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Studies show 11 to 15 % of divorces involving children leading to parental alienation. Roughly speaking, 1 percent of the 74 million or 740k children in United States and 25k of children in Maine may experience parental alienation. Researchers believe that the experience of undermining a parent child relationship is a form of emotional child abuse and family violence. Parental alienation is currently handled through civil proceedings and is not an arrestable offense. This petition seeks to change state laws to make parental alienation a criminal offence, equal to other domestic violence due to the nature of the lasting damage it inflicts. #StopErasingParents
The Family Law Process has a core responsibility of ensuring a healthy environment for and protecting the wellbeing our kids. In far too many cases current laws, administrative guidelines and social policy enable the very abuses seeks to prevent.
Our system of divorce presumes mom is the caregiver and dad is the breadwinner in most cases unless proven otherwise which can set mom up as the gatekeeper over a father’s relationship with the children. If the terms are amenable to both parents, the system works well. In 1 percent of cases the system of divorce is failing to identify situations where one parent seeks to undermine the children’s relationship with the other parent and setting the stage for the targeted parent to be alienated. No effort exists by professionals to root out or prevent cases of parental alienation. This is alarming when studies show this abuse causes lasting damage into a child’s adult years and having a greater impact than physical abuse. #EndSupportForParentalAlienation
More focus should be placed on enabling, building cooperative agreements and if necessary, training parents to be better for their children instead of the current environment of exclusion and gatekeeping. There is an epidemic of mostly fathers that have instantly become criminals in the eyes of an unrelenting system and have been reduced to a couple of days each month where there is no previous instance of abuse or neglect has been reported let alone prosecuted as in my case. #KidsDeserveEqualParents
The solution to ending parental alienation involves fundamental changes to the current system of divorce #FamilyLawReform:
Recognize parental alienation as a form of emotional child abuse:
- Cases meeting the standard for parental alienation shall be investigated and prosecuted as child abuse.
Establish shared parenting as the foundation of family law:
- Children have the fundamental right to the active involvement of both parents;
- Shifting the focus child custody to a child centered approach by where there is an assumption of equal shared parenting as parents draft a co-parenting agreement required of custody proceedings;
- Due process or mutual agreement between parties is the only way to limit a parent’s involvement in their child’s life;
- Any limitation of parental rights should be narrow in scope, duration and tailored to protect the child;
Update policies to include fathering support programs to support mothers and fathers undergoing a family break-up with resources and tools to maintain a healthy relationship with their child or children.
Implement safeguards and or checks to prevent one parent, professional or agency from exerting undue influence over the process, preventing a child from becoming collateral damage or used as a weapon against their other parent;
Establish a child’s best interest as being best served by the active involvement, love, and support of both parents;
Understand how parental alienation affects children:
- Children may struggle with self-esteem, guilt, and self-hatred, as they can internalize hatred toward the targeted parent and are led to believe, incorrectly, that the parent did not love or want them.
- Depression and substance use are also pathways by which parental alienation can impact children.
A determination of parental alienation must meet the minimum standard according to the four‐factor model of parental alienation, for alienation to be present there must be:
- a prior positive relationship between the child and the now rejected parent;
- absence of maltreatment by the rejected parent;
- use of alienating behaviors by the favored parent; and
- presence of behavioral manifestations of alienation in the child.
Recommended ways to help a child repair the relationship with parent targeted by parental alienation:
- The best course of action is to limit the child’s time with the alienating parent and increase time with the targeted parent;
- The child’s biased view of the parent will gradually clear and even severely damaged relationships can be repaired, research shows; and
- The targeted parent can help by not denigrating the alienating parent or dismissing the child’s feelings during this time.
Establish prevention and reunification programs to aid children in rebuilding a relationship with an alienated parent
Helping children heal from parental alienation:
- Spending more time with the alienated parent can help repair the relationship.
- One valuable exercise is to open a dialogue about similarities and differences between family members.
- Discussing neutral topics such as favorite food or color, and later moving on to feelings, can help the child individuate his or her parent’s experiences from their own.
Guidance to therapists in working with children of parental alienation:
- Therapists can learn the characteristics of an alienated child, such as constantly denigrating the target parent and imitating the alienating parent’s stories, and the degree to which alienation has occurred;
- Treatment can involve transferring the child to the target parent’s home, prohibiting contact with the alienator, and taking legal action.
Define clear enforcement guidance to enforce shared parenting orders effectively.
Mandate for training minimums for professionals within the divorce system covering:
- Identification of parental alienation y and if required prosecute parental alienation from mother and or fathers as we do physical abuses, we will have stronger family units and healthier children as a result.
Two new articles—“Parental Alienating Behaviors: An Unacknowledged Form of Family Violence” (Harman, Kruk, & Hines, 2018), appearing in Psychological Bulletin, and “Parental Alienation as a Form of Emotional Child Abuse(https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/child-abuse): Current State of Knowledge and Future Directions for Research” (Kruk, 2018), appearing in the Family Science Review—have sought to shed light on the latest research pertaining to parental alienation as child abuse and family violence, and as a form of human emotional aggression (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/anger). #EndParentalAlienation
Please Become Informed, Sign and Share the Petition
A Story of Parental Alienation
I am a dedicated father, service-connected disabled combat veteran (tours in Bosnia and Iraq), technology consultant and technology business owner starting in 2005 who has been fighting a losing battle for time with his son! Despite the absence of abuse against a system unwilling to acknowledge a well-documented case of abuse here in Maine. My ex-wife and I originally agreed to joint custody and us doing joint domicile in my home for the benefit of our child. Since, she has leveled one baseless allegation after another to anyone within this system of divorce and completely alienated me from our son. The system accepted her disparaging and uncorroborated statements like a crack head chases their next fix. Currently, I have not seen or interacted with my son since Dec 25, 2017 despite continuing to have shared parental rights and responsibilities. The fight to clear false accusations and an agency falsifying records in support of my ex-wife’s case has financially drained me; my home is on the verge of foreclosure; I am filing bankruptcy within the next month and have shut down a once profitable company under an onslaught of Maine Department of Health and Human Services sanctions. My search for justice within a system where none seems to exist continues.
When I think the lengths “Professionals” within Maine Department of Health and Human Services and Maine Behavioral Healthcare have gone to act contrary to facts they themselves have collected and fabricate records to support my ex-wife’s mission to undermine my relationship with our son, I am devastated. My primary job a father is to protect my children; Instead I sat powerless with my hands tied as professionals having the responsibility to act in protection of my son used current family law, social policies, and fabrications enable the abuse of my child in a case where the facts correlate with textbook case of Parental Alienation. My son has now been denied a father who prior to his parents’ divorce, was a daily fixture, for the 1039 days and counting. How can one not see this system as corrupt and in need of an overhaul? Lawmakers who are responsible for the oversight of these agencies have dismissed my requests for investigation as not their job or redirected me back to the family law system. The last lawmaker equated my tone to domestic violence, harassment, and stated that will only help if I am nice. That did seem a bit ironic considering the topic for which I was reaching out. I cannot fathom the appropriateness of responding to an abuse victim in such a manner. I have been requesting help from lawmakers since it was proven that Maine Behavioral Healthcare fabricated medical records and it was subsequently found by the appeals court that my constitutional rights were violated by the trial judge but the violation was a harmless error. One part of the system is just as corrupt as the other; I will not receive justice until local laws are changed to address the corruption. I beg you to join me to join the petition to demand fundamental changes to the current system of divorce. Thank you for reading I truly appreciate any engagement. #KidsDeserveBetterLaws
Patrick Leary @PatrickRLeary
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