Parental alienation is a highly counterintuitive area. Family law professionals—judges, lawyers, children’s representatives, guardian’s ad litem, custody evaluators—should carefully evaluate the dynamic before rushing in with “solutions.” Seemingly good measures that may have worked in other family law cases do not work in an alienation situation. For instance, as one domestic relations judge realized: Giving a “speech” from the bench to “get through” to an alienating parent does not result in an epiphany or help the situation. Nor will sending off the kids to “therapy.” In fact, it would be difficult to find a more common yet egregious blunder that many professionals routinely commit than advocating for what amounts to traditional “reunification” therapy for parental alienation.
Not only are such therapies known to be ineffective, they are known to be potentially harmful – they “validate” an alienated child’s distorted view of the world, encourage the child to express grievances, and give the child some “control” or choice while advising the rejected parent to “listen, empathize, validate, and apologize (or even to ‘find something to apologize for’).” Traditional therapy is contraindicated and typically makes things worse. Even when provided under court order, such therapies are of little benefit.
In addition, some jurisdictions — e.g., Colorado and California — have recently passed legislation that limits the court’s options when it comes to ordering reunification counseling. What are the options when one is faced with legislative or other restraints on reunification options?
In this presentation, the attendees will learn about the process of Reunification in a parental alienation case together with the relevant scientific literature and court decisions.
This course is co-sponsored with myLawCLE.
Key topics to be discussed:
- Fundamentals of reunification in a parental alienation dynamic
- Relevant science
- Relevant legal cases
Date / Time: February 6, 2024