As you may already know, a big focus of my work within the last few years has been that of education. I have found that most parents learn of the minefields and trip wires of parental alienation only after they have been stumbled upon and have exploded.
I frequently get the question, "How do you prove parental alienation in Court?"
My response is that, luckily, you do not have to prove it, you just have to get the Judge to believe that it is present. By this, I do not mean that your job is to falsely convince the Judge of anything, but that absolute proof of such a thing is not necessary. There are many a judge who "get it" based on how the case is presented and how the various players impact the judge.
It is important to understand and recall that Parental Alienation is a form of child abuse. The manipulation of one’s children to the belief that their other parent does not love them, is the cruelest form of child abuse.
Let me say that again. Being a veteran of a war does not make one an expert on war.
By that I mean this. The war veteran is an absolute expert on his or her experience with the war in which they found themselves, but this experience alone does not equip them to teach at, say The War College.
Likewise, one’s personal experience with Parental Alienation, as tragic as it may legitimately be does not - by virtue of that personal experience alone - qualify one to serve in an expert capacity for other people’s cases. Expertise to do this should be grounded in a combination of deep academic experience, research experience, clinical experience "in the trenches" as they say, with many families in a variety of circumstances, as well as with professional experience in a more general sense in order to place all of these specific experiences in a broader context.
But, you say, what about all of the support groups, websites, etc. offering support and advice? Are they not legitimate? Of course they are, and I applaud the wonderful work and support that they provide, and this is not what I am referring to at all. I am a supporter of a great many of them, and hold them in the highest regard. They are wonderful sources of education and validation of the experience of alienation, and enough cannot be said about how profoundly valuable these efforts are.
The distinction I wish to make is the distinction between support and education, and the giving of specific strategic advice - which is based in mental health or legalistic principles - to individuals in their cases, and doing so for a fee.
I hear stories from time to time that make me cringe as I hear of the specific advice that has been handed out to a client under these circumstances that was obviously based more on that advisor's own personal experience with Parental Alienation, than it is based on the facts and factors of the client's specific case.
It is important to understand that, while the phenomenon of Parental Alienation is indeed very patterned, that it also is individually nuanced. One size does not fit all.
The best advice I can give is to kick the tires of any potential advisor. Find out about the depth of their academic background, the depth of their experience in dealing with Parental Alienation, as well as the depth of their experience in dealing with families where Parental Alienation is not present. Both categories should be significant. Find out about the number of cases in which they have been involved and ask for references.
In my experience, parents who have experienced Parental Alienation are very often inspired to help others and will not be put off by being listed as a reference. Finally, find out how versed they are in the legal system, assuming they are not a lawyer.
If their advice comes from more of a mental health perspective, find out what expertise, training and background they have in the mental health field, both related to Parental Alienation and not related to Parental Alienation.
None of the questions suggested here should put off anyone you are considering becoming involved in your case. They are reasonable and completely justifiable and should not ruffle feathers. If feathers do get ruffled however, perhaps the wind is blowing in the wrong direction.
Schedule a Parental Alienation Consultation with Dr. Bone
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I have been involved with the devastating problem of Parental Alienation long enough to have a personal sense of the progress we have made, and the progress still needed. Much has happened in the field of Parental Alienation since 1984 when Richard Gardner, MD published his first paper describing Parental Alienation Syndrome.
Today is Parental Alienation Awareness Day (PAAD), a day created as a part of the global awareness campaign about Parental Alienation.
Parental Alienation, wherein a child no longer wants to see a once loved parent due to the influence of the other parent, is not the only reason that a child might not want to see that parent.
When parents are abusive, neglectful, frightening, etc., these behaviors on the part of that parent can also cause a child to not want to see them. This is not Parental Alienation of the kind often referred to as Parental Alienation. Therefore, when a parent has been abusive to their child to the degree that the child no longer wants to see them, this is not Parental Alienation.
There is a debate within the professional community regarding just what causes children to become alienated within the context of their parents divorcing or its aftermath.
The debate boils down to this question: Is the behavior of the alienating parent sufficient to cause children to become alienated, or does the targeted parent’s behavior also play a role?
While this may seem like an interesting question with not much significance, we find that its answer has profound implications regarding what may be recommended as a solution to the problem of Parental Alienation.
Family Law attorneys may be unaccustomed to working on a consultative basis with a mental health professional. More often than not, attorneys tend to see such professionals as being experts, evaluators and therapists, whom they will depose, examine in court and/cross-examine.
The concept of having a consultant in a “team” framework is often not familiar ground. The purpose of this brief monograph is to outline the benefits a Parental Alienation Consultant can bring to your court case.
On Sunday, March 11th at 8 PM EST, Dr. Michael Bone and Dr. Robert Evans will be our guest speakers for our international support conference call. This call is devoted to the problem of the education - or the lack of education - of professionals regarding parental alienation. Many of you are going through litigation. Some unfortunately have attorneys and other professionals who know little to nothing on the subject of alienation. Many of you are going pro se on your cases. This is absolutely a call you will want to be on.
J. Michael Bone, PhD.
Dr. Bone is an experienced consultant for cases involving Parental Alienation and has spent over 25 years working with high conflict divorce as a therapist, expert witness, mediator, evaluator and consultant, both nationally and internationally.