Okay so this may not be the nicest blog I have written but really, I am tired of dealing with family court judges (names will not be named) who refuse to take action even after making it clear that they believe that alienation is occurring in a family. What I have found is that there is a ready-made rationale for not taking action regardless of the circumstances. It goes something like this: Yes, I see that alienation is present. This mother/father is one of the most aggressive alienators I have come across. This parent is not going to cooperate with the other parent. BUT the child is doing well in other areas of his/her life. The child is captain of the soccer team and has friends and is getting good grades. Therefore, how bad could the alienation be? Let’s not rock the boat since everything is really ok. OR it goes something like this. Yes, I see that alienation is present. This mother/father is one of the most aggressive alienators I have come across. This parent is not going to cooperate with the other parent. BUT the child is not doing well. The child is fragile and is not emotionally strong enough to handle the shock of change. Let’s not rock the boat right now.
Thus, no matter what the circumstance, the judge has an excuse for doing nothing even after declaring that the favored parent is in fact an alienator and the child is in fact alienated. For this reason, when I work as an expert witness, I view my job as not just explaining what alienation is (the general function) or how alienation is present in the current case (the specific function) but – most importantly – why the court should intervene.
Just to be clear intervention does not always mean transfer of custody. Sometimes intervention means sanctioning the parent if the alienation occurs. Sometimes intervention means assigning a parental alienation-savvy parenting coordinator. There is no cookie cutter response to alienation. The only thing that should be a given is that something needs to be done.
When I train judges, I usually at some point look at them and tell them “You are lazy cowards” and you know what? They shrug their shoulders and sheepishly agree. They know that they are risk aversive. So my secret weapon against risk aversion is to educate them that to do nothing is a choice also and in the case of alienation, a choice that has known negatives consequences associated with it. So, judges beware! I am going to scare you into taking action. Parental alienation is child abuse and cannot be allowed to continue even if acting makes you uncomfortable.
Dr. Baker is a nationally recognized expert in parent child relationships, especially children of divorce, parental alienation syndrome, and emotional abuse of children.
Dr. Baker is available as an expert witness and for print, radio, and television interviews.