More Debate Over California AB 612 Parental Alienation Bill

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As of July 4, 2009, California Assembly Member Jim Beall continues his attempt to deceive the public and satiate the blood-lust of his political supporters such as Nancy Lee Grahn who want immunity for mothers to abuse their children by parental alienation brainwashing. Even though Beall’s AB 612 bill to do this was gutted by other legislature members, he continues to represent that it says something it does not in an apparent attempt to maximize his political gain by deceit.

Jim Beall is a Dishonest, Deceitful, and Manipulative Politician

Beall’s website continues to make misleading statements about the AB 612 legislation as follows:


AB 612 Requires Family Courts to Restrict Use of Pseudo Syndromes in Custody Cases

(Sacramento) – Assembly Bill 612, legislation from Assemblymember Jim Beall, Jr. (D-San Jose), outlawing unscientific “alienation’’ theories that have fueled bitter and expensive child custody battles, cleared its first hurdle on Tuesday when it was approved by the Assembly Committee on Judiciary. Supporting the measure at the hearing was award winning television star Nancy Lee Grahn (General Hospital’s Alexis Davis) and others. Read More…

Where to Find History and Text of AB 612

The history of AB 612 can be found on the California Assembly website here. It has been gutted and essentially rewritten by legislative members who are advocates for preventing child abuse, something that Beall is most definitely not. Given statements that continue to be present on Beall’s website, it is apparent that he intends to dupe the public, including his political allies, to think the bill says things that it no longer says in order to manipulatively maximize his own political gain despite. It is disturbing that a politician this blatantly dishonest is attempting to mess with the fundamental rights of children and parents in California.

Current Language of AB 612

The current revised language of the bill is significant improved from the original attempt to ban all discussion of parental alienation in child custody cases, as you can see from this quote:


SECTION 1. It is the intent of the Legislature that courts strive to protect the safety of children by ensuring that abuse allegations are investigated appropriately and that protecting children from physical and sexual abuse is the highest priority in custody and visitation decisions.

SEC. 2. Section 3027.3 is added to the Family Code, to read:

3027.3. (a) Allegations of physical or sexual abuse against a child are to be investigated using methods of data collection and analysis consistent with the requirements of Section 3118, as further clarified in paragraph (2) of subdivision (e) of Rule of Court 5.220, as it read on January 1, 2009.
(b) The rules of evidence applicable in criminal proceedings shall apply whenever the court considers an allegation of physical or sexual abuse against a child in a proceeding pursuant to this division.
(c) Unproven, nonscientific theories, including, but not limited to, alienation theories that assume that a child’s report of physical or sexual abuse by one parent is influenced or fabricated by the other parent, are not consistent with generally accepted clinical, forensic, scientific, diagnostic, or medical standards. The court may not rely upon an unproven, unscientific theory and the court may not accept into evidence any finding provided by an expert witness or court appointed professional who has relied on an unproven, nonscientific theory that is a basis for that finding.
(d) Nothing in this section shall limit the consideration of actual evidence, behaviors, statements, or conduct by either parent or by the child.
(e) The Judicial Council shall provide training consistent with this section.

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Remaining Concerns with Legislation

Applying criminal evidentiary standards for allegations of physical or sexual abuse is appropriate. There are far too many false allegations in these areas. The appalling weak rules of evidence used in many family law courts in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and elsewhere often allow hearsay evidence that can be manufactured by dishonest litigants manipulating others to repeat their own distortions, exaggerations, and fabrications. Given the failure to prosecute perjury or even to sanction for it in most of these courts, the liars have a distinct advantage because there is substantial gain from lying and little risk from being caught.

Of concern is that the AB 612 legislation does not clearly state that judges must make decisions based upon evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, a standard common in Western nation criminal courts. Does this failure to state the burden of proof standard mean there would be room for judges to apply the criminal standards to evidence admitted but then use lower standards typical family law courts such as decision by preponderance of evidence?

Wikipedia explains preponderance of evidence as:

Preponderance of the evidence, also known as balance of probabilities is the standard required in most civil cases. The standard is met if the proposition is more likely to be true than not true. Effectively, the standard is satisfied if there is greater than 50 percent chance that the proposition is true. Lord Denning, in Miller v. Minister of Pensions,[2] described it simply as “more probable than not.”

Sometimes this is called the 51/49 standard, meaning that if 51% of the evidence points one way and 49% the other, the 51% wins. Since it is common to lie in court, distort context of events and statements, and recruit false witnesses, this week standard is very dangerous to the application of justice. In family law courts, it puts children at severe risk of being subjected to continued child abuse and/or removal of contact with a loving and capable parent who is the victim of a vilification campaign by a malicious or mentally ill parent.

In my personal opinion, having seen how common perjury and “manufactured evidenced” is in American courts, preponderance of evidence is not an appropriate standard for any court in the first place. Yet it is common for family law courts across the United States and in California, also. The California legislature should be extremely clear on ensuring that judges do not have wiggle room and must apply criminal standards to their decisions of physical or sexual child abuse, not just to the evidence considered.

The section about disallowing unproven, nonscientific theories or evidence based upon them is inviting further attack on parental alienation. On its face, this is reasonable. However, those who advocate ignoring parental alienation child abuse in order to keep children with an abusive parent will likely continue to spread their propaganda and misinformation to try to create public perception that parental alienation does not happen and thereby stereotypically discredit the strong evidence that it does happen, is a serious problem in many child custody cases, and causes life-long mental health problems for alienated children.

False Stereotypes By Extremists

What Beall and his political allies are pushing is similar to how many of these same parties have so far successfully stereotyped domestic violence in the “males are perps, females are victims” pattern by covering up the overwhelming evidence that domestic violence is often committed by females. They do this because they benefit politically from claiming it is a male-only problem, the same reason they try to whitewash parental alienation child abuse in order to protect the women who are abusing children in this way.

Given how most parental alienation research characterizes the problem as being gender-neutral or occurring primarily with custodial parents who object to their children see their other parent, it’s intellectually dishonest to portray the problem as Beall and his allies are doing. Some of the research does indicate that mothers commit parental alienation more often than fathers, but the evidence suggests that this is driven by mothers usually being given primary custody and fathers being deprived of equal contact or custody with children. If 50/50 custody splits occurred uniformly, there is good reason to believe that parental alienation abusers would likely be a relatively equal mix of abusive mothers and abusive fathers.

Solving Family Violence Problems

Domestic violence and child abuse cannot be significantly reduced without addressing the issues without gender bias. Likewise, parental alienation cannot be stopped without gender-neutral measures that eliminate gender bias. Stopping parental alienation requires ensuring that children have approximately equal access to both parents unless there is a very strong case-specific reason to not do so and providing education to child-focused professionals such as teachers, pediatricians, and CPS social workers on why parental alienation is child abuse and how to help children escape the effects of parental alienation.

It’s my belief that a great deal of good can be done by educating the children themselves regarding the problem. Children naturally want relationships with both of their parents, and it takes a significant effort by an alienating parent to undermine this. Teaching children about why alienation happens, how to tell others about it, and how to resist it would make it far more difficult for children to be damaged by an alienating parent.

Dr. Amy Baker’s book “I Don’t Want to Choose” is one good attempt at addressing the problem for kids around 10 to 14. But the educational process needs to start far earlier, probably even in preschool, to provide maximum effect to protect children from parental alienation child abuse. So far there are few resources and even less effort being put into child abuse education for young children.

Taking this a step further, requiring middle-school and high school students to complete educational programs on raising children free from exposure to domestic violence and child abuse could significantly help future generations of parents to avoid the mess that many current parents make out of their children’s lives. This education is at least as important as widespread sex education. Frankly, it is likely even more important at this time given how it is barely even on the radar screen for most people whereas AIDS prevention campaigns have made safe-sex practices a common topic of discussion and education.

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Further Reading

Revision and Voting History on AB 612

Family-law makeover: Opponents of California’s family-law system take their battle to the Legislature

Beal Bill in California to try and ban Parental Alienation Syndrome

Family Law Makeover in California

Beall’s Attempt to Support Child Abuse is Defanged

California Democrat Jim Beall Supports Child Abuse

Kids’ Parental Alienation Book: “I Don’t Want to Choose!”

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