How does parental alienation affect the child?
And what’s worse, the courts are generally unwilling to do enough, if anything, to expose, prevent, punish, or remedy parental alienation. Why?
Judges in court commissioners generally hate divorce cases. They are usually rancorous and melodramatic the more the court is involved. When it comes to doing the job as a judge or court commissioner, there is very little to like about the divorce case.
The court gets to see litigants at their worst individually and collectively. Tensions and emotions run high. Add innocent children to the mix and it only gets worse, both for the parents and for the kids. Divorce court orders are some of the most impotent orders a court can issue in many instances (it’s hard to legislate morality, even more difficult to enforce it).
So judges and commissioners can get jaded, fast (and somewhat understandably so). So when they encounter something as difficult to prove as parental alienation, they feel stymied, and they tend to do what jaded people often do: deny and disregard it, concluding that allegations of parental alienation are just malicious and opportunistic cheap shots.
On one point, you can’t blame these jaded souls. If the evidence is equivocal (as is frequently the case with allegations of parental alienation), one does not want to brand a parent erroneously as a parental alienator.
[Some are against punishing parental alienation because they assert that it “only hurts the children more”. This is silly. By that logic we must allow alienating parents to run amok with impunity out of fear that stopping them and holding them accountable would “hurt the kids”. But that’s like saying we must not save the patient’s life by cutting off the gangrenous limb. Of course the treatment may be radical, of course it will almost surely cause pain, of course it may leave the patient having to adapt and learn to live a new way, but the point to all of is that the patient lives! And does not suffer or die needlessly. And lives to enjoy a healthy future, as opposed to suffering (even being destroyed by) the adverse effects of the gangrene further. It’s not as though allowing parental alienation to continue is somehow “better” for the child than confronting and making efforts to end the alienation, even if that process itself entails suffering some pain for the purpose of obtaining relief and healing.
Life is filled with examples of “has to get worse before it gets better” scenarios, and the fight against and defeat of parental alienation is another good example.]
Still, far too often the evidence is more than sufficient to establish that there’s a problem, but I believe that courts generally do not want to deal with it because even when parental alienation is discovered, deep down the court doesn’t believe it can really do anything to remedy the situation (and I submit there’s truth to such a belief). The result is that parental alienation goes on unidentified, unverified, and unpunished and unremedied far too often.
Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277