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The Crime of Parental Alienation - Part 4

The continued case of a father who is alienated from his 13 year old triplets and what more can be done to help heal broken families like this.

THE CRIME OF PARENTAL ALIENATION

Part 4 in a Series of Articles

 

By Joan Kloth-Zanard, RSS, ABI and LC

 

This is the continued case of a family, where the father has not seen his children in almost 2 years.  There is no obvious reason to this relationship breakdown other than maybe a mother who refuses to support the father having a loving relationship with his triplets.  It is called Parental Alienation and it is a serious problem for all involved.

As I am a fair and honest reporter, I have again tried to reach out to the maternal side of the family, to find out why this relationship with the children and their father has been allowed to deteriorate to this level.   So far, I have received no response back, creating only more wonder and suspicion as to what is going on.

Could it be that the mother has family of origin issues with her own parents?  Was there an abandonment issue with her own father or mother?  Could it be that she is stuck in the anger stage of the grieving process and cannot move forward?  Is it possible that she has extreme low self-esteem that makes her believe that she has to be perfect, because if she is not perfect, then she is not loveable; and if she is not lovable then she will be abandoned and alone without her children?  Could it be deep depression from her own childhood that she is projecting through her own children toward the relationship with their father?  Or could it be something worse, like a mental health issues that needs to be addressed so that she can move forward in her life and be able to properly parent by allowing the children to have their own emotions and feelings? Or could it be that she cannot control her own impulses when it comes to the borders and boundaries between the children and her, something this reporter calls, Borderless Boundaries?

It is for all of these reasons listed above that this reporter, author and expert in Parental Alienation, strongly believes that the first step, in any contested custody, visitation or contempt of a court order which involves the children, should be court ordered counseling.  This counseling should be for a minimum of 3 months with a specialist in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) and Parental Alienation or at the very least, specializes in Anger and Grief Management along with impulse control.  But I hear you asking, how is this going to help if the parent is not going to the counseling or cooperating when they are in the therapists office?   And what about finding these specialized counselors that do understand how to treat and solve for this kind of emotional projection and breakdown of relationships?

Let’s start with the first question, how do you deal with the parent who refuses to cooperate with the counseling orders.  This is where a set of penalties or sanctions must be firmly in place. And then judges must apply them so that the parent gets the point, that the courts will no longer tolerate this kind of behavior.  It should be like the 3 strikes and you are out theory, based on the fact that time is of the essence when it comes to the children.  A violation of this order is NOT just about not going to counseling but not doing the hard work involved in the therapy session to deal with each parents’ own personal issues.  In fact, it will be self-evident if a parent is cooperating with counselig by the children’s behavior and attitudes.  And so my recommendations would be as follows.

  • First, a warning is issued at the start of the orders that if either parent does NOT cooperate with the counseling, including not bad mouthing the other parent, impeding visitation or not allowing free communication between the children and the other parent, they will risk loss of custody and being forced to have only supervised visitation until such time that they have cooperated with the therapist.  They will have three strikes and then they are out and will loose custody, whether temporarily or permanently.  In addition, in order for them to move forward to the next step in the process, going to parenting classes, they have be cleared by a panel of not less than 3 therapists who agree that the parent has made progress and is ready to maintain a healthy relationship with their children.
  • 3rd Week Mark:  If a parent has not started weekly counseling, or is refusing to do the necessary work while in therapy, then they should be court ordered to do community service with children who have no parents.
  • 6th Week mark: If the parent still has not cooperated with the counseling order, a fine of 10% of that parents income, which will include all child support income, will be charged and given to the targeted parent or to a charity for children or placed in an escrow account that collects interest.  In addition, if the parent is the child support receiving parent, all child support will be put into an escrow account collecting interest until such time that the parent can prove to the courts that they will NOT impede in the relationship and have done the work necessary in counseling.  If the parent is the child support-paying parent, an additional child support payment will be put into an escrow account for each 4 weeks of non-compliance, to be either returned to this parent once they comply or to be divided equally and given to the children when they turn 18 if no compliance ever occurs.
  • 9th Week Mark:  If the parent has still not complied with the courts orders or is still impeding, as evidenced in the children’s behavior, then the children will be immediately placed in the targeted parents custody and supervised visitation will be ordered for the offending parent.  Again, via a panel of no less than 3 Counselors, this parent must clear to resume   or reestablish a healthy unsupervised relationship and visitation with the children.
  • 12th Week Mark:  If after 12 weeks, the parent has still not gone to therapy and done the work required, after a final review by a panel of no less than 3 Counselors, the parent will Loose Custody, whether temporary or permanent.  This is the only way to ensure that the children’s mental health and best interests are maintained.

 

If however, a parent has cooperated and done the work necessary in counseling, and via a consensus of no less than 3 other therapists, who deem the parent to be a fit parent, then this parent moves on to the Parent Class Stage of the divorce process.  It is my belief, that with a standard of recommendations followed by the courts, we will see less volatile divorces, shorter divorce cases, less money wasted that is better earmarked for the children and best of all, chances are pretty good that if the parents are doing their part, then the children will never need counseling in relation to the divorce.

But what about these specialized counselors, where do we find them?  This can be done in one of two ways.  First, any counselor who wants to be involved in family court proceedings must go through a special training class for Alienation in much the same way as Judges, Guardian Ad Litems and Attorneys for the Minor child must do.  Or if they are already well versed in Alienation, believe they can identify it and treat it, they can take a Mastery’s test to prove their expertise.  This would also give the courts the opportunity to ask some questions about how different counselors are presently treating for it and what their typical recommendations are so the courts can learn what is new and developing in this area.

The last piece of this puzzle involves the constant court delays and stall tactics used to keep the children from a loving parent who has no substantiated claims of neglect or abuse.  This issue is two-fold.  The first part being if there is an issue involving visitation interference and a court delay of more than a few weeks.  Do the need for swift and timely resolution to the visitation issue; the children’s physical custody should be changed immediately to the targeted parent temporarily or until the trial date at bare minimum.  This prevents the aggressive parenting from gaining any further benefit from the court delays and stall tactics.

But I hear you saying, wouldn’t this mean alienating aggressive parents are going to start filing even more false allegations of abuse and neglect? Yes, I do believe that could happen, which is why the courts need to put their foot down when a parent is found to have filed false allegations.  If the courts stood up to those parent filing false reports of abuse and penalized them or at the very least referred the charges back to the respective police department or agency to take appropriate legal action, I think, that parents would start to think twice before filing a bogus claim of abuse.

No this is not a perfect science and a one solution fits all but it is a start to bettering the way family courts are handling high conflict custody and divorce situations.  If you would like to read more in depth about my ideas, contact me or come to our Monthly Meetings on the 2th Thursday of the Month at the Southbury Public Library in Southbury, CT.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

mary April 30, 2013 at 06:55 PM
Connor, you are so very welcome and no apology needed. I understand what you are going through since I am also going through this. It is nice to have people to talk to that are on the same page. Contact Joan about meetings, she has done so much for the community in organizing groups and going to Hartford for Legislative meetings. It is a long and hard fight, but as long as you are a commitment to your son, you will find the strength to keep going.
Joan Kloth-Zanard April 30, 2013 at 11:00 PM
Mary, actually, here in CT, our parenting plan has a section to put in all of this stuff including remedies for non-compliance. It is number 4 on the form. The problem is that no one bothers to complete that section. Connor, we have a federally taxed exempt non-profit under Sec. 501(c)(3) of the IRS called PAS Intervention. We are often teamed up with Save Our Kids/FatherWithoutChristmas and PAAO USA. PAS Intervention actually has state chapters including one here in CT that meets every 3rd Thursday of the Month at the St. James Lutheran Church in Southbury, CT. Our next meeting is May 16th. For more information contact CTPASI@pas-intervention.com Additionally, we have 24/7 online support groups via yahoo where we have much more control over privacy and confidentiality. You can find more information out at www.PAS-Intervention.com and then clicking on services and following the links to the Free Online Support Groups. These groups are international are made up of some of the most amazing people I have come across.
An Honest Observation May 31, 2013 at 11:37 PM
Jerry Mastrangelo was back in court this week hoping that the judge would be able to clarify the agreement that he signed after hours of duress in court a couple of months ago. The clarification did not happen. What's the problem with a good, loving and devoted dad trying to get back into the lives of his almost fourteen year old triplets after being ripped out of their lives almost 3 years ago? There is something so horribly wrong with family law in CT that allows one parent the ability to take charge of her children and alienate them from the other parent. As in Connor's case, the children's mother broke up her family and carried on with her boyfriend in the marital home just months after telling Jerry to leave. Thousands and thousands of dollars wasted on the GAL and the attorney for the children and Jerry still cannot see his children. The outrageous point in this case is that he had shared custody of his children after the divorce. The ex decided on her terms to take that court order away. She's gotten away with the alienation all of this time but the case has gotten national attention; highlighting the subject of Parental Alienation and its life long effects on the innocent children. Any parent who believes that taking a good and dedicated parent away from their children is not child abuse is a very sick and disturbed individual. Every child deserves to have both parents in their lives. The courts have failed all of the families that have not given this natural right to a child. It is a moral disgrace and the attention is now overwhelming and will, hopefully, bring justice to the children and the alienated parent.
Joan Kloth-Zanard June 01, 2013 at 08:28 PM
Honest Observation, you are so right. I think the key is that we need to start focusing on the Children's Rights and not the parent's rights since parent's right seem to mean nothing. The children have a right to healthy, happy, unimpeded relationship with both parents. These professionals take an oath to protect the children's best interests which includes their rights. So why are they still not doing this?
An Honest Observation July 19, 2013 at 11:42 PM
Greed overrules their oath to protect the children. Anne Epstein, the attorney for the children, felt justified in asking Jerry to open his wallet and tell the court what credit cards he carried and the balances and limits on each! She was consumed with getting his money as though he was leaving town. I think she forgot about the children's right to a happy relationship with their dad!

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