Articles Posted in Parental Alienation

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I came across this podcast that features Megan Hunter, and offers some useful information about Personality Disorders and Divorce.  A significant of my practice involves divorces and child custody issues that feature traits of personality disorders that affect the custody and wellbeing of children. Megan distinguishes between a situational aspect of divorce, where parents under high stress exhibit negative behaviors, and that of divorces that involve Personality Divorces, False Allegations, and potentially toxic levels of Parental Alienation.

Megan is an executive with my colleague Bill Eddy’s High Conflict Institute. Bill Eddy is the author of Splitting and I was privileged to work with Bill and Randi Kreger on the 1st Edition of Splitting, having offered the name of the book to Bill (it was a natural thought…splitting indicating a synonym for a divorce, and the psychological phenomenon that some PDs have), providing some limited content, and writing the foreword for the 1st Edition.

Megan Hunter is the CEO of Unhooked Media – a company focused on relationship and conflict resolution through print, digital, and the spoken word. She is the co-founder of the High Conflict Institute and currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Personality Disorder Awareness Network.

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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.”

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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.


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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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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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Today is Parental Alienation Awareness Day. My practice has been focused rather intensely on the problem of the pathology of parent alienation for over 20 years. I have seen both Fathers and Mothers the victims of attacks, and targeting for alienation, by the disordered parent that seeks to damage the relationship between the parent and the child(ren). Parental Alienation exacts a terrible toll on both the targeted parent, as well as the child, whose developmental life is always impacted by being removed from a beloved parent’s life.

Fortunately, within the court system, guardians ad litem, evaluators and judges are becoming more aware of the traits and symptoms of PAS. It has been my job, for over these 20 years, to identify these pathologies, and do all possible to intervene in the alienation, and to use proper methodologies in the court system to reverse it, and reunify the child with the loving parent.

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I am always careful to identify good articles on the emerging clinical science behind Parental Alienation. Here’s an excellent review by Dr. Kruk for your consideration.

Credit: Edward Kruk Ph.D.

Recent Advances in Understanding Parental Alienation Implications of Parental Alienation Research for Family-Based Intervention

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From an interview with Dr. Amy Baker, PA expert:

” I must admit I am a bit disappointed in the comments so far on the WDET website in response to my interview. I hate to see the conversation devolve into a gender war when the research is so clear that both mothers and fathers can be alienators. I would prefer to see attention focused on prevention (education of custody evaluators about differentiating alienation from estrangement, training attorneys in proper handling of these cases, and so forth). There is so much to agree on! See

..and my response to those commentators questioning Dr. Baker’s approach:

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The case involving the Michigan judge that placed three children in juvenile hall as a punishment and coercive measure has been roundly criticized for using contempt proceedings, in what even the judge agreed is a longstanding Parental Alienation case. From a local Detroit newspaper account:

Three Bloomfield Hills kids who refused an order by a judge to go to lunch with their father have been ordered to a juvenile detention facility.The Tsimhoni family was in Oakland County’s family court for a hearing on supervised parenting time when Judge Lisa Gorcyca took matters into her own hands.

June 24 court transcripts showed how upset the judge was. She ordered the Tsimhoni kids ages 14,10 and 9 to have a “healthy relationship” with their father. She criticized them for avoiding him and even compared them to Charles Manson and his cult. Gorcyca then ordered the children to apologize and have a nice lunch with their dad. When they refused, Gorcyca held them in contempt and had each child hauled off to Children’s Village’s juvenile hall – until they are 18 years old.