court, often parental alienation is occurring and court intervention is necessary to prevent it from continuing.

In my work with adult daughters, raised by very difficult or personality disordered mothers, many times what surfaces in our work together is a childhood history wrought with confusion, trauma, loss, psychological torture, double-binds, loyalty conflicts, and both, direct and indirect alienating behaviors on the part of their mothers, their mother’s families, and sometimes the father’s families who have inappropriately aligned themselves against the father and with the alienating mother. Often when the father’s family members align with the alienating mother, it is due to their fear that they will not be allowed to see the children, so they sacrifice their relationship and loyalty to their own family member who is the father of the children, in service to their need to continue to be allowed access to the children by the alienating mother.

Continue reading Parent Alienation & It’s Devastating Effects

Coping with the Parental Alienation Syndrome

Coping with the Parental Alienation Syndrome

Overview

Ten years ago, the term ‘Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)’ was virtually unknown outside of the USA. Today it is one of the key factors in changing the laws of custody.

Paradoxically, at the time of writing it is not recognised by any government authority in the UK. Nor do the Family-courts, Family-lawyers, Child-welfare organisations or child psychiatrists generally accept it, yet they will admit that the problem of hostile separations, and the alienating of children against the non-resident parent is common, and well known by all who deal with these matters.

Understanding why those in the worlds of Family-law and Family-business do not accept PAS is the key to understanding why one father in three in the UK will not see his children grow up.
What is the Parental Alienation Syndrome?

The full description of PAS can be found in the works of Dr Richard Gardner MD, and on his website at www.rgardner.com and at also www.parentalalienation.com , but briefly:

It is the systematic denigration of the non-resident parent by the resident parent with the intent of alienating children against the non-resident parent. The pattern of PAS behaviour is common to some degree or other in all custody disputes.

Children who have been alienated will claim that it is their own decision to reject the non-resident parent. Once this happens, it could be several years before the non-resident parent will see their children again.

It is the child’s claim that they are not influenced in their decision by the resident parent, which makes it difficult to deal with, as the child’s ‘evidence’ is regarded as crucial to the courts decision.

Continue reading Coping with the Parental Alienation Syndrome

8 Ways To Help You And Your Child Combat Parental Alienation

8 Ways To Help You And Your Child Combat Parental Alienation

How to see it happening, how to stop it from happening.

Parental Alienation is a consistent set of behaviors that seek to drive a wedge between a parent and a child. Methods of PA can be very subtle, such as making a child feel guilty for spending time with their other parent, or more deliberate, like purposely throwing away letters and gifts of the other parent.

Parental Alienation is a form of child abuse, not to be taken lightly. Why is it so serious? For one, a child deserves to have a full and loving relationship with both parents. As long as neither parent exhibits behaviors that could be detrimental to the child (such as a substantiated history of abuse or neglect, drug or alcohol abuse, criminal behavior, and anything else potentially damaging to the child), then the child should not be kept apart from either mom or dad.

As an adult who grew up alienated from her father, I can personally attest to the fact that when a parent is not in a child’s life, he or she can feel as though they are not lovable or good enough. For my entire childhood I was led to believe that my father was not interested in a relationship. My mother routinely told me what a terrible person he was and prevented our relationship by refusing his calls, not answering the door when he came for me, and throwing away cards and gifts. I still have issues with not feeling valuable, and I fear those I love will leave me.

 

Continue reading 8 Ways To Help You And Your Child Combat Parental Alienation

MOTHER SHAMING: THE DYNAMICS OF THE ALIENATING FATHER

MOTHER SHAMING: THE DYNAMICS OF THE ALIENATING FATHER

Originally posted on Karen Woodall

Disclaimer:
As PMA International has posted before, we prefer the term DV by Proxy to explain the manipulations an abuser parent uses to teach the child to reject the protective parent. We prefer this term because;

1. It more accurately depicts the actions taken by the abuser parent towards the child
2. There has been a lot of misinformation about parental alienation circulating the internet and beyond.
3. The term parental alienation and /or parental alienation syndrome has been use as a legal defense for abusive dads in family court. Most often this term has been used by the attorneys of dads who sexual abuse their children. This defense is used – most often- by attorneys in family court for the purpose of deflecting blame from the criminal actions of their client onto the protective mother.
4 The result of the above has frequently been, abusers winning custody due to this misuse of the term.
Because the term is so emotionally charge for protective mothers, and for all the reasons above, we feel DV by Proxy is a better choice. Please keep in mind others still use the term Parental Alienation. Since PMA International did not author this piece, the term parental alienation or alienation may be used.

The truth is that much of the alienated mother shaming that I see happening is perpetuated by those feminist trained professionals who profess to care so much for women. Which is another reason why this group of alienated parents is invisible and unable to share their experience widely. Karen Woodall

It is often said that parental alienation is not a gender issue, by this people mean that the issue can affect either mothers or fathers. At first glance however, it would appear that alienated mothers are in the minority, but in reality they are not so small a group. What faces alienated mothers however is something so deeply unpleasant and so deeply shaming, that it is small wonder that so many women in these circumstances do not reveal to the outside world what has happened to them. Not only do alienated mothers face the loss of their children and all of the grief and suffering that goes with that, they face the hostile and deeply suspicious attitudes of society at large, where the belief that if a mother has lost her children, she must have done something dreadful to deserve it, is an obstinate and poisonous mindset.

Continue reading MOTHER SHAMING: THE DYNAMICS OF THE ALIENATING FATHER

Learning To Deserve Love As A Child Of Divorce

Learning To Deserve Love As A Child Of Divorce

I was in middle school when the papers were signed. I pictured those signatures like they had been written in blood, with words that might as well have read, “No more Baker family.” Mom and Dad were not a unit anymore; now they were Mom, and then Dad. At 11 years old, I thought their divorce would end after the night we all cried in the living room. I thought they would tell us it was over, and then it would be over. But the next day when I woke — crusty-eyed and small — it was all still happening. It was then that I learned that Divorce exists with a capital D, and it’s a word that constantly transcends a single label — especially, as I found, for the child.

I believe that with the right work and commitment to healing, adults can separate in such a way that allows their whole family to find peace. My family and I are still on this journey: We typically haven’t felt familial since the divorce. It always seems more difficult to connect, and everyone has wavering opinions of each other. We never say it out loud, but I know we are always thinking about how we each cope with our own neuroses. A sort of inherent judgment has come from the simple act of shifting our family dynamic into something individualized and less wholesome.

I’m not anti-divorce and I don’t blame my parents for terminating their marriage. It was necessary, but I didn’t realize just how crucial it was until years later.

Continue reading Learning To Deserve Love As A Child Of Divorce

Parental Alienation: It’s About More Than “A Uterus, Divorce Papers and Bruises”

Parental Alienation: It’s About More Than “A Uterus, Divorce Papers and Bruises”

By Cathy Meyer.

Certified Marriage Educator and Divorce Coach

Over the last few months Father’s Rights activists have been attempting to have Parental Alienation Disorder added to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V), the American Psychiatric Association’s “bible” of diagnoses.

When learning of this effort the National Organization for Women (NOW) became concerned and sent out an Action Alert to counter the campaign. According to NOW’s Tracy Simmons:

Parental Alienation Syndrome has now morphed into Parental Alienation Disorder thanks to the fathers’ rights organizations who are wildly pushing this through, and why wouldn’t they? It benefits the abuser and discriminates against the victims of abuse, which are overwhelmingly women.

This gender specific, abuse excuse, junk science can not be allowed to enter into the scientific community as there is nothing scientific about a syndrome/disorder whose only symptoms are a uterus, divorce papers, and bruises. I ask that you all to take action against legitimizing this outrageous theory by e-mailing the APA and asking your groups to do the same.”

I have a few concerns with Tracy Simmon’s beliefs on the subject and a few beliefs of my own in response to her statement.

1. Parental alienation syndrome is not a gender specific issue. It was once believed women were the main perpetrators of parental alienation, but no longer. “Fifty percent are men,” said Judith Ray, a licensed family therapist in Colorado Springs.

“Those who are men tend to be narcissistic, characterized by a sense of entitlement, arrogance and low empathy. Female alienators often have borderline personalities, marked by insecurity, neediness, a strong fear of abandonment and chronic emptiness.”

When we speak of parental alienation we aren’t talking about abusive fathers trying to further their misguided, ill treatment of a mother. We are talking about damaged parents, both mother and father whose children need to be protected from a different kind of abuse.

2. Only someone who has never been a victim of parental alienation would refer to it as “junk science.” The vast majority of parents who desire a consistent, loving relationship with a child are not driven by political, ideological, financial or any other scientific motives. The love a parent has for a child can’t be dismissed by accusations of domestic violence and the welfare of a child should not be overlooked in favor of a mother/father who has been a victim of domestic abuse.

If NOW is concerned about the further victimization of domestic abuse victims they themselves should be “wildly pushing” for the inclusion of Parental Alienation Disorder into the scientific community. What better way to empower a victim than to promote their right to bring legal action against someone who has not only abused them but attempts to abuse their child?

While experts debate the validity of parental alienation accusations, parents like myself and others are unequipped and unable to protect our children and our parental rights against an alienating mother or father. I say this will all due respect to victims of domestic violence…a parent’s right to protect the parental relationship with a child is as important as your right to protect yourself from your abuser.

When it comes to parental alienation the focus should be on the child who has a right to equal time with both Mom and Dad. Not on a parent who may or may not have been abused by an ex spouse. This won’t happen until parental alienation is viewed by the Family Court System as a recognized psychiatric disorder caused by an alienating parent….

Continue reading Parental Alienation: It’s About More Than “A Uterus, Divorce Papers and Bruises”

Parental Alienation Syndrome within Parental Abduction cases…….

Parental Alienation Syndrome within Parental Abduction cases…….

We thought we would cover a topic that we see far too often to not mention. CARI carries out on average 3-4 recoveries each month and unfortunately 70% of those recoveries we see signs of PAS.

Nothing stirs up passions more than the controversy generated when parents are at war over the custody of a child.   A controversy is an issue where evidence on both sides can make a compelling case. It is never black and white, but when people have their emotions aroused, an issue can quickly turn into two polar opposites.

In many cases, children behave outrageously, to the point of cursing one of their parents, and kicking, spitting, and calling them stupid, mean and horrible.

What is PAS?

1. The Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes and Parental Child Abduction cases.

2. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification.

3. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) of a parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the targeted parent.

PAS is more than brainwashing or programming, because the child has to actually participate in the denigrating of the alienated parent. This is done in primarily the following eight ways:

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

Continue reading Parental Alienation Syndrome within Parental Abduction cases…….