Parental Alienation: Insight & Tips from Judge Michele Lowrance

Summary: In her article “Parental Alienation – A Corrosive Legacy”, Judge Lowrance shares her insight on what parental alienation is, the damage it causes and what can be done to legally protect yourself (and your children).

“Parental Alienation – A Corrosive Legacy” includes tips for Judges on to recognize parental alienation. Judge Lowrance offers tips for parents on what you can do about parental alienation in the courts, and how to cope with the difficult emotions and reactions caused by parental alienation.


..Some Additional Thoughts….

What Is Parental Alienation

Parental Alienation is a form of severe emotional and psychological abuse inflicted on children, it often contributes to physical abuse–even murder. 

According to Judge Lowrance, when one parent declares war against another, the damage and trauma inflicted not only affect the child involved but can contaminate a family for generations. This is especially devastating when one parent resorts to alienation in that war, using a child as a weapon against the other, “targeted parent”. 

Parental Alienation is when one parent intentionally seeks to destroy a child’s relationship, and bond, with the other “targeted parent”. According to Judge Lowrance, the child is made to feel like, and believe, that their very survival depends on removing the “targeted parent” from their life. A child’s boundaries a broken down by Parental Alienation, the “love” and protection they receive from the Alienating Parent is dependent entirely upon fighting against, and removing, the “targeted parent” from the child’s life. The way the child is allowed to process emotions or feelings is greatly compromised. Often, the child becomes enmeshed or co-dependent with the Alienator.  According to Judge Lawrence, “Soon the child forgets how to protect him or herself, and must align with the alienating parent as if life depends on it — because it does.” 

My thoughts: Parental alienation is literally a parent bombarding a vulnerable child with messages, threats, gestures, bribes etc. For a child who has been traumatized by divorce/separation, especially if abuse is present in the home,  they are not only grieving and experiencing loss but seeking protection, reassurance, a sign that things will be okay again. An Alienator parent takes advantage of the child’s vulnerabilities, and manipulates them to believe that they alone can provide that. The child is then brainwashed to hate. denigrate, fear, even retaliate against the “targeted parent”.

A Family Court can also enable Parental Alienation. That happens when Courts become biased, and take the side of one parent while excluding the other parent. A Court may also deny one parent of their parental rights or refuse to follow laws meant to protect their legal rights. Family Courts also enable parental alienation by making extreme decisions that unfairly limit or deny a parent their custody and visitation with the child, or punish a parent for speaking out about their concerns.

Similarly, if a child is subject to instability, they may naturally reject the parent who they have less contact with because it hurts the child to continually grieve the loss of that parent. Children may also reject a parent when they lose contact and the bond they once shared begins to erode. This happens when Court orders frequently change. Or if a Court refuses to protect a victim of violence, and she is unable to visit the child because she fears for her life. Or if a Court refuses to enforce a visitation order, and the other parent constantly breaks it or causes disruptions.

This is why Family Court reform is so important–to protect parents from the harm caused by corrupt, biased and unjust courts. Some say that the best way to help families is to offer services and support so that they avoid court all together.  But for those families where the attempts at resolution failed, or violence is present, there may be no other alternative than Court. For those families, there needs to be serious change and systematic reform to protect parents and children from judicial abuse, and other failures that put the lives of children at risk, and destroy families.

Why Judges Struggle with Parental Alienation

According to Judge Lowrance, parental alienation cases are difficult for judges to handle because it is difficult to tell which parent is telling the truth when parents are combative. Targeted parents may also come across as being emotional, angry, and frustrated as they may not make a good impression in court. “Each time your visitation is interfered with, it has a cumulative affect. This can make you hyper sensitive, which easily magnifies your emotional response”.  Children will often take the side of the Alienator, and refuse therapy or intervention. And judges believe they are doing what is best and get angry or frustrated when their decisions don’t work (or when parents keep coming back to Court with problems).

My thoughts: Other contributing factors to why Judges struggle with parental alienation, and seem unable to protect victimized parents and children, may include: Bias. A Judge has a social or personal relationship with an attorney, guardian ad litem, or other court official that is affecting their rulings. Courts are influenced by, and working with, a select network of providers (therapists, mediators, educators, etc).

Judges and court officers may not be properly trained to recognize or deal with domestic violence or child abuse. Or simply do not believe abuse is occurring and ignore evidence or complaints of abuse.

Judges don’t like to admit they make mistakes. Or avoid admitting they make mistakes to avoid punishment, which leads to punishing a parent to scapegoat them.

An angry or frustrated judge can make irrational decisions.

Any more ideas..please post them below!

Action You may consider taking in court

Judge Lowrance offers several tips on what possible legal recourse you may have to defend against parental alienation.

Tips include organizing information to clearly show the judge alienation is occurring. Get a court order for parenting therapy. Know how to effectively communicate to the judge. And push to get a parenting plan. Learn how to cope with and manage your emotions. For more detailed information, please visit her article:

Words of Wisdom 

Judge Lowrance offers this advise for “targeted parents”,“Don’t let someone else provoke, influence, and therefore control how you behave. You run the risk of actually becoming as miserable and dysfunctional of a person as they’re trying to portray you to your children… In the same spirit, when you lose a child to alienation, you need to live as if he or she is watching you. Your long term goal is to become the person your child wants to come home to.”

About Judge Michele Lowrance: Judge Michele Lowrance believes the pain of divorce is universal, felt in all cultures and socio-economic backgrounds–the damage cause by divorce is often passed on through the generations of a family. She has also been a child of divorce, who was raised by her grandparents. As an adult, her marriage ended in divorce. Judge Lowrance has devoted her professional life to helping families cope with divorce and custody issues; including parental alienation. Judge Lowrance has been a domestic-relations judge in the Circuit Court of Illinois since 1995.  Judge Lowrance is also the author of “The Good Karma Divorce”, a book designed to help minimize the impact of divorce.

Title: “Parental Alienation – A Corrosive Legacy”

Author: Judge Michele Lowrance

Source: Divorce Magazine. com



About Emily Court

It takes "Just Us" To Fight Injustice in Family Court. I blog to raise awareness about problems existing in the family court system, and use my own story as a personal example of how the systemic failures in family court, and the Guardian ad Litem Program, affect families, in an effort to encourage needed reform. Written by a survivor of domestic violence and homelessness working to create a better life for her children, in a stable home free of violence. In her efforts to rebuild her life, she has not only encountered harassment and intimidation from her alleged abuser but faced systematic failures in family court that have empowered her alleged abuser and put her children at risk. She has spent over a decade trapped in family court until her children finally aged out of the system. Through writing and blogging, FCI is working to raise awareness about domestic violence, and the urgent need for family court reform. She is currently working on a memoir titled "'Til Prayers Are Answered".
This entry was posted in Family Court Injustice, Family Court News, Parental Alienation/DV by Proxy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Parental Alienation: Insight & Tips from Judge Michele Lowrance

  1. Tela says:

    how sad that courts/judges also create parental alienation. When these same people are to be unbiased and make unilateral decisions based on the BEST interest of the CHILD/CHILDREN.

  2. Reblogged this on Custody Struggles and commented:
    Another interesting read! Let me know what you think about it.

  3. Deanna says:

    Once you have a child that is alienated from an entire family, how do you propose the family deal with the loss and how do we help our younger children deal with the loss of a sibling?

    • Emily Court says:

      Hello Deanna,

      The loss of a child due to alienation is just as painful as if the child has died, and in my experience, you go through the very same grieving process. This type of loss is called “Ambiguous Loss” mean it is a loss that happens suddenly, and without explanation, and remains unresolved or there is no opportunity for closure.

      Every person, and family, deals with the loss differently. There is no right or wrong way. What is most important is finding ways to offer you support, and assist in your grief in a way that is meaningful for you.

      Tips on Dealing with Ambiguous Loss:

      When dealing with the loss of my children, it also helped tremendously to find a way to honor my children, and keep them a part of my life even though they are not with me. I did alot of volunteering because it gave me a way to use my mothering, and express what I valued most about being with family, in another setting. For example when working at a clubhouse for disabled adults I enjoyed cooking meals for potlucks or playing games with clients. Church was also really helpful for me because it offered messages of hope, and stories of people overcoming incredible challenges.. and gave me a strength I did not have inside of my self. So be open to trying new outlets to channel what is meaningful to you about your child or your role as a parent. Or be open to find support in creative places.

      One tip – you do NOT have to tell anyone your story if you do not feel comfortable, and it may even make you vulnerable to do so. It’s ok to keep your story private and use generic expressions when asking for help such as “I’m going through a loss” or “I have experienced grief” or “I’m needing support for a challenging I’m going through”. Also many community support groups are anonymous, and it’s ok to use a nickname or anonymous name if you feel more comfortable.

      As far as younger children, what I did when my son was grieving the loss of his siblings is find books or movies to tell him what is going on in a kid friendly way, and let him know I understood his feelings.

      The best movie I found was “Elmo in Grouchland”. The villain in the story, Huxley, steals Elmo’s blanket, and takes it to another world and away from Elmo. Elmo grieves the loss of his blanket. And then goes on an epic adventure to get it back. It felt easier to talk about the loss of my son’s siblings when comparing it to the loss of Elmo’s blanket. That Huxley had problems sharing so he took the blanket away, and that made Elmo sad. I said that my ex also had problems with sharing so he wasn’t letting us see your siblings, and we also feel sad. But just like Elmo worked hard to get his blanket back, mommy was also working hard to be able to spend more time with your siblings. And that might not happen right away but your brother and sister love you, and know we love them.

      Another book that is really helpful is “The Kissing Hand”. At night, I would read my son the book and then we’d kiss our hand, and through it out the window imagining that it would reach his brother and sister. It comforted my son to know he could do something, and that somewhere his siblings were getting his kiss.

      Anyone else have any tips for dealing with a child that is alienated from the family? Please post in comments.

      The Kissing Hand, Read on YouTube:

  4. butlincat says:

    When Haringey council took the 7 Musa children under totally false pretences, beginning in 2009, the first thing they did to 6 year old “Queen Elizabeth” [her name at the time] was to change it to “Lizzie”.. After serving a 7 year conviction [actually locked up for 36 months after accepting a deal to “return home to Nigeria”] and banned from visiting the UK again, and after mother Bishop Gloria nearly died in prison because of the deliberate lack of medical treatment, these 2 tortured parents still have no idea what happened to their 7 siblings. The last child Nesara being born in an HMP Holloway prison cell in the early hours of March 10 2012, the baby being taken from the drugged semi-concious mother never to be seen again – the father Chiwar never having set eyes on his son either [he was in Pentonville prison on remand awaiing tria on fabricated chargesl, as was Gloria, in HMP Holloway. A real public scandal, and whilst MP for Haringey David Lammy was on BBC tv’s “Question Time tonight 15/02/18 how he could sit there as bold as brass talking bs when he turned his back on the Musas in every possible way beginning in 2009 when numerous supporters and family contacted him regarding this atrocious case with its bent cops, bent judges, bent social workers and all the rest beats everything. Lammy is as bad as those bent social workers who manufactured the entire case against the Musa family!!

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