Family Law Appears Hamstrung Regarding

Parental Alienation



Family Courts Are Failing Child Victims


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Family Law is proof positive that you should never make the mistake of equating justice with the law!  They are not the same.  The legal icon of blind justice is accurate but not for the reasons it was intended. 

Justice does seem to be truly  blind and cannot even seem to find its way into the courtroom.  Instead, she has abandoned the court, leaving it to the domain of ruthless attorneys committed to legal machinations but indifferent to the concept of justice.

Those of us who have felt abandoned by our legal system while fighting for our children know that justice is an elusive idea that is not based in reality.  Too many of us have had to deal with bored family law judges who apparently think that parent alienation not only is  not child abuse but is nothing more than a contrived accusation by one bitter parent who is just seeking revenge against the targeted parent.


To be fair, it must be said that state courts are in disarray  and overwhelmed with toxic divorces marked by a burgeoning number of bizarre allegations, some real and many contrived. They are hamstrung by the workload and the clear lack of direction and leadership from professional organizations such as the American Psychiatric Society and the National Institution of Mental Health.  Consider the following obstacles and challenges.

  • Every day family law courts are overwhelmed with cases ranging from relatively minor offenses such as possession of banned substances to physical and sexual abuse to highly toxic divorce and child custody.
  • Parental Alienation involves the emotional abuse of children.  Since emotional abuse leaves no physical scars it is extremely difficult for an untrained judge to unravel the conundrums created by dueling accusations argued by adversarial lawyers representing their clients but ignoring the welfare of the victimized children.
  • Social workers I know may have heard the term but too many are completely unfamiliar with and dismiss the notion of Parental Alienation. So, they can offer no help to the courts or attorneys.
  • The term "Syndrome" adds a specific psychiatric/medical dynamic of complexity to Parental Alienation concept that is difficult for many family law judges to accept even if they understand it. "Syndrome" implies a medical disorder and, thus far, the medical community considers Parent Alienation a "relationship" disorder caused by underlying medical/psychiatric problems.  Unless the American Psychiatric  Society changes its position a better term may be "Disorder."
  • There is also a political element involved with the concept of the term "Syndrome."  Some men's and women's groups are at odds over the official acceptance of the term for reasons other than the psychiatric welfare of children per se.  So, the use of the term "disorder" may help with acceptance by the courts and mental health professionals.
  • There have been numerous documented instances of Alienation fraud which makes the problem even more difficult for court officers to decipher.
  • The American Psychiatric Society's diagnostic bible, the DSM-V, was most recently published in 2013 and the authors chose not to legitimize the concept of Parental Alienation Syndrome although it does recognize that some of the symptoms and  underlying personality disorders are medical problems.  As stated above, there is controversy whether the condition is a syndrome.  So, a major roadblock is the use of the term "Syndrome."

Since it appears that legal codes and rules differ across the country we are collecting information regarding Family Law systems for each state .  Please tell us about your experience with your family law court. Your input will become part of the site.  It will be valuable information as we try to consolidate information and help promote education and change.

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  • Several years ago the William And Mary Law Review wrote that the interaction between the criminal court room and the mental health profession has produced some memorable nomenclature including "The abuse excuse,"'  "battered woman syndrome," "child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome,"  "false memory syndrome," "television intoxication,"  "urban survival syndrome,"  and "Y chromosome disorder."  The journal article basically argued that these were all examples of "psychobabble" and were accomplishing little more than clogging the legal system.  None met the standards set by Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence.  More recently, some legal experts have referred to these conditions as "junk science" and have included Parental Alienation Syndrome in this group.  Thus, the courts have been  loath to allow its admission in toxic custody cases.
  • The referencing of PAS as "junk science" by legal experts has made the situation more difficult for some diligent family law courts and easier for others who would rather not struggle with the associated complexities.

Family Law experts  know or should know that there is an unwarranted epidemic of parents who are unjustly losing custody of their children.  This would not be normal if our family court system were healthy.  But, the system is broken, especially when toxic divorces include allegations of parental alienation.


Why Courts Struggle

For those of us devastated by Parental Alienation the problem is obvious and it is hard to understand and accept that we cannot rely on the legal system for help.  We have been victimized by malicious campaigns launched by ex-spouses to denigrate us and destroy our relationships with our children.  So, why has family law failed us so miserably?  Unfortunately, there is no simple answer. The problem is complex and in many cases courts are hindered from  helping even if the judge is so inclined. 

Change is possible but will require unrelenting pressure and education not only on the legal system but also on the psychiatric community.  I, of course, am neither an attorney nor a psychologist.  But, my recent experiences and my research has led me to some interesting observations and conclusions.  Consider the following:


Family Law In Your State

We are trying to gather and disseminate information about how Family Law works in each state regarding Parental Alienation. Please click here to add your comments

There are very clearly defined standards for submitting evidence in court cases.  And, family law courts and other legal experts have repeatedly ruled that Parental Alienation Syndrome does not meet the standards of Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence.  Most states have adopted the Federal Rules as their own standards so they conform to what seems like a universal skepticism of "Parental Alienation" as submittable evidence .  It is not necessarily because they outright reject the idea of Parental Alienation but because there are no clearly defined and universally accepted standards for diagnosis.  Thus, until circumstances change lawyers can successfully argue that PAS falls within the realm of "junk science." 


Richard Gardner coined the term Parental Alienation Syndrome in 1985.  Unfortunately, his credibility has been impugned because many believe he condoned pedophilia and he ran a for-profit business based on his theories and self-published his own articles. He committed suicide in 2003. 

More importantly, other constructs have been developed that focus on severe personality disorders in the alienating parent as the primary cause of  Alienation and rejects the concept of "Syndrome."  Dr. Craig Childress has worked extensively with the idea that personality disorders are extremely significant.  Since such disorders have medical diagnoses and are included in the DSM-5 his work is very significant.  Visit Dr. Childress' website here.

PAS has and remains controversial within both the legal and scientific communities. It has not been accepted by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) and critics claim PAS is inadmissible in family law hearings partially due to the DSM rejection and partly for insufficient legal veracity.  One specific reason is that the behavior of children who have witnessed or been victims of physical domestic abuse can be identical to victims of Parental Alienation.  The critics argue that PAS must be more vigorously studied and the research subjected to peer review which is standard procedure in all scientific investigation.

Recently, a child advocate attorney anonymously uploaded a document entitled "Why Targeted Parents  Lose In Court." Among other things he argues that attorneys representing both sides in custody cases sometimes collude against the best interests of the child.  I have copied the entire document.  Draw your own conclusions but you can read it by clicking here.


There have been numerous custody cases where the mother, in an attempt to win sole custody,  fraudulently accused the father of actual or potential physical, sexual, or emotional abuse against the child.  Because the charges ultimately could not be substantiated  judges have sometimes ruled the mother unstable and granted custody to the father. 


Sexual equality also plays into Parental Alienation custody battles.  No longer is it a foregone conclusion that the mother is better suited to be the sole custodial parent.  In some ways it appears that the courts are trying to overcompensate for past inequities and grant custody to fathers regardless of any evidence of Alienation. Thus, fathers may be winning these conflicts at an unexpectedly high rate.

Family Court laws can be quite different from state to state relative to PAS.  Click on State Laws  to read about your state's policies and procedures.


Sometimes, there seems to be a catch 22 - some victims are damned if they do and damned if they don't.  If the mother makes any allegation of Parental Alienation abuse in a family court she might be considered unstable and lose custody to the state.  If she remains silent she is liable to lose her child to her ex-spouse.  The courts sometimes get things spectacularly wrong.
These accusations may seem outrageous but they and similar results have been documented by two juris doctors who have witnessed gross injustices where the courts allowed victims to be re-victimized.  See  Representing the Domestic Violence Survivor By Barry Goldstein, J.D. and Elizabeth Liu, J.D.


Summary

We,  who have been victims of Parental Alienation know that it is real.  But, what we know that it is only considered "anecdotal."  The courts will remain resistant until the psychiatric community accepts it and finds a way to introduce evidence to the courts more effectively. And, that will not happen until there exists a greater body of vigorous scientific research that has been subjected to peer review.  Moreover, perhaps some clarity can be found if people stop arguing about the word "syndrome."

In the meantime,  perhaps a strategy is to demand court ordered individual and family evaluations.  I am convinced that the perpetrators of Parental Alienation suffer from definable personality disorders, especially Narcissistic Personality Disorder.   If therapists' reports begin to disclose the prevalence of disorders in the alienator parent perhaps the courts will not be so quick to make judgements allowed and even encouraged by current orthodoxy. Getting the Narcissistic parent to participate in therapy is another matter.



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Many targeted victims of Parental Alienation feel that Family Court is their enemy and that they were betrayed by the people and institutions that are supposed to protect them.
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Table of Contents

Alienator Personality Types And Parental Alienation
Alienator Personality Types Perpetrate Parental Alienation
Personality Disorders And Parental Alienation
Personality Disorders Play A Significant Role In Parent Alienation
Convergent Emotional Disorders
The convergence Of Emotional Disorders Can Be The Key To Parental Alienation
Family Dynamics' Significance In Alienation
Family Dynamics And Individual Personalities Are Significant Factors In Parental Alienation
Child Advocacy Is Failing Families Battling Against Parental Alienation
Child Advocacy is Is Failing Families Battling Against Parental Alienation
Therapeutic Intervention In Parental Alienation
Early Therapeutic Intervention May Prevent Parent Alienation
Parental Alienation Destroyed My Family
A Carefully Executed Plan Of Parental Alienation Destroyed My Family
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