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The Poison Parent

12 June 2009 by Sandra Gionas

High-conflict cases is what they’re called in family court — where acrimony between exes fuels endless court appearances and the inability to resolve issues.. And one area where it is most contentious is over custody and access rights.

Professionals in the family court system are increasingly paying attention to the alienation of a parent by another parent. Bad-mouthing the ex and leading children to believe they aren’t loved by the other parent is incredibly damaging to children as you will hear from our panel tonight.

Mr. Justice Harvey Brownstone, who presides over North Toronto Family Court, family lawyer Jeffery Wilson, family psychologist Barbara Fidle and researcher Amy Baker will be on hand to discuss the damaging effects of parental alienation and how it is playing out in our courts.

One guest we tried to book but he was already committed to another conference today is law professor Nichiolas Bala of Queen’s University in Kingston. He and his research team recently concluded a study which focused on parental alienation cases in the courts from 1989 to 2008. He concluded that such cases are on the rise and a detriment to the courts in that they are taking up far too much time. He also broke down cases according to gender and the results of experts appointed to give testimony. It’s worth a look or see below.

Comments:

The children are victims

The one thing not mentioned in here is how a parent is supposed to prove alienation? It is illegal to record interactions of the other parent with the children and it would not be accepted as evidence. This was told to the custodial parent by their lawyer.

My niece and nephew are subjected to this, but they are too afraid of the offending parent to want anything done about it. Their mother is afraid to try because the fear is that it would backfire and she would lose the children.

The kids do not want to talk with counsellors because the law requires the other parent to be involved.

The children's school is aware of the problem, but their hands are also tied.

When children are young, who is there to defend them? The sad reality is no one. Parental rights take precedence and even if it were pursued there is no guarantee they would be protected.

I hope these kids sue the courts and judge involved in their case for failing to protect them.

posted by I have to say something on 13 June 2009 at 12:16 AM

Parental Alienation is definitely out there and is egregious child abuse

I watched the show and found it informative. Inasmuch as Judge Brownstone has sat on the bench for so long he seems out of touch with the actual thoughts of dads. He indicates not many seek custody. I find this to be not in keeping with my own research and contacts with other divorced dads, not only in this country but several others. Frequently what happens when a dad gets a lawyer he will be told "you do not stand a chance at getting custody" so take visitation, pay child support, and cut your losses. If he has a pension he will be told to try and trade the family home to keep it intact.

The current custody ratio is about 9-1 in favour of mom. I do not believe 90% of dads do not want shared and equal custody of their children. That is a first legislative change necessary. If their is a presumption of shared and equal parenting with bi-location it will help to reduce PA and the divorce rate will drop as it has in other jurisdictions. In the Belgium model any parent withholding access is considered to have abducted the children and will face jail. This will reduce access problems in Canada and will not give leverage to the withholding parent as it is automatic. They cannot blame the access parent and further alienate the child. Actions lead to consequences.

Judge Brownstone also tries to paint the picture the court is not gender biased. He may actually believe this but it is untrue. The 9-1 ratio of custody to mom is a startling and a profound judgment of men's perceived incapabilities. Ninety percent (90%) of us are not worthy to quote an old character on SNL. All these men are sentenced to 14% visitation, if false allegations are not raised about their anger problems. All judges seem to think DV is a one way street and if a false allegation that dad raised his voice, looked mean at the mom or hit the mom guarantees him only supervised access if any. False allegations are one of the weapons of choice in custody fights. Any lawyer who suggests this to a client as an option is clearly playing to his client not the needs of children. Do you think ethics prevent lawyers from doing this? Hmmm...I have this property for you...

Some judges use the excuse mom was the primary carer so it is just status quo. How is this measured? Most families have two workers and many dads have a high participatory rate in parenting. In my case because of criminal behaviour by my ex against my former employer I took a buy-out due to the humiliation and loss of reputation/credibility with my employer. I was a stay-at-home dad to my children from infancy for ten years. My ex took a run to the local DV shelter to get a leg up on custody. She also got those who are trained to believe everything these women say is true behind her causing me to lose custody. She did alienate the children before leaving to ensure they would be her allies. The deck is stacked against most dads even though all studies show the female is as prone to initiate Domestic Violence as the male. I can speak to that with experience.

Gender bias is not only in existence judges and lawyers are daily continuing to promote it. Is it willful blindness? I think so as judges are acting out the way they were trained by feminists who preach men are inherently violent and women the natural carers of children. These feminist trainers also deny the studies showing women as equal to or greater initiators of DV than men. All judges are required to take it.

I thought the show, on the whole, was informative. Amy Baker is a respected researcher in the field of PA, Mr. Wilson and Dr. Fidler very experienced in the battlefield for the affections of children and it is a gruesome place full of negative emotional outcomes for the children. I will recommend in my blogs it be viewed by others impacted by PA. Both dads and moms do use the children as weapons in this manner. Bala's recent study shows a 2-1 ratio for moms.

posted by MikeMurphy on 13 June 2009 at 10:34 AM

It works both ways

In the Belgium model, who tells the courts that one parent is withholding access? How many police forces are going to drop everything and run out to grab the kids and return them to the parent with the right to have them?

How many times do the non-custodial parent decide not to take their visitation? Will the police take the children to that parent and say sorry, this is your time, you look after them? What custodial parent will even want to force the issue?

I don't doubt that there are both mothers and fathers who will do this kind of thing. Trouble is, the custodial parent is at the mercy of the other when the other is willing to lie, cheat, deceive and is not the least bit worried about consequences because, well frankly, they get away with it.

If they don't get away with it, and do go to jail, well whose fault is that? The parent who did the reporting, if they are believed in the first place. You can be sure the children will be told it is the others fault.

If that parent is paying child support, do you really want to report them and have them put behind bars, reducing their employment opportunities?

The deck is definitely stacked in favour of the offending parent.

posted by I have to say something on 13 June 2009 at 1:14 PM

@ to -" I have to say something"~ Belgium model

Keep repeating - Actions have consequences. Don't think of our current dysfunctional system. Think of a system that treats moms and dads equally. Trust me, when an offending parent ends up in jail for non-compliance they nor many, many others will ever do it again once they hear the courts treat it seriously. It is called accountability which is sadly lacking in our jurisdiction.

In Belgium they call withholding access abduction and child abuse. Isn't it wonderful to see them call a spade a spade. That is what equal treatment brings - there is no such thing as an access or non-custodial parent. I would certainly call the police, and have, when access is withheld. We are talking about your flesh and blood. Would you meekly walk away from them? I don't think so! Would you be prepared to go to jail by withholding access? I doubt it. Its deterrence with a capital "D".

In cases of 50-50 time with each parent no support is paid. Where it is greater than 50-50 a proportionate amount is calculated based on the income of both parties. They work this out and present it to the judge. The support collection agency does not exist anymore. It was reassigned for more productive tasks.

posted by MikeMurphy on 13 June 2009 at 7:07 PM

Consequences of Alienation

I am a father of 2 boys and was not allowed visitation for many years now with their mother claiming they don’t want to see me or any of my side of their family. . I cannot go to their house in fear of being arrested for some allegation of violence. I have accepted this fate and did not want to again return to court as I felt I was always treated in a bias way and my relationship with my children was not supported by any judge. I felt this continued fight was only further damaging my children, and bankrupting me, so I backed off completely to give my boys the space I felt they needed. Well my oldest is now in college; away from his mother's influence and we speak almost daily and get together regularly.

I cannot help but wonder if and when my sons have a family of their own, just what expections their mother will have for a relationship with our grandchildren? I bet she hopes very much that our boys do not get involved with a women that is anything like her because if they do, she may never, ever even see her grandchildren.

Birdman

posted by Birdman on 14 June 2009 at 9:10 AM

Thank You

I want to THANK YOU for arranging the interviews. I am so grateful for your efforts. I am a targeted parent and spent years not knowing what was happening. I'd never heard of PAS. After years of rejections I finally found out there was a name for what was happening. Once I found out about PAS researched and read as much as I could. Knowing about PAS and understanding what was going on allowed me to better deal with the situation. Programs like this will help raise awareness for both the children and the targeted parent to help give them the tools they need to counter the abuse.. Again, thank you for a very educational and informative program.

posted by NancyS on 26 June 2009 at 11:24 PM

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Injustice here is Injustice everywhere! -Martin Luther King Jr.

 

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