A Broken System: Parental Alienation

Do family court lawyers and judges really have the child's best interest in mind?

Parental alienation is victimizing the lives of countless good families--parents and children--all over the world with devastating repercussions. To the alienated parent, it can be a dizzying feeling of helplessness that grips you while frantically searching for answers to stop what is happening.

Sometimes parental alienation manifests itself in a child's tantrums and meltdown immediately after the child returns from the other parent. The screaming, crying, and hateful comments directed at you from a kid using specific words and phrases that are out of place and character for them to be iterating.

A son or daughter who once ran to you with open arms excited to see you, now screams for the other parent while seemingly thinking the worst of you in that moment. The comments such as, “I hate you, I don’t want to be here…you’re evil just like [the other parent] says” can be devastating as you try to keep calm, cool, and collected in doing your best to demonstrate what it means to unconditionally love your child.

It is at these moments--where you see them turning against you and pushing you away--that you realize this is when they need you the most.

Judges, Lawyers and Child Custody: A Recipe for Disaster

The alienation of children goes unnoticed by the courts many times because most of the judges and lawyers do not recognize the signs of it, nor provide the appropriate means to investigate it. Frankly put, most of these judges do not have the training or qualifications to identify the problems that exist in a lot of these situations. On average, in looking at the biographies and credentials available for many family court judges and lawyers, you find a lot of the same type of educational degrees, legal backgrounds and superficial accolades. While everything has exceptions, rarely do you see evidence where these folks have any specialized training or skill sets having to do with psychology, children and parenting.

This is alarming considering the courts claim they act and make decisions under the banner of a child’s best interests. Many decisions often get made in favor of one parent over another based on motion filings and hearsay without any outside evaluations done by neutral third parties with real expertise in areas trained to deal with the psychological aspects of custody and divorce thus best suited to assess parents and children and uncover signs of alienation.

Combine this with the many unethical and manipulative tactics used by lawyers and players in custody and divorce ordeals and you have a recipe for disaster. We the people have entrusted individuals who, by their very nature and training, are prone to adversarial conflict in the form of litigation and courtroom displays to make decisions and steer outcomes regarding a child’s well-being. It is in this way that children often become more like pawns on a chessboard, as opposed to having their best interests genuinely prioritized and safeguarded.

Given the sensitivity of these types of cases and the many public outcries, complaints and ethical concerns raised about those sitting on the bench and practicing in the matrimonial bar it begs the questions as to what type of individuals find this area of law appealing? Even more than practicing law in the divorce and custody arena, it would be interesting to know the psychological profile of those who run political campaigns to be elected as judges in it.

These are courts whereby the lawyers and judges very livelihoods are dependent upon a steady and reliable stream of cases with outcomes resulting in negative repercussions. With a divorce industry estimated to pull in approximately $50 billion annually by many accounts, one has to wonder if the allure by some judges and lawyers to this area of law is truly based on serving a child’s best interests or protecting and preserving their own. It seems quite dumbfounding as to why tougher screening methods and stricter barriers are not in place for those making rulings or practicing law in the arena of child custody and divorce.

Psychological Evaluations and Testing

The American Psychological Association offers guidelines for custody evaluations in family law proceedings citing, “Psychologists render a valuable service when they provide competent and impartial opinions with direct relevance to the ‘psychological best interests’ of the child.”

In some cases these evaluations provide critical evidence in uncovering and mitigating parental alienation when it’s found and exposed. However, for many parents affected by a child being alienated in these ordeals the “psychological best interests” for them are many times derailed and distorted by the judges and lawyers perceptions of “best interests”. What is not always obvious—and ethically concerning—is that many lawyers in custody cases are motivated by factors having little or nothing to do with the interests of the child involved and more to do with the interests of the parent/client they represent and bill by the hour.

Where does that leave many of these kids being poisoned against the targeted parent? Usually in a place whereby the damage being done to them continues with the alienator incentivized.

American Psychological Association’s Position

The American Psychological Association’s (APA) position statement on parental alienation is non-existent. Here we have the largest organization representing psychology in the United States essentially not commenting or taking a position on a complex and unique condition adversely affecting many parents and children in divorce and custody ordeals all over the country and in need of specialized help and treatment in this area.

Offering an official position and statement on this issue could serve to help many of those who live with the profound impacts and losses resulting from this sort of alienation. The personal stories, data and evidence of parental alienation is abundant and spans across the country in the many courthouses and homes touched by contentious divorce and custody battles. It is not limited to the United States and indeed is worldwide.

The Stories Needing to be Heard

“We who have means and a voice must use them to help those who have neither.Jennifer Donnelly

Outrage, frustration, fear, sadness, anger, betrayal, and loss are a taste of what people who have been the targeted parents of alienation feel and experience.

For the Love of Eryk Book Review: https://www.lauracarroll.com/book-review/for-the-love-of-eryk/
For the Love of Eryk Book Review: https://www.lauracarroll.com/book-review/for-the-love-of-eryk/

The stories and personal accounts of how this has devastated so many lives are numerous and never ending. Rarely do we hear about the devastating impacts of parental alienation in the media until it reaches a boiling point that usually concludes in tragedy.

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