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Parental Alienation: An Extreme Custody Case to Review

A lot of the work that I do for my clients that contact me involves issues with Parental Alienation.  Parental Alienation can take many different forms, from a low grade “gatekeeping” function where a parent fails to support the parentign of the other parent in a divorce, to more toxic kinds of cases, where a disordered parent targets the other parent with a campaign of false allegations, and/or conducts a campaign of “brainwashing” of the minor children to share the same hate and contempt that the alienating parent has for the targeted parent.

A case from the state of Maine came into focus this week, and involves a mother claiming in a very toxic and high conflict divorce that the father of the minor female child had sexually abused the child. The mother, with a Ph.D. and backed by financial resources, conducted a campaign to have her husband (then unemployed) found to be liable for both child sexual abuse and domestic violence. It should be noted that any claims of child abuse and domestic violence must be taken very seriously, and all forensic and legal tools employed to determine whether a child has been harmed.  However, in some cases, the claims of abuse are false and are part of a campaign to destroy a parent’s relationship with a child.

One example of a claim made: ” On or about the week of June 13, 2011, H (mother) made yet another false claim with DHHS, claiming that M (father)  was poisoning the minor child with methamphetamines andthat Malenko possessed child pornography on his computers. Just after this Order entered, H contacted DHHS and made claims that M had hit the child in the head with a frying pan. These claims were all false. As a result of these false claims, the then four year old child had an invasive medical exam conducted at Maine Coast Memorial Hospital with H’s consent.”

In the case mentioned above, the trial court found no evidence of the father having abused the child. Despite the mother having employed medical experts after having the child physically examined, the court’s appointed guardian ad litem, and other experts retained in the case, found that there was no basis for the allegations of abuse. Further, the trial court eventually ordered that the child be placed in the residential custody of the father.