This “initial filtering” process helps a parent who may be dealing with alienation to avoid falling into the “blind spots” of both attorneys and mental health professionals that may be simply unfamiliar with the peculiarities of parental alienation.
Competent attorneys welcome and are not threatened by consultative input. When one considers that a busy family lawyer becomes involved in Parental Alienation (PA) cases in only a relatively small percentage of their cases, it is easy to understand how it would be impossible for even the most competent family lawyer to keep up with the latest developments involving the litigation of PA. In addition to this purely “informational” purpose, the consultant can also help the lawyer with the development of case strategy, with knowledge of what has actually been successful in other cases.
Most experienced attorneys will be the first to recognize the level of complexity and specificity that is involved in successfully litigating one of these cases. In the capacity of consultant, Dr. Bone typically reviews documents, pleadings and reports, and makes specific recommendations regarding expert testimony, review of expert work product and consultation with experts perhaps already appointed on your case. Through this strategy, the legal system becomes educated about Parental Alienation one case at a time, leaving in its wake, newly educated professionals and parents.
Litigating a complex family law case has been described in the following terms. Imagine a jigsaw puzzle with a thousand pieces, and the attorney is only allowed to use ten of the pieces, yet must still accurately convey the picture of the puzzle to the court, using only these ten pieces. The process of selecting which ten pieces is enormously complex and vexing.
The skill of “breaking the code” of which pieces to select, and which not to become distracted by, is a skill that is based on a level of experience that can only be developed by being “in the trenches” in the Courtroom for many years. Dr. Bone has served in all of the capacities for which he now consults.
After all, even the most seasoned and experienced family lawyer has only litigated cases involving PA in a fraction of his or her cases. Virtually all of Dr. Bone’s experience is born of dealing only with these cases in multiple states.
Review of and Trial Preparation For Extant Expert Witness Work
In most ongoing litigation there are already existing mental health professionals involved with the case. The experienced consultant can help the attorney with critique of adverse witnesses as expressed in the analysis of expert reports, analysis of past testimony, and the development of cross examination questioning, as reflected by the current standard of care. Additionally, the consultant can work with mental health professionals also involved in the case, but who may not be knowledgeable of the latest research and related matters regarding Parental Alienation.
Consultation for the Litigation Process
One of the most valuable functions served by the consultant has to do with the development of general case strategy, which points are most important to emphasize and which are not. One of the biggest challenges that the Family Attorney faces is in reducing huge amounts of information and presenting it in a way that tells the story of the case in its most compelling terms.
If Parental Alienation is not involved in a case, this challenge is still present. However, if it is involved, the challenge is even greater and the likelihood increases that the case presentation and focus become distracted and that the fragmentation increases dramatically. The reason for this is that alienation cases typically have huge amounts of information to be organized and somehow presented in a concise manner.
In addition to these overall litigation strategy services, the experienced consultant can also become deeply involved in the “nuts and bolts” of the case in the form of witness coaching, development of cross examination questions for adverse witnesses and related activities.
Cases involving Parental Alienation typically have mental health professionals already involved in the case, who may be otherwise competent, but naïve to PA. Such therapists may find themselves treating a child who has become alienated from the one parent due to the actions of the other parent. These therapists often side with the alienated child’s resistance to seeing the unwanted parent, believing that they are “protecting” the child from the other parent, when in fact there is no danger. In Parental Alienation cases, these witnesses become “adverse witnesses,” unwittingly supporting the alienation. In the context of litigation, the attorney for the alienating parent is often able to persuade these therapists to offer an opinion that supports the child’s not seeing that parent, even though they have never even spoken to that parent.
Once a therapist has done this, he or she has committed significant ethical errors, that should diminish their credibility. However if the attorney for the alienated parent is not aware of the ethical intricacies of this process, this therapist’s opinion would go unchallenged, and potentially do great damage to the case.
Exposing these ethical gaffs are extremely important to the truth of the case as it is understood by the Judge, however these types of ethical errors often go unchallenged. The consultant seasoned in Parental Alienation would not allow this process to go forward unchallenged.
Consultation With and Training of Mental Health Professionals Involved in the Case
In the process of having becoming involved in many PA cases in multiple states, it is striking how many potentially good clinicians are available, except for the fact that they have not had the experience and guidance to know how to handle these difficult cases. Many years of experience has taught that well intentioned, otherwise competent (yet untrained in the area of alienation) professionals have sometimes even unwittingly done harm, and have inadvertently worked in support of the alienation.
Again, very competent therapists, however not experienced in dealing with alienated children, will often ironically support the alienation. Likewise, evaluators naïve to Parental Alienation will assume most, if not all, allegations of abuse to be valid and accurate, and will not have the tools to effectively evaluate this and to rule it in or rule it out. Therefore, finding a PA savvy evaluator is critical.
There once was a time when, if faced with the process of divorce, one could just pick up the phone, call an attorney and they would “handle it.” In today’s environment of an over 50% rate of divorce, both parents vying for the custodial rights over their children, and record levels of abuse reports of all types, such a strategy to just let the attorney handle it, is perilous.
In today’s current environment, it is wise to have an experienced consultant, familiar with both the legal arena as well as the mental health arena, to serve as a consultant or perhaps a case manager to advise all on the team. As noted above, when alienation is involved, failure to have PA savvy professional advice can be disastrous.
As a consequence of this state of affairs, consulting services to parents, their attorneys, and to mental health professionals has become the primary focus of Dr. Bone’s work regarding Parental Alienation.
Parental Alienation Consultation with Dr. Bone
Get helping regarding your specific Parental Alienation problem through an Initial Consultation with a National Level Expert. Book a consultation here.