Friday, August 10, 2012

Sociopaths and Parental Alienation Cases

The movement to end domestic violence started when women began to speak to each other about their experiences of spousal abuse, which had always been considered a private matter. These discussions led to the realization that domestic violence was far more common then generally believed. This discovery was necessary in order to begin the work to end domestic violence.

Today, disturbingly, in thousands of custody-visitation cases all over the country, abused women and children are being revictimized rather than protected. Some of the cases have been publicized, but most have been hidden from public view. Often the media is reluctant to feature such cases, because they don’t have the resources to determine which side is telling the truth or out of fear of lawsuits. As a result, only the victims and genuine experts are aware of the pattern and frequency of such cases.

When women first started to learn about the extent to which men were abusing their female partners, there was no term to describe such behavior. Only later was the term domestic violence invented. This was an important step, because it gave us common language to describe an all too common and harmful behavior pattern. I believe we now need a term that describes cases in which women and children are further abused by the courts instead of being protected. I suggest using the term CUSTODY-VISITATION SCANDAL CASES, which would help us to better detect and understand the pattern and frequency of such atrocities, so that we can stop such abuse in the future.

Custody-Visitation Scandal Cases can be defined as having many but not all of the following attributes:

1. Allegations of domestic violence and/or child abuse made by the mother and/or child(ren)
2. A failure or refusal by court agents (attorneys, law guardians, forensic evaluator, therapists, and/or judge) to take such allegations seriously.
3. An outcome that places the children at serious risk
4. An outcome that appears to be 180 degrees from what it should be.
5. An outcome that gives custody to the alleged abuser and restricted visitation to the protective mother.
6. The use by the abusive father and his attorney of “standard abuser tactics” (i.e. seeking custody to punish the mother or maintain control; using visitation or custody to harass mother; claiming that unfounded child protective claims were made falsely and maliciously by the mother; attempting to manipulate the children etc.)
7. The propogation of myths and stereotypes about domestic violence (i.e. that mothers and children frequently make false allegations of abuse to gain an advantage in litigation) by the court and its agents.
8. Using “experts” with little or no training and understanding of domestic violence.
9. Gender bias and double standards (mothers being held to a higher standard than fathers)
10. Failure to consider and use up-to-date domestic violence research.
11. Approaches that blame the victim.
12. Use of biased or unsupported theories (i.e. Parental Alienation Syndrome; “Angry women”; “Vindictive women”; alienation; masochism etc.)
13. Extreme penalties against protective mothers.
14. Outcomes that make it appear like the judge was bribed even though that is usually not the cause of the judicial abuse.

I am not saying that every case that fits many of the above criteria has to have been improperly decided, but I believe research will find that 98% or more of such cases have been tragically mishandled. Custody-Visitation Scandal Cases should be identified, examined. and corrected when necessary. Even more important, society must create a system to prevent such cases from happening.

By Barry Goldstein

Reprinted from: Custody and Visitation Scandal

1 comment:

  1. Barry characterizes the family court system as so inept it is dangerous to the average person. While this may be true I don't
    see him posing any serious solution. We do know, based on modern research not yet fully adopted by the family courts, the two things that work and the two things that do not work in resolving custody cases. First Mediation does work, while adversarial litigation does not work. Second, family judges treating parents equally, if not identically, works so well that many states have officially, if not in practice, made this into a statutory, legal presumption--i.e., joint legal/physical custody being in, and singularly defining, the best interests of the children. Conflict is fueled and harm is caused when the courts take sides. The more courts stay neutral the better for the kids and the parents. When family courts really take sides and exile one parent from his or her children (create a massive disparity in power/control), typically one or both parents become ill (e.g., sociopathic), many get incarcerated (typically the one exiled), or they commit homicide, suicide and some, including children victimized by a side-taking court, carry out community massacres. The research on mediation, inter-parent communication and joint custody being used in tandem, as working best for kids (and parents) is not in dispute. The problem is, family courts get alot of pull from bar associations, etc., to create conflict between the parents--take sides or punish one, generate litigation, and to discourage or prevent mediation--as this generates lucrative fees.
    I think the simplest solution is to pass a law in each state that automatically orders, at the start of each and every custody case, between separating or divorcing parents, the following: 1. joint physical custody (equal parenting time, unless the parents agree otherwise), 2. joint legal custody, 3. an inter-parent communication plan(with a schedule, following input provided by the parents as to their availability), 4. inter-parent mediation (at each stage of each case, prior to each/every substantive motion, with mediators having no contact or communications with lawyers or with the courts). Custody evaluations, if performed, shall be reported to parents only, not to the lawyers or the courts, and shall not comment or make any recommendations on any issues that are before the court. The reports shall be exclusively for the benefit of the children, and shall focus exclusively on facilitating and achieving inter-parent communication, mediation, cooperation and agreement on parenting/access. There shall be no ex parte motions or orders; family courts, henceforth, shall observe laws governing due process. Protection orders, if entered by a family court, shall center around ensuring inter-parent communication, mediation, cooperation and agreement on parenting/access. If there is a violent inter-parent crime, or threat of serious bodily injury, of which a parent was convicted, or is being tried in a criminal court, which caused serious injuries or extended hospitalization to the co-parent or to a child, a stay-away order may be considered
    by a family court if the other parent is out on bond, or has not yet been arrested. In all other child custody cases, non-adversarial methods of dispute resolution shall be strictly applied.