The Bubbles of Love Annual Celebration focuses on the need to educate the world about parental alienation. Divorced parents must stop using their children as weapons of emotional war against their former spouses. It is not fair to the children or the other spouse.
Helping to bring awareness that by increasing the proportion of children growing up with involved, responsible, and committed fathers it will improve the well being of children.
Child support is nearly impossible to have decreased over time by the courts, even if the ex-spouse’s financial situation has changed. Inability to pay can even land you in jail.With so much that can be gained by claiming abuse, family court is a hotbed of false accusations. The accuser often faces no little-to-no punishment, even if these claims are completely false.With hourly fees being the industry norm within family courts, attorneys have little-to-no incentive to wrap up a case until their client is out of money. These ever escalating costs can often drive people into severe debt.
Alimony, the means by which the courts balance the income of spouses after marriage, can often last far longer than the marriage itself, sometimes even for life. Failure to pay alimony can even result in incarceration.Divorce paperwork can be one of the most challenging aspects of the family court system. However, trying to decipher, and manage boxes upon boxes of legal jargon is only the beginning.
Unlike in most court cases, family courts have no jury. This leaves the outcome of each case completely at the discretion of the judge, thereby subverting our basic civil liberties.
I recently watched the documentary (if you can call it that) Divorce Corp narrated by Dr. Drew. I was genuinely interested in watching it, as I read some very positive reviews and the trailers seemed great. After about fifteen minutes into the film, though, I began to see it was an attack on the courts and the legal system backed by stories of either extreme cases or missing key facts. I’m not going to go through every issue I had with the film in this entry as they are far too numerous. I wanted, however, to address one part.
About ten minutes into the film, the narrator speaks about attorneys “sizing you up” by collecting detailed financial information from you concerning all of your assets and liabilities. While there are attorneys out there who may use this information to determine if they want to take you as a client, this…
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Children and parents who have undergone forced separation from each other in the absence of abuse, including cases of parental alienation, are highly subject to post-traumatic stress, and reunification efforts in these cases should proceed carefully and with sensitivity. Alienated children seem to have a secret wish for someone to call their bluff, compelling them to reconnect with the parent they claim to hate; despite strongly held positions of alignment, alienated children want nothing more than to be given the permission and freedom to love and be loved by both parents (Baker, 2010). Yet the influence of the alienating parent is too strong to withstand, and children’s fear that the alienating parent may fall apart or withdraw his or her love holds them back. Research has shown that many alienated children can transform quickly from refusing or staunchly resisting the rejected parent to being able to show and receive love from that parent, followed by an equally swift shift back to the alienated position when back in the orbit of the alienating parent (Fidler and Bala, 2010). Thus while children’s stated wishes regarding parental residence and contact in contested custody after divorce should be considered, they should not be determinative in cases of parental alienation.
Reunification efforts subsequent to prolonged absence should be undertaken with service providers with specialized expertise in parental alienation reunification. A number of models of intervention have been developed, the best-known being Warshak’s (2010) Family Bridges Program, an educative and experiential program focused on multiple goals: allowing the child to have a healthy relationship with both parents, removing the child from the parental conflict, and encouraging child autonomy, multiple perspective-taking, and critical thinking. Sullivan’s Overcoming Barriers Family Camp (Sullivan et al, 2010), which combines psycho-educational and clinical intervention within an environment of milieu therapy, is aimed toward the development of an agreement regarding the sharing of parenting time, and a written aftercare plan. Friedlander and Walters’ (2010) Multimodal Family Intervention provides differential interventions for situations of parental alignment, alienation, enmeshment and estrangement. All of these programs emphasize the clinical significance of children coming to regard their parents as equally valued and important in their lives, while at the same time helping enmeshed children relinquish their protective role toward their alienating parents.
In reunification programs, alienated parents will benefit from guidelines with respect to their efforts to provide a safe, comfortable, open and inviting atmosphere for their children. Ellis (2005) outlines five strategies for alienated parents: (1) erode children’s negative image by providing incongruent information; (2) refrain from actions that put the child in the middle of conflict; (3) consider ways to mollify the anger and hurt of the alienating parent; (4) look for ways to dismantle the coalition between the child and alienating parent and convert enemies to allies; and (5) never give up on reunification efforts. As much as possible, Warshak (2010) recommends, alienated parents should try to expose their children to people who regard them, as parents, with honor and respect, to let children see that their negative opinion, and the opinion of the alienating parent, is not shared by the rest of the world. This type of experience will leave a stronger impression than anything the alienated parent can say on his or her own behalf, according to Warshak.
As Baker (2010) writes, alienated parents acutely feel the hostility and rejection of their children. These children seem cruel, heartless, and devaluing of their parents. Yet it is important to realize that from the child’s perspective, it is the targeted parent who has rejected them; they have been led to believe that the parent whom they are rejecting does not love them, is unsafe, and has abandoned them. Thus, the primary response of the alienated parent must always be one of loving compassion, emotional availability, and absolute safety. Patience and hope, unconditional love, being there for the child, is the best response that alienated parents can provide their children, even in the face of the sad truth that this may not be enough to bring back the child.
With alienating parents, it is important to emphasize that as responsible parenting involves respecting the other parent’s role in the child’s life, any form of denigration of a former partner and co-parent is harmful to children. Children’s connections to each parent must be fully respected, to ensure their well being, as children instinctively know, at the core of their being, that they are half their mother and half their father. This is easier said than done, as alienating parents are themselves emotionally fragile, with a prodigious sense of entitlement and need to control (Richardson, 2006), and thus pose significant clinical challenges. Yet poisoned minds and instilled hatred toward a parent is a very serious form of abuse of children. When children grow up in an atmosphere of parental alienation, their primary role model is a maladaptive, dysfunctional parent. It is for this reason that many divorce specialists (e.g., Fidler and Bala, 2010) recommend custody reversal in such cases, or at least a period of separation between a child and an alienating parent during the reunification process with an alienated parent. I have come to believe, however, that the means of combating alienation should not themselves be alienating, and that a non-punitive approach is most effective, with co-parenting being the primary goal. Thus engaging and involving the alienating parent in reunification programs, whenever possible, is critical (Sullivan et al, 2010).
Finally, it is often quite difficult to discern who is the alienating and who is the targeted parent in alienation cases. Thus equal or shared parenting is clearly preferable to primary residence or sole custody orders in potential alienation cases, as courts are ill-equipped to assess the dynamics attendant to parental alienation, and co-parenting is preventive of alienation.
Baker, A. (2010). “Adult recall of parental alienation in a community sample: Prevalence and associations with psychological maltreatment.” Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 51, 16-35.
Ellis, E.M. (2005). “Support for the alienated parent.” American Journal of Family Therapy, 33, 415-426
Fidler, B. and Bala, N. (2010). “Children resisting postseparation contact with a parent: Concepts, controversies, and conundrums.” Family Court Review, 48 (1), 10-47.
Friedlander, S. & Walters, M.G. (2010). “When a child rejects a parent: Tailoring the intervention to fit the problem.” Family Court Review, 48 (1), 98-111.
Richardson, P. (2006). A Kidnapped Mind. Toronto: Dundurn Press.
Sullivan, M.J. et al. (2010). “Overcoming Barriers Family Camp.” Family Court Review, 48 (1), 116-135.
Warshak, R. (2010). “Family Bridges: Using insights from social science to reconnect parents and alienated children.” Family Court Review, 48 (1), 48-80.
America, please get out of America’s way. Stop abusing our families and allow our country to thrive…
The court system is messed up because of the recommendations of social service; foster care is there to make money and they need kids. Some lawyers and courts keep parents tied up making motions and nothing being done until the child is 18 and out of the system.
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