Parental Alienation is a problem. It is a problem when it is true, and a problem when it is falsely alleged as a weapon to win custody.
And in fairness, there is probably a twilight area where it is partly true and partly false, where one parent exaggerates the oafish behavior of the other to persuade the children to feel disdain or fear of the other parent.
Attorney Brian Mayer presents his views on YouTube, and the following is an edited transcript.
Attorney Mayer speaks about how to prove parental alienation.
He does not discuss the possibility that parental alienation can be falsely alleged.
Mayer’s opinions are his own.
But just as there are selfish parents whose hatred for the other parent is so great that they will hurt their children to harm the other parent, so there are protective parents who see the abusive nature of the other parent and need to literally alienate or sequester the children for their own protection from abuse.
For clever child abusers, if they use some of the tools discussed by Attorney Mayer, they can, especially if they have money, flip custody away from the protective parent and have the children exclusively for thier abuse. Obscene family court, without juries, without the people involved in the decision-making process, leaves all decisions up to the government.
Funny, the people get the right to a jury on even small monetary disputes or minor crimes, but when it comes to the fate of children, the people are content to let the government unbridled decide the fate of their children.
Of course, there are monstrous parents who alienate their children against the other parent. We saw this in the brutal case of Anna Maria Mongillo, who repeatedly falsely accused her husband of abusing the children, and successfully alienated his six children from their father, Dr. Luigi DiRubba – and essentially bankrupted him.
Quite simply, it is when one parent or caregiver intentionally attempts to interfere with the relationship between the other parent and their shared child. Oftentimes, this is done out of malice, and often part of a campaign, a long-term effort to interfere with that relationship.
It is a campaign to undermine and disrupt the relationship between the child and the other parent.
How do you prove that?
Legally, it’s significant when you can prove it.
In every state in the United States, Canada and elsewhere, child custody is determined based on the “best interests of the child”.
In some cases, like California, where I’m licensed, it’s actually codified that the court shall consider the extent to which one parent interferes with the relationship between the child and the other parent when making custody orders.
Parental Alienation is Relevant
Whether actually written into a statute, the fact is everywhere it’s relevant if one parent is interfering with the relationship between the other parent and their child, because that interference goes to the core question of what’s in the best interest of the child.
If you have a parent who’s unjustifiably making that sort of interference, or who’s simply doing it out of malice, then that is relevant to what the custody order needs to do to protect the child from that disruption.
Proving it can be difficult.
The Body of Proof
Ultimately, it gets down to the question of ‘how can you show a judge, who’s a human being, what’s going on?’
You have to go into court with the theme of “I am being alienated. The other parent is responsible, and here’s how you, the court, can know that it’s happening.”
A) Text messages,
B) Witness statements,
C) Professional’s opinion.
You have that theme, and everything has to relate to that theme: “I am being alienated by the other parent. It is intentional, and here’s how you can know.”
Your own testimony is relevant and admissible. If you have a personal experience dealing with the other parent, you can talk about that, but most people want something more concrete.
Any written communications to the other parent that can be authenticated can be absolute gold. If you have something from the other parent who says ‘I never want you to see the child again’, that’s worth a million dollars in court.
The other parent will say, “Oh, I was just joking,’ or they said this out of anger.
Well, it ties in nicely to your theme.
Any text messages that articulate a malicious intent to interfere with the relationship between the child and the other parent, you want that to be part of your message.
Secondly, your testimony.
Third, if there are witnesses who can testify to things sent by the other parent or caretaker, or who have observed obstructionism, anything that’s gone on that has made it more difficult for you to have a relationship with your child.
You want to bring those people in as witnesses.
If you’re dealing with older kids, and if the kids have not been completely alienated from you and will cooperate, you may have to make the difficult decision to bring your children in to court.
Ask the court’s permission to bring the children in, to explain exactly what they’ve seen and what has gone on.
Witnesses are relevant.
Another tool I recommend is to conduct a deposition of the other party. It typically costs about two thousand dollars, but it can be worth a million dollars.
A deposition is where you can sit the other party down, and basically grill them without a judge present. The questions you ask don’t necessarily have to be relevant to what’s going on, but you can just sit them there as long as you need them.
You can watch them squirm, contradict themselves.
Most people can’t keep their story straight when dealing with lies. When they’re engaged in misconduct, they make excuses, and the more you get into them, they get weaker and weaker.
The advantage of a deposition is that the limits are wider than what you face in a courtroom. You can double back to questions, you can ask them in any particular order. You don’t have a judge there, to whom the other side can raise objections, a judge, who often just wants the day to be done, and close out the case and will shut you down.
Another option I think is fantastic, but requires some skill to ensure you’re dealing with the right people, is to bring in a professional.
One option is a professional child custody evaluator. That can be hit or miss. Although custody evaluators tend to have at least a master’s level, usually a PhD level training in child psychology and experience, if they are unfamiliar with parental alienation, if they can’t detect it, then often they just don’t come to the right conclusions. But if you can back up what you’re saying and present it to the custody evaluator, then this can be an ace in the hole for you.
The cost varies. Usually you can expect to pay at least $5,000 and it can go up to $15,000. That can be out of reach for many people.
Another option is to have the court order the child to attend therapy sessions to deal with the question of your relationship with the child and how it’s impacting the child.
The reason that that can be so effective is because the therapist will be a neutral party. They’re not going to have a stake in the outcome. They are educated and experienced, and you ask them to look at the issue and figure out what’s going on. They can usually quickly figure out if the other parent is responsible for the disrupted relationship. More importantly, is the process essentially, without necessarily the therapist even knowing it, tends to put the therapist in the position of rooting for the relationship to mend. They’re basically looking for ways to try to make that happen.
If you can make yourself available to the child, if you can make yourself available to the therapist, and the therapist is tasked with treating how the child is dealing with your relationship, the therapist will almost always to try to work on improving the relationship between the child and the parent. That can benefit you, first of all, toward your ultimate goal of having a good relationship with the child.
Secondly, it removes mom or dad as the savior and basically provides neutrality that the court needs to discern what’s going on in this case.
If you can, I strongly recommend asking the court to have a therapist assigned to the case. A court almost never says no to a child receiving therapy when the parents are in a high-conflict divorce and custody dispute, because in these situations, everybody needs therapy, especially kids.
So it’s a good way to get another person, the therapist, on your side.
Some lawyers recommend asking the court to appoint a guardian ad litem also called the GAL. Guardians ad litem are basically court-appointed attorneys for the children.
My opinion is that that is risky unless you know who the attorney will be. I’ve seen too many cases where the attorneys assigned as a GAL for children are overworked. They’re not focused on what’s going on, and they’re not that good at discerning between fact and fiction.
So you’re basically dealing with a neutral attorney, but they don’t have specialized training in dealing with kids or relationships.
Usually, they have some family law experience and maybe a few hours of a training class. But that doesn’t help them identify issues that come up with parental alienation.
Also, they tend to be expensive. Usually, you’re looking at at least a few thousand dollars, and the court usually wants to pass that cost along to the parents.
I’m not going to say it’s wrong for every situation, but if you want what’s best for your situation, if you have the choice between an expert child custody evaluator, a therapist, or a GALS, an attorney assigned to the child, the best choice usually is the therapist first, the evaluator second, and the GALS third, just in terms of the amount of control you can exercise and getting an outcome that truly is best for the child.
Don’t be intimidated by the process. Focus on what you can do to prove your case. You know what the facts are. You know the truth.
Just take that truthful information to court, and look at using some of these tools.