Thursday, November 06, 2008

Time for change

It is time for a change in the family law area regarding the custody of minor children. I most certainly do not have the answers nor do I have every idea possible to prevent the abuse of children by the courts and by parents who are obsessed with alienating the affection of their children from the other parent. I can only offer some suggestions and do not know how these suggestions could be implemented to protect the children and the parents affected by parental alienation.

I have never entertained the thought of obtaining a prenuptial agreement. Had this been suggested to me prior to my marriage, my first impression would have been that my spouse may not take marriage seriously and that divorce may be something they could foresee. Marriage in my mind was a commitment made and was for better or worse, not for when something better comes along. I also thought prenuptial agreements were for the rich and famous, not for some young couple struggling to set up a home. I have given some thought to this and after my own personal doubts as to motive why one would be a good idea, I have this to offer.

A prenuptial agreement would provide a binding legal contract with the courts concerning the distribution of personal property and financial assets brought into and acquired during the marriage. This would stop all the nit picking arguments in court about possessions and could speed up the divorce case and possibly save some money in the process. Prenuptial agreements also have to be fair so that one spouse is not left destitute. Of course full disclosure of all assets is a must. If the soon to be spouse hesitates at the idea of fairness, then I would say forget marrying this person. I also believe that having a prenuptial agreement could prevent some power plays by a controlling partner. For example, if you let me have this, I will not fight for sole custody of the children. I would rather not suggest what a prenuptial agreement should have stated, but would rather suggest that one seek legal guidance.

I believe that that pre-marital counseling or education classes be mandatory prior to marriage. In this article:

It states: “A nice article in the Journal of Family Psychology (March 2006, Vol. 20, No. 1, 117-126) by research psychologist Scott Stanley, titled "Premarital Education, Marital Quality, and Marital Stability: Findings From a Large, Random Household Survey" presents evidence from a four state survey of over 3000 homes (representing a wide range of economic, ethic and cultural groupings in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Kansas) that pre-marital counseling helps to make marriages healthy and strong. If this finding was ever in doubt, it should no longer be. “ “Couples in the survey that participated in pre-marital counseling were, on average, 31% less likely to divorce in any given year of their marriage than couples who did not benefit from this counseling. They were also more likely than un-counseled couples to report higher marital satisfaction, lower marital conflict and greater levels of commitment.”

Hire a competent attorney who understands what parental alienation is. I think this is one area where you get what you pay for. Do not base your choice by the amount of the retainer and fees. Also get a fee schedule from your attorney. I would ask others for recommendations of attorneys and ask why they recommend them. Do not be afraid to fire your attorney, if they are not doing the job you expect them to do. You will have to lay out more money to do this, but you cannot be standing there on the day your divorce is to be final and realize you have been screwed. This is from personal experience.

Mediation should be the route for most divorces and custody cases. You feel empowered as you have a say in the outcome of your case. The problem with mediation is that there is a compromise that will and must take place for mediation to work. In cases where one parent is the obsessed alienator, mediation will never work. The obsessed alienator will refuse to budge on issues and will bully you. The obsessed alienator will maintain control.

Prior to any divorce with a custody issue, there should be mandatory parenting and or counseling classes, where both parents must attend together. I am not sure of the mandated states that require this or of the mandated sessions that are required. I think a minimum of a 12 week in depth parenting with counseling sessions should be required. I am sure many would think that this is too much and some may be thinking 12 more weeks that I must interact with my soon to be ex. This is not about you, but about your children.

I also think that custody orders should spell out exact times, dates and locations for visitation, as well as who is responsible for transportation. The typical every other weekend and Wednesday night visitation leaves much to the obsessed alienators mind to interpret. They will unilaterally interpret the orders based on their own actions and motives. I also think that custody orders have provisions that spell out that each parent is should be free from derogatory actions, claims and words from the other parent. It should also spell out the ramifications of such actions. A custody order should also state that all communications between the father and mother be in writing, with a copy sent to each of their attorney’s and also the guardian ad litem. This will prevent any he said, she said issues. Of course I could suggest several more options, but they will mean nothing unless the judges hearing these cases uphold the law and provide relief for the parents that are alienated from their children. Interference by a parent that prevents visitation, parenting responsibilities, or access to their child’s activities should be punished and not just by a slap on the wrist.

Lastly, child protective services need to realize that in the context of high conflict divorces and custody cases, they must be aware that false allegations of abuse will be alleged. I understand that people that make allegations are protected from making a false report if they believe that the allegation is true. CPS needs to discover the relationship between the person making the accusation and the accused. If you have not had contact with the accuser in years, how can they be a reliable source for information? Therefore, CPS needs to ask where they got the information and prosecute these people that make allegations falsely.

Of course nothing will change until people involved with the issues of child custody understand that parental alienation occurs. Counseling will help those parents who are naïve and active alienators, but I do not think there is much that can be done in that aspect for the obsessed alienator. This is why the judges need to have some backbone and punish the obsessed alienators. The current punishments are not enough to deter them. This is what needs to change.

Not one or all of these issues will ever change the outcome for parents and children targeted by the obsessed alienator. Education is the key for those in power to realize that this exists. Sadly, I feel that until one of those in power experiences the tragedy of parental alienation will things ever change.

Parental alienation is abuse! Stop the abuse!

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