The Truth About Parental Alienation

Hello and Welcome!

If you’re an adult child who has lost a parent because of divorce of family separation, or if you’re a parent currently being targeted with what you believe is parental alienation, you should know that despite what you may have been told or been made to feel, you’re situation is not, in fact, as unique as others would like you to believe.

Within the United States alone, researchers estimate there are more than twenty-two million people being targeted with parental alienation, with at least ten million of those parents having been completely erased from the lives of their children, so if you’re looking for the truth, you’ve come to the right place.

Parental alienation is widely recognized by psychologists and medical professionals as a form of child abuse and domestic violence. It’s a well documented and devastating social disease ravaging through broken families, and one that has profoundly damaging consequences for both parents and children alike. It needs to stop.

So, a core question to be addressed with this writing is this: “How does one know if a child was abandoned, or if the absent parent was alienated and forced out of the child’s life by the other parent?”

That’s a fair question, and one that is made more challenging in light of the absolute fact that most alienating parents will gladly lie and blame the other parent abandoned or assign responsibility to the court.

Let’s be real, no alienating parent is going to admit to what they’ve done,  so it falls on you, the reader, to determine for yourself what the truth really is.

Alienated parent or abandoning parent?  Both are examples of extreme cruelty and selfishness, and what is to follow will help you better understand what parental alienation abuse is, who is doing it, how they’re doing, why they’re doing, and lastly, how and why they’re able to get away with it.

The sadly all-to-familiar lie is that an absent parent has abandoned their children when in fact they’ve been purposefully obliterated by the custodial parent.  By the time you’re done processing what we’ve got for you here, you’ll be able to easily see through any and all deceit and decide for yourself what’s fact or fiction.  This is not difficult to do once you know what to look for, but it’s important that you get to the truth because once you understand what parental alienation is, you’ll be able to come to informed conclusions about what needs to be done about it.

What Is Parental Alienation?

Basically, parental alienation is the psychological manipulation of a child, and/or the manipulation of the legal system by one parent for the purposes of erasing the other parent from the life of the child.

The clinical and legal definition of parental alienation is as follows: the process, and the result, of psychological manipulation of a child by one parent into showing unwarranted fear, disrespect or hostility towards the other parent and/or other family members.

In short, children are brainwashed and weaponized against the targeted parent for the purposes erasing the targeted parent from the child’s life.

There is general consensus amongst psychologists, medical practitioners, and many legal professionals that parental alienation is a distinctive form of psychological abuse and family violence towards both the child and the targeted family members. Furthermore, the behavior occurs almost exclusively in association with family separation or divorce, particularly where legal action is involved.

The most common cause is one parent wishing to exclude the other parent from the life of their child, though family members or friends, as well as professionals involved with the family (including psychologists, lawyers and judges), may contribute to the process.

Parental alienation abuse is a gender-neutral problem. Both men and women are increasingly using the tactic to inflict maximum injury on the other parent, and causing severe harm to their children in the process.

Degrees of Parental Alienation

Divorce is a difficult time for any family. There’s the underlying conflict motivating the split in the first place, there’s the enormous stress that such a large change imposes on parents and children alike, and there’s the accompanying anger that’s often enough encouraged by family court industry agents who profit from provoking additional conflict between parents.

Most children can deal with a bit of badmouthing between their parents, and the fact is they’ve probably already been exposed to it long before before the family separation takes place. 

However, child abuse and family violence begins when one parent weaponizes the children against the other parent and engages in a deliberate, systematic effort to erase that parent from their lives.

Mild Parental Alienation:

In mild cases of PA, the alienator parent seeks to strengthen his or her position through subtle programming and manipulation of the child’s reality.

Moderate Parental Alienation:

Alienators in the moderate category aren’t as fanatical as those in the severe category, but rage is nonetheless an important factor.

Consequently, the moderate alienator can wage an intense campaign of deprecation in an attempt to alienate the children from the other spouse. The moderate alienator will often be very creative in obstructing visitation but will usually comply when faced with a fine or possible change in custody.

Severe Parental Alieantion:

Severe alienators are commonly obsessed with hatred for the other parent.  False accusations of sexual abuse often arise in severe alienation scenarios, and the severe alienator will exaggerate and twist almost anything a child says in order to support such allegations. Severe alienators exhibit the hallmark of paranoid thinking in that they don’t respond to reason, logic, or the obvious.*

*For a thorough description of alienator profiles, please see: “The Three Levels Of Parental Alienation Syndrome Alienators: Differential Diagnoses and Management”, Richard A. Gardner, M.D.

Parental Alienation Strategies

Credit: 3AM Thoughts

There are two primary strategies (typically used in conjunction with each other) that alienators employ to punish and erase the other parent.

The first strategy involves the manipulation of the legal system (we’ll get to this later), and the second involves the direct psychological manipulation of the child.

Psychological research reveals that narcissistic personality traits are prone to dominate the alienating parent’s behavior because these personalities are generally incapable of separating their own needs from those of their children, and, are quite comfortable with using and exploiting them to achieve their goals.  Narcissists are incapable of empathy toward others (including their own kids) and are largely unconcerned with the welfare of anyone but themselves.

They don’t have genuine relationships, because to them, people are merely objects to be manipulated for their own ends.  With a narcissist, there is no real love, no genuine caring for others. They give only if it gets them more in return, and once a person ceases to be useful they’ll be ruthlessly.

Narcissists aren’t difficult to spot once you know the personality markers:

    • Highly controlling
    • Consistently insist you prioritize their needs above others
    • Regularly employ emotional threats and punishments to get what they want
    • Are unable to see a perspective other than their own
    • Become enraged when their manipulations are disrupted or when they are criticized
    • Absent empathy toward others, especially where their own behavior is concerned
    • Possess an exaggerated sense of self-importance
    • Commonly portray themselves as both the victim and the hero

This kind of behavior may be an existing dominate feature of the alienator (Narcissistic Personality Disorder), but it can also be the case that the highly pathological nature of the family court environment encourages and rewards it when the behavior might be otherwise more subdued.

The truth is parental alienation is a form of narcissistic abuse toward both children and the targeted parent.  Psychologist and clinical researcher Amy J.L. Baker, Ph.D. summarizes the narcissistic process of parental alienation as a three part message to children:

    1. I am the only parent who loves you and you need me to feel good about yourself.
    2. The other parent is dangerous and unavailable.
    3. Pursuing a relationship with the other parent jeopardizes your relationship with me.

She further notes there are seventeen primary and clinically-validated parental alienation strategies employed by toxic parents that fall into five broad categories:

    1. Poisonous messages to the child about the targeted parent in which he or she is portrayed as unloving, unsafe, and unavailable.
    2. Limiting contact and communication between the child and the targeted parent.
    3. Erasing and replacing the targeted parent in the heart and mind of the child.
    4. Encouraging the child to betray the targeted parent’s trust.
    5. Undermining the authority of the targeted parent

Wholesale deceit is a fundamental part of the alienator’s arsenal. All these strategies aside, perhaps the most insidious tactics used are what is left unsaid, what is deliberately misrepresented, and what is blatantly manufactured.

Children are told the alienated parent is willingly absent, under investigation, etc.  No mention is made of the endless flood of motions requesting denied visitation, how the court deals with false allegations, all the phone calls neglected, messages deleted, gifts re-labeled, the custody orders ignored, or, that the targeted parent simply became incapable financially of continuing the legal process.

The alienating parent simply manipulates everything the child sees and controls what information they get so the child comes to believe and feel things that are not true; about the alienator, about the targeted parent, and sadly, about themselves.

The Damage Parental Alienation Causes To Children: Parental Alienation Syndrome

Children suffering parental alienation display symptoms of abuse, because as you now know, they are in fact being abused by the alienating parent.

This abuse imposes long-term damage on the psychological health of children that often solidifies and extends well into adulthood.

A wide body of research has established that children suffering from parental alienation and who become alienated from a parent suffer long-term damaging effects that can include, but are not limited to:

    • A greater likelihood to experience problems with self-esteem and self-confidence.
    • Difficulties with social adjustment.
    • A greater likelihood of teen pregnancy.
    • A greater likelihood to abuse drugs and alcohol.
    • Overrepresentation in a range of mental health issues, especially anxiety, depression, and suicide.
    • Self-hating behaviors.
  1.  

Symptoms of Parental Alienation:

    1. Campaign of denigration of the targeted parent.
    2. Weak, frivolous, or absurd reasons for the rejection of the targeted parent.
    3. Lack of ambivalence towards both parents in which one is viewed as all good and the other as all bad.
    4. Lack of remorse for the poor treatment of the targeted parent.
    5. Reflexive support for the favored parent.
    6. Use of borrowed scenarios.
    7. The “independent thinker” phenomenon.
    8. Spread of animosity towards the friends and family of the targeted parent.

Tragically, these children grow up believing that the way they’ve been treated by the alienating parent is normal for relationships, and as a result, have a greater likelihood of partnering with exactly same kind of abusive personality down the road and becoming parental alienation victims themselves.

It’s worth noting that many family law attorneys won’t represent an alienating parent. Still, the narcissistic abuser will keep looking, going through two, three, four more attorneys until they land on a lawyer, who for the right price, is more than willing to rigorously defend what they’re doing.  Added to that, you’ll have family investigators, supervised parenting providers, court-ordered child therapists, private investigators – the list goes on, and all of them are making boat loads of money because of the presence of parental alienation.

Additionally (and disturbingly), politicians don’t seem particularly motivated to address this kind of child abuse, presumably because their cares are focused on the political appeal of maximizing child support orders for custodial parents and keeping their family court industry donors happy.

Don’t believe the hype that family court orders are centered around the best interests of children, because that’s a load of nonsense; a shameless con intended to hide the truth about the money-centered collusion and the exploitation of parents and children that’s going on within the family court environment.  

Parental alienation abuse and the damage it causes to children is essentially tolerated because confronting it would be inconvenient to an entire collection of self-interested parties who are profiting off of an adversarial family court environment. 

Parental Alienation Syndrome, then, boils down to a story in which children are forced to pay  a long-term price for the greed of the alienating parent and a whole host of others.

Family law is about the harvesting of money, period, and the health and well being of children has nothing to do with any of it.  If it did, we’d have family law that incentivized cooperation between parents instead of conflict, ensured children have a meaningful relationship with with both parents, and, treated parental alienation abuse with the seriousness it deserves.

*For a brief overview of the topic with links to professional research, please see “Parental Alienation As Child Abuse and Family Violence”, Psychology Today.

For a summary of research findings of the effects of parental alienation upon child health and well-being, please see “What Are The Symptoms and Consequences Of Parental Alienation”, PychLaw.

The Effects of Parental Alienation On The Targeted Parent:

Parental Alienation causes long-term damage to children, and it also destroys the parent being targeted.

Numerous studies have documented the damaging effects of parental alienation upon targeted parents:

    • Severe depression
    • Anxiety
    • Social isolation
    • Despair
    • Self-loathing and inward-directed anger
    • Deterioration of executive control (ability to stay organized and focused)
    • Symptoms indicating the presence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Imagine being in a situation where you’re watching your children suffer, watching them being deceived and turned against you, watching custody orders being blatantly ignored, and throughout all of it, you’re helpless to do anything to stop it because of an apathetic family court judge.

Even worse, the harder you fight, the more you’re children are pressured, threatened, and bullied by the alienator.

Targeted parents can actually feel this conflict hurting them, and you take all that pain into themselves.  Many targeted parents, realizing that the family court is never going to truly intervene choose to walk away for no other reason than to spare their children any additional alienation abuse.

The legal system will sort of involve itself, but only to the extent that you can keep dumping every available penny you have into it. The process will grind on for years or until the targeted parent runs out of money, and in the end, people will blame them or failing thier children.

When it’s all said and done, they’ve lost everything: their home, their savings, their children, and themselves. The only thing they get out any of this is a monthly reminder of what they’ve lost in the form of a child support order that threatens to imprisonment.

The on-going pressure, stress, despair, shame, grief, and sadness – it’s all overwhelming and unrelenting. It’s too much, and in the end you turn your anger on yourself.

In one study, 54% of targeted parents had ideations of suicide, and in another, 24% of study participants had actually attempted it.

Parental Alienation is no joke. It’s a devastating form of psychological abuse and domestic violence, made so in no small part because family court pathology enables and empowers it while holding targeted parents relatively powerless to do anything to stop it.

We have to do better.

It is beyond ludicrous that alienating parents are rewarded with custody and everything else they want for abusing both the children and the targeted parent.

Please think about that, because this is exactly just how dysfunctional and destructive the family court it is. There is literally not a single, solitary healthy aspect to any of it.

This has got to change.

Important:
For a summary of the catastrophic effects of parental alienation on targeted parents, please see the two YouTube interviews with clinical experts linked below:

Parental Alienation – Targeted Parents And The Effects (Research); Jennifer Harman, Ph.D.

Parental Alienation – The Plight of the Targeted Parent; Dr. Craig Childress

Even More Important:
Psychological abuse can be subtle and sneaky, especially when there are manipulative aspects to it, and most victims don’t realize they’ve been in an abusive relationship until everything breaks, and when it does, the fall can be hard, painful, and disorienting (see: How To Spot Narcissistic Abuse).
 
If you’re a targeted or erased parent, we encourage you to jump into our new social network where you can form friendships with people who understand what you’ve been through. You can learn more here.
If you find that you are experiencing any of these abuse symptoms, or if your situation has become too painful or overwhelming, please know that it’s okay to get help, and you should do so.
 

If you are experiencing thoughts of harming yourself, please immediately go to the hospital or call the National Suicide Prevention Line: (800) 273-8255.

The Growing Problem Of False Allegations Of Abuse

It’s true that family court proceedings do uncover instances of systematic physical or sexual abuse against children, and for that, we can all be thankful.

However, studies also show that around 75% of abuse allegations made during high-conflict custody disputes turn out to be fabricated or unfounded. In fact false allegations of sexual abuse against children made in custody disputes have become such a problem that it has been given its own name: “Sexual Abuse In Divorce (SAID)”.

A common response to the presence of false allegations by folks at large is “No one would make something like that up and lie to a judge about it.” A common misconception for sure, but a misconception non the less, and one that is easily exploited by alienating parents for the purposes of nuclear warfare against the person they are targeting.

Here’s how it works:

First, and in the U.S. at least, the law provides a safe harbor for false accusers providing they make the allegations in the correct way. More specifically, no actual evidence of abuse is required, the accuser need only claim to have “fear” that the abuse has taken place or will take place in the future, and that is all that is required to trigger a response from the court.

Orders of restraint and supervised parenting will be immediately issued against the accused parent. The court will usually also order the appointment of an investigator (to be paid for by one or both parents), which in the best circumstances will be an experienced forensic psychologist, but that’s not required, and too often individuals not competent to be objective or qualified to root out the truth are appointed.

Also, don’t expect a quick resolution to the allegations. Nothing moves quickly in civil court, and under these circumstances, it is normal for the investigation alone to take close to a year or more, and even once that’s done, the alienator will be given the  opportunity to hire a different expert to perform another investigation and rebut the findings of the first one.

If you’ve taken a moment to digest the experts testimony linked throughout this article, you will have developed the understanding that alienating parents are masters of manipulation, and the family court is the perfect environment to exact a devastating, scorched earth revenge against a parent who triggers their narcissistic rage:

    • Allegations Can Be Manufactured With No Evidence And Without Any Fear Of Repercussions: Law-makers and judges rightly want the legitimate victims of abuse to feel safe coming forward. Thus, if properly guided on the correct way to bring the allegations (hi, lawyers and social workers), laws intended to protect legitimate victims can be easily weaponized by false accusers to inflict holistic long-term damage on both the other parent and the relationship they have with their children.
    • The Process Will Take Years To Resolve: Aside from the normal process of investigating the allegations, there are an infinite number of ways the accuser can sabotage and delay the process for years: motions are filed, allegations are made against supervised parenting personnel and therapists, attorneys either fire the accuser, or the accuser fires the attorney.

      The list goes on, and all the while, the falsely accused must remain in supervised parenting which sends their children the implicit message that they’re dangerous. Needless to say, the limited amount of time spent with the children along with the on-going representation of the accused parent as a threat plays right into the alieantor’s agenda; causing serious harm to both the accused parent, the involved children, and their relationship.

    • The Process Is Incredibly Expensive: Investigator fees, supervised parenting fees, therapy fees, attorney’s fees, child support, alimony, and perhaps travel expenses.

      The costs are crushing, but don’t expect any of the agents participating in the process to be respectful of that. They’ve got you over a barrel and they know it. Challenge them on an invoice or the quality of their work and they’ll simply withdraw from the case, send you an invoice for remainders, and have the judge order a garnishment or lien on your assets if you refuse or are unable to pay.

      Additionally, not paying child support or alimony is not an option for the accused. Don’t pay that stuff, and they can end up in jail for contempt of court, because it seems that in the eyes of family court judges, child support and alimony trump the need and the ability of the accused to defend their innocence. Thus, a common ploy of alienating parents is stimulate additional billable hours by drowning investigators and lawyers with additional baseless allegations, useless information, and more work; and all too often, practitioners are willing to comply with these fraudulent demands so they can bill their retainer accounts for them.

    • There Will Be No Finding of “Innocence” To The Allegations: In civil family court, failure to show the accused parent is guilty of the allegations will result in a judicial finding that the allegations are “unfounded”.

      On occasion, a judge may say that they can’t or won’t rule out that the allegations were manufactured, but they’re unlikely to assert with certainty that they were.

      The only way a falsely accused parent can claim an innocence finding is if the matter becomes criminal and he or she is found innocent by a jury. Of course, this works just fine for the false accuser as they’ll spend a lifetime misrepresenting the findings to their children and others with the purpose of obliterating the reputation of the falsely accused.

    • The End Is Just The Beginning: One might expect that after years of investigation and litigation, and after a judicial finding that any allegations of abuse are unfounded or perhaps manufactured, that it would be the end of it. One might even expect that given such fraudulent, abusive, and alienating behavior, the judge would assign custody to the accused parent, right?

      Nope – That rarely (if ever) happens.

      Instead, family court judges are likely to adopt the family investigator’s recommendation of a “re-unification” process which involves a parenting coordinator, more therapy, no unsupervised custody, and more court hearings along the way.

      Yes, you read that correctly. It is the alienated parent who has to jump through all the hoops. Permanent orders are not the end of the matter, they’re just the beginning and there will, without a single doubt, be more allegations down the road as the re-unification process comes to an end and the alienating parent is confronted with the reality that unsupervised custody is incoming.

The Generic Pattern Leading To False Allegations Of Abuse Against One Parent By The Other Parent (IPT Journal):

    1. Allegations of sexual abuse surface after the separation or divorce action is initiated.
    2. There is a history of family dysfunction and unresolved issues or conflict.
    3. The accuser displays tendencies of hysteria, borderline personality disorder, anger, defensiveness, hatred, or rationalizing.
    4. The accused is generally passive, nurturing, and lacks an assertive personality characteristic.
    5. The child is typically a female under the age of eight.
    6. The allegations are raised by the custodial parent.
    7. The accuser may shop for a therapist or social worker who will validate the abuse allegation.
    8. The Court reacts by terminating or limiting visitation.

Consider The Tragic Story of John Mast:

After years of fighting parental alienation and fradulent allegations of sexually abusing his children, John was finally awarded unsupervised custody.

This was the text he sent his PA counselor the very day his order was granted:

Courtesy of Jenna Noble

It’s not difficult to feel the joy this man was experiencing radiating off of this text. Even after he and his children had been put through so much and suffered they way they had, he just wanted to see his kids, he just wanted to hold them in his arms; he just wanted to be a Dad.  At that moment, all the suffering was forgotten, he was finally free.

However, later that night when John showed up at the agreed public parking lot for the exchange, he was shot and murdered by his ex-father-in-law.

A good man’s life was taken right in front of his children, and all because of a selfish and viscous lie.

Courtesy Jenna Noble

The story of John Mast is terrible and horrific, and it’s not unique.

Too many others have suffered a similar experience, and we’re not going to sugarcoat it: the fact is life becomes DANGEROUS for the targeted parent because of these kinds of allegations.

Folks that go through this garbage quickly learn that the family court is not a government institution that should be trusted. Ever.

They’re worried about the possibility of being criminally charged, perhaps even wrongfully convicted based on manufactured evidence and testimony. They’re stalked, they’re threatened, calls are made to employers, and friends and family are constantly harassed.

These fraudulent allegations produce a crushing amount of emotional, physical, and financial stress upon the targeted parent, and as previously noted, don’t require any actual evidence to provoke a response from the Court.

From the very moment they’re made, the targeted parent will be treated by the legal system as if they’re guilty of the alleged crimes, and from that point forward, he or she is immediately put on the defensive, changing the court battle from one of fighting to be in the lives of his or her children, to one of fighting for his or her very own life.

It’s a completely ruthless and wholly revolting tactic that has become a favorite weapon of alienating parents, because not only does it obliterate the targeted parent’s claims to custody, but it creates a permanent injury that the family court will refuse to remedy. The cloud of suspicion will follow the targeted parent for the rest of their life despite the allegations being ruled unfounded.

Naturally, this environment of terror is exactly what the alienator wants, and since they know they won’t be punished, they have no problem repeatedly making these allegations despite the traumatizing effects the resulting invasive investigations impose on their own children.

Will family court judges eventually assert themselves, hold these false accusers accountable, and award the targeted parent custody? Eventually, yes, that is indeed likely.

However, we’re talking seven, ten, twelve years down the road as second, third, even fourth chances are given to the accuser. Legal fees can easily exceed well over one hundred thousand dollars over that period, and by the time the Court finally takes action, the damage done to the children and the targeted parent is beyond repair.

Sadly, many targeted parents can’t afford or stomach even a round two of these allegations, so they end up walking away; both to protect themselves and to protect their children from any more trauma.

And there is always a round two.

We don’t expect anyone who hasn’t been on the receiving end of these allegations to understand what they do to people, but we’re hopeful they’re now better informed about what the problem is, why it exists, and how it might force a parent out of lives of their children.

Please give these folks a break, offer them your support, and above all, do not judge them for doing what they need to do to survive.

The Predatory Family Court Environment

The long-term effects of parental alienation on children are well documented. Studies have shown that adult children who endured parent alienation suffer low self-esteem, self-hatred, abandonment issues, lack of trust, depression, and are more likely to have substance abuse or addictions. As young adults, many lose the capacity to give and accept love from trusted figures. Self-hatred is particularly disturbing, as children tend to internalize the hatred targeted toward the alienated parent, and begin to believe that the alienated parent did not want or love them.

It should be common sense that if society really wants what’s best for children and families, government should utilize the family court as an intervention to prevent the escalation of conflict and bad behavior and redirect the focus toward cooperation and healthier goals for families.

The truth is, family law policy has nothing to do with the welfare of children, and has everything to do with using them as leverage to harvest money.

Welp, it’s time to expose lies……

The Family Court Industry:

According to the Huffington Post, in the U.S. the average cost of a high-conflict divorce involving custody is around $78,000.

Note that this merely the cost associated with arriving at the first permanent orders, and does not include any on-going litigation costs relating future motions for additional child support, re-evaluations of custody orders, on-going problems with parental alienation, re-unification schemes, or any new or additional false allegations made down the road.

As a practical matter, there are no permanent orders where children are concerned, so for lawyers, family investigators, guardian ad litems, private investigators, supervised parenting providers, child therapists, re-unification therapists, parenting coordinators….(the list goes on)….family conflict, parental alienation, and false allegations are an incredibly lucrative source of business.*

Seventy or eighty grand is a lot of money, and since many parents just don’t have it, they end up being marginalized or eliminated from the lives of their children. And if even if they do have that kind of extra wealth, that’s money that can be used, for example, to fund the college educations of one or more children in a household. This of course begs the question: Whose interests are really being served here?

An adversarial legal environment is not in the best interests of children, but is in the best interests of the family court industry whose bread is buttered by manufacturing, stimulating, and preserving conditions of parental conflict over children.

State Governments:

In the U.S., Federal Title IVD bonuses and incentives to states (Social Security Act, Title IV, Part D, Section 458 “Incentive Payments to States”) not only reward states for collecting delinquent child support payments, but actually incentivize states to maximize the amount of child support payments they administer; regardless of whether noncustodial parents are current or in arrears or whether the support order is reasonable.

Importantly, because child support payments are in most cases a function of the amount of time a non-custodial parent has with their children (i.e., fewer overnights for the NCP means a higher child support order), there is an incentive to minimize or eliminate noncustodial parenting time because it increases child support obligations, and thereby enhances potential federal funding and bonus revenue.

This is not in the best interests of children, but it is in the best interests of states seeking federal funding.

Politicians:

Every year in the U.S., equal shared parenting bills are introduced in virtually every state by well-intentioned legislators who understand that it’s far healthier to for both children and families to incentivize cooperation between parents rather than conflict, provide children with opportunities to have an active and meaningful relationship with both parents, and ensure that custody orders are actually enforced by family court judges. 

And every year these bills die in committee or on floor votes as the American Bar Association sends out an army of family court industry insiders to lobby politicians against this kind of legislation because equal shared parenting law will devastate their industry.

Estimates are that the Family Court Industry rakes in somewhere between $60 and $80 billion each and every year, so the family court industry has a lot to lose from changes to family law, and politicians have a lot to gain by trading child well-being for family court industry campaign financing.

This is not in the best interests of children, but it is in the best interests of politicians who wish to profit financially and politically from law that preserves an adversarial family court environment.

Custodial Parents:

When there are no substantive penalties for parental alienation and false allegations, and when those behaviors are in fact rewarded, they become dominant strategies.

Strategic dominance occurs when one strategy is better than any other strategy for one agent, no matter what strategy their opponent utilizes. In other words, because parental alienation and false allegations are not sanctioned, they become the best strategy for a custodial parent to utilize when their goals is to punish, harm, or eliminate the other parent from the lives of their children.

This is not in the best interests of children, but it is in the best interests of parents seeking to obliterate the other parent while preserving and maximizing a child support order.

Family Court Judges:

Adversarial systems of family law are engineered to produce conflicts involving child custody, and it only takes one party to create conditions of noncooperation.

The investigation of false allegations and parental alienation can take years, and despite the overly broad discretion judges are awarded with the best interests of the children doctrine, parental alienation and fraudulent allegations of child abuse seem be outside their appetite to remedy.

Courts are busy, and our legal system is ill-equipped to manage the stress and harm divorce forces upon parents and children.  Primary custody is usually awarded at the very beginning of custody litigation without much careful consideration, and essentially even after lengthy and expensive litigation, that’s where it is going to stay baring any future allegations of abuse.

The sad truth is, too many family court judges have little interest in custody disputes, let alone the problem of parental alienation. Most would prefer to take 15 minutes to hear a child support complaint, make a calculation, issue an order, and move on to the next case.  So what they tend to do is bog custody cases down with lengthy and expensive litigation in an effort to create incentives for parents to give up. This of course, works just fine for the family court industry and even custodial parents as they’re free to use child support to hire the legal resources they need to attack and eliminate the other parent.

For an alienating parent, having the other parent feed you with court-ordered child support income which you can then use to pay your lawyer is a pretty sweet deal.

This is not in the best interests of children, but it is in the best interests of family court judges under the current system.

The Lesson*:

Despite all the bluster, hand wringing, and seemingly exasperated public cries for parental cooperation and parent-child involvement from politicians, judges, attorneys, and family investigators, the truth is the family court environment has little actual concern for the welfare of children and their parents.

What we truthfully have is a legal system purposefully engineered to produce conflict over children and marginalize or eliminate one parent because that’s how the money is made; not just for custodial parents, but for a whole collection of self-interested players exploiting parent-child relationships for their own personal gain.

Parental alienation and the immense suffering caused by it exists in no small part because judges enable and empower it and the family court industry profits by encouraging it.

*For a startling expose on the indefensible amount of corruption, collusion, and abuse present within the family court industry, see the 2015 documentary Divorce Corp., viewable on both Netflix and YouTube.

Note: Not all family court lawyers and government officials are sleazy. There are some really good ones out there fighting for families and trying to change family law, but one should be careful.

If you’re on the lookout for a good lawyer or family investigator, or if you’d like to get involved with a political action group, we encourage you utilize our Forums and Discussion Boards by posting your questions and getting involved with the discussion!

The Epic Lie

Do legitimate deadbeat parents exist?

Yup, of course they do, and while we don’t understand that, we’re not denying the problem.

Both parental alienation and child abandonment are stories of selfishness, greed, and cruelty, and our hope is that you’ve come to understand that what you have been led to believe may be inaccurate or entirely fabricated.

No parent, in fact, no person is perfect, and the most effective lie is often seeded by a small kernel of truth because constructing it that way makes the lie wrapped around it more believable.

We’ve provided you with a lot of information to digest, both within this page and with the expert testimony linked throughout it.  You’ve learned that:

    • Parental Alienation is the process by which a parent is systematically erased from the life of a child by (i) the psychological manipulation of the child, and/or (ii) the manipulation of the legal system.

    • Alienating parents tend display characteristics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. They are incapable of separating their own needs from those of their children, and are comfortable with dishonesty and deception when those means justify the ends that serve them best.
    • There are 17 clinically validated strategies for achieving parental alienation, all of which can be boiled down to positioning the other parent as unloving, unavailable, or dangerous;  creating child-dependency, and reinforcing that dependency with an ultimatum that the child is prohibited from having a relationship with both parents.

    • Parental Alienation is widely recognized by psychologists and psychiatrists as a form of child abuse and domestic violence. Both alienated children and targeted parents display symptoms of abuse because they are in fact, being abused. Clinical studies have shown that parental alienation produces significant and long-lasting psychological damage to parents and children alike.

    • False allegations of abuse (especially sexual abuse) have become a weapon of choice for severely alienating parents. The tactic is effective for numerous reasons: (1) There need be no actual evidence, (2) If presented correctly, the allegations will carry no punishment when shown to be false, (3) The legal system’s response to the allegations reinforces the alienator’s desire for their children to associate the targeted parent as a threat, (4) The injury to the targeted parent is permanent, and (5) the physical, emotional, and financial stress caused by the allegations and the legal system’s response to them are both dangerous and crushing.  False allegations of abuse are an incalculably viscous and ruthless tactic, made all the more tragic by the fact that fraudulent accusers selfishly consume resources legitimate victims need to be safe.

    • Existing family law enables and empowers parental alienation. It is in the interests of the sixty billion dollar a year family court industry to encourage and aggravate conflict between parents, and child custody disputes, parental alienation, and false allegations of abuse are a lucrative source of business. Furthermore, in the United States, state governments have a financial incentive to minimize or eliminate parenting time with the non-custodial parent because fewer overnights typically results in a higher child support order which enhances federal bonus pools and the federal funding they receive. Incentives for the enforcement of custody orders are virtually non-existent, and despite the wide latitude family court judges are awarded with the “best interests of children” doctrine, few show any desire use the court’s power to intervene on matters outside of child support orders. Custody order violations are rarely (if ever) punished while child support orders are brutally enforced. The on-going abuses and exploitation of parents and children exist, in no small part, because remedying the problem is inconvenient to the financial and political interests of states, politicians, the family court industry, and the courts. 

The point here is this: there is good reason not to trust what you may have heard about an absent parent. If parental alienation is a story about selfishness, greed, and abuse, it is also a story that cannot stand without a great deal of dishonesty, deception, and the systematic gaslighting of children and targeted parents.

There is little doubt that alienating parents view themselves as both the victim and the hero, a fact plainly evident by their demands that everyone else is obligated to drown them in admiration for both of these delusions.

They’re not hard to identify: Disrupt their manipulations, remove their ability to control and dominate others, challenge them on an untruth – Simply deny them anything they want for themselves and watch the explosion of narcissistic rage that will assuredly follow.   

Narcissists don’t have genuine relationships because everything is transactional and they’ll give only if they get more for themselves in return. To a narcissist, people are disposable – objects to be thrown away when they no longer have a use for them.

What should be evident by this point is that despite popular myth, family court custody orders have little do with awarding custody to the “best” parent or center around the “best interests of children”, because all too often, custody is awarded to the parent demonstrating unapologetic selfishness, ruthlessness, dishonesty, or abusiveness. Admirable traits for lawyers, perhaps, but hardly healthy behaviors to model for children.

Family law has been engineered to create to conflict over child custody because it’s lucrative for the legal industry.  That conflict encourages parental alienation, and parental alienation ecnourages false or fraudulent allegations of abuse. And any one of these causes can lead to the creation of an absent parent who, despite his or her best efforts, simply does not have the emotional or financial means to afford the ongoing fight.   

Still, the targeted parent may work hard to try and remain involved with their children, but if the alienating parent refuses the phone calls, if gifts are re-labeled or thrown out, if custody orders are ignored or time with the children is denied, or if the alienating parent remains hostile and uncooperative, what can done?

A Call For Hope, Love, And Healing

Parental alienation is a manifestation of narcissistic abuse. It is rooted in self-absorption. It is effected with lies, manipulation, and deception. It is greedy, dishonest, and viscous. 

Real love doesn’t force a child to reject one parent in favor of the other. 

It isn’t self-serving, it doesn’t require deception, and it isn’t threatening.

Real love doesn’t cause hurt and it doesn’t abuse children.

We’re not claiming that every absent parent is an alienated parent, or that every parent awarded primary custody is a narcissistic personality. Every family’s situation is different, and we understand that. 

What we’re hoping you’ll do is seek out both sides of the story so that you can decide for yourself what the truth is, and as a result, make the decision that is best for you and your family.

Because there are literally millions of parents ravaged by profound and endless grief each and every single second of every single day simply because they want nothing more out of life than to have a relationship with their children, to share life experiences with them, to be mom or a dad; a grandmother or a granddad. They just want to pour love into their kids and be a part of their lives.

So we hope that for your sake, and for the sake of all the alienated parents and grandparents that you’ll at least consider what we’re challenging you to do.

Lastly, If You're Still Uncertain (Perhaps Even Skeptical) About What Parental Alienation Is, What It Means, And How It Effects Children and Alienated Parents:

We understand that you’ve been given you a lot to process, that words on web page can fall short, and that nothing speaks better than real stories, from real people.

If you really want to understand parental alienation and the devastating impact it has on parents, children, and families, we invite you to watch Ginger Gentile’s documentary, “Erasing Family”.

It will be worth your time.

The Love and Iron Project is a network or like-minded people and organizations or committed to the  principle that all children deserve to know they’re loved.

We help each other and we defend children – Join with us!.