Sunday, August 22, 2010

Parental Alienation by Joel R. Brandes

NEW YORK LAW JOURNAL, March 26, 2000


by Joel R. Brandes

Parental Alienation was recently described as a situation where one parent intentionally attempts to alienate his or her child from the other parent, by poisoning his mind, and usually succeeds.(1) Parental Alienation Syndrome ("PAS") is a disorder that usually arises in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child's unjustified campaign of denigration against a parent. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent's indoctrinations and the child's own contributions to the vilification of the parent.

Where the child's animosity may be justified, such as in a case where there is true parental abuse or neglect, the Parental Alienation Syndrome explanation for the child's hostility is not applicable. The term is applicable only when the target parent has not exhibited anything close to the degree of alienating behavior that might warrant the campaign of vilification exhibited by the child. In typical cases, the victimized parent would be considered by most examiners to have provided normal, loving parenting or, at worst, exhibited minimal impairments in parental capacity. The hallmark of PAS is the exaggeration of minor weaknesses and deficiencies.(2) The parent who programs the child brings about the destruction of the bond between the other parent and the child which, unfortunately, is likely to be lifelong in duration.(3)

We believe that inducing parental alienation in a child is a form of child abuse, which should be punishable as abuse under the Family Court Act. Moreover, a parent who alienates a child against the other parent should be denied visitation with all of his or her children until the child is no longer alienated against the target parent.

Parental alienation has been recognized in New York custody cases since the 1980s, when it was held that a custodial parent's interference with the relationship between a child and a noncustodial parent is "an act so inconsistent with the best interests of the child as to per se raise a strong probability that the offending party is unfit to act as a custodial parent."(4)

In Matter of Karen B. v. Clyde M.,(5) the parties originally had a joint and split custodial arrangement and a comprehensive visitation arrangement. In September 1990, the mother filed a petition to modify, requesting that she "retain all custody and visitation to be supervised, if at all." She alleged a change of circumstances, in that "Mandi had disclosed sexual advances and behavior problems because of concerns. Also it is not good for her physical, emotional and social well being to go back and forth between parents. Social Services is currently investigating." As a result of her allegations, the court entered a temporary order requiring the father's visitations with Mandi to be supervised.

According to the mother, in September 1990 Mandi disclosed to her certain sexual abuse perpetrated on Mandi by her father. He allegedly put his finger in her "peer." When she said that it hurt, he told her that he could do what he wanted. She also claimed that her Daddy's "dinkie" got bigger and "stuff came out." The mother reported this to a friend of hers, employed by Community Maternity Services, who went to her home and investigated. The child and mother were interviewed by a child sexual abuse therapist specializing in victims of ages 2-1/2 to 18 years. The mother repeated all of the allegations to the therapist, and additionally stated that on Sept. 9, Mandi had told her that the respondent has put his "peer" on her "peer" and that he had put his hand under the covers of the bed and touched her buns stating, "You know, like you take your temperature." The expert observed no outward signs of emotion when the mother spoke to her and found that the mother seemed to be repeating the story by rote, and that she couldn't respond to questions without starting from the beginning and completing the entire story. The expert concluded that there was no information that would indicate that Mandi had been sexually abused by her father.

The court held that a parent who denigrates the other by casting the false aspersion of child sex abuse, and involving the child as an instrument to achieve his or her selfish purpose, is not fit to continue in the role of a parent. It found that it would be in Mandi's best interests that her custody be awarded to her father. It stated "As the court has no assurance that the mother will not continue to 'brainwash' or 'program' Mandi, petitioner shall have no visitation nor contact with her daughter."

The Third Department affirmed.(6) It noted that the Family Court found that petitioner had programmed Mandi to make the sexual abuse allegations in order to obtain sole custody and deny access to respondent. It held that the fact that Family Court made reference to a book regarding parental alienation syndrome, which was neither entered into evidence nor referred to by any witness, was not a ground for reversal, especially in light of all the testimony elicited at the hearing.

In RB v. SB,(7) the trial court found that prior to their separation in October 1994, the father (R.B.) and son (A.B.) had an extremely close relationship. They spent time together playing basketball and working on A.B.'s homework. R.B. walked A.B. to school in the mornings and regularly attended school functions. In August 1994, R.B.'s relationship with A.B. deteriorated substantially. The record was replete with numerous examples of the mother's (S.B.) campaign to poison A.B.'s relationship with his father. R.B. repeatedly asked S.B. to refrain from speaking to A.B. about these issues until after A.B.'s bar mitzvah the following Sunday. In response, S.B. reiterated her threats involving A.B. The court concluded that A.B.'s four-year estrangement from R.B. was the result of S.B.'s vindictive and relentless decision to alienate A.B. from his father. The court found that beginning in August 1994, S.B. engaged in a campaign to poison the relationship between A.B. and R.B. and effectively alienated A.B. from R.B. for approximately four years. During the four years when A.B. would neither see nor speak to his father, S.B. repeatedly referred to R.B. in front of A.B. as "evil," a "thief," an "embezzler" and a "liar." She told R.B. he would never see his son without her supervision, and attempted to condition visitation upon increased support. She told R.B. she wanted A.B. to "hate his f--guts."

The court held that S.B.'s intentional interference in R.B.'s relationship with his son, to the point where A.B. refused to see or speak to R.B. for nearly four years, was an appropriate factor for the court to consider pursuant to D.R.L. 236(B)(6)(11) in setting maintenance. It found that S.B. permanently damaged R.B.'s relationship with A.B. The court refused to order support to S.B. so that she could maintain her prior standard of living. Instead, it directed that R.B. pay to S.B. only those amounts S.B. reasonably needed to meet her daily living expenses so as not to diminish A.B.'s lifestyle. The award of maintenance and child support was contingent upon S.B. ensuring that the visitation schedule established by the court at the conclusion of the trial was adhered to. The court directed that it would entertain a motion by R.B. to terminate maintenance and decrease or terminate child support upon a showing that S.B. interfered with the visitation established by the court in any manner.

First New York Court

In Matter of JF v. LF, (8) the Family Court became the first New York court to discuss PAS at length in a custody decision. It pointed out that the theory is controversial, and noted that according to one of the expert witnesses who testified, the syndrome is not approved as a term by the American Psychiatric Society, and it is not in DSM-IV as a psychiatric diagnosis.

Parenthetically, we note that the DSM-IV,(9) which was published in 1994, cautions that "DSM-IV reflects a consensus about the classification and diagnosis of mental disorders derived at the time of its initial publication. New knowledge will undoubtedly lead to the identification of new disorders."

The Family Court acknowledged that New York cases have not discussed PAS as a theory, but have discussed the issue in terms of whether the child has been programmed to disfavor the noncustodial parent, thus warranting a change in custody.

The court observed the children and found them to be both highly intelligent and articulate. Yet, when discussing their father and his family, they presented themselves "at times in a surreal way with a pseudo-maturity which is unnatural and, even, strange." They seemed like "little adults." The court found that the children's opinions about their father were unrealistic and cruel. They spoke about and to him in a way which seemed to be malicious. Both children used identical language in dismissing the happy times they spent with their father as evidenced in a videotape and picture album as "Kodak moments." They denied anything positive in their relationship with their father to an unnatural extreme. The court concluded that nothing in the father's behavior warranted that treatment.

Three expert witnesses testified that the children were aligned in an unhealthy manner with the mother and her family. One expert testified that the "...[M]other has clearly won the war over the children's minds and hearts and the father is generally helpless to offset that. Children, likewise, are deeply attached in a symbiotic fashion with their mother ... Father is painted in a highly derogatory and negative fashion, way out of proportion to any possible deficiencies that he may have. This is clearly a borderline mental device within the mother's psychology which has been clearly duplicated in the children. The overall prognosis for any major change in their attitude would appear to be quite limited at this time, even with expert psychiatric assistance."

The court-appointed psychologist concluded that the PAS was "clear" and "definite" with both children.

The father's expert submitted a report to the court in which he stated that the alienation from the father was probably the most severe case of alienation he had ever witnessed as a child psychiatrist.

The court accepted the testimony of the mental health professionals to the extent that they indicated that the mother alienated the children from the father. It found that the children would have no relationship with the father if left in the custody of their mother, and that they would continue to be psychologically damaged if they remained living with her. Their negative view of their father was out of all proportion to reality. The court found that the mother had succeeded in causing parental alienation of the children from their father, such that they not only wished to cease having frequent and regular visitation, but actually desired to have nothing to do with him. It awarded sole custody to him and suspended her right to visitation.

The court did not specifically base its decision on a finding of PAS. Instead, it relied on the case law, which requires the custodial parent to nurture the child's relationship with the noncustodial parent, and ensures access by the noncustodial parent,(10) pointing out that interfering with the child's "relationship with the noncustodial parent, has been said to be so inconsistent with the child's best interest as to per se raise a strong probability of unfitness."(11)

1. R.B. v. S.B., New York Law Journal, 3-31-99, page 29, col. 5, Sup. Ct., NY Co. (Silberman, J),

2. Gardner, R.A., The Parental Alienation Syndrome, Second Edition (1998)

3. See Gardner, R.A., The Parental Alienation Syndrome (2d Edition) Addendum I (1999)

4. Entwistle v. Entwistle, 61 AD2d 380, 384-5.

5. Karen B. v. Clyde M., 151 Misc2d 794, aff'd, 197 A.D.2d 753 (3d Dept, 1999).

6. Id.

7. See note 1, supra

8. 694 NYS2d 592, 1999 N.Y. Slip Op. 99408

9. American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, 1994 at p. xxiii.

10. Daghir v. Daghir, 82 AD2d 191, aff'd 56 NY2d 938.


Joel R. Brandes has law offices in Garden City and New York City. He co-authored the nine-volume Law and the Family New York and Law and the Family New York Forms.

3/28/2000 NYLJ 3, (col. 1)

"Parental Alienation" - Joel R. Brandes.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Case Law on Parental Alienation Syndrome and Parental Alienation Disorder

PAS Case Law

The purpose of this page is to provide the visitor with an overview of important PAS case law. The citations are in Blue Book format and are followed by a short explanation of the case.

Need for Proof in PAS Cases

Coursey v. Super. Ct., 194 Cal. App. 3d 147; 239 Cal. Rptr. 365 (Cal. Ct. App. 1987).

Alienated fourteen-year-old daughter refused to visit her father pursuant to the terms of a stipulated order. The mother was found in contempt. On appeal, the court found that absent evidence of intent, it could not be inferred that failure of visitation was willful on mother's part.

Constitutional Rights and PAS

Schutz v. Schutz, 581 So. 2d 1290 (Fla. 1991).

Alientor mother appealed order to do everything in her power to create in the minds of her children a loving, caring feeling towards their father, claiming a violation of her First Amendment rights. Court found any burden on those rights to be merely incidental.

Best Interests of the Child and PAS

In re Violetta B., 210 Ill. App. 3d 521,524; 568 N.E.2d 1345 (Ill. App. Ct. 1991).

Court reversed decision to transfer custody of four-year-old from foster mother to paternal grandmother based on psychologist's expert testimony that a transfer of custody would cause irreparable trauma. Court concluded that best interest of the child should control the decision.

Spurious Allegations of Child Abuse

Karen B. v. Clyde M., 151 Misc. 2d 794; 574 N.Y.S.2d 267 (N.Y. Fam. Ct. 1991).

Mother's allegations of sex abuse of child by father found baseless after court considered trained validator's testimony as to no abuse and verbatim similarity between mother and daughter's statements. Court likened mother's behavior to that of Medea.

Abusing Visitation

Zigmont fka Toto v. Toto, No. 62149, 1992 WL 6034 at *2 (Ohio Ct. App. Jan. 16, 1992).

After considering the appellant's erratic behavior in exercising his visitation, and the resulting psychological problems of the children, the court found it both just and reasonable for trial court to limit visitation to a specific schedule.

Court's Discretion re PAS and Custody

Wiederholt v. Fischer, 169 Wis. 2d 524; 485 N.W.2d 442 (Wis. Ct. App. 1992).

Despite psychologist's testimony that PAS was the worst he had seen, the court concluded that the evidence was not strong enough to be cured by placing children with father, noting that the cure was controversial and the success of the treatment was limited.

Using PAS as a Defense

Truax v. Truax, 110 Nev. 437; 874 P.2d 10 (Nev. 1994).

Father claimed that because of PAS, the testimony of the court-appointed special advocate (CASA) was skewed in favor of mother. CASA recommended that custody be changed to mother, citing abuse by step-sister. Bite mark on son tipped the scales for the court.

Attacking the Validity of PAS

In re Marriage of Rosenfeld, 524 N.W.2d 212 (Iowa Ct. App. 1994).

Father severely alienated children from mother. The court found the only way to correct the situation was to place children with mother. On appeal, father attacked validity of PAS and testimony of mother's expert. Court focused instead on parties' behavior.

Rebutting PAS through Child Testimony

White v. White, 655 N.E.2d 523, 526 (Ind. Ct. App. 1995).

Psychologist on whom mother had insisted testified that she was engaging in PAS and that she excessively hostile toward father. Mother attempted to rebut expert's testimony by putting 10-year-old son on stand. Trial court refused to subject son to the process. Affirmed on appeal.

Placing Children with an Alienated Parent

Tucker fka Greenberg v. Greenberg, 674 So. 2d 807 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1996).

In a trial arising over a visitation dispute, court noted that former wife was obsessed with making shared parenting as difficult as possible for father. Both trial and appellate courts decided best decision was to place children with the alienated parent.

PAS not Gender-Specific

Williams v. Williams, 676 So. 2d 493 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1996).

In Williams, the court took custody from an alienating father and vested it with the alienated mother. Williams demonstrates the non-gender-specific nature of PAS.

PAS and Extreme Tactics

Hanson v. Spolnik, 685 N.E.2d 71 (Ind. 1997).

Father and mother were awarded joint custody. Mother then engaged in extreme tactics that included false allegations of sexual abuse and comments that father had AIDS and that he had hired a hit man. On appeal, court found modification of joint custody was necessary.

Contesting Concept of PAS in New York

In the Matter of J.F. v. L.F.,181 Misc. 2d 722; 694 N.Y.S.2d 592 (N.Y. Fam. Ct. 1999).

By order to show cause against mother, father applied for custody. Annexed to order was psychiatrist's affidavit recommending custody change. Mother bitterly contested concept of PAS. The court nonetheless found that mother had alienated children from father.

Court-Appointed Experts and Bias

Pathan v. Pathan, No. 17729, 2000 WL 43711 (Ohio Ct. App. Jan. 21, 2000).

Court-appointed psychologist showed significant bias against Pakistani father, who asked for an independent evaluation. The court noted that mother was the primary offender. Nonetheless, the court merely opined that if mother did not mend her ways, custody might change.

Mutual Alienation

Spencley v. Spencley, No. 219801, 2000 WL 33519710 (Mich. Ct. App. Apr. 7, 2000).

Parents engaged in mutual alienation made complaints against state for its determination of abuse and neglect. On appeal, mother challenged concept of PAS; however, the court found ample evidence of emotional injury, and that PAS was used in an explanatory manner.

Need to Show Change of Circumstances

Chambers v. Chambers, No. CA99-688, 2000 WL 795278 (Ark. Ct. App. June 21, 2000).

Trial court concluded that prolonged alienation was so successful that there was no hope of re-integration between father and children. On appeal, the court found that father had failed to show requisite change of circumstances to warrant the court's intervention.

Ignoring Expert Testimony

Kirk v. Kirk, 770 N.E.2d 304 (Ind. 2002).

In Kirk, the Indiana Supreme Court overturned an appellate decision, ignoring copious expert testimony regarding parental alienation syndrome and the spurious nature of mother's sexual abuse claims.

Parental Alienation Syndrome.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Poison Parents - a book on Parental Alienation

'Poison Parents' is a powerful book, dealing with all aspects of the parental alienation syndrome which tears loving relationships between parents and children apart in the post-divorce and separation environment. It explores the devastating effect that malicious parenting can have on impressionable children, the target parent and extended family and friends. Drawing an interesting parallel between personality disorder and alienating behavior, 'Poison Parents' exposes the syndrome and offers insightful ways of coping with and combating the insidiously destructive campaign of hate. Written by Criminologist, Grace Humphreys, it is a must-read for anyone who knows a child or children involved in a post-divorce tug-o-war between parents.

"Parents wonder why the streams are bitter, when they themselves have poisoned the fountain," John Locke 1632-1704

The only way to combat Parental Alienation is by educating family and friends about the syndrome and creating more public awareness.

This book moves away from the clinical, academic approach to discuss the subject clearly and simply. It is enriched by real stories - both tragic and hopeful.

You don't need a Ph.D to realize that this a book from the heart, it is well intentioned and reader friendly. It has upset at least one "expert" yet has received praise from many including this from a Professor at Law:

"thank you for your excellent have an ideal open-mindeness and worldview"

Monday, June 7, 2010

Judge jails mother who falsely accused ex of sex abuse and alienated him from kids

We need to see more of this kind of action against children that are held hostage by the custodial parent. It is estimated that 40 percent of all custodial parents alienate children from the other parent. It is a hate crime to deny children the right to be with the other parent.

Nassau County judge jails mother who falsely accused ex of sex abuse and alienated him from kids

June 7, 7:38 AMAlbany CPS and Family Court ExaminerDaniel Weaver
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In a decision that will surely generate controversy and fuel gender wars and the ongoing debate over parental alienation, Nassau County Supreme Court Judge, Robert Ross, has sentenced a woman to six weekends in jail for alienating her children from their father.

The court went into great detail describing the mother's behavior toward her ex-husband, the defendant in Lauren R. V Ted R. The mother's behavior reached a crescendo, according to Judge Ross, when she made a false report of sexual abuse against the father to Child Protective Services.

The factual findings concerning the mother's behavior as stated in the decision by Judge Ross are extensive but worth reading in their entirety as they form a basis for his decision.

Concerning the plaintiff's (mother's) behavior, Judge Ross stated:

"Plaintiff intentionally scheduled their child's (N.'s) birthday party on a Sunday afternoon during defendant's weekend visitation, and then refused to permit defendant to attend. She demanded that N. be returned home early, in order to "prepare" for her party, but D., the other child, was enjoying the time with her father and wished to remain with him until the party began. Plaintiff castigated N. for "daring" to invite her father to take a picture of her outside her party. According to the plaintiff, "this doesn't work for me!" Plaintiff threatened to cancel N.'s party, and warned her that her sister, too, would be punished "big time" for wanting to spend time with her father. Plaintiff's taped temper tantrum, offered into evidence, vividly detailed one instance of how D. and N. have been made to understand that enjoying time with their father will be met with their mother's wrath and threat of punishment."

Mother consistently lied about father's custody rights

"Plaintiff conceded that when she completed N.'s registration card for XXX., she wrote that defendant is "not authorized to take them. I have custody. Please call me." At trial, she claimed to fear that defendant would retrieve the girls directly from school. However, she later admitted that defendant had never even attempted to pick them up at school. Her testimony at trial sharply contradicted her sworn affidavit dated January 23, 2008, in which she stated that "the defendant consistently attempts to pick up the girls unannounced from their schools and activities, which disrupts not only the girls, but those in charge of the aforementioned." In her sworn affidavit, plaintiff claimed that she completed the registration card because defendant sought to attend the end of D.'s art class and then had the audacity to drive his daughter home. The art class "incident" occurred well after the registration card was completed by the plaintiff. Moreover, nothing in the parties' agreement prohibits the defendant from visiting the children at extra-curricular events or from driving them to or from such events. In point of fact, there was no dispute that D.'s Friday art class in Huntington ended as defendant's alternate weekend visitation commenced."

"Plaintiff wrote to Dr. L.1 (then the XXX. principal) and Ms. T. (N.'s fifth grade teacher), demanding that they restrict their conversations with the defendant to N.'s academics, as plaintiff is "solely responsible for her academic progress and emotional well being. Notwithstanding the nature of their joint legal custody plaintiff insisted before me that, "I have custody, he has visitation.""

"The plaintiff made/completed an application for admission to XXX on behalf of N. in October, 2007. On the application, she checked the box "Mother has custody," rather than the box directly below which says "Joint custody." She identified her new husband, R. L., as N.'s "parent/guardian," and she failed to mention the defendant. During cross examination, plaintiff insisted that she only omitted reference to the defendant for fear that his financial circumstances would adversely impact N.'s chances for acceptance. However, no financial information was requested anywhere on the application. Moreover, plaintiff acknowledged that none was required until after an applicant was invited to attend."

"By applying to XXX without defendant's knowledge - - but with N. completely involved in the process, plaintiff orchestrated the decision to be made, as well as alienating the child. Had the defendant not consented to N.'s attendance at XXX, after the fact, N. would be angry with him for purportedly interfering with the enrollment, even if defendant's objections to a private school placement were sound. In no event was he consulted as to this educational decision."

"When asked how she might handle things differently now, plaintiff did not indicate that she would first discuss the possibility of a private school with the defendant, as she is obligated to do pursuant to the Stipulation."

"In a similar pattern of being advised "after the fact," defendant 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."

Mother claims children don't want to see father

"Plaintiff was forced to concede at trial that the defendant was prevented from enjoying his visitation rights after he returned with the girls from his niece's Bat Mitzvah until this Court granted defendant's emergency application to compel the plaintiff to allow the defendant to take D. and N. for the ski trip he had scheduled for his half of the Christmas recess. Plaintiff insisted that it was D. and N. who refused to see their father, because they were angry with the 'choices" he had made on their behalf, including his objection to N. attending XXX. Defendant was made aware of the children's position because they parroted their mother's demands on several occasions. D. even read from a script during the brief dinners he was permitted. As plaintiff wrote in one e-mail when she was describing her role with respect to the children: "I am in charge here, not them. What I [sic] say goes. They may bring their shoes. You are responsible for the rest. End of story.""

"In vivid testimony, the defendant recalled how the plaintiff willfully prevented him from exercising his rights to visitation with the children from November 4, 2007 through December 21, 2007. 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."

"The fact that the children were as angry as they were with the defendant in November and December, 2007, demonstrates, in my view, that efforts to alienate the children and their father were seemingly effective. The children demanded that defendant meet "their" demands before they would permit him to visit with them again. They demanded that defendant permit N. to attend F. A., that he withdraw his objection to their participation in therapy with their mother's therapist, and that he pay for 75% of D.'s Bat Mitzvah but limit his invitations to a handful of guests and have no role in the planning of the event. 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. The children, in effect, were evolved into plaintiff's sub-agents and negotiators, having specific details of the financial demands of the plaintiff, and information as to the marital agreement."

"The mother alluded to the ambivalence of the children in seeing the defendant. But such abrogation to the children's wishes, under these circumstances, was in violation of the agreement. It was wholly improper for the mother to adhere to the children's wishes to forego visitation with their father (see, Matter of Hughes v. Wiegman, 150 AD2d 449)."

"Plaintiff half-heartedly testified that she wants the children to have a relationship with the defendant. Her view of the defendant's role was a numbing, desired nominality, evident by her actions that were without any semblance of involvement by the defendant - - notwithstanding the clear joint custodial provisions. At critical points in the cross-examination, plaintiff was noticeably off balance - - hesitating and defensive - - with answers that dovetailed to either narcissism, or, a poor grasp of the affects of her conduct. The plaintiff was dispassionate, sullen, and passively resistant to the alienating efforts of the plaintiff. The continued litany of instances of alienating conduct, turned repression of the defendant's joint custodial arrangement into farce. The endurance in recounting instance upon instance of alienating conduct herein, was as daunting as it was indefensible."

Mother calls father f-----g asshole & other names in front of children

"Plaintiff relegated the defendant to waiting endlessly at the bottom of her long driveway. When defendant drove up her driveway on October 26, 2007, so that the children would not have to walk down with their heavy bags in a torrential rain, plaintiff ran down the driveway where she had left her car, drove up the driveway and blocked defendant's vehicle. The children watched as the police listened to their mother angrily demand that their father be arrested and, when the police refused, heard their mother scream that she is a taxpayer and the police work for her. She 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 N. and D. in her arms, plaintiff said to the defendant, "We all hope you die from cancer." Just this past summer, when defendant insisted that D. retrieve her clothes from plaintiff's home in preparation for their visit to N. on her camp visiting day, plaintiff urged to defendant that "Judge Ross will not be around forever, d___." Before the beginning of each of defendant's vacations with the children, the plaintiff staged prolonged and tearful farewells at the base of the driveway, during which plaintiff assured the children that they will return to "their family soon," and if "things get too bad, they can always tell Daddy to bring them home.""

Mother accuses father of sexual abuse

"The crescendo of the plaintiff's conduct involved accusations of sexual abuse. Plaintiff falsely accused defendant of sexual misconduct in June, 2008, shortly after defendant moved to Huntington and the children's friends were enjoying play dates at defendant's home. Plaintiff testified that D. shared that she was uncomfortable when the defendant tickles her, and conceded that she knew there was nothing "sexual" involved. Undaunted by the lack of any genuine concern for D.'s safety, plaintiff pursued a campaign to report the defendant to Child Protective Services. To facilitate this, she spoke with W. M, the psychologist at the school D. attended. Plaintiff also "encouraged" D. to advise Dr. C. (the chidren's pediatrician) that defendant inappropriately touched her - - but he saw no signs of abuse. Plaintiff also advised Dr. A., Ms. M., Dr. R. (the children's prior psychologist) and family friends of the allegations and, ultimately, the Suffolk County Department of Social Services opened a file on June 3, 2008, and began an investigation."

"According to the Case Narrative contained in the New York State Case Registry, a complaint was made that "On a regular basis, father inappropriately fondles 13 year old D.'s breasts. This makes D. feel very uncomfortable. Last Sunday, Father hit D. on the breast for unknown reason… " When the caseworker and Suffolk County detectives interviewed D. on June 3, 2008, she reported only that her father tickles her on her neck and under her arms, and she categorically denied her father ever fondled her breasts. She admitted that her father was not attempting to make her uncomfortable, but that he still regards her to be a tomboy. The detectives closed their investigation."

"Thereafter, and significantly, when the CPS caseworker met with plaintiff on August 19, 2008, plaintiff was quick to state that her ex-husband "did it again." Plaintiff claimed that the defendant hugged D. too hard. According to the caseworker's notes, the caseworker repeatedly cautioned the plaintiff not to bring the children into her disputes with the defendant. This warning was contained in CPS records."

"Although unfounded child abuse reports are required to be sealed (see, Social Services Law §422[5]), such reports may be introduced into evidence,"by the subject of the report where such subject… is a plaintiff or petitioner in a civil action or proceeding alleging the false reporting of child abuse or maltreatment" (Social Services Law §422[5][b][1]). Allegations that defendant had injured the child were found to be baseless and, 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. This report was not made in "good faith" - - rather, the investigating agency warned the mother not to re-utilize the allegations and her children in her custodial litigation with the defendant."

Mother's behavior not affected by pending contempt proceeding

"The concern of a pending contempt proceeding did not affect the plaintiff's conduct. For example, knowing that defendant had parenting access with D. on July 3, 2009, plaintiff invited D.'s close friend, C. C., to a country club for a fireworks display and advised D. of this invitation. She then instructed D. to tell her father she was invited to a friend's party on that date. Another example occurred on June 13, 2009, when plaintiff quietly escorted D. from Alice Tulley Hall during the intermission, ignoring the instructions from the G. Y. Orchestra staff that everyone remain until the conclusion of the entire program. Plaintiff purported she was unaware that defendant attended this special program in Lincoln Center. Defendant, who was in attendance at the concert, was left waiting at the stage door with flowers for D. Plaintiff ignored his text messages questioning where his daughter was. The plaintiff, when confronted with the notion that she may have precipitously ushered her daughter away before her father was able to give her flowers, retorted to the Court that "it was not her responsibility to make plans for T.""

"The evidence before me demonstrates a pattern of willful and calculated violations of the clear and express dictates of the parties' Stipulation of Settlement, incorporated but not merged into their Judgment of Divorce. The extensive record is replete with instances of attempts to undermine the relationship between the children and their father and replace him with her new husband, manipulation of defendant's parenting access, utter and unfettered vilification of the defendant to the children, false reporting of sexual misconduct without any semblance of "good faith," and her imposition upon the children to fear her tirades and punishment if they embrace the relationship they want to have with their father. The unfortunate history here also reflects the plaintiff's hiring and firing of three different counsel, expressed disdain towards the children's attorney, and utter disregard for the authority of the Court."

Judge Ross discusses parental alienation

Aware of the controversy surrounding the subject of parental alienation, Judge Ross spent some time addressing the issue in his decision.

Ross said:

"Differing "alienation" theories promoted by many public advocacy groups, as well as psychological and legal communities, have differing scientific and empirical foundations. However, interference with the non-custodial parent's relationship with a child has always been considered in the context of a "parent's ability to encourage the relationship between the non-custodial parent and a child," a factor to be considered by the Court in custody and visitation/parental access determinations. See, Eschbach v. Eschbach, supra. Our Appellate Courts recognize such factor, as they have determined that the "interference with the non-custodial parent and child's relationship is an act so inconsistent with the best interests of a child, as to, per se, raise a strong probability that the offending party is unfit to act as a custodial parent." See, Leistner v. Leistner, 137 AD2d 499; Finn v. Finn, 176 AD2d 1132, 1133, quoting Entwistle v. Entwistle, 61 AD2d 380, 384-385, appeal dismissed 44 NY2d 851; Matter of Krebsbach v. Gallagher, 181 AD2d 363, 366; Gago v. Acevedo, 214 AD2d 565; Matter of Turner v. Turner, 260 AD2d 953, 954; Zeiz v. Slater, 57 AD2d 793."

"Where, as in the instant case, there is a finding of a willful violation of a court order demonstrated by a deliberate interference with a non-custodial parent's right to visitation/parental access, the IAS Court, as a general rule, must schedule an evidentiary hearing before making any modification of custody. See, Glenn v. Glenn, 262 AD2d 885. See, also, Entwistle v. Entwistle, 61 AD2d 380; Young v. Young, 212 AD2d 114; Matter of LeBlanc v. Morrison, 288 AD2d 768, 770, quoting Matter of Markey v. Bederian, 274 AD2d 816; Matter of David WW v. Lauren QQ, 42 AD3d 685; Goldstein v. Goldstein, 2009 N.Y. Slip Op. 08995 [Dec. 1, 2009]."

The sentence and justification for the sentence

Judge Ross found Lauren R. in civil contempt of court. She will spend every other weekend in the Nassau County Correctional Facility during June, July and August.

Judge Ross acknowleged that "An imposition of sentence upon a finding of contempt should contain a language permitting the contemnor an opportunity to purge." However, in this case, a jail sentence was the only option available because it is no longer within the power of the plaintiff (mother) to purge since the violation was of a past court order. Furthermore, remedial intervention through counseling and parental training during the course of the trial was unsuccesful and if re-utilized, the "Court cannot release from imprisonment upon future compliance."

The matter of approximately $165,000 in attorney fees will be the subject of another hearing.

Read article by Dan Weaver on parental alienation in Saratoga County

Read other articles by Dan Weaver on family court and similar topics in Nassau County

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Parental Alienation And False & Malicious Domestic Violence Allegations

Many times, mothers make false allegations of abuse and courts do not step in to protect children's right to the father because of the allegation. Rather than attempt to prosecute in criminal court (where the mother will lose) court place restraining orders on fathers to protect the abusive mother from prosecution in criminal court for her actions. This article illustrates what happens when this happens..

Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a generally recognized platform that may result in child abuse. This occurs when a custodial parent of a child from a separated family uses deception to deliberately alienate children from their non custodial parent.

Misplaced Domestic Violence Restraining and Protective Orders are an excellent tool to advance the Alienating Parent’s malice! Misguided Protective Orders of a Court based on such false representations may remove the Accused Abuser Parent from the home, bar the Accused Abuser from seeing his/her children and give the Alienating Parent total physical custody of the children. The Accused Abuser Parent is now effectively “Guilty Until Proven Innocent”.

Once the Alienator obtains a Restraining Order through false domestic violence allegations, the Accused Abuser Parent may find it difficult to defend himself or herself against the false allegations. This sends the implied message to the children that “Daddy/Mommy” is bad or dangerous, stamped by the court.

The Accused Abuser Parent may only see his/her children in a cold and uninviting supervised visitation setting. Supervised Visitation Centers are facilities where a child is taken to meet with the Accused Abuser Parent in a third party monitored location. A third party observes the Accused Abuser Parent during their visit with their children so that the child is “protected” at all times.

Often the supervised visit is demeaning for the visiting parent in the eyes of his/her child. The impression to the child that “Daddy or Mommy” is dangerous comes across loud and clear since most children only see lock up situations on TV and these people are seriously viewed as being bad.

Many Alienating Parents use this scary situation to encourage their child not to see the Accused Abuser Parent at all. The more time a child is out of contact with the Alienated Parent the deeper the scaring and recovery period for that child.

Dr. Richard A. Gardner coined the term “Parental Alienation Syndrome” (PAS) in 1985. Dr. Gardner found that a child subjected to continual negativity and manipulation by the Custodial Parent over an extended period of time against the other parent would eventually adapt the distorted view presented. At the end of the day, what the Alienating Parent fails to understand is that his/her selfishness makes his/her child the “victim” who pays a hefty price in lost self esteem.

Unfortunately, False Domestic Violence Allegations have become more common in Divorce / Child Custody Proceedings. Most Judges usually enter a restraining or protective order for the safety of the child and in too many cases an Accused Abuser Parent is guilty until proven innocent!

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Parental alienation gets a day

Parental alienation gets a day
by Kathleen Parker

Proclamations generally have the same riveting power as supermarket ribbon-cuttings, but a recent one in Maine is being celebrated as a small victory for children and noncustodial parents wounded by divorce.

The proclamation, signed by Gov. John E. Baldacci, recognized April 25 as "Parental Alienation Awareness Day."

If you don't know what "parental alienation" is, you probably haven't had the pleasure of a divorce with children. Veterans of those wars know without a governor's seal exactly what it means - agony for a noncustodial parent and emotional problems for children alienated from one parent.

Baldacci's proclamation is noteworthy in the age of divorce because it officially recognizes Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) as a psychological condition that can have lasting consequences for children torn between battling parents in high-conflict divorces.

Given the operative words "high-conflict," one can imagine that not everyone is applauding. Although PAS would seem to affirm common sense, it is a deeply divisive and controversial idea embraced by fathers' groups and often abhorred by mothers in divorce cases.

Fathers who feel disenfranchised when courts award custody of their children to the mother during divorce have used PAS successfully to pressure judges to allow greater access to their children. One can hardly blame men for trying to be fathers.

But critics claim that abusive fathers sometimes use PAS to force access where none should be granted. Mothers claim in such cases that they're trying to protect their children, not alienate them.

This latter argument became the centerpiece last fall of a controversial PBS documentary about abused women and children, "Breaking the Silence," that fathers' groups attacked as unbalanced and unfair.

No fathers were interviewed, and the cases reviewed tended to be extreme and sensational.

Several women interviewed, for instance, said that they lost custody of their children to abusive fathers (confirmed by the children themselves) when fathers used PAS to "prove" that the women were systematically teaching their children to hate their fathers.

Glenn Sacks, a radio show host and columnist, called the film a "direct assault on fatherhood," and organized a protest on his Web site. Others - many of whom I know and respect as fellow toilers in trying to advance fatherhood - joined in.

Sacks' campaign had an effect, and PBS ombudsman Michael Getler wrote a lengthy response agreeing that the show was unbalanced.

The focus on PAS as a tool of questionable value - no medical or psychological group recognizes PAS as a scientifically proven "syndrome" - makes the Maine proclamation a timely development for those who believe in its value in equalizing custody.

PAS was first identified in 1985 by psychiatrist Dr. Richard Gardner, himself a lightning rod among those who debate these issues. For years an expert witness in custody cases, Gardner (who committed a brutal suicide in 2003) has been variously hailed as hero or villain, depending on which way the court leaned.

To fathers, he was a godsend - an advocate for protecting children from the emotional fallout of divorce and the potentially lasting damage from over-identifying with one parent while hating the other. Given that children are part of both parents, hating one parent is tantamount to hating half of oneself. Can't be good for you.

To mothers, some of whom surely were trying to protect their children, Gardner is something else. Through the years, many tried to discredit him for his self-published library and the lack of peer review for his articles. Some called his work "junk science."

But Gardner's theory has gained traction in recent years. Today, there are some 133 peer-reviewed articles about PAS and more than 65 legal citations.

While I'm in no position to argue for or against the scientific integrity of PAS, anybody old enough to drink coffee knows that embittered divorcees can and do manipulate their children. Not just women, but men, too. But because mothers more often are awarded custody of children, they more often draft their children to share their bitterness.

The biggest losers in such cases, of course, are neither the mothers nor the fathers, but the children, who deserve to have unfettered access to both parents, assuming there's no abuse, without having to tote the adults' emotional baggage.

Whether parental alienation meets the scientific standards of a "syndrome" is a battle researchers can wage among themselves. The underlying message, meanwhile, is that there needs to be a presumption of shared custody following divorce, again, assuming no abuse.

Life is alienating enough without the help of one's own parents.