Family Court: The good, the bad, and the ugly

The good & the bad:

Well, the good news is Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) has been rejected for the upcoming DSM-5. Ms. Magazine blog ran an update of an article on PAS:

http://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2011/06/10/%E2%80%9Cparental-alienation-syndrome-another-alarming-dsm-5-proposal/

This does help in our argument that PAS is not legitimate. The bad news is this won’t
stop it from being used in the courtroom (despite the lack of scientific evidence). Psychologists/evaluators will still say Mom is exhibiting alienating behavior or some derivative of it in the face of an abuse allegation.

The ugly:
We had (at least) two fathers recently who had cases similar to Casey Anthony’s and we’re still asking ourselves when will the media shed a light on fathers killing their children and/or mothers of the children, esp during “custody battles.”

Father charged in slaying of teen
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/father-charged-in-slaying-of-teen/2011/05/21/AFzRYj8G_story.html?wprss=rss_local
This father stabbed and molested his daughter, and then threw the body into a trash can.

Tanya Skelton granted custody of missing sons; John Skelton says she won’t see them
http://www.lenconnect.com/breaking/x795259618/Tanya-Skelton-granted-custody-of-missing-sons-John-Skelton-says-she-wont-see-them
This mother has not seen her 3 young sons since Thanksgiving, when they visited their father. They assume the father has killed them – he says he handed them over to an organization and won’t give them back to her unless he gets joint custody.
He’s proved he’s abusive by taking the sons (possibly killing them). He probably wants to lower or avoid child support since he’s raised the topic of other debts. And, research has shown that lack of access/time is not the real reason Dads kill their children. It’s just an excuse they use.

I don’t understand how Casey Anthony gets so much attention and we can’t shed any light on these cases to spark a debate.

Another man killed about 6 people at a family court, including his ex-wife’s attorney. And still – women are vengeful and not to be believed. Sigh.

Sheriff’s office identifies victims in Yuma shooting spree

According to court records Theresa and Carey Dyess were married in Tombstone May 2002 and filed for divorce in 2006. Theresa alleged domestic abuse and received an order of protection. Carey later took out his own order of protection against Theresa.
Court records also show the 2006 divorce was Carey Dyess’ fifth. It was final in 2007. Theresa bought out Carey’s share of their home and stayed in the house in Wellton, the same home where she was found dead Thursday morning.Carey Dyess also had an order of protection against a man he identified as ‘my wife’s boyfriend,” who he alleged was harassing him by driving by his home every day.

It was a nasty divorce that ultimately cost the Theresa, her three friends and attorney all their life and left another friend in the hospital.

Warshak’s ruse: Act like he supports domestic violence survivors

Warshak posted this comment on his Huffpo article:

My earlier replies to comments, and my professional articles, make it clear that I agree with you that abusers can be the alienating parent. Here are quotes from my earlier replies to comments: “Some alienated mothers have left coercive, controlling husbands and these women should expect support from those who advocate on behalf of DV victims.” “A child who was intimidated by a coercive father into rejecting the mother may reach out to the mother once the child has established some independence from the father.”

“Should expect support”? What a bunch of hog wash. Any woman, man, or child can expect support from a domestic violence agency, he needn’t patronize the DV community or act like we’re not supporting abused individuals.

What he calls “alienating” behavior or the obnoxious “divorce poison” can be domestic violence if it involves coercion, threats, or intimidation. We’ve been trying to say this – he refuses to post our comments. He’d much rather censor us and make his mulah off of folks with his DVDs, books, and bogus treatment centers. He’d see an end to the cash cow if he simply called abusive behavior domestic violence.

And, speaking of which, what the hell are his credentials for discussing domestic violence? How many classes did he take? Has he volunteered at an agency? Does he donate?

He’s also referencing help to mothers a lot – bull crap. PA/PAS/PAD is overwhelmingly used by men.
He has yet to acknowledge the fact that PAS has been used by abusers in family court to counter allegations of abuse. When he has, he distorted the information and made it look like we said “all men” use PA as an abuse excuse. I wrote a comment suggesting he either had a reading comprehension problem or was an idealogue that was blinded to other views.
The guy’s position is completely divergent from the domestic violence community – make no mistake – yet he’s posturing as if he understands abuse and HE supports individuals (rather than the DV community) — He supports anybody who’s a potential customer, that’s who he supports.
 
Alienation? Yes, he’s alienated the domestic violence community.
Here’s a few resources on PAS
‘When children reject their abusive fathers, it is common for the batterer and others to blame the mother for alienating the children. They often do not understand the legitimate fears of the child. Although there are no data to support the phenomenon called parental alienation syndrome, in which mothers are blamed for interfering with their children’s attachment to their fathers, the term is still used by some evaluators and courts to discount children’s fears in hostile and psychologically abusive situations.” (page 40) “THE TRUTH ABOUT PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME AND THE AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION”. Statement by Professor Joan S. Meier, Esq. (November 9, 2005).
“When mental health experts or attorneys claim that P.A.S. is a ‘syndrome’– knowing full well that it lacks scientific validity, is the concoction of a disgraced psychologist, and has been soundly rejected by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges — that is disingenuous at best and unethical at worst.  Moreover, when it is used as a vehicle to keep children in the custody of men who abuse them, it is also immoral. ” , Randy Burton, Founder, Chairman and President – Justice for Children. http://www.jfcadvocacy.org/pas.asp

“The vast majority of these mothers (97%) reported that court personnel ignored or minimized reports of abuse. They reported feeling that they were punished for trying to protect their children and 65% said they were threatened with sanctions if the “talked publicly” about the case. In all, 45% of the mothers say they were labeled as having Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). The protective parents reported that the average cost of the court proceedings was over $80,000. Over a quarter of the protective parents say they were forced to file bankruptcy as a result of filing for custody of their children. Eighty-five percent of the protective parents surveyed believe that their children are still being abused; however, 63% say they stopped reporting the abuse for fear that contact with their children will be terminated. Eleven percent of the children were reported to have attempted suicide.” “Myths That Place Children At Risk During Custody Litigation”. Dallam. S. J., & Silberg, J. L. (Jan/Feb 2006). Leadership Council. Sexual Assault Report, 9(3), 33-47. http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/res/cust_myths.html   

For more quotes, go to: Parenting abused children

Comments by DV advocates on Dr. Richard Warshak and PAS have been censored by Huffington Post – Are they trying to silence the DV community?

Maybe this should come as no surprise. From what I’m learning, Huffington Post doesn’t care much about scientific facts or freedom of speech.

Check this out on Digg.

Richard Warshak now has a post up on divorce and parental alienation syndrome (PAS). A bunch of domestic violence advocates and domestic violence survivors have tried to post opposing viewpoints – to no avail. At least 5 of us have had our posts deleted. Many of these posts provided research citations and quotes.

Here is a domestic violence advocate and survivor’s post:

Here is the American Psychological Association’s other statement on parental alienation: “Family courts frequently minimize the harmful impact of children’s witnessing violence between their parents and sometimes are reluctant to believe mothers. If the court ignores the history of violence as the context for the mother’s behavior in a custody evaluation, she may appear hostile, uncooperative, or mentally unstable. For example, she may refuse to disclose her address, or may resist unsupervised visitation, especially if she thinks her child is in danger. Psychological evaluators who minimize the importance of violence against the mother, or pathologize her responses to it, may accuse her of alienating the children from the father and may recommend giving the father custody in spite of his history of violence.
Some professionals assume that accusations of physical or sexual abuse of children that arise during divorce or custody disputes are likely to be false, but the empirical research to date shows no such increase in false reporting at that time. In many instances, children are frightened about being alone with a father they have seen use violence towards their mother or a father who has abused them. Sometimes children make it clear to the court that they wish to remain with the mother because they are afraid of the father, but their wishes are ignored.”
 
I posted this from Newseek:
 
Under the theory, children fear or reject one parent because they have been corrupted or coached to lie by the other. Parental alienation is now the leading defense for parents accused of abuse in custody cases, according to domestic-violence advocates. And it’s working. The few current studies done on the subject consider only small samples. But according to one 2004 survey in Massachusetts by Harvard’s Jay Silverman, 54 percent of custody cases involving documented spousal abuse were decided in favor of the alleged batterers. Parental alienation was used as an argument in nearly every case.
 
This year the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges denounced the theory as “junk science,” and at least four states have passed legislation to curtail its use in custody cases involving allegations of domestic violence. “It’s really been a cancer in the family courts,” says Richard Ducote, an attorney in Pittsburgh who has represented abuse victims in custody cases for 22 years. “It’s made it really difficult for parents to protect their kids. If you ask for protection, you’re deemed a vindictive, alienating parent.”
 
I also shortened this & posted it:

 

Sherman, Rorie. (Aug. 16, 1993). Gardner’s Law: A Controversial Psychiatrist and Influential Witness Leads the Backlash Against Child Sex Abuse ‘Hysteria,’ National Law Journal, 15, at 1, 45.

This article notes that forensic child psychiatrist Richard Gardner is one of the most prominent experts who is speaking out against what he considers to be child abuse hysteria.  Most of Gardner ‘s court testimony is devoted to defending men accused of child sexual abuse.  Gardner ‘s theories, most of which have never been tested empirically, are influencing court-appointed therapists around the country.  Gardner has been certified to testify in at least 70 sex-abuse cases, both criminal and civil. He is an outspoken media commentator and has hired his own publicist to help him gain access to more media outlets. Gardner calls child abuse allegations the “third-greatest wave of hysteria” that nation has seen, with the first two being the Salem witch trials and the McCarthy hearings. Many of his colleagues state that there is little scientific evidence to support his theories.  They also note that his ideas are not filtered through the peer-review system before they reach the courts because he publishes them himself.
To help cure society of false allegations, Gardner suggests that courts should appoint therapists familiar with his theory of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) to evaluate custody cases. This theory suggests that there is an epidemic of vindictive women accusing fathers of child sex abuse to gain leverage in child-custody disputes.  The only way to deal with severe cases of PAS, according to Gardner , is to take the children away from their brainwashing mother until they can be deprogrammed.  Gardner claims that the vast majority of sex-abuse accusations made during custody disputes are false, in-spite of numerous research studies which show the opposite is true. There is no research that confirms that PAS even exists, yet Gardner recommends that children be removed from their mother’s care based on it.  Critics state that Gardner almost always sides with a man against his wife, and even testified that a man who murdered his wife during a custody dispute should be found not guilty because his wife had driven him temporarily insane
Gardner also developed a psychological test called the Sex Abuse Legitimacy Scale (SALS) which is a checklist of criteria that Gardner claims will help determine whether child sex-abuse accusations are credible.  Since 1987, therapists nationwide started using this scale even though there was no research documenting that it was valid.  Recently the SALS has been discredited by academics, rejected by one appellate court and withdrawn from the market by Dr. Gardner.  One researcher used Gardner ‘s SALS to evaluate confirmed cases of child sexual abuse and found that the scale produced inaccurate assessments. A lawyer commented that under the theories expounded by Gardner , no matter what a woman who discovers her child is being sexually abused does, she is going to do something wrong unless she disbelieves her child. If a mother goes to an attorney or a doctor for help, the SALS finds the child’s allegations less credible. When asked to explain why all of the men who hire him to testify for them in sexual abuse cases are confirmed innocent by him, Gardner says that guilty men don’t ask him to testify for them.  Gardner states: “People who are falsely accused are more likely to come to me…Pedophiles recognize that I am not so easily fooled.”
 

And this-
 

 

“PAS is junk science at its worst,” says Dr. Paul Fink, President of the Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence, and a former President of the American Psychiatric Association.  Dr. Fink explains, “Science tells us that the most likely reason that a child becomes estranged from a parent is that parent’s own behavior. Labels, such as PAS, serve to deflect attention away from those behaviors.”
 

 Oh yeah, here’s Warshak’s article: Stop Divorce Poison

Everything’s fine

Courts are making it harder for women to make allegations of abuse (detering reporting is the wrong way to go), move out of the area after divorce (only with their permission), and, of course, from talking negatively about an ex (because all parents are perfect??) Here’s news from the UK about censorship, I mean, describing an ex as an “ogre:”

High court judge warns parents not to describe ex-partners as ‘ogres’

I don’t condone bad-mouthing a parent, but neither do I believe courts should get involved with freedom of speech or being able to teach a child about negative behavior. I had a housemate a few years ago. Her ex was involved with the fathers rights movement. Regardless of how he treated their child (lack of affection & love), she was left voiceless to complain – her ex threatened to use parental alienation syndrome (a bogus claim) against her. For courts to silence individuals, especially when it can help children understand negative parental behavior, is absurd.

PAS doesn’t make manual

There are always lobbyists for parental alienation syndrome, but they did not win out this time either.
PAS is not making it into the DSM-5, according to an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Great news for Protective Parents!!
PAS, or parental alienation syndrome, is the idea that one parent (usually the mother) poisons the mind of the child(ren) against the other parent. It was created by Richard Gardner who blamed “hysterical” women for making false allegations of child sexual abuse against fathers. He was misogynist, didn’t publish in a peer-review journal, defended child molesters, and this mental health expert stabbed himself in the chest, committing suicide.
The biggest concern about PAS is that it masks child abuse (see work by Jay Silverman at Harvard). Is the parent “alienating” the child or has the other parent abused the kid, creating hostility and fear? It also serves to scapegoat women. Children experiencing divorce can be depressed or angry for many reasons – not just because Mom tells them bad things about Dad. Then, there are the “reunification centers” where they reunite children with the estranged parent (potential abuser) and cut off ties with the parent that had the closer relationship.
Now, why is it that PAS – if it’s truly a mental health condition – works on changing children’s attitudes and not the parent’s? Wouldn’t that be working on changing the “cause” of the problem? And, is PAS a mental health condition or a legal strategy for gaining access or custody?
I refer to PAS as Pedophile Acting as Scientist. There’s no doubt in my mind that this so-called syndrome is in the best interest of the abuser. It also fails to meet scientific standards. I have no doubt parents bad-mouth each other, but it is not a mental health disorder. It is not a blanket cause for relationship break-downs or failures – sometimes, it’s because the parent can’t or won’t take accountability for their past or current actions. Sometimes it’s because there’s been abuse and it’s more common for abusers to deny abuse than it is for people to make false allegations.