Court Awards Sole Custody to Father Due to Mother’s Parental Alienation

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January 27th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Earlier this month a court in Toronto, Cananda, transfered full custody of three daughters ages 9 to 14 to their father after a long-term parental alienation campaign by their mother. She had worked for years to brainwash them to hate their father. Judge McWatt of the Superior Court of Justice found that this constituted emotional child abuse and banned the mother from all further contact with the children except for counselling programs, including a program to help the children recover from parental alienation syndrome.

Parental alienation involves the systematic and frequently repeated denigration of one parent by the other and blocking of access to the parent who is the target of denigration. This is more than the unfortunately common occasional badmouthing during or after a divorce. While any badmouthing by one parent of the other parent in front of the children is detrimental, occasional negative comments are not enough to constitute parental alienation. This is especially the case when the parents making such mistakes recognizes them as such and try to avoid repeating them, respects that the children should have involvement of both of their parents in their lives, and complies with court orders involving visitation, custody, and contact.

Parental alienation is a form of emotional, verbal, and psychological abuse against children. Courts in multiple countries, including the United States and Canada, have consistently viewed parental alienation as child abuse. The way it has been handled has varied widely, however. Some courts have wrongly sided with the alienating parent. Others have shown unending tolerance for the alienation campaign. In both scenarios, the courts are directly contributing to child abuse.

Family law courts have been slowly learning that alienating parents will often not cooperate with any court orders or laws that are designed to ensure children will have both parents involved in their lives. Further, there is an increasing realization that parental alienation causes long-term damage to children that persists into adulthood. The alienator is essentially a criminal and the children and target parent victims. The courts are finally realizing that if they repeatedly cannot force a criminal to behave then they must protect the victims in some other way, most obviously by ensuring that the alienation is stopped by terminating the alienator’s access to the children. We suspect that the recent Canadian court decision is likely to be followed by many more like it.

In high-conflict divorces, there is often one parent who is particularly uncooperative with visitations, custody exchanges, and telephone contact. Such a parent will often practice “access blocking” making it difficult to impossible for the other parent to have involvement in the lives of their children. Such alienating parents often make denigrating remarks about the other parent in front of the children. They may do this when having conversations with their friends or family members within earshot of their children. Even though the comments may not be directed at the children, the children still suffer damage from them.

Alienating parents often push their children to join in the alienation. They may involve them in schemes to deny contact with the target parent, claiming sickness or disinterest. They may also train their children to make false abuse allegations against the target parent.

Alienating parents will often attempt to gain or retain 100% custody by vilifying the target parent. The excuse often used for this is that the target parent is a child abuser. In many cases, perhaps even most, this assertion is false. There is often no evidence for such alleged abuse except for statements made by the alienating parent and the manipulated children. This is very much like the “distortion campaign” practiced by many victims of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). So it should come as no surprise that parents who suffer from BPD are also likely to practice parental alienation.

If there truly was repeated or severe abuse against the children by the alienated parent, then it follows that the children may dislike the parent for legitimate reasons that have nothing to do with parental alienation. Parental alienation specifically refers to damaging the parent-child relationship intentionally, usually by the other parent but sometimes by other parties closely connected with that parent. For instance, a hostile new spouse or grandparent who does not respect the importance of children having both parents involved in their lives could also be involved in parental alienation.

Based upon reports of parental alienation campaigns, it appears that parental alienation is often accompanied by alienation against grandparents and entire families. The entire family of the target parent is also vilified and portrayed as unwelcome and/or abusive by the alienating parent. Grandparents and other family members (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.) are also important to children and their well-being. Therefore it follows that alienation practiced against these people also constitutes child abuse.

Our view is that alienating parents should have their access to the children suspended and then gradually reintroduced during a recovery program. They, any other alienators, the children, and the alienated parent and/or alienated family members should be engaged in long-term therapy to reverse the damage and rehabilitate the alienators to keep them from doing it any more. The alienators should be held financially responsible for the costs of this treatment. As the children recover, gradually some contact should be restored between them and the alienating parties so long as there is no further evidence of continuing alienation. Ideally, the result of this program should be to restore frequent beneficial contact of the children with both parents and their families.

Some allowance should be made for minor recidivism by the alienators, but it should be caught quickly and result in reduced contact and more therapy that persists until the therapist and the patients believe they are ready to try increased contact again. If the alienation continues despite this, eventually the courts should terminate contact between the alienators and the children until they are adults and can make their own choices. It is detrimental to the children to be jerked back and forth between varying custody situations and parental alienation campaigns. Ultimately the alienators have to be held responsible for their misconduct.

Stopping parental alienation is a critical part of protecting the best interests of children. We applaud Judge McWatt’s decision and hope it will inspire more judges to similarly protect children from abusive alienating parents.

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Related Posts:

Alienating Mother Ordered to Pay $286,641.75 in Fines and Fees
BPD Distortion Campaigns
The Family Terrorist
Mothers More Likely to Abuse Children than Fathers

Further reading:

TheSpec.com – BreakingNews – Mom loses custody for alienating dad
Toronto: Mom loses Custody for Alienating Kids from their Dad
Ontario Superior Court of Justice Decision (PDF)
PAS Kids: What is Parental Alienation Syndrome?
Wikipedia: Parental Alienation
Parental Alienation & Parental Alienation Syndrome

  1. January 28th, 2009 at 16:02 | #1

    Thank you for your informative article!

    This describes the situation I have been dealing with perfectly. I thought bringing a lawsuit would help, but the court ruled against me without even looking at the evidence I brought to the hearing.

    This has been very draining and painful to me, and I know it will negatively impact my son.

    Any advice or thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

  2. Chris
    January 28th, 2009 at 20:16 | #2

    Reply-To: David Scott

    It’s really difficult to get courts to look at evidence. This is one of the big problems with family law in the US. Many times the liar has a big advantage because their lies are verbal and in short filings, maybe a few pages long.

    Convincingly refuting those lies requires much more evidence. You need to file several days in advance of hearing. It may help to call the clerk of the court and make a special request for the judge to read your filing as you are replying to misinformation that you consider lies and perjury.

    Family law courts need to start punishing perjury and contempt of court on a regular basis. The judges protest this, claiming they don’t have enough time and resources to do it. They are short-sighted and unwise to take this position. The system they have created is a liar’s club with justice trampled upon for years in many cases. Furthermore, they are making a lot more work for themselves because once a liar gets rewarded for perjury, the liar will get more brazen and will tell more lies, violate more court orders, and cause more trouble, more hearings, and more work for the court.

    I’ve read Divorce Poison and found it is a very good general title on what to do about parental alienation. It may not solve your problems, but you’ll understand how to fight the alienation and what means may be used against you and your children after reading it.

  3. Bruce
    August 12th, 2009 at 08:12 | #3

    I want to thank you Alison for this article. I am just wondering are you following my divorce case? My soon to be ex fits this to a T with nothing missing except for what needs to be done. I have provided evidence of lies over and over and nothing has worked. My lawyer has been great as has the GAL but still nothing…hope something changes next month. Men if you are reading this and going through with it and know of any good websites where it can show the outcome from a PA situation in court please post. I am looking for anything to help. Also know you are not alone!!

  4. June
    November 7th, 2009 at 15:28 | #4

    Interesting article. Have you looked at justiceforchildren.org. Very educational also. I learned about PAS from Justice For Children about 2 1/2 years ago. It helped me see what I was in for as a parent and as a person. Luckily after my DNA results showed the claims my son made were true, the PAS claims from my x disappeared.

  5. diddy
    June 24th, 2011 at 12:55 | #5

    what if the mother was a crackhead/meth abuser…and now is an alcoholic by 2 people in her family’s accounts? Does my keeping her away from our son constitute parental alienation, or am i protecting my son from an unstable, drug addled unstable woman?

  6. December 6th, 2011 at 17:31 | #6

    http://whereismydeshawnmurphy.com/

    The above website is in the making since Nov 2011 and portraits the story and hurt of severe alienation from a family consisting of grandmother, grandfather, aunt and cousin.

  7. stu dewitt
    May 19th, 2015 at 06:02 | #7

    very accurate description of P.A.S. , just no advice on how to overcome it. I spent 6 long years in family court battling false allegation after false allegation. at 2 1/2yrs into the case the custody judge citied in the parenting plan that continued abusive use of conflict by the mother would not be tolerated and would result in severe consequences and also gave me full custody of our three daughters. The false allegations never stopped and even cost me my freedom with a 24 day incarceration of assault on my 16yr old daughter. i went to criminal court and was exhonerated by a jury. Ten days later more allegations that i sent my 12yr old daughter horrible text messages with a temporary no contact order being ordered. I was then able after six years to prove yet again not true,and her request for no contact was denied with a strong verbal reprimand by the family court judge and i was again ordered to take custody of my three daughters. Two hours later as I attempted to follow the court order picking up the girls from school I was met by police and cps who decided not to follow the family law court order that was two hours old and cps took my kids and started a dependency petition with juvenile court.Now the mother has convinced the girls its all dads fault that they were takin to foster care and now all 3 girls are telling juvenile court they are afraid of dad and never want to see him again. The judge in that court has allowed the mother supervised contact but supervised by my 3 daughters older half brother , their mothers first child. And for dad ,well he doesnt get visitation because the girls are afraid of me. Six years in family court convincing them of my innocence and finally they see it then two hours after that cps steps in and takes the mothers and victimized childrens words and helps prolong the alienation…..HELP PLEASE!!!

  1. January 30th, 2009 at 02:40 | #1
  2. June 20th, 2009 at 18:00 | #2

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