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: http://www.divorcemag.com/articles/Parental-Alienation-Syndrome/parental_alienation.html
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. http://thegoodkarmadivorce.com/
Title: “Parental Alienation – A Corrosive Legacy”
Author: Judge Michele Lowrance
Source: Divorce Magazine. com