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Parental Alienation in Child Custody Litigation


Program Description:

On July 17, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. (ET), The TASA Group, in conjunction with custody evaluator expert, Dr. Ken Lewis presented a free, one-hour interactive webinar presentation, Parental Alienation in Child Custody Litigation, for all legal professionals.

During this presentation, Dr. Lewis discussed:

  • Emotional child abuse - Some typical behaviors and definition
  • Definition of parental alienation
  • Effects of parental alienation
  • Behavioral descriptions of parental alienation
  • Effects of parental alienation
  • Tips for family lawyers

Parental Alienation in Child Custody Litigation from The TASA Group, Inc. on Vimeo.

About the Presenter:

Dr. Ken Lewis specializes in parental alienation and high conflict child custody cases.  For the past 25 years, he has worked full-time in the area of child custody, and has been court-appointed guardian ad litem or custody evaluator in more than two dozen states and in Canada. Ken’s publications on child custody have appeared in Family Law Quarterly, The Judges’ Page, Child Welfare, and Children Today and has a book entitled The Five Stages of Child Custody. In the United States, Ken has been a frequent media guest on radio and television and has conducted workshops across the country, as well as presented internationally. Ken is a long-time member of the International Committee of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.


Lauren: Good afternoon, and welcome to today's presentation, Parental Alienation and Child Custody Litigation. The information presented by the expert is not to be used as legal advice and does not indicate a working relationship with the expert. All materials obtained from this presentation are merely for educational purposes, and should not be used in a court of law, sans the expert's consent, i.e., a business relationship where she or he is hired for your particular case. In today's webinar, Dr. Lewis will discuss emotional child abuse, some typical behaviors and definition, definition of parental alienation, behavioral descriptors of parental alienation, effects of parental alienation, courts' responses to parental alienation and tips for family lawyers. To give you a little background about our presenter, Dr. Ken Lewis specializes in parental alienation in high conflict child custody cases. For the past 25 years, he has worked full-time in the area of child custody, and has been court-appointed guardian ad litem or custody evaluator in more than two dozen states and in Canada.

Ken's publications on child custody have appeared in "Family Law Quarterly," "The Judges' Page," "Child Welfare," and "Children Today" and has a book entitled "The Five stages of Child Custody." In the United States, Ken has been a frequent media guest on radio and television and has conducted workshops across the country, as well as presented internationally. Ken is a long-time member of the International Committee of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Attendees do require a passcode. The word for today is custody. During the Q&A session, we ask that you enter the passcode into the Q&A widget for CLE reporting purposes. The Q&A is located to the left of your screen. Please remember that if you are applying for CLE credit, you must log on to your computer as yourself and stay for the full 60 minutes. You're also required to complete the survey at the end of the program. Please note that CLE credit cannot be given to those watching together on a single computer.

Tomorrow morning, we will send out an email with a link to the archived recording of the webinar. The slides can be downloaded from the resource list at the widget at the bottom of your screen. Thank you all for attending today. And Ken, the presentation is now turned over to you.

Dr. Lewis: Thank you, Lauren. Ken Lewis here. Hello, everybody. I hope you can hear me. My first statement is to you, and most of you are lawyers I assume. After the webinar, if any of you wish further information about case law or mental health organizations in your state that deal with this topic of parental alienation, please email me at either of the two email addresses on the screen. I also want to tell you that I have case law from the following states in case anybody wants to email me for it. California, Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, and 21 other states. All right, let's get started. Let me give you my outline. The first topic is emotional child abuse, some typical behaviors and some definitions. Take a look at the rest of the presentation. I'll come back to this outline from time to time.

These are some typical kinds of behaviors that we have found parents doing. In high degrees, these behaviors could be called emotional child abuse. Rejecting, isolating, terrorizing, ignoring, corrupting, verbally assaulting, and over pressuring the child. Again, in high degrees, these could be considered emotional child abuse. Now, while various agencies define emotional child abuse slightly differently, the most acceptable definition is from the APSAC. That would be the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children. Emotional abuse, they say is a repeated pattern of caregiving behavior that conveys to children that they are worthless, flawed, unwanted, endangered, and so forth. Our federal government also defines emotional child abuse. I found it in two places in our federal law. In, you know, you can read them, "Acts that cause conduct disorder, cognitive disorder, affective disorder, or other mental disorder could be considered emotional abuse." That's from the US Department of Health and Human Services.

And here's another one, "Any act on the part of a parent which results in serious emotional harm." Now, that came from CAPTA, the Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act. So, our federal government does recognize emotional child abuse. Let's go to a definition of parental alienation now. Okay. Parental alienation is defined most frequently as a child, usually one whose parents are engaged in a high conflict separation of divorce, allies himself strongly with one parent that is called the alienating parent. And the child rejects the relationship with the other parent, we call that the targeted parent. But this is done without legitimate justification. If there is justification such as abuse or neglect, physical abuse of the child by a parent, etc., then it's not parental alienation. That's a very important distinction. What are the behaviors that cause a child to be alienated? Let's go through some of them. Bad mouthing the rejected parent, interfering in a child's contact with rejected parents.

Examples of interfering would be throwing out gifts and letters that the other parent sends or calling excessively during visitation periods, early pickups or late drop off for visitation, forbidding videos or photographs of the rejected parent in the child's bedroom. Scheduling activities that compete with the visitation times of the other parent, monitoring the phone calls. And in the extreme case, changing the child's name. I could have given you some examples of bad mouthing. Here you go, here's a couple, speaking negatively or inaccurately to the child about the other parent, or exaggerating minor flaws in the rejected parent. Or confiding in the child adult information about the other parent. Let's go to manipulating a child to reject the parent. This would be like withdrawing love, inducing guilt or having fun with the rejected parent. Here's another, undermining the rejected parents role in the child's life. Some examples, asking the child to spy or keep secrets from the rejected parent.

Forcing the child to choose between the parents, creating conflict between the child and the rejected parent. Letting the child decide whether or not to visit. Undermining the rejected parent's role is an example. Refusing to provide the child's medical or educational information to the other parent or not inviting the rejected parent to the child's special events like awards at school or graduation. We have a few moments for questions and answers.

Lauren: Thank you. We're now entering the Q&A session. Please enter the passcode during this time, the passcode is custody. Please also enter any questions that you have for Dr. Lewis during this time. The first question that we have is, here in Minnesota, we have statutory factors for child custody, none of which refer to parental alienation. Where can parental alienation be utilized?

Dr. Lewis: That's a good question. I've had some cases, I've been appointed in Minnesota. In macro terms, parental alienation is all about the parent-child relationship. Now, Minnesota has 14 statutes for defining best interest in child custody cases. So, I would focus on factor number 11. Like the definition of parental alienation, it factors out domestic abuse, like I said before. Let me read it to you, factor number 11. This is Minnesota. "Accepting cases in which domestic abuse has occurred, the disposition of each parent to support the child's relationship with the other parent, and to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the parent and the other...between the child and the other parent." This factor 11 broadens a portion of the old statute there, looking beyond just encouraging contact to whether each parent supports the child's relationship with the other parent. Encouraging contact isn't enough if you're discouraging the relationship in other ways.

So, it's a good question. In Minnesota, we don't have a specific factor called parental alienation. But I think factor number 11 would be where you could discuss it. Thank you for the question.

Lauren: Dr. Lewis, just a reminder that we do have the full hour so you can expand on questions as you see fit. The next question we have is, in New Jersey, we have 14 statutory factors for custody, but no factor in parental alienation. How can parental alienation be identified to the judge for his best interest analysis?

Dr. Lewis: Okay, yeah, that's very similar to the previous question in Minnesota. About 20 some of the states have statutory factors defining or guiding the trial judge for determining best interest. Many of them are same. Some states have more, I think the largest number I ever saw was the District of Columbia with 20 some. But anyway, in New Jersey, there are 14 factors. If any of you out there are in New Jersey, you would recognize 9:2-4. And that would be the statute, New Jersey statutes annotated. And in the statute 9:2-4, the court must consider all 14 factors. But it goes on to say that, while the list of 14 is not exclusive, the court may consider an additional factor such as parental alienation. And you may use the factor number three that I'm gonna read in a minute. I think you could use factor number three to present evidence on parental alienation.

Factor three has two parts. The first part of factor three says, "The interaction and relationship of the child with the parents." Now, certainly when I'm doing custody evaluations in any state that has this factor, that was where I would search for or search out parental alienation. Do we have any other questions?

Lauren: Yes, in Florida, where can parental alienation be utilized for best interest analysis?

Dr. Lewis: In Florida? Where can it be used? In the state of Florida, where can it be used for? I don't see it on the screen. Read it to me again, please.

Lauren: In Florida, where can parental alienation be utilized for best interest analysis?

Dr. Lewis: I would say look through the factors. But if you're in Florida, gee, there's a case there where I would like to have you guys in Florida write this one down. Grigsby versus Grigsby, G-R-I-G-S-B-Y. Grigsby v. Grigsby. 39 Southern, Third 453 from the Florida District Court of Appeals. Second District now, the date was July 7th, 2010. It's a good discussion of parental alienation in Florida. There the court characterized the mother's actions as the worst case of parental alienation that the court had ever seen. Based on the mother's egregious behavior, the trial court assigned sole physical custody, what they call parental responsibility in Florida, for all the four children. They assigned them to their father, and they completely suspended the mother's timesharing, that would be visitation, in other states, it's called visitation. So sole to dad, none to mom, because of parental alienation. That would be in Florida. The outline of Grigsby v. Grigsby, I think you'll find the discussion of the factors there. Is there another question?

Lauren: Yes, most of the factors you mentioned sound like normal behavior in almost every divorce I've ever heard of. How does this not come down to a big he said/she said in court?

Dr. Lewis: I face this all the time. I don't know what state the person who wrote that is from. But I have found that very question in many of the states I have been appointed to be an evaluator. It's not just the he said/she said. We're gonna get a little more specifically later on after this break into some of the details. But just to give you an advance, when I'm interviewing the parents, it's really background information what he says and what she says, and what grandma says and what the next door neighbor says. It's really the child I'm focusing on. After all, the judge is more concerned with the best interest of the child than the best interest of the parents. They'll tell you that directly. So, it's not a matter of he said-she said. Now, it's very important if she or he, mommy or daddy, says language such as multisyllabic terms, or curse words, or certain phrases like, "He done did it," for example. And the child parrots those behaviors. The child speaks almost like the parent speaks. That is an indicator. That's one of the descriptors we're gonna get to later on in this webinar. So, it doesn't boil down to he said/she said, we never rely on that nor does/should the trial judge. Anything else?

Lauren: Next question, in California, how best present parent seeking to change primary custody when custodial parent is overbearing, domineering, and otherwise actively alienating without falling into the category of emotional abuse?

Dr. Lewis: Well, I'd have to wonder how falling into, I mean, what behaviors are we talking about? There's very low levels of parental alienation. Let me give you an example. I was in West Virginia, it was a trailer park. And it was a very small trailer with one bedroom. And the child who was seven years old, would tell me she would stay awake at night listening to her parent, talk on the phone to grandmother about all these horrible things that her dad did. And she would pretend to be sleeping. But she would hear all these things and she would tell me what she heard, asked me to find out if all this stuff was true about her dad. Turned out when I talked with the mother, she had no idea that the child was listening to her. This would be a low, low level end of parental alienation. The child, who is the focus of parental alienation, is not alienated. And the parent is not committing emotional child abuse, such as the statute in California we described, I wouldn't think. So, that's a very low end.

Now, there's moderate and then there is extreme. Extreme parental alienation can be identified as emotional child abuse, but you'd have to go through the criminal procedure for that. I need to know a lot more about what the person from California is trying to present in the question before I can answer more thoroughly.

Lauren: Okay, next question. Are there varying degrees of legitimate justification? In other words, if the alienated parent committed varying degrees of mild verbal abuse of the children during the marriage, which acts occurred three or more years ago, but alienating parent bases their alienating conduct upon these past acts. And there's evidence or normal interaction after the alleged acts. Can alienating parents conduct still be qualified as parental alienation? This is a Pennsylvania case.

Dr. Lewis: So, here we go. Again, this is where Gardner left the boat. Richard Gardner, who is the psychiatrist who's passed away now who was reportedly the father of the term parental alienation syndrome. He, as a medical doctor, was focusing on behavior of a parent. The syndrome was in the parent as the question implied. What we're talking about in parental alienation is an effect on a child. Now, the very mild example that was given in this question would not be parental alienation. The measurement of parental alienation is the effect on the child, and we have ways of measuring that. But just from the question as I'm reading it on the screen, that would not be parental alienation. After all, even in good marriages, bad things are said. So, that would be a different kind of category, of behavior, it would not be a behavior on a child called parental alienation.

Lauren: Do you think the adversarial nature of Family Court in most states encourages parental alienation? Parents get the upper hand for bringing up dirt on the other parent.

Dr. Lewis: Well, I bet 30 years ago when I first started doing this work, I wrote an article about the adversarial nature of custody. And it turned out the best solution to resolve custody problems was to outlaw coitus but nobody accepted that. The adversarial nature is what we have. I don't understand, in most states do you think the adversarial nature of Family Court in those states, it's in all states. Now, the rest of the sentence, encourages parental alienation, no, the system does not encourage parental alienation. If you look at the sentence, does the adversarial nature of the court encourage parental alienation? No, parental alienation is an effect on the child, on, sometimes the parents, sometimes the sibling, sometimes a psychologist can be the initiator of it. I've got a case right now I'm working on in the state of, well, I can't tell you where but the psychologist who has been counseling with the one parent has been the alienator. Not the parent, but the counselor.

So, the answer is no. I don't think the adversarial nature of Family Court in most states encourages parental alienation. And the second point by... Wait a minute, the second point, parents get the upper hand for bringing up dirt on the other parent. I think we're talking about divorce work here. I don't know where that fits in on custody. Past actions, past conduct that does not affect the child or the child-parent relationship is really out of the focus of the family court judge and therefore out of the evaluator's focus.

Lauren: Do you have a case like Grigsby in Pennsylvania?

Dr. Lewis: Do I have a case like what?

Lauren: Grigsby.

Dr. Lewis: Not exactly, the extreme nature of that case of modification in Pennsylvania. Well, first of all, let me say we don't have any changed circumstances rule anymore. That would be Karis v Karis many years ago in the 80s, dropped the requirement for finding changed circumstances. That modification case, or Sema case, in Florida, is paralleled by at least five or six that I know of here in Pennsylvania, some of which I've worked in myself. So, the answer to the question is, yes. For those of you who are not in Pennsylvania or Florida, we're talking about where the judge finds extreme parental alienation such that the change of custody from sole one to sole the other and denying contact with the parent who's been the cause of the child being alienated. So, the answer is yes.

Lauren: In Illinois, how can a parent contradict GAL's very biased report unsupported by any objective evidence from any independent sources, and counter prove parental alienation that parents favored by GAL is conducting? By 604(10)b psychological evaluation. If evaluation is not approved by the court is there anything else that targeted parent can do?

Dr. Lewis: Well, that's a big one. I wish you could reduce that down to a simpler question. Tetzlaff v Tetzlaff in Cook County, that's one. Let me see if I can read it on the screen. There it is. How can a parent contradict the guardians biased report? Well, okay, I'm a guardian ad litem, I file a report. The way you contradict is you've got me on the stand, you cross examine me. And you're allowed in quite a long way to go for bias. I mean, you're allowed to, in most cases I've been in, you're allowed to go into even personal, philosophic and political beliefs of the GAL. But anyway, you're saying right there in the first phrase, biased report. If it's not supported by objective evidence, it's biased. And let me see by 604 psychological evaluation [inaudible 00:24:32] conducted. If evaluation is not approved by the court, is there anything else that targeted? Well, you can file a motion for another evaluator, that would probably be consistent with the judge throwing out the GAL if you could prove bias. Anything else targeted parents can do.

Well, there's two routes that a targeted parent can do. And by the way, I guess most of you know, if you practice family law that about 80% to 90% of the targeted parents by this definition would be the fathers, but not all, I've worked on both. But let's just use the word father, the father's the targeted parent, what else can he do? Besides litigation, he can do what we call parental alienation counseling. And if whoever wrote this question is interested, I have a list of mental health professionals who are conducting parental alienation therapy or counseling for the courts or for parents. And it's all across the country. As a matter of fact, I belong to the International Association. And we have found 400 or more of such professionals in 20 some countries. So, the mental health route, and the litigation route are the two routes that the target parent can do. The other route which I've heard, is successful, there's one fella in Arizona who told me this, he just did nothing.

He waited until the child, the alienated child turned 18. And then made an independent contact with the grown up adult child 18 and a half, helped them go through school, got him a law degree and then eventually worked in his own law firm. So, that was a success story. So, there's three things that the targeted parent can do. Litigation, mental health evaluation, or therapy, or do nothing and wait till adulthood.

Lauren: This is a follow up question. What is the name of the case in Illinois? Is it Tesla v. Tesla?

Dr. Lewis: Yeah, Tetzlaff.

Lauren: Okay. Last question. Please provide the case law and/or statutes applicable to parent alienation in California.

Dr. Lewis: Just to name, no, it's T-E-T-Z-L-A-F-F. The case law in California, well, in California, my list is long. This is what I'll be glad to send to someone in California, or anybody. I don't think we have time now for me to read them all or if they'd be interested, if you're not in California, but please send me an email and I'll get it right to you.

Lauren: Okay, great, you can continue on with your presentation.

Dr. Lewis: Okay, let's see where we were. We are on, what are we on? 17. Okay, moving through the outline. Oh, here we go. The descriptors that I mentioned before. Let's go through the descriptors. Now, these are readily accepted by the professionals who do mental health treatment and who do mental health evaluation of parental alienation. Doug Darnell out of, is it Ohio, he passed away recently, but I think he was in Ohio. These are eight of his many. Let's read them. Descriptors. Now, this is for the child. The child has a relentless hatred for the targeted parent. And you find that out very quickly when you're talking, when you're interviewing a alienated child. The child parrots the alienator. Number two is what I mentioned before, the language is the same. And it's not the kind of language that the child uses when talking about other things. Obviously, the child does not wanna visit the targeted parent. But you see number three there, that's true in an awful lot of cases where there's not parental alienation. But it is a descriptor of parental alienation.

I had a case where the child would hide under the bed whenever the parent drove up to pick him up for visitation. "I don't wanna go, I don't wanna go." Number four. The child's reasons are not based on personal experiences but reflect what a parent or someone else in the family has told them. This is very, very frequently found. When I'm interviewing the alienated child, I always say, "Well, why do you feel that way?" Sometimes a child will tell me they're concerned about things that happened long ago by the other parent, and that's why they're such a devil. I don't wanna see him anymore. And I ask, how do you know? And the child will say well, you know, personal experience. Turns out in reality, the event they're talking about by this parent happened before the child was born. Number five, the child has no capacity to feel guilt about behavior. Now, remember the child has been in good graces or has loved the parent prior to the alienation. So, ordinarily, a child would feel guilty.

An alienated child expresses no guilt about his negative feelings towards the parent he used to love, but now hates and is reluctant to forgive the parent. Number six. The child shares the alienator's cause, and together they're in lockstep to denigrate the hated parent. This, usually I find number six in older children who are alienated in the young teens, there's like a cause, a battle going on. Number seven, the child's obsession with hatred extends not just to the targeted parent, but the grandma and grandpa and other extended family members without any guilt. And number eight, the child can appear normal, health normal, healthy...The child can appear like normal healthy children, that's not said right. The child can appear like a normal healthy child, until asked about the targeted parent and that triggers the child's hatred. Now, when I first interviewed a child as either the guardian or the custody evaluator, and let's say I note in Missouri or California or Hawaii, wherever I'm at, I'm talking to the child for 5-10 minutes about his school, and his friends and how he likes his bedroom. All of a sudden the topic of the targeted parent comes up and, wow. Talk about triggering hatred.

The intonation increases, the behavioral aspect changes. It's just the parent that number eight here is being expressed by the alienated child. I would encourage you to read Darnell's article, "Protecting Your Children for Parental Alienation." It's in the North Dakota Law Review number 75, volume 75, way back in '99. And you'll find five or six other descriptors. Okay, let's go on next. Now, let's look at the effects of parental alienation on children. I've listed 10 that come from my experience and from the literature I've read. Anger and lack of impulse control or frustration, loss of self-confidence and self-esteem. Now, these first two are, I find them in older children. A clean behavior in younger children. Developing fears and phobia. Depression and suicidal ideation again in older children. Sleep disorders, eating disorders, educational problems, Enuresis and Encopresis, bedwetting, obsessive compulsive behavior. Sometimes anxiety and panic attacks. Or Peer relationships, and excessive feelings of guilt.

When I'm doing evaluation as guardian or as evaluator, and the child is of school age, and I'm doing evaluation during school time, or have access to the teachers, and I can actually go into the school and talk to some of the child's friends. This number 10, the peer relationship fans out. Okay, now alienated adults. There is very little research in this area compared to alienation in younger children. What research does exist indicates that there are long-term negative effects associated with the child being parentally alienated. Here are some of the reported effects from the literature. None are pretty. Parental alienation not only steals the childhood, it can also steal a mentally stable and secure future from their own children. That's why it's so important, of course, why courts and Family Court, family lawyers handle parental alienation properly. Here's some of the results from the research, having trouble trusting others, having low-esteem, difficulty sustaining relationships, experienced shame for hurting the other parent.

That one is very popular, particularly when I'm talking to a 30-year-old, who is now pregnant and getting ready to have her own child. And she recognizes that she was an alienated child when she was young. Lots of hurting, shame for hurting. Suffer from depression, engage in substance abuse to relieve the pain from parental alienation. More likely to experience divorce, that's a statistic we have. More likely to have difficulty with authority and the law. Experienced the loss of their own children to parental alienation. Now, the courts response. Many of you who are listening to this webinar are in states, and have had cases yourself probably, where you've seen and you know of the courts various responses. There is a variety of responses on record where the courts have had to deal with parental alienation. Again, I'd asked you to consider emailing me if you'd like to know the citations I have from your state, just email me when we're done.

Okay, let's look at some. Before we go through all these cases on the screen, please look at the last one at the bottom. Incarceration New York Lauren R. v Ted R., Nassau County. Strike that off please. That is totally incorrect. That's an improper cite. All right, let's look at that New Jersey. Okay, the first way I want to tell you about how courts have responded, I've been appointed myself parental alienator evaluator. I would refer you R.O versus L.O in in New Jersey. Judge Wells, whom you might know those of you who are from New Jersey, Judge Wells appointed mental health professional, Dr. Joseph in this case. And the case if you read it is a good description of how parental alienation evaluator works, how he finds out what parental alienation is, and more importantly, how the court deals with it. What I often get in initial custody, when I talk about modification, or relocation, we're talking about initial custody first time up. I often get a judge appointing me because there's been allegations of parental alienation.

So, the custody case is on hold until my report comes in. And I report back to the judge as the judge's witness, as the court's witness. Is there alienation or is there not? The second one directing you to North Dakota's case, Wolt v Wolt. This is an order for child therapy. Depending on the level of alienation, the court has the authority, as it did in this case, to order the child to go into therapy and devise a way for the therapy to be paid for by the parent or the parents in the judgment of the judge. Now, the next case out of Washington, State of Washington is the reverse. Here, the order was for the parent to go into therapy. Now, the next response is ordering supervised visitation. And I find the Missouri case interesting. The Noland-Vance versus Noland-Vance. That's at Missouri. The evaluator, psychologist, Dr. Arum was appointed in that case. It was three children, James, John, Diane, I think they were four children all together in that case, and they all had different levels of alienation.

So, supervised visitation was the response that the the judge ordered. Okay, tips for family lawyers, I'm going to assume that many of you are family lawyers, not all, but many of you are. So, these are tips for you. Tip number one, there is no parental alienation when there was reasonable justification for the child to express negativity against one parent. Don't find it when it's not there. Number two, parental alienation can be a strategy utilized by the custodial parent, the noncustodial parent or both as a custody strategy, unfortunately it's being used. Number three, parental alienation is nearly impossible when the child is an infant. I had a question at another seminar which was, what are, here's the question, what are the ages of children where parental alienation is more susceptible? And my answer there was, the least susceptible ages where parental alienation might begin are infants and mid-teens. Children in between, I'm sorry. Let me read that again.

The least susceptible, where you're not gonna find it, is in infants and in mid-teens later on teens. The ages, I suppose, between 3 and 11 would be the ages most vulnerable, most susceptible, but definitely not in infant. Number four, parental alienation is difficult to begin after the child is in his late teens. I think I just mentioned that. Number five, parental alienation can be operative on one sibling while not operative on the other. This is very, very unique, but, I have seen it. I had a case in Wisconsin where the one sibling was totally alienated, I mean, above moderate, almost at the extreme level. And the sibling was not, matter of fact, at all. Matter of fact, the sibling was almost teaming up with the alienator parent against the sibling. Split siblings is legal but difficult in most states. I have had three cases only where the judge has agreed with me and split siblings. But if there's a reason and it's in the best interest of each separate sibling, then the judge would or should separate.

Let's go to tip six. If parental alienation is suspected or alleged, it should be assessed by a child custody evaluator experienced in the matter. After you get the report from an evaluator and it doesn't say parental alienation was there, drop the issue. Advise your clients to drop the issue. If on the other hand, it is, you might wanna consider using that evaluator or another evaluator to do a comprehensive custody evaluation. Tip number seven, severe parental alienation should be considered emotional child abuse and criminal prosecution should be referred. If you find it, you've got a DA interested, call them up in severe cases. Tip number eight. Often parental alienation can be reduced or eradicated by ordering more time between the child and the alienated parent. When a child spends frequent positive time with one parent, that child gets what's called primary experience with that parent. And then it's less likely that the other parent's parental alienation strategy will be successful.

You can't tell me he is mean if I find him friendly. You can't tell me to believe this if I experienced that. And tip number nine, parental alienation case law is growing. Become familiar with cases in your jurisdiction. That's my last tip. Oh, do we have, oh, there's my email, there's my phone number. Let's see if we get some more questions here. There, questions.

Lauren: Okay. We are once again, entering the Q&A session, please enter the passcode during this time, the passcode is custody. Please also enter any questions that you have for Dr. Lewis. Our first question is, do you have the name of the case that you referenced in Pennsylvania?

Dr. Lewis: I did not give a case in Pennsylvania. There's one going on right now, which I'm involved in. I have three on my list which I don't have in front of me. If the Pennsylvania person would email me, I'll be glad to give him.

Lauren: What about the situation where the targeted parent is actually the abusive alcoholic parent. The alienator is attempting to protect the child.

Dr. Lewis: Well, by definition, what we learned in this seminar, in this webinar by definition, there is not parental alienation going on. There is not a parental alienator, there is abuse going on. Think of it this way, parental alienation, and I'm working on a paper like this for the law review started in 1816, 1812. It was called "Poisoning the Mind of a Minor." And later that developed with adults into alienation of affection. But parental alienation, as we're talking about it in this webinar is the intentional head tripping of a child to turn the child's emotions from what they used to be positive to what you want them to be negative. Factor in Pennsylvania, turning the child against the other parent, one of our statutory factors. So, in the example I'm reading on the screen, not alienation.

Lauren: Next question. What's the current state of the law on the right to cross-examine a GAL as required by due process?

Dr. Lewis: Right to cross-examine a GAL. What's the current state of the law and the right to cross-examine a GAL? I would believe the court, I don't know which state we're talking about. I would guess due process is found in all of the 54 jurisdictions. I believe the state of law on that right is the same as it's been that the authority of the cross-examiner to cross-examine even the guardian.

Lauren: Next question. How can this information be used to further the defense and the current immigration situation where Mexican children are being separated from their parents by the U.S. government and not another parent to show the drastic harm?

Dr. Lewis: Wow. That would make in our language, the alienator, what, the department of human services, the president, Jeff Sessions, I mean, wow. I don't think you would be able to prove intentional emotional harm to the child, turning the child against the parent who she, who he used to love. I don't think it's appropriate there, but it's an interesting thought. I thought about it myself last week as I was watching the news unfold on this. We saw one child who had loved her mother be reluctant to hug her mother and rather wanted to hug the social worker after the separation. What we're talking about here in mental, in child welfare is breach of association.

Lauren: Next question. Is it your experience that allegation of parental alienation tends to swallow all other factors of best interests of the child?

Dr. Lewis: Wait, I have to put that one on the screen. Is it your experience that allegation of parental alienation tends to swallow all fact, oh, absolutely not. It's only an allegation. Just as much as the allegation of the fit and proper home is not fit and proper, the home environment or the mental health status, factor number whatever. If we're talking about those states that have statutory factors, most states will have some way where the judge can assess, where the evaluator can assess the parent-child relationship and that's where parental alienation would be discussed. An alienation, I'm sorry, an allegation of this damage to the child may or may not be as important as any other. It depends on how important the other ones are. If you've got an allegation of mild parental alienation as a factor, and you've got allegation of horrendous, unfit suitability of narcotics in the home where the child lives, now I guess that factor, the home factor would swallow the allegation of parental alienation factor. So no, the answer is no, it doesn't automatically swallow all the other factors.

Lauren: Next question. Is there anything a lawyer can do to avoid alienation coming from the parents or opposing parents?

Dr. Lewis: Hold on, wait a minute. Excuse me, Lauren, can I just make one other point? When I'm doing a custody evaluation in a state that has statutory factors, if they don't, I have to make my own factors up in my introduction and then respond to my own factors. But in those States that have the 14 or 20 factors, I write the name of the factor and then I give the data that I found that supports or rejects the factor. I put a number of one to 10 on each of the factors. And I give that, I lean it towards mom or dad or grandparent, whoever the litigants are. And then I tally them up at the end and I get a number. So many points goes to one parent, so many to the other. Judge told me that's a good way to do it. I'm sorry. Give me your next question, please.

Lauren: Is there anything a lawyer can do to avoid alienation coming from the parents or opposing parents?

Dr. Lewis: Oh, yeah. Get them on your lap and spank some knowledge into their heads. If you're alienating your child, you're hurting your child, you're teaching your child to hate. Now, some famous person once said this, "Emotional child abuse as parental alienation is a misuse of power and a violation of trust." I said that. You know, I don't wanna forget to tell the people in the webinar here about the poisoning. Let me read you something. When one parent, let's say it's the lawyer's client. When one parent poisons the mind of the minor against the other parent in hopes of alienating the child against the other parent, it is tantamount to teaching the child how to hate. A good way to understand parental alienation is to hear how eloquently Quebec judge, John Gomery, put it in a case called Stuart Mills versus Share, Supreme Court of Quebec 1991. He wrote, this is a quote from his case. "Hatred is not an emotion that comes naturally to a child. It has to be taught. The defendant in this case has deliberately poisoned the minds of her children against the other parent that they formally loved and needed." So, I would say to the lawyer remind your client of the damage that alienation can do.

Lauren: Next question. Is there any case law regarding grand parental alienation, parents denying access to grandparents?

Dr. Lewis: I have had two cases with grandparents neither of which were appealed so there is no, it's not recorded. It didn't go up on appeal so there's no record. But the principles of parental alienation, the word parent like I said before, can be a sibling, a grandparent, a big brother, a big sister, a next door neighbor, a roommate, or in some cases, unfortunately, a psychologist. It's primarily the parent doing the alienating. This is why we call it parental alienation. By the way, the effects of parental alienation on a child when done by grandparents can be the same as if done by parents.

Lauren: Next question, what peer reviewed journal articles exist discussing parental alienation??

Dr. Lewis: The most popular one out is, the AFCC, also the APA journal. I have a list of published articles in the mental health journals that you're asking about. I have here 65 on my list from around the country. So, please send me an email and I'll give you those sites, those articles.

Lauren: Are there any other countries that recognize parental alienation in their laws?

Dr. Lewis: Yeah, that's a good question. Yes. The answer is yes. I'm gonna tell you something about Canada, Israel, and Brazil, but I wanna start with Brazil. Write this down if you're interested. Brazil on number 12318 August 26th, 2010, the statute has eight articles outlining the various punishments for the commission of parental alienation. This is a statute in Brazil. Now, in Canada. I think that would probably be where you'd find most case law if you do a Google search with parental alienation. The courts in Canada repeatedly noted the harmful psychological effects of interfering with the intact parent-child relationship. The Supreme Court in 1996 in Canada, Gordon v Goertz, G-O-R-D-O-N versus Goertz, G-O-E-R-T-Z. I quote this all the time when I'm doing my cases up there in Canada. Here's the quote, "The importance of preserving the child's relationship with his or her psychological parent has long been recognized by Canada and by this court. There is a growing body of evidence that this relationship may well be the most determinative factor in the child's long-term welfare."

If you punched up canlaw.org, which is sort of like a FindLaw in Canada, there's hundreds of cases. Mostly I found in Ontario, but still elsewhere. Let me go to Israel. Another country, Israel. Judge, Phillip Marcus has served over 15 years as a judge of the Jerusalem Family Court. And he's been writing and publishing and presenting seminars on parental alienation. He came to this country and presented at the AFCC, the Association of Family Conciliation Courts conference. Now, in the Virgin Islands, I looked and looked and looked. I noticed we have somebody here on the webinar from Virgin Islands. The question of whether under Virgin Island law, a viable claim exists for alienating of a parent's affections was one in...when one parent entices the child to leave, this discussion was in Hall versus Hall, the Supreme Court of Virgin islands, April 18th of this year. But the high court declined to accept jurisdiction over these critical questions. So the answer is no, I couldn't find anything in Virgin Islands. But I would also direct your attention to Australia, England, and about 15 other Western countries. Oh, it's a thunderstorm. Are there any other questions?

Lauren: Yeah, our final question, what is the reason for parental alienation? Is it due to a power differential between the parents?

Dr. Lewis: What is the reason, put that on the screen, please. What is the reason for it? Is it due to a power differential? Yes and no, it depends on the person who's doing the alienating. Often it is a power struggle, particularly in initial custody, but not always. Some of the research has shown that the alienator has had mental or does have mental health problems. One of the things we do on the MMPI for psych testing in a case where there's an allegement of parental alienation, is we test to see if there is any mental health deficiency. So, it's not always a power differentiation. There can be a motive too. I had a case once, not too long ago, maybe three or four years ago, where the issue that was being fought over and the reason that one parent was trying to turn the emotion of the child against the other parent was financial. It was a whole lot of money left to this child from a deceased relative, and whoever got custody of the child was supposed to be in that state going to get custody of the money. And that was the motivation for emotionally trying to turn the child against the other parent.

Lauren: Thank you for answering those questions, Dr. Lewis.

Dr. Lewis: Well, thank for the opportunity...

Lauren: Please remember that if you're applying for CLE credit, you must have attended for the full 60 minutes of the presentation. You are also required to complete the survey at the end of the program. Please know you will be receiving your certificates via email in 24 to 48 hours after the presentation. In addition to being your best source for testifying and consulting experts for more than 60 years, TASA also offers free interactive webinars, expert written articles, research reports and expert witnesses including the Challenge History Report 2.0 and the Expert Profile 360. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for attending and most especially Dr. Ken Lewis for his time and effort in creating this presentation. If you would like to speak with Ken, or if you would like to speak with a TASA representative regarding expert witness for a case that you were working on, please contact TASA 1800-523-2319. One of my colleagues will be following up with you regarding your feedback on today's presentation. This concludes our program for today.

Dr. Lewis: Lauren, are you still on. No, she hung up. That means I can hang up.

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