Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Dealing with Judicial Anxiety

Increasingly, even as we become better and being clearer and more precise as to what will help remedy a parental alienation case, it appears to be the case that Judge's often hesitate to follow such recommendations. Very often, the targeted parent will have been accused falsely of being in some way dangerous, unstable or otherwise suspect as a parent. Since the court should always carefully examine any potential danger that such a parent might represent, it should then also recognize that the fact remains that parents are falsely accused of tendencies and acts that are not them. In cases such as these, where such possibility of danger has been carefully vetted and found to be absent, the court should then act accordingly. Sadly, we find that not to be the case very frequently. I believe that a key reason for this is that the second part of the equation involving false allegations is seldom executed.

What needs to happen - and this is the frequently missing piece - is for the case presentation to say essentially, "not only is this parent not guilty of what they have been accused of being, but what is true is that the other parent has affirmatively attempted to defraud the court" by accusing them as being so. When this argument is effectively and strongly made, the court's attention shifts from the targeted parent onto the alienating parent. It is at this point that the lightbulb of insight goes on for the judge and they begin to rule in a more corrective fashion. Absent this step, it appears to me that the judge is left with a lingering suspicion regarding the targeted parent. Therefore, the case presentation must bring the attention back to the alienating parent in a robust fashion. For reasons that I cannot clearly delineate, many attorney's appear to be uncomfortable with this last step, often citing that they want to remain as the "reasonable one". I believe that this is very often a serious error.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Is It Lack of Understanding or lack of Backbone?

Recently, I had the ambivalent experience of reading a Court Order in a case with clear cut Parental Alienation. The Court ordered a Custody Evaluation by a forensic evaluator with deep experience with parental alienation. The report was very thorough and the recommendations were very clear. Given the severity of the circumstances (which had been allowed to simmer for years due to procedural delays), it was recommended by the evaluator that custody be given from the alienating parent - who was clearly identified as such - to the targeted parent, in order to effect a remedy and to get the minor children out of the middle. It was clear from the language of the Order that the Judge understood alienation and its presence in this case. The Judge's ruling contained the awarding of various fees to be paid by the alienating parent to the targeted, which seemed very reasonable as the alienating parent's behavior was clearly what caused the matter to have to go to court.

Then I think the Judge blinked, or stumbled, or something. The court ordered that the parents essentially share equally in the time with the minor children. In spite of all of the other details provided by the evaluation, which supported the need for the children to be almost exclusively with the targeted parent, the Judge decided to split the time equally between the parents, which keeps them in the middle. Only now, fueled by anger and resentment over having to pay attorney's fees, this alienating parent will be even more so.

So what was it? Did the judge not really understand and only give lip service to the notion of parental alienation, or did the Judge loose his nerve? I really do not know, however I do know that what the court did order will not remedy the situation.