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Tag: parental alienation

Have You Heard That Fathers Defeat Mothers’ Claims of DV and Child Abuse by Claiming Parental Alienation?

We all know the aphorism, “If it looks/sounds to good to be true, it probably is [not true].” This also means, however, that if it looks/sounds too 𝙗𝙖𝙙 to be true, it probably is [not true] too.

Can we all agree that the following claim looks, on its face, too bad to be true?:

A George Washington University Law School article shows that mothers are statistically up to 90% more likely to lose custody of their children when they go on record about abuse. Abusive fathers, who claim parental alienation are almost always granted custody.

So, is the claim true?

I found the article: Child Custody Outcomes in Cases Involving Parental Alienation and Abuse Allegations, by Joan S. Meier George Washington University Law School.

Here is what that article actually claims (this is not the entire article, of course, and I have my doubts about the methodology and the resulting accuracy of the claims themselves, but I digress):

Spoiler alert: the article does not make any “women lose custody 90% of the time when they report abuse” claim.

Quotations directly from the article itself:

“Focusing on cases where it was determined that mothers started with possession of the children, and alleged some type of abuse by the father, the data show mothers losing custody in 26% (284/1111) of cases.”

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It is also notable that when mothers report mixed types of child abuse (sexual and physical) their custody losses skyrocket (from under 30% (39/135) up to 50%)(11/22).

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• When Fathers cross-claim alienation, courts are more than twice as likely to disbelieve Mothers’ claims of (any) abuse than if fathers made no alienation claim; and

• When Fathers cross-claim alienation, courts are almost 4 (3.9) times more likely to disbelieve Mothers’ claims of child abuse than if fathers made no alienation claim.

*****

As the chart indicates, when fathers claim alienation, the rate at which mothers lose custody shoots up from over 25% to over 50%. That is, fathers’ alienation claims roughly double mothers’ rates of losing custody. When courts credit the alienation claim, rates of maternal losses of custody increase more drastically:

Mothers’ Custody Losses When Courts Credit Fathers’ Alienation Claims

Type of Abuse Alleged Mother Lost Custody:

DV (domestic violence): 60% (15/25)
CPA (child physical abuse): 59% (10/17)
CSA (child sexual abuse): 68% (13/19)
DVCh (domestic violence and child physical abuse): 79% (19/24)
CACSA (child physical abuse and child sexual abuse): 100% (6/6)
Any abuse: 73% (60/82)

*****

“AKA” cases: those in which a court viewed a mother as alienating in her behavior but did not use the term “alienation.”

Mothers’ Custody Losses when Found to have Committed AKA

 

Custody Losses by Type of Abuse Alleged

Custody Losses When Abuse was Proven

   
DV  62% (24/39) DV  60% (3/5)
CPA  61% (17/28) CPA  50% (1/2)
CSA  58% (25/43) CSA  –
DVCh  55% (16/29) DVCh  –
CACSA  78% (7/9) CACSA  100% (1/1)
Any  60% (89/148) Any  63% (5/8)

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The article is definitely food for thought, but clearly does not find that mothers who allege abuse are 90% more likely to lose/not win custody.

Additionally, one of my critiques of the article is this: it does not reveal whether the abuse-alleging mothers who lost/did not win custody was due purely to their alleging abuse or purely because they were found to have engaged in parental alienation or something like it. For example, if these mothers were themselves child abusers or were found to be unfit parents for other reasons (i.e., child neglect, substance abuse, lacking sufficient housing, ability to provide financially, practicing poor hygiene, insufficient bonding, etc.), how many of them would have lost/not won custody anyway? The article does not address this.

But even if the only reason these mothers lost/did not win custody was due to the court finding them to have engaged in parental alienation, would that not be reason enough? Now, I’m not asserting that all cases of actual parental alienation should cause a mother (or father committing alienation) to lose/not win custody (level of severity must be considered), but parental alienation would be, in my professional opinion, sufficient grounds for awarding custody of children to the other parent, assuming the other parent were found, on balance to be 1) sufficiently fit as a parent; and 2) the more fit of the two parents.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

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CPS Has Encouraged Parental Alienation Before My Parental Rights Have Been Taken, My Public Defender Has Not Been Representing Me the Way He Was Supposed to Be, but I Didn’t Know Until Now. What Can I Do?

There are plenty of things you can do (plenty of activity in which you can engage), but whether any of it will do any good is the question. The answer is usually: not likely. When child protective services (CPS) is working against you, then usually law enforcement and the courts follow suit, whether you’re “guilty” or not. If you have a public defender, then you’re poor, and while there is no shame simply in being poor, it limits your options in a fight like this.

All that stated, you need to fight with all you have for what’s right, or the regret and wondering “what might have been?” will surely torment you the rest of your life. You already know the outcome if you give up.

Now, pick your battles. Don’t run faster than you have strength, and don’t engage in “ends justify the means” tactics, but fight the good fight, so that if, some day, you confront your child who asks, “Did you try your best for me, Mom/Dad?,” you can answer in the affirmative.

Sometimes doing your best means kicking the bad habits, addictions, and mental health afflictions. The work on ourselves if often the hardest—not impossible (thankfully), but the hardest

I wish I had more for you, but this is the best I can offer.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/In-California-CPS-has-encouraged-parental-alienation-before-my-parental-rights-have-been-taken-my-public-defender-has-not-been-representing-me-the-way-he-was-supposed-to-be-but-I-didnt-know-until-now-What-can-I-do

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Allegations of Child Abuse vs. Allegations of Parental Alienation

Here’s a very, very short news report on the subject of when allegations of child abuse are countered with allegations of parental alienation:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44hJ8zWRrik

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I welcome sincere and rational comments on this very important subject.

There are no easy answers to this question, but there is one idea that will help: interview the child (when the child is a competent witness). Even if the interview raises more questions than provides answers, inquiring with the child does more than simply make sense; to me, it’s judicial malfeasance not to inquire with the child, as the child has a greater stake in the child custody and parent-time awards than anyone else. I have yet to have the child interview (in the shamefully rare cases when a child is either interviewed by the judge or in a deposition) do the child more harm than good, and when the child is articulate and credible, the child’s testimony is usually the most (by an order of magnitude) compelling and persuasive evidence.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

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How Long Will It Take for the Court to Adjust Custody in a Parental Alienation Situation?

You need to ask some other questions first before you get to the answer to the question of how long it will take.

First, can you prove parental alienation to the satisfaction of the judge? If you can’t, then the court won’t even consider modifying the child custody and/or parent-time awards.

Second, if you can prove parental alienation to the satisfaction of the judge, then can you convince the judge that the level of parental alienation is sufficient to warrant a modification of the child custody and/or parent-time awards? If you can’t, then the court won’t modify the child custody and/or parent-time awards.

Third, even if you can prove parental alienation to the satisfaction of the judge and then convince the judge that the level of parental alienation is sufficient to warrant a modification of the child custody and/or parent-time awards, how hard will that be and how long will it take to accomplish that?

For example, if an alienating parent has engaged in excessive and egregious alienating behaviors and has made no secret of his/her alienating behaviors, then the time it will take prove it will likely be less than what it would take to expose the alienating parent if the alienating parent has done a careful and thorough job of concealing or disguising his/her alienating behaviors.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/How-long-will-it-take-for-the-court-to-adjust-custody-in-a-parental-alienation-situation

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How Do I Handle a Narcissist Ex-husband in the Visitation of Children if I Have the Primary Custody? He Is Very Manipulative to Our Kids.

I generally wouldn’t recommend trying to get the assistance of the court to remedy this problem. The legal system is not designed to address this problem well, if at all. And even when it can do something worthwhile, the legal system does not generally address this problem well, if at all.

Let’s assume that if you were just given the opportunity to prove that your ex-spouse (and I’m going to approach this question as applying to a manipulative father OR mother) is manipulating your children, you could prove it in spades. With that in mind:

  1. If you ask the judge to interview the kids, odds are that the court will refuse to do so, coming up with all kinds of lame excuses as to why the judge “can’t” or “shouldn’t”. Most of these excuses stem from a belief that a judge interviewing the child will “traumatize” the children, yet these same judges seem to see nothing traumatizing about a guardian ad litem, custody evaluator, social worker, counselor, or therapist interviewing the children.
  2. But even if the judge were to agree to interview the children, by the time the court gets around to conducting the interviews, weeks—even months—may have passed from the day you made the request of the judge to interview the children. In that time in between, the manipulative parent could coach, bribe, and/or coerce the children into saying to the judge anything but the truth. And if the manipulative parent is the one requesting that the judge interview the children, the coaching, bribing, and/or coercion of the children could have been going on for weeks, months, even years before. These are often two of the excuses judges will cite as their basis for refusing to interview children. There is some merit to these excuses, but the solution is not refusing to interview the children, the solution lies in mitigating child manipulation.
  3. But even if you could somehow overcome the first two previously described obstacles and the judge eventually interviews the children, you may find the judge’s reception and analysis of the children’s testimony to be rather obtuse. Not always, but more often than you’d expect. Responses like, “The children tell me that Mom/Dad is regularly disparaging and telling the children lies about the other parent when the children are with Mom/Dad, but now that I’m aware of it, I trust that Mom/Dad will stop doing it, so I’m not going to make any changes” or “The children tell me that Mom/Dad is regularly disparaging and telling the children lies about the other parent when the children are with Mom/Dad, so I’m going to order Mom/Dad to stop doing it and take a parenting class. That ought to fix it.” I’m not sure judges who do this kind of thing believe it themselves but just do it to create the impression the matter has been addressed and “dealt with”.

If you are a parent with an ex-spouse who manipulates the children in an effort to alienate them from you, I have yet to find a quick, simple, easy, reliable way to combat and overcome parental alienation. If I did find it, I’d be a multimillionaire. There are many people out there who will tell you how to deal with and defeat alienation. A lot of this advice is appealing psychobabble. A lot of this advice is pandering to your fears, heartbreak, and anger. There must be some good advice out there as well. There are some common sense actions to be taken. There is value in meeting with a truly competent child psychologist to better understand the dynamics of parental alienation. But other than that, I’d be lying if I told you I could tell the difference between the wheat and the chaff.

What I can tell is that trying to beat parental alienation through the courts is, for the most part, a major waste of time, money, emotional energy, and effort. Sometimes the alienator’s behavior is so over the top that it can easily be identified and there are some remedies that the court can and should/must take in response. Otherwise, the best things you can do to mitigate and overcome parental alienation are those things within your legal, lawful, moral, and ethical control.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

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What Happens in a Custody Case Where Both Parents Try to Alienate the Child From the Other Parent and the Rest of Their Family?

My guess is that this question applies in two distinct contexts: 1) what does the court do in a child custody case where both parents try to alienate the child from the other parent and the rest of their family?; and 2) what happens to a child in a custody case where both parents try to alienate the child from the other parent and the rest of their family?

1) What does the court do in a child custody case where both parents try to alienate the child from the other parent and the rest of their family?;

It’s hard when a court has two lousy parents fighting over custody. Neither is bad enough to have his/her parental rights terminated and custody of the child awarded to the other parent, so the court finds itself having to make all kinds of compromises that the court knows are not likely to work.

Rarely can a court do much to help the child effectively. That’s not the court’s fault. Even the most conscientious court cannot compel bad actors to do good (or at least to do good consistently). . .

. . . but that doesn’t mean some courts think themselves an exception. Some judges believe the black robe and gavel magically imbues them with supernatural wisdom and power to make the horse drink. Such orders issued by such judges are rarely obeyed and rarely benefit the child. Indeed, they tend to generate a lot of litigation between the parents over “enforcement” of largely unenforceable orders, and the child often suffers collateral damage.

Other judges don’t want to live with the guilt of wondering, “Did I fail to do everything I could to protect the child from its lousy parents?,” and so they assuage their fears by issuing orders that appear to make the judges look good without those orders doing the child (or his lousy parents) much, if any good, i.e., ordering the parents to read books and watch videos, take “parenting” courses, and/or ordering the parents and children to engage in therapy and counseling.* In fairness, some judges issue such orders not because they believe they will work, not because they want to look compassionate and wise, but because they conclude that it can’t hurt and that such orders may cause the occasional parent to see the light. Fair enough.

2) What happens to a child in a custody case where both parents try to alienate the child from the other parent and the rest of their family?

First, remember that it’s not “parental alienation” if one parent acts shield a child from the harm that a dysfunctional and/or abusive parent would, in the absence of the protection, inflict on a child. Unfit, unrepentant parents forfeit (either legally or practicably) their hopes of and rights to a “relationship” with the children they neglect and/or abuse. Don’t misunderstand me: the ends do not necessarily justify any means, and one cannot be a law unto oneself, but fulfilling parental responsibility is not parental alienation.

So the question really is: what happens in a custody case where both parents who know better try to alienate the child from the other parent and the rest of their family? And the answer to that question is: the child is emotionally and psychologically abused grossly. All but the most exceptional children suffer the consequences of this heinous emotional and psychological abuse throughout the rest of their lives. Many (frankly most) who reach adulthood and have children of their own will end up being dysfunctional, neglectful, abusive spouses (if they ever marry) and parents themselves. Even the children who seemingly “overcome” or adjust for this abuse and who manage to live a normal life will, by and large, still suffer from and bear the burdens of the damage and pain.

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*Counseling and therapy can do some people some, even a lot, of good, but forcing counseling and therapy on parents is not nearly as effective as the courts seem to believe.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

(10) Eric Johnson’s answer to What happens in a custody case where both parents try to alienate the child from the other parent and the rest of their family? – Quora

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How Do You Prove Parental Alienation in a Child Custody Case?

Usually rarely and with great effort and difficulty.

Why? I have written other responses to this question and questions like it, so my answer here will be more concise than past answers, but I will still try to ensure that I touch upon all the important points as to why:

1. Parental alienation is hard to identify and define. Sure, there are some actions and inactions of a parent that are clearly and unmistakably intended to manipulate the child to fear or hate the other parent, to poison a child’s relationship with the other parent. But we don’t see that that often (either because, thankfully, most parents aren’t that malevolent or because the alienating parent is so good at evading detection and exposure).

  1. There are other forms of parental alienation that are milder or susceptible to more than one interpretation. There are actions that could or could not be instances of parental alienation. I cite just a few illustrative examples below:
  2. Is telling the child the truth about a parent’s flaws and failings parental alienation?
    1. Is it an instance of parental alienation to tell the child—truthfully (not falsely at all)—that the reason Dad didn’t pick the child up to celebrate the child’s birthday is because Dad’s a substance abuser and was passed out on the floor?
    2.  Is it an instance of parental alienation to tell the child repeatedly—(but without malice) and truthfully (not falsely at all)—that the reason Dad doesn’t spend scheduled time with the is because Dad’s a substance abuser and is always passed out on the floor?
    3. Is it better to tell the child the hard truths about a parent’s flaws so that the child can accept them or adjust to them sooner than later, or is it better to tell the child lies about the other parent’s flaws with the intent of protecting the child’s self-esteem? Or is there some middle course that must be taken in such a situation?
  3. Is “one person’s parental alienation another person’s mere freedom of thought and expression”? Is it parental alienation for a parent to criticize and mock the other parent’s political and religious beliefs (not criticizing or mocking the parent, but criticizing and/or mocking the beliefs)?
  4. Is it parental alienation to encourage a child to form a loving relationship with a stepparent?
  5. Is it parental alienation to refuse to send a child to spend time alone with an abusive parent when you know (not mere suspicion, you know) the parent is abusive but have no verifiable proof? Imagine the agony of having to choose between being punished (potentially cut off from your child and thus exposing the child to even more abuse) for disobeying court orders and causing your child to be abused by obeying court orders.
  6. You get the idea.

2. Parental alienation is hard to prove. See above. Parental alienation is not something courts like to address. See above. In some respects, parental alienation is hard to prove because parental alienation is not something courts like to address, and parental alienation is not something courts like to address because parental alienation is hard to prove. You see?

  1. And if and when some courts are lazy and apathetic, you can see how such courts would rather dismiss claims of parental alienation than wrestle with them.

3. False claims of parental alienation are so often made that it’s hard to determine whether the claims are sincere and easy to presume they are not. See above.

4. Parental alienation is hard to prevent or manage.

  1. So, let’s say you’ve proven to the court’s satisfaction that the other parent is engaging in parental alienation. Now what?
  2. Do we cut off the other parent from the child to protect the child from further parental alienation? Or would that do the child more harm than good?
  3. Do we try to grant the other parent access to the child under controlled/supervised conditions to ensure the child has as good and has healthful a relationship with the other parent as possible while simultaneously protecting the child from further parental alienation? Or would that do the child more harm than good? Or would that be so expensive as to be unsustainable?
  4. What if the other parent comes to the court and claims, “I see the error of my ways and I’ve changed?” Do we tell the other parent, “Too little too late” or “We can’t take the risk you’re not cured”? Do we reintroduce the other parent to the child? Relax or terminate the restrictions on the other parent’s contact with the child?
  5. Is trying to prevent or manage parental alienation a situation where court intervention makes a bad situation worse? Where the prescribed cure is worse than the disease?
  6. It’s tempting for a court to “conclude” that parental alienation has not been proven so that the court need not deal with it in crafting the court’s orders of legal custody and of physical custody and visitation/parent-time. See paragraph 2 above.

 

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

(10) Eric Johnson’s answer to How do you prove parental alienation in a child custody case? – Quora

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How Does One Prove False Allegations of Parental Alienation?

With great difficulty, in most (not all) cases.

“It used to be a fashion amongst men that when a charge was made some sort of proof was brought forward to establish it, and if no proof was found to exist, the charge was dropped.” – Abraham Lincoln

Few courts are slaves to such fashion when it comes to allegations of child abuse (and parental alienation is a form of child abuse; even if the term “parental alienation” is not codified, manipulating a child to fear and hate a parent is emotionally and psychologically abusive in anyone’s book).

Many courts treat evidence differently when dealing with matters of child custody. It’s as though they feel, when it comes to matters involving children, that the preponderance of evidence standard is not good enough, not “safe” enough. If an allegation of child neglect or abuse is made, many courts get scared. Not necessarily scared for the health and safety of the child, however, but for the safety of their own careers. This article on domestic violence restraining and protective orders (click here to access it) explains the problem and its adverse consequences. In a nutshell, many judges and other judicial officers analyze claims of child abuse this way: “If I make findings and enter orders that treat the accused parent as abusive, then nobody can fault me for ‘failing to protect the child,’ (‘better safe than sorry’), but if I don’t (because I find that the accusing parent failed to meet his/her burden of proof) and then later the accused parent is caught committing child abuse or new evidence comes to light proving he/she was abusive in the past, then I look like I wasn’t paying close enough attention, that I am incompetent or worse, that I did not care about child safety and welfare. Better to nip that problem (for me) in the bud and just err on the side of caution.”

Can you see the damage done when judges think and act this way? “Protecting” a child from a parent who has done no harm results in three victims: 1) the innocent parent 2) the innocent child whose relationship with that parent is now seriously damaged, if not destroyed, and 3) the child’s, the parent’s, and the public trust in the judiciary and faith in the impartial administration of justice. What kind of respect for law and order are parents and children who were victimized by a self-serving, cowardly judge going to have? James Madison put it perfectly:

We are to look upon it as more beneficial, that many guilty persons should escape unpunished, than one innocent person should suffer. The reason is, because it’s of more importance to community, that innocence should be protected, than it is, that guilt should be punished; for guilt and crimes are so frequent in the world, that all of them cannot be punished; and many times they happen in such a manner, that it is not of much consequence to the public, whether they are punished or not. But when innocence itself, is brought to the bar and condemned, especially to die, the subject will exclaim, it is immaterial to me, whether I behave well or ill; for virtue itself, is no security. And if such a sentiment as this, should take place in the mind of the subject, there would be an end to all security what so ever.

 

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

(8) Eric Johnson’s answer to How does one prove false allegations of parental alienation? – Quora

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How Do You Prove Parental Alienation in a Child Custody Case?

Usually rarely and with great effort and difficulty.

Why? I have written other responses to this question and questions like it, so my answer here will be more concise than past answers, but I will still try to ensure that I touch upon all the important points as to why:

  1. Parental alienation is hard to identify and define. Sure, there are some actions and inactions of a parent that are clearly and unmistakably intended to manipulate the child to fear or hate the other parent, to poison a child’s relationship with the other parent. But we don’t see that that often (either because, thankfully, most parents aren’t that malevolent or because the alienating parent is so good at evading detection and exposure).
    • There are other forms of parental alienation that are milder or susceptible to more than one interpretation. There are actions that could or could not be instances of parental alienation. I cite just a few illustrative examples below:
    • Is telling the child the truth about a parent’s flaws and failings parental alienation?
      • Is it an instance of parental alienation to tell the child—truthfully (not falsely at all)—that the reason Dad didn’t pick the child up to celebrate the child’s birthday is because Dad’s a substance abuser and was passed out on the floor?
      • Is it an instance of parental alienation to tell the child repeatedly—(but without malice) and truthfully (not falsely at all)—that the reason Dad doesn’t spend scheduled time with the is because Dad’s a substance abuser and is always passed out on the floor?
      • Is it better to tell the child the hard truths about a parent’s flaws so that the child can accept them or adjust to them sooner than later, or is it better to tell the child lies about the other parent’s flaws with the intent of protecting the child’s self-esteem? Or is there some middle course that must be taken in such a situation?
    • Is “one person’s parental alienation another person’s mere freedom of thought and expression”? Is it parental alienation for a parent to criticize and mock the other parent’s political and religious beliefs (not criticizing or mocking the parent, but criticizing and/or mocking the beliefs)?
    • Is it parental alienation to encourage a child to form a loving relationship with a stepparent?
    • Is it parental alienation to refuse to send a child to spend time alone with an abusive parent when you know (not mere suspicion, you know) the parent is abusive but have no verifiable proof? Imagine the agony of having to choose between being punished (potentially cut off from your child and thus exposing the child to even more abuse) for disobeying court orders and causing your child to be abused by obeying court orders.
    • You get the idea.
  1. Parental alienation is hard to prove. See above. Parental alienation is not something courts like to address. See above. In some respects, parental alienation is hard to prove because parental alienation is not something courts like to address, and parental alienation is not something courts like to address because parental alienation is hard to prove. You see?
    • And if and when some courts are lazy and apathetic, you can see how such courts would rather dismiss claims of parental alienation than wrestle with them.
  2. False claims of parental alienation are so often made that it’s hard to determine whether the claims are sincere and easy to presume they are not. See above.
  3. Parental alienation is hard to prevent or manage.
    • So, let’s say you’ve proven to the court’s satisfaction that the other parent is engaging in parental alienation. Now what?
    • Do we cut off the other parent from the child to protect the child from further parental alienation? Or would that do the child more harm than good?
    • Do we try to grant the other parent access to the child under controlled/supervised conditions to ensure the child has as good and has healthful a relationship with the other parent as possible while simultaneously protecting the child from further parental alienation? Or would that do the child more harm than good? Or would that be so expensive as to be unsustainable?
    • What if the other parent comes to the court and claims, “I see the error of my ways and I’ve changed?” Do we tell the other parent, “Too little too late” or “We can’t take the risk you’re not cured”? Do we reintroduce the other parent to the child? Relax or terminate the restrictions on the other parent’s contact with the child?
    • Is trying to prevent or manage parental alienation a situation where court intervention makes a bad situation worse? Where the prescribed cure is worse than the disease?
    • It’s tempting for a court to “conclude” that parental alienation has not been proven so that the court need not deal with it in crafting the court’s orders of legal custody and of physical custody and visitation/parent-time. See paragraph 2 above.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

(8) Eric Johnson’s answer to How do you prove parental alienation in a child custody case? – Quora

Tags: ,

How Does One Prove False Allegations of Parental Alienation?

With great difficulty, in most (not all) cases.

“It used to be a fashion amongst men that when a charge was made some sort of proof was brought forward to establish it, and if no proof was found to exist, the charge was dropped.” – Abraham Lincoln

Few courts are slaves to such fashion when it comes to allegations of child abuse (and parental alienation is a form of child abuse; even if the term “parental alienation” is not codified, manipulating a child to fear and hate a parent is emotionally and psychologically abusive in anyone’s book).

Many courts treat evidence differently when dealing with matters of child custody. It’s as though they feel, when it comes to matters involving children, that the preponderance of evidence standard is not good enough, not “safe” enough. If an allegation of child neglect or abuse is made, many courts get scared. Not necessarily scared for the health and safety of the child, however, but for the safety of their own careers. This article on domestic violence restraining and protective orders (click here to access it) explains the problem and its adverse consequences. In a nutshell, many judges and other judicial officers analyze claims of child abuse this way: “If I make findings and enter orders that treat the accused parent as abusive, then nobody can fault me for ‘failing to protect the child,’ (‘better safe than sorry’), but if I don’t (because I find that the accusing parent failed to meet his/her burden of proof) and then later the accused parent is caught committing child abuse or new evidence comes to light proving he/she was abusive in the past, then I look like I wasn’t paying close enough attention, that I am incompetent or worse, that I did not care about child safety and welfare. Better to nip that problem (for me) in the bud and just err on the side of caution.”

Can you see the damage done when judges think and act this way? “Protecting” a child from a parent who has done no harm results in three victims: 1) the innocent parent 2) the innocent child whose relationship with that parent is now seriously damaged, if not destroyed, and 3) the child’s, the parent’s, and the public trust in the judiciary and faith in the impartial administration of justice. What kind of respect for law and order are parents and children who were victimized by a self-serving, cowardly judge going to have? James Madison put it perfectly:

We are to look upon it as more beneficial, that many guilty persons should escape unpunished, than one innocent person should suffer. The reason is, because it’s of more importance to community, that innocence should be protected, than it is, that guilt should be punished; for guilt and crimes are so frequent in the world, that all of them cannot be punished; and many times they happen in such a manner, that it is not of much consequence to the public, whether they are punished or not. But when innocence itself, is brought to the bar and condemned, especially to die, the subject will exclaim, it is immaterial to me, whether I behave well or ill; for virtue itself, is no security. And if such a sentiment as this, should take place in the mind of the subject, there would be an end to all security what so ever.

(emphasis mine)

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

(4) Eric Johnson’s answer to How does one prove false allegations of parental alienation? – Quora

 

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Our agreement says no child support, can my ex ask for it anyway?

Can my ex ask for child support? I have a 50/50 custody and no child support divorce agreement, but his mother alienated him against me and now he refuses to visit me. The kid is 16 years old. 

I cannot speak for all jurisdictions, obviously, because 1) I do not know the law in every jurisdiction and 2) I am not licensed to practice law in every jurisdiction, but I can tell you what I know and what I’ve experienced in the jurisdiction where I practice divorce and family law (Utah). 

SHORT ANSWER: Possibly. Likely. 

LONG, MORE EXPLANATORY ANSWER: The scenario is as follows: 

  • the court has made a certain child custody and parent-time award 
  • but the child refuses too comply with the court-ordered child custody and parent time schedule, and spends all of his/her time living with one parent and refuses to spend any time in the care and custody of the other parent 

The questions are : 1) can the fact that the child has, in essence, create a de facto sole custody arrangement, and if so, 2) can that de facto sole custody arrangement result in the de facto noncustodial parent being forced to pay child support to the de facto custodial parent, even though that parent’s de facto noncustodial status is in no way that parent’s fault? 

The answer is: 1) yes, it can (it’s not inevitable, but it can happen), and 2) yes, it can (it’s not inevitable, but it can happen).  

Why? Before I address that question, let’s discuss a bit of child support policy. 

  • Some would argue that the purpose of the child support payment obligation is to ensure that each parent has sufficient funds to provide for the child’s financial needs and maintain a lifestyle commensurate with the parents combined earnings.  
    • So if one parent has a lower income than the other parent, the court will order the more affluent parent to pay the other parent some money to help the less affluent parent maintain the lifestyle that the child ostensibly enjoys when in the care and custody of the more affluent parent. It’s not the only way to craft child support policy, but it’s a reasonable way.  
    • Courts that subscribe to this way of thinking then argue that if a child refuses to comply with, say, a joint physical custody award (resulting in only one parent being burdened with fully or primarily having to shelter, feed, clothe, educate, and entertain the child), it would thus be unfair to burden the de facto primary or sole custodial parent with all the financial burdens associated with the child’s needs.  
    • The other parent, so the thinking goes, needs to pay his/her “fair share” of the child’s financial support needs. When children spend time in the care and custody of both parents, then the financial support burdens are divided between both parents. That make sense. That’s patently fair.  
    • When the child spends all of his/her time in the care and custody of just one parent, then it would be unfair for that parent to be solely responsible for the child’s financial support. If courts followed such a policy, then it is feared that as a means of avoiding the financial obligations of child support, parents would fight to ensure that only one parent has sole or primary custody of the child. 

So even when a court-ordered joint custodial parent has, through no fault of his/her own, been rendered a de facto noncustodial parent by the child refusing to comply with the court’s custody order, many courts (many, not all) might react to this situation by 1) modifying the child custody order to reflect the de facto situation; and 2) consequently modifying the child support award.  

Some courts may take a different approach in such a situation, although such an approach is, in my experience less common. That approach would be based on the idea that children don’t have the power to dictate child custody and parent time schedules to the court; therefore, if a child refuses to comply with the court’s child custody and parent time orders, the court is not going to punish the innocent de facto noncustodial parent. But you can see why such an approach leaves a bad taste in the mouths of many people, not leastwise the de facto custodial parent. 

If the parent in the de facto custodial parent position can prove that he/she did not compel or induce the child to refuse to comply with the court’s custody and parent time orders, that parent could certainly argue that he/she is innocent too, and should not be punished for the circumstances created by a noncompliant child.  

Which raises the next question (and brings the discussion full circle): why not have the court compel the child to comply with its child custody and parent time orders? I have addressed that question on Quora.com many times, but most recently in response to these two questions here:  

https://www.quora.com/Teenager-Child-16-refuses-to-see-me-after-spending-a-month-with-my-ex-I-have-50-custody-What-can-I-do-about-it-Im-a-stricter-parent-unlinke-my-ex-who-lets-him-play-computer-games-all-day-and-night 

and here:  

https://www.quora.com/What-will-happen-if-the-court-ruled-in-favor-of-a-mother-to-have-the-custody-of-her-child-but-the-child-refuses-to-go-with-her-and-she-prefers-to-stay-with-the-father 

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277  

https://www.quora.com/Can-my-ex-ask-for-child-support-I-have-a-50-50-custody-and-no-child-support-divorce-agreement-but-his-mother-alienated-him-against-me-and-now-he-refuses-to-visit-me-The-kid-is-16-years-old/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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How do I pursue child visitation when I don’t know where the child is?

I’m preparing to begin pursuing child visitation. However, the child’s mother has moved and never told me where, and has cut off contact with me. How can I find out where she is now, or would getting a lawyer to find her address be better? 

Make sure that you conduct the search in a way that is legal and that does not constitute harassment or stalking. 

If a Google (and other search engines) search hasn’t uncovered the mother’s address, 

then I would move on to one or two of the online services that charge a fee to locate such information. Here’s a list of some: 

If that doesn’t work, hire a good private investigator. Note: private investigator quality varies widely. Make sure you don’t waste your money on a lousy P.I. 

You asked if hiring a lawyer is a good way to find your child’s mother’s address and other contact information. No. Lawyers generally have no such skills. When lawyers want to find this kind of information they . . . hire private investigators. But it would be wise to consult an attorney when you start this process of seeking a court order for visitation to ensure that you don’t violate any laws in searching for the mother and in seeking a court order of visitation. 

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277  

https://www.quora.com/20M-I-m-preparing-to-begin-pursuing-child-visitation-However-the-child-s-mother-has-moved-and-never-told-me-where-and-has-cut-off-contact-with-me-How-can-I-find-out-where-she-is-now-or-would-getting-a-lawyer-to-find/answer/Eric-Johnson-311  

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Parental alienation

I just read the following comment made by a viewer of my UFLTV parental alienation interview with Kelly Peterson. This viewer wrote, “So basically, parental alienation is proved by documenting the instances of alienation over a long period of time, so that by the time it’s proved, the alienation has achieved it’s end and irrevocably damaged the poor child. Seems about right for the joke that is family court. No wonder defense attorneys mock the hell out of it.” His frustration is understandable. Most people are hesitant to take immediate, decisive action, and courts are no exception (far from it). There is, of course, value in resisting the temptation to act hastily and rashly, but too often courts will try to justify plain old inaction with “restraint” and “deliberation”, especially in parental alienation settings. 

Parental Alienation with Kelly Peterson, Child Welfare Lawyer, Private Guardian ad Litem 

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

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Why is disciplining a child a sign of parental alienation in the long-term?

This is an example of a logical fallacy; specifically, begging the question. It assumes the conclusion in the premise 

It is not a given that disciplining a child is a sign of parental alienation in the long-term. 

Disciplining a child (whether physically or otherwise) does not inexorably cause parental alienation. My parents disciplined me, both with spankings and by grounding me or taking away privileges. This made me unhappy, but did not alienate me from either of my parents. 

It is possible for a parent to engage in excessive and/or inappropriate child discipline that will have the effect of alienating the child from that parent or (eve more tragically) from the innocent parent, but it is not a given that mere discipline of a child causes parental alienation. 

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277  

https://www.quora.com/Why-is-disciplining-a-child-a-sign-of-parental-alienation-in-the-long-term/answer/Eric-Johnson-311 

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Can an unemployed alienated parent be forced to help pay for a car for the child?

First, unless there is a statute or court order that requires a parent to purchase a car for a child, or that requires both parents to share the costs of purchasing a car for a child, it’s unlikely that a court could order a parent to purchase a car for a child or even to pay a portion of the costs of a car for a child.

In some jurisdictions, mine included, it might be possible, in the absence of an already existing statute or court order requiring a parent or parents to purchase a car for a child, to obtain a court order requiring that one parent or both parents purchase a car for a child, if it could be shown that the child needs a car to survive or perhaps to pursuant education and is unable to obtain that car without the parent(s) purchasing it.

You’ll notice to this point that I haven’t even mentioned the issue of parental alienation. This was intentional. And that is because 1) courts are reluctant to consider, much less acknowledge, the existence of parental alienation; and 2) even if a parent might be engaging in parental alienation, it’s hard to see how that issue could affect whether the child needs or does not need a car.

It may (may) be a valid argument that if a parent is alienating a child from the other parent, then it is fair to punish the alienating parent (or even the alienated child) by having the alienating parent bear all the costs of certain expenses for the alienated child (which punishment we also hope will motivate the alienating parent to stop alienating the child from the other parent and, under the right circumstances, motivate the child to stop giving the other parent the cold shoulder, i.e., if you want Mommy or Daddy to buy you things, then quit treating Mommy and Daddy like crap).

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/Can-an-unemployed-alienated-parent-be-forced-to-help-pay-for-a-car-for-the-child/answer/Eric-Johnson-311?prompt_topic_bio=1

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What is the best case law to cite about parental alienation?

What is the best case law to cite during a high conflict custody battle where parental alienation has been occurring?

If you know of any, please let me know. My e-mail address is eric@divorceutah.com.

Courts are, in my experience, very reluctant to acknowledge that parental alienation exists and does heinous damage to children and to parents, no matter how much or how compelling the evidence is that one provides.

I get that establishing parental alienation is hard as a matter of objective, verifiable proof, but courts make all kinds of crucial decisions on less than perfect information. I’m not suggesting that courts should arbitrarily and capriciously decide serious matters, but refusing to recognize parental alienation (not “parental alienation syndrome (PAS), just the acts and effects of one parent that estrange a child from his/her parent as the result of the other parent emotionally and/or psychologically manipulating the child, causing the child to fear or hold the other parent and that parent’s side of the family in contempt) cannot happen and does not frequently (not always, but far from rarely) occur is not just tragic, but needlessly tragic, when a preponderance of evidence is apparent.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-best-case-laws-to-cite-during-a-high-conflict-custody-battle-where-parental-alienation-has-been-occurring/answer/Eric-Johnson-311?prompt_topic_bio=1

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What are the dirty tricks your spouse can do to attack you during a divorce?

What are the dirty tricks your spouse and his/her lawyer can do to attack you during a divorce?

Understand that while the tone of this answer to your question is a little—a little—tongue in cheek, it’s still true.

Dirty tricks that often work whether you are a man or woman:

  • falsely accuse your spouse of substance abuse (drugs, alcohol)
  • falsely accuse your spouse of being mentally ill
  • falsely accuse your spouse of having an extramarital affair
  • falsely accuse your spouse of child abuse (both physical and sexual)
    • this works best for women, but it’s starting to gain ground with men too

Dirty tricks that work mostly for women:

  • falsely accuse your spouse of spouse abuse, both physical and sexual (virtually nobody will ever believe a wife abuses a husband unless a busload of nuns with time and date-stamping video cameras witness it too and testify to it)
  • falsely accuse your husband of “pornography addiction”
  • falsely accuse your spouse of never being home, being an absentee parent, never caring for wife and children, you get the idea
  • falsely accuse your spouse of being “controlling” (whatever that means, but it works, so who cares what it means, eh?)
  • falsely accuse your spouse of 1) failing to provide you and your children of adequate financial support and 2) never giving you access to spending money and 3) wasting, dissipating, and diminishing marital assets

Dirty tricks that work mostly for men:

  • falsely accuse your spouse of parental alienation (this rarely works, but when it does, it works better for men than for women; falsely accusing a father of parental alienation doesn’t get much traction)

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-dirty-tricks-your-spouse-and-his-her-lawyer-do-to-attack-you-during-a-divorce/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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How does parental alienation affect the child?

How does parental alienation affect the child?

Badly.

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

https://www.quora.com/How-does-parental-alienation-affect-the-child/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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Proving Parental Alienation Is Only Half the Battle

Many parents in a child custody dispute being tried in court are the target of a parental alienation campaign. For some parents, the alienation started long before the court case. For other parents, it’s the court case that leads the other parent to commence the parental alienation campaign.

Historically, courts have not been receptive to claims of parental alienation.

Too often this stems from courts writing off parental alienation claims as self-serving and motivated by one spouse’s animus for another. And clearly, a certain degree of skepticism is a wise approach to parental alienation claims. A judge should neither be inclined to believe or disbelieve a claim on its face. It should be (but sadly always isn’t) the case that the substance of the evidence, not the seriousness of the allegation, decides the issue.

The good news is that as courts are becoming more aware of what parental alienation is they are becoming more willing keep an open mind as they consider a parent’s efforts to make a case for parental alienation.

The bad news is that proving parental alienation is only half the battle. Even courts that find parental alienation exists often feel they are ill-equipped to remedy the situation. This article by Dr. J Michael bone explains how this arises:

Parental Alienation in Court: Dealing with Judicial Anxiety, 8/31/2017
Dr. J Michael Bone, Parental Alienation Consultant
http://www.jmichaelbone.com/blog1/parental-alienation-in-court-dealing-with-judicial-anxiety

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

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Have you ever dealt with parental alienation?

Yes, but from the perspective of being the divorce lawyer for the alienated parent.

Let me tell you, unless the alienating parent is so ham-handed in his or her efforts that the alienation is manifestly undeniable, proving parental alienation is extraordinarily difficult. Why?

Because no parental alienate her worth his or her salt is going to come right out and say “I want our kids to hate and avoid the other parent.” Alienating parents know that if they want to get away with it, they need to convince their judge that the other parent is a monster. This is surprisingly easy to do.

And here is why: if I stand up in a restaurant where you were having dinner and shout out “Help! My grandma is choking!,” the good and decent people in the restaurant would come running to see what they could do to help. They would not sit there skeptically and ask themselves, “Is this claim true? I don’t see anyone choking. I wonder if this whole thing is a hoax.” No, they would come running to see if they could help because that’s what decent people do.

And this is why, unfortunately, it is so easy for a parental alienator to manipulate a judge, if he or she is a decent person (and most judges are).

It is contrary to the nature of decent people to believe people lie about harm to others. So judges do what most of us would do when there are allegations of parental unfitness and/or child abuse. They start with the question “What can I do to help?” instead of the question they should be asking, which is: “Where does the actual verifiable evidence, if any, point?”

Another error judges commit far too often is assuming:

  • that a divorcing parent would never falsely accuse the other parent of abuse unless it were true; and
  • a child would never falsely accuse a parent of abuse unless it were true.

Any judge who believes this is patently incompetent. The depths to which divorcing parents are capable of stooping in the child custody fight are infinite.

“What can I do to help?” is the worst question to ask in response to allegations of child abuse or neglect because the question ignorantly presumes that there is a problem or problems for which help is needed. That’s when confirmation bias creeps in, i.e., “There must be a problem because I’m trying to help,” followed by “better safe than sorry” justifications. Judges are seduced by the appeal of a child custody award designed not to protect the children not from any proven harm or risk of harm, but from the very possibility of them suffering harm.

The problem with an abundance of caution approach is that it totally disregards the court’s obligation to determine guilt. It dispenses with considering the parent’s innocence and decency in favor of imposing measures that would prevent this decent and innocent parent from doing his or her child any harm. Cutting a parent off from a child to prevent possible harm also prevents the parent from conferring any possible benefit on that same child.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/Have-you-ever-dealt-with-parental-alienation/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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