All Judges need to be TRAINED and EDUCATED on PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME. It is not ACCEPTABLE to have IGNORANT Judges deciding the fate of INNOCENT CHILDREN.

Parental Alienation Case Law     (Document last updated 04/25/2011:             179 items)    RECENT HIGHER COURT DECISIONS RE: PARENTAL       ALIENATION AND PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME     In the following cases, a higher court affirmed a lower’s court’s ruling based, in part, on findings regarding allegations of parental alienation. My explanatory text is italicized and blue. When words are italicized in the excerpts below, the emphasis has been added to draw attention to the inclusion of concepts related to parental alienation and parental alienation syndrome. Although these court decisions are public record, other than the case citation, the names of the parents and children have been redacted in the excerpts.    UNITED STATES    MATTER OF BOND v. MacLEOD 2011 NY Slip Op 03153 509360.Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, Third Department. Decided April 21, 2011.          Based upon the expressed preferences of 13-year-old and 11-year-old children, and the mother ceasing her contacts with the children in the face of their protests, the attorney for the children sought to end the mother’s parenting time. The Appellate Court upheld as credible the Family Court’s finding that the mother stopped the contacts out of frustration in response to the children’s repeated refusals to see her. The attorney for the children cited other reasons for the children’s rejection of their mother, including a one-time argument between the daughter and the maternal grandmother in which the mother chose not to intervene, the mother’s failure to attend the children’s extracurricular activities, and the children’s dislike of the mother’s boyfriend. The Appellate Court did not find these reasons compelling.        From the Appellate Court’s decision: “Although the children’s desires regarding visitation should be considered, Family Court appropriately noted that their wishes are not determinative (see Matter of Sinnott-Turner v Kolba, 60 A.D.3d 774, 775 [2009]) and, in any event, the court indicated that it believed some degree of parental alienation by the father had occurred (see Matter of Bronson v Bronson, 63 A.D.3d 1205, 1207 [2009]). Based on the foregoing, we do not find that the termination of the mother’s visitation would serve the children’s best interests.”    This case is another in a series suggesting that courts are beginning to understand the complex dynamics of parental alienation. As alienated parents know, children’s refusal to follow the court-ordered parenting schedule can be a formidable obstacle to contact. While I recommend in my book, Divorce Poison, that rejected parents should not passively accept the lack of contact, in some situations this is the least detrimental option. Even when it is not advisable, it is important for courts to appreciate that acquiescing to the children’s demands is a very common error made by rejected parents (and by some courts). Hanging in when children repeatedly refuse contact is tough. Moreover, the parent may be acting on advice from a therapist who hopes that a cooling off period will help heal the relationship.          The decisions by the Family Court and the Appellate Court suggest that the judges understand that the reasons offered by the children’s attorney for ending the children’s contact with their mother fail to justify such a tragic outcome. When compared to the gravity of ending a parent-child relationship, the reasons are trivial. In addition, the Appellate Court explicitly recognized that the father played a role in the children’s estrangement from their mother – “some degree of parental alienation by the father had occurred” – thus undercutting the argument that the children’s preferences were reasonable and a guide to their best interests. Both courts noted that children’s expressed preferences are not determinative. For an analysis of the hazards of relying on children’s stated wishes in custody disputes, see my peer-reviewed article, Payoffs and Pitfalls of Listening to Children, and my lecture on the DVD, Benefits and Hazards of Involving Children in Custody Decisions.               THE SUPREME COURT OF NEW HAMPSHIRE      Portsmouth Family Division No. 2009-806      IN THE MATTER OF JAMES J. MILLER AND JANET S. TODD      Opinion Issued: March 31, 2011          Vacated the lower court’s award of custody to a mother who was found to be alienating her children from their father.       After effectively interfering with the father-child relationship, the trial court awarded custody to the mother primarily because the children had spent the majority of their lives with her and that is where they feel most comfortable. This is typical in cases where one parent has effectively interfered in the children’s relationship with the other parent. The absence of contact establishes a status quo that the court then feels bound to honor in order to spare the children a drastic change in their lives.      The Supreme Court recognized that the father was denied contact with his children for more than two years as a result of unfounded allegations of abuse, and that awarding custody to the mother because of the lack of father-child contacts, raises a concern that the mother is rewarded for violating court orders.        The court quoted the Vermont Supreme Court: “Although obviously well intended, the court’s decision effectively condoned a parent’s willful alienation of a child from the other parent. Its ruling sends the unacceptable message that others might, with impunity, engage in similar misconduct. Left undisturbed, the court’s decision would nullify the principle that the best interests of the child are furthered through a healthy and loving relationship with both parents.”          This reasoning gives voice to the biggest complaint I hear from parents regarding their custody litigation: repeated violations of orders go unpunished, with some parents making a mockery of the court’s authority.         The court cited favorably an opinion from a Vermont case: “Across the country, the great weight of authority holds that conduct by one parent that tends to alienate the child’s affections from the other is so inimical to the child’s welfare as to be grounds for a denial of custody to, or a change of custody from, the parent guilty of such conduct.”    “[A] child’s best interests are plainly furthered by nurturing the child’s relationship with both parents, and a sustained course of conduct by one parent designed to interfere in the child’s relationship with the other casts serious doubt upon the fitness of the offending party to be the custodial parent.”    The court also quoted it’s opinion in a prior NH case: “The obstruction by a custodial parent of visitation between a child and the noncustodial parent may, if continuous, constitute behavior so inconsistent with the best interests of the child as to raise a strong possibility that the child will be harmed.” Read the entire decision. – See more at: http://www.warshak.com/alienation/paslegal.html#sthash.ZmmEqycd.dpuf

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