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I received a call from another attorney, who is out of state, with questions about Parental Alienation. He has a case in which he represents a targeted parent, in this case a Mom who, despite having sole cusody of her child, has now seen the child refuse to visit with her or live with her. The court’s initial reaction was “kids vote with their feet.” The Child Rep in that case has no understanding of PA, and has told the attorney that he believes the Father to be innocent of wrongdoing, does not see ho this charming man can be causing this, and it must be a relationship problem between Mom and the child. I walked my distant colleague through some strategies, and discussed with him my methodologies for managing cases with alienation. At the end of the conversation, he was very thanksful and both of us omindful as to how challenging these cases can be.

I reminded him as well that it is my belief that Parental Alienation is a form of child abuse.

Below is an excert from a solid article from Dr. Michael Bone, with whom I have worked on a case in Florida soem years ago.  I was asked by a Jacksonville, Florida lawyer to co-counsel with her on a very challenging case involving psychological issues and Parental Alienation.  Dr. Bone was retained as a consulting expert, and did exemplary work on the case.

 

Any attempt at alienating the children from the other parent should be seen as a direct and willful violation of one of the prime duties of parenthood.


 

Criteria I: Access and Contact Blocking

Criteria I involves the active blocking of access or contact between the child and the absent parent.

Criteria II: Unfounded Abuse Allegations

The second criteria is related to false or unfounded accusations of abuse against the absent parent.

Criteria III: Deterioration in Relationship Since Separation

The third of the criteria necessary for the detection of PAS is probably the least described or identified, but critically is one of the most important. It has to do with the existence of a positive relationship between the minor children and the now absent or nonresidential parent, prior to the marital separation; and a substantial deterioration, of it since then.

Criteria IV: Intense Fear Reaction by Children

The fourth criteria necessary for the detection of PAS is admittedly more psychological than the first three. It refers to an obvious fear reaction on the part of the children, of displeasing or disagreeing with the potentially alienating parent in regard to the absent or potential target parent. Simply put, an alienating parent operates by the adage, “My way or the highway.” If the children disobey this directive, especially in expressing positive approval of the absent parent, the consequences can be very serious. It is not uncommon for an alienating parent to reject the child(ren), often telling him or her that they should go live with the target parent. When this does occur one often sees that this threat is not carried out, yet it operates more as a message of constant warning. The child, in effect, is put into a position of being the alienating parent’s “agent” and is continually being put through various loyalty tests. The important issue here is that the alienating patent thus forces the child to choose parents. This, of course, is in direct opposition to a child’s emotional well being.

See: http://www.fact.on.ca/Info/pas

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On the heels of a trial last week involving a longstanding campaign of parental alienation, in which my client was seeking reunification therapy so that his child would be treated, and counseled, to learn to want to have a relationship with her targeted father again.  I see more and more of these cases. Often, I am called in the middle of a pending case after a parent understands that their current lawyer, and the court, do not understand what is occurring.  In other cases, I am called after a divorce has been completed, and the children that were awarded to one parent no longer wish to have a relationship with the other parent.

I can also say that Parental Alienation is gender neutral. Both Dads and Moms can be targeted by the disordered parent for an alienation campaign.

What is Parental Alienation:

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One of the most difficult things to understand in life is how someone who professes to love you can then go on to abuse you.  Many people feel traumatized and confused after a relationship with an abusive Narcissistic partner ends. They wonder: “We were so in love, yet he went from telling me that I was the love of his life to treating me like garbage. He cheated on me.  He devalued me.  He embarrassed me in front of our friends.  How can I trust anyone again, if I so badly misjudged this person?”

If you have ever been abused by a Narcissistic mate or lover and now are out of the relationship, you may be wondering how you could have made such a big mistake—and how you can avoid doing it again in the future.

The good news is that most people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder are very predictable.  They tend to follow the same relationship pattern over and over again.  And, unlike common perceptions about Narcissists, most are not very devious.  Narcissists are continually signaling that they are Narcissists.  You can learn to recognize the early signs that the new love of your life is a Narcissist by paying close attention to how they behave towards you in each stage of the relationship. Then it is up to you to decide if you want to continue the relationship. Here are some of the basics that you need to know:

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My law practice has been distinguished over the years by being a prominent advocate for parents and children, especially when there are complex and difficult clinical issues involved in child custody matters. Having been a member of the American Psychological Association for over 15 years and following the seminars and literature on clinical issues in divorce and custody practice, I have tried to make a difference in this area of law and practice.

Yet, having been in my law school’s joint JD/MBA program, and being a student of accounting and finance, along with membership in divorce financial planning associations, I take a keen interest in the financial and valuation side of divorce practice as well. Occasionally, there are some big wins: the recent case of  In re Marriage of Liszka, 2016 IL App (3d) 150238 – Illinois Courts

is a case that I tried (over many weeks of trial)  that resulted in a very positive appellate decision for my client, along with having the law in Illinois on retained earnings in divorce clarified.  Said the appellate court:

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Here’s a post from a perusal off of social media and high conflict divorce. This exchange may resonate with a lot of people:

I need help. I have been married for 13 years. We have two wonderful sons. My husband had an affair that ended about 5 years ago. The affair hurt but…he also emotionally and physically did things to me during his affair and that hurt even more. After it ended, he did apologize to me. But, he almost never showed me love or attention. And he had lied about so many different things to me.

I have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I am currently trying to get help for that. And I just started to take Lexapro for my anxiety and depression. 

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From Kristina Kuzmic: ” Some stories I share with you feel more personal than others. Some stories I’m really protective of because of the impact they’ve had on my life, and in turn, on the lives of my children. This is one of those stories.
Ever since I opened up about the struggles I went through years ago, after my divorce, the question I get asked the most is: What was your turning point? Here is my answer… ”

Truth Bomb Mom: My Turning Point

*NEW VIDEO*Some stories I share with you feel more personal than others. Some stories I’m really protective of because of the impact they’ve had on my life, and in turn, on the lives of my children. This is one of those stories. Ever since I opened up about the struggles I went through years ago, after my divorce, the question I get asked the most is: What was your turning point? Here is my answer…

Posted by Kristina Kuzmic on Friday, June 30, 2017

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From time to time, interesting questions are posted on some forums that discuss divorce, and especially divorce when dealing with soon-to-be ex spouses, and ex-spouses, that are poor parents, or a persons with pathologies like narcissism. Here is one recent question posed by a parent, with some suggestions:

 3am my 4 year old woke up and had terrible croup. Couldn’t breathe and was hysterical. Of course STB ex sleeps until I started talking loudly enough…we ended up at the ER. He is fine but I can’t conceptualize ever leaving my son overnight in my STB ex’s care overnight. He is clueless and a total sociopath narcissist. How do you wrap your brain around the notion of leaving your little ones when the other parent is not competent?

When a healthy spouse is in a marriage with a narcissist, for example, or even just an incompetent or selfish parent, the healthy parent ends up doing 99.9 percent of the caregiving, including monitoring and medicating the children when they are ill. However, once the separation of the spouses is complete, the caregiver spouse is no longer present to be the caregiver and decision maker, the buffer for conflict, and the guarantor that the kids are well cared for when they are ill.

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Today is Mother’s Day, and aside from wishing all of our Moms a wonderful day, I wanted to point out as well that parental alienation exists with mothers as targets. More often than one might think.

Today, a Mom posted this:

” And please don’t ever give up……There were three of us moms in Nashville, Boston and New York who became fast friends online because we were alienated from our children. It took between 2 and 5 years respectively but all 3 of us are reunited with with our children. Take care of yourself, live a full life and, like us, your children may come to see through the lies the alienator told them to find their way back to you. Sending you love, hugs, and prayers.”

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Representing many clients through the past 20+ years in relationships with people with borderline traits, it is helpful to see new artciles that discuss the experiences of people in these relationships. Here, a discussion about the triggering on anger in borderlines, many times without an apparent reason.

I’d say from the two people I know with it that things can be going really well and you can forget sometimes that they have the disorder, but then the littlest things can set it off, which just makes the episodes all the more jarring and violently abrupt.

There are several different subtypes of BPD, but my closest experiences have been with the ‘Petulant Borderline,’ sometimes called the ‘angry’ subtype.