“*Why Cases Involving Parental Alienation are so Difficult:
Here are some reasons parental alienation cases are so difficult, and why judges often have no love for them:
– Combative parents present conflicting stories of “he said / she said,” and make it very difficult to determine who is telling the truth. Often an alienating parent comes to believe what he or she is saying, and their presentation seems authentic.
– When targeted parents present their side of the case, they are often angry and frustrated – and as a result, they don’t present very well in court. Judges often consider attitude as influential as content.
– The children often support the alienating parent by telling the judge, their attorney and mental health professionals how they have been treated badly, and of their dislike, for the target parent. The reasoning skills of alienated children are often compromised, as is their ability to choose freely.
– Alienated children often won’t cooperate with therapeutic intervention, and courts have difficulty enforcing these orders.
Judges like to believe that what they do works and it is the right decision. When their decisions don’t work, they often get exasperated with both parties.
*What You can Do in Courts:
– Despite these difficulties there is plenty that you can do. Here are some suggestions for handling parental alienation in the courts:
– Create an alienation map or chart for the judge, which shows him or her in five minutes what couldn’t be said in five hours. This map should include all missed visits, and a list of all the denigrating phrases made by alienating spouse to the children, including the friends and/or extended family of the hated parent (if they are admissible in evidence). If you know how to make a graph, you can show the increase in missed visits in a very compelling and impactful way.
– Most judges aren’t warm to the phrase “Parental Alienation Syndrome”. Instead, ask the judge to please keep an eye open for visitation interference as the case progresses, and describe for him or her the maligning behavior.
– Get a court order for parenting therapy as soon as possible.
– If orders are violated, go to court on a “Rule to Show Cause” for violation of the order as soon as possible. If you can’t afford an attorney, then do this yourself. Write a “Petition for Rule to Show Cause” for a visitation violation, for family therapy, or for makeup visitation. Your local courthouse should be able to supply you with a sample form or even a packet showing you how to fill out this Petition.”
By Judge Michele F. Lowrance (ret)
I was a judge on the divorce bench for 20 years, and I watched the wreckage of the corrosive legacy of parental alienation and visitation interference play out over decades. We have no statistics for measuring this group because the number of victims is too vast. But the concentric circles include the children, the grandchildren, and the extended family as well. The declaration of war by one parent on another creates radioactive fallout that contaminates the family for generations.
The alienating parent treats the target parent like a disease in the child that must be removed. They make the child’s survival contingent upon such removal. So the child must extricate the parent without the privilege of grieving the loss. These are crippling circumstances.
I have witnessed impassioned declarations of love for a child by an alienating parent to masquerade the venom he/she feels for the…
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