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The Devastating Effects of Parental Alienation on Children

Anger, guilt, grief, disconnection, and low self-esteem.

Parental alienation is a form of child abuse that we are only beginning to recognize. Technically speaking, it’s when a child aligns with one parent and rejects its other parent for reasons that are not warranted. According to The Parental Alienation Study Group, at least 3.9 million children in the United States are “moderately to severely” alienated from a parent. Put another way, there are three times as many children in the United States who are alienated from a parent than there are children with autism.
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In the USA alone, an alarming number of families, estimated over 22 million, are affected by parental alienation. Millions of children are held psychological hostage by parents they trust.

Through manipulation and coercion, innocent children are weaponized against the alienated parent. Children are involuntarily forced to align entirely with one parent and sever ties with the other. They are forbidden to love a parent with whom they were previously close to.

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Targeted parents and alienated children suffer the effects of this atrocity for a lifetime.

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Being in a relationship with a High Conflict Person (HCP) or a toxic person can be debilitating. Many adults with children will hold off on seeking help from the courts, or seeking a separation from the HCP in order to preserve the status quo for their children. But, as many are beginning to understand, children raised in a home with a HCP or toxic parent can suffer later in life.

Law Offices of Michael F. Roe has, for decades now, been managing divorce and child custody cases with HCPs.  “Understanding high conflict personalities is the missing piece in managing high conflict disputes.” – Bill Eddy, author of Splitting.

Take a look through our blog and the website for information about divorce and the HCP or personality disordered spouse.  We have the experience and the expertise to manage these cases, and open doors to a better future for parents and their children affected by HCPs.

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People with personality disorders often seem to have variable personalities.  They might be quite charming and reasonable at work and with neighbors and friends, but then transition to chaotic, extreme behaviors at home.  Personality disorders usually begin in childhood or adolescence, and while those around people with personality disorders wish they would change, it doesn’t happen without: 1) recognition, 2) a strong commitment by the person with the traits of the disorder, and, in most cases, 3) years of therapy.

THE DSM-5 CRITERIA FOR BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER INCLUDE SOME OF THE FOLLOWING CHARACTERISTICS:

  • Compromised ability to recognize the feelings and needs of others
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From an article posted today on Dr. Michael Bone’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/drjmichaelbone
 I think the interest in this is related to the difficulty in identifying if parental alienation is going on or if it is not. To this very day, when I am contacted by a parent or attorney about a case where parental alienation is believed to be present, I still rely on these four criteria to satisfy myself that such may likely be the case. While the template that these criteria is not foolproof, it is at least some sort of reasonably and reliable measure to assist in the ruling in or ruling out of its presence.

But enough backstory. The subject of today’s post is the third criteria, Deterioration in the Relationship between the Targeted Parent and the Child(ren).

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I saw this post today on Facebook, and it might be helpful to some families dealing with Parental Alienation:

“Mark David Roseman and Associates offers its Fall 2021 support group for alienated parents, beginning September 22 via Zoom. This group is uniquely different in its compassion and understanding of parents on the journey of separation from their children, with facilitators who respect the healthy integration of mind, body and spirit.

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Our group is spiritual, but we do not espouse any religious or political identity. We are fully committed to the healing of broken families, in order to restore what has been lost after high conflict.”

 

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Below is a synopsis of two new bills signed into law that affect Family Law practice.  HB4121 sets a minimum standard for GALs in terms of their obligation to interview the parents and the children.  Now, most of us would agree that a period of 90 days is too long, and that most competent GALs make a practice of meeting with the parents and children within days or weeks of the appointment of the GAL.  This legislation may be addressing a concern that some GALs ( and I have seen this in operation) can be quite dilitory about their work, and some simply do not accept that the role of a GAl involves competence and diligence.  In most cases, judges and lawyers know who the good GALs are, and those appointments are often made with this understanding in mind. However, there are cases that involve GALs who do competent work, but may not visit with the children as often as they might, and this issue then becomes an area for criticism when the case goes to trial. HB4121 sets a minimum standard, to which GALs either conform, or risk some sanction for failing to do so.

HB2741 is an important change. The IMDMA was amended in 2016 to allow the Court to appoint a clinician to perform therapy in a family law case, with certain underlying findings being made. The hitch has been for a few years that the therapy process and feedback from the clinicians was barred insofar as communication with a GAL was concerned. In my view, this placed the process of therapy into a difficult position where children were concerned, insofar as the GAL has a statutory duty to investigate all aspects of the child’s life to determine the custodial best interests of the child. Now, with this amendment, the GAL may do his/her work to the fullest extent by allowing the feedback from the clinician so long as the HIPAA and Illinois Mental Health Act provisions are followed.

IMDMA GALs

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My Illinois Divorce Blog focuses on a variety of subjects, including the means by which to manage divorce and child custody with a toxic narcissist. I can say that almost every day, I receive a message that sounds like this that came today:

Message: I’m separated from a narcissist and he is constantly violating orders and trying to alienate my child from me. Now they are forcing me to go to court to face him in 2 days and I’m terrified. It will only make it worse. I need help. No one understands but I read your blog and you may be the only lawyer that understands.
Additional Details
From Page:
https://www.illinoisdivorcelawyerblog.com/amp/illinois-divorce-empaths-marriages-narcissists/

 

This message is from someone being harmed by both the toxic narcissist in her life, and well as possibly by her local court system ( I get many calls each month from people outside of Illinois that need help, and I try answer most all of these calls with some help, resources like Bill Eddy’s Splitting book, and a lawyer referral if needed).  For over 25 years, my practice has focused, in large part,  on psychological issues in divorce, and issues that affect the wellbeing of the children of marriages involving personality disorders.

 

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Bill and Melinda Gates — known around the world as tech and charitable titans — are splitting after 27 years of marriage, at the ages of 65 and 56, respectively.

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Credit: Alessandra Malito Market Watch 

Divorcing at an older age has become increasingly common. This phenomenon, called “gray divorce,” could be the result of a few factors, including the lessening of a stigma around divorce in general, longer life expectancies and differing opinions on what to do with the rest of one’s life.

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The announcement of the Parental Alienation Study Group (PASG) comes at a great time, as we start to try to emerge from COVID lockdowns, and restart these important conferences.  I received the announcement below this morning, and look forward to this conference.  “PASG has 700 members – mostly mental health and legal professionals – from 55 countries. The members of PASG are interested in educating the general public, mental health clinicians, forensic practitioners, attorneys, and judges regarding parental alienation. PASG members are also interested in developing and promoting research on the causes, evaluation, prevention, and treatment of parental alienation.”

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PASG 2021 Conference 9-10 September 2021

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