Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a generally recognized platform that may result in child abuse. This occurs when a custodial parent of a child from a separated family uses deception to deliberately alienate children from their non custodial parent.
Misplaced Domestic Violence Restraining and Protective Orders are an excellent tool to advance the Alienating Parent’s malice! Misguided Protective Orders of a Court based on such false representations may remove the Accused Abuser Parent from the home, bar the Accused Abuser from seeing his/her children and give the Alienating Parent total physical custody of the children. The Accused Abuser Parent is now effectively “Guilty Until Proven Innocent”.
Once the Alienator obtains a Restraining Order through false domestic violence allegations, the Accused Abuser Parent may find it difficult to defend himself or herself against the false allegations. This sends the implied message to the children that “Daddy/Mommy” is bad or dangerous, stamped by the court.
The Accused Abuser Parent may only see his/her children in a cold and uninviting supervised visitation setting. Supervised Visitation Centers are facilities where a child is taken to meet with the Accused Abuser Parent in a third party monitored location. A third party observes the Accused Abuser Parent during their visit with their children so that the child is “protected” at all times.
Often the supervised visit is demeaning for the visiting parent in the eyes of his/her child. The impression to the child that “Daddy or Mommy” is dangerous comes across loud and clear since most children only see lock up situations on TV and these people are seriously viewed as being bad.
Many Alienating Parents use this scary situation to encourage their child not to see the Accused Abuser Parent at all. The more time a child is out of contact with the Alienated Parent the deeper the scaring and recovery period for that child.
Dr. Richard A. Gardner coined the term “Parental Alienation Syndrome” (PAS) in 1985. Dr. Gardner found that a child subjected to continual negativity and manipulation by the Custodial Parent over an extended period of time against the other parent would eventually adapt the distorted view presented. At the end of the day, what the Alienating Parent fails to understand is that his/her selfishness makes his/her child the “victim” who pays a hefty price in lost self esteem.
Unfortunately, False Domestic Violence Allegations have become more common in Divorce / Child Custody Proceedings. Most Judges usually enter a restraining or protective order for the safety of the child and in too many cases an Accused Abuser Parent is guilty until proven innocent!
Despite the difficulties faced in a divorce, the children should not be placed in the center of the crossfire. During the divorce process, and sometimes following the divorce process, it is not uncommon for a parent to become so wrapped up in anger, vengeance or simply being “right” that they forget the effect the whole process is having on the children. Below are some behaviors to avoid and some suggestions to assist you with improving your communications during the divorce process:
- Do not use children as messengers between “mom” and “dad.”
- Do not criticize your former spouse in the presence of your children because children realize they are part “mom” and part “dad.”
- Resist any temptation to allow your children to act as your caretaker. Children need to be allowed the freedom to be “children.” Taking on such responsibility at an early age degrades their self-esteem, feeds anger and hinders a child’s ability to relate to their peers.
- Encourage your children to see your former spouse frequently. Promote a good relationship for the benefit of the child.
- Do not argue with your former spouse in the presence of the children. No matter what the situation, the child will feel torn between taking “mommy’s” side and “daddy’s” side.
- At every step during the divorce process, remind yourself that your children’s interests are paramount, even over your own.
- If you are the non-primary parent, pay your child support.
- If you are the primary parent and are not receiving child support, do not tell your children. This feeds a child’s sense of abandonment and erodes their stability.
- Remember that the Court’s view child support and child custody as two separate and distinct issues. Children do not understand whether “mommy” and/or “daddy” paid child support, but they do understand that “mommy” and/or “daddy” wants to see me.
- If at all possible, do not uproot your children. When a family is falling apart, a child needs a stable home and school life to buffer the trauma.
- If you have an addiction problem, whether it be drugs, alcohol or any other affliction, seek help immediately. Such impairments inhibit your ability to reassure your children and give them the attention they need.
- If you are having difficulty dealing with issues relating to your former spouse, discuss such issues with mental health professionals and counselors.
- Reassure your children that they are loved and that they have no fault in the divorce.
Though these steps are not all-inclusive, they will assist you in dealing with the complex issues of a divorce and hopefully minimize the impact of the divorce process on the children.
Former spouses often use informal visitation arrangements as an opportunity to assault, harass, stalk, and emotional abuse their children and former partners. In addition, some parents will use their children as a means to hurt the other parent by denying access to the child(ren) even though such access has been ordered by the court, i.e. failing to be at home during scheduled visitation periods, failing to bring the child(ren) to a scheduled location for the other parent to exercise their court ordered visitation, faking illness, etc.
Supervised visitation takes place between the non-custodial parent and his or her child(ren) in the presence of a third party who observes the visit to ensure the child’s physical and emotional safety. Though sometimes reasonably and successfully ordered, visits voluntarily supervised by friends and family in their homes can be fraught with danger for the child and parent, as well as the monitor, especially in cases of domestic violence. Family members may trust the parent whose visits are being supervised and therefore may not take proper or sufficient measures to assure the child(ren) are watched or monitored at all times during the visit.
Consequently, when supervision is indicated, possession/visitation supervised by a neutral third party with the capacity to enforce effective safety measures is normally ordered and enforced by the courts. The expenses of such supervision are often excessive and may in themselves create a detriment to possession by a parent. Such agencies may also provide reports and recommendations to the court based on the success or failure of the supervised visits. Such recommendations assist the courts in making informed decisions regarding supervision and whether continued supervision in the best interest of the child(ren).
If supervised visitation is requested, some type of compelling reason and evidence, based on the circumstances surrounding the child(ren) must normally be established. Such evidence may include denial of access, drug addiction, mental or physical abuse, neglect, or severe mental illness of a parent. The following is a potential list of acts and/or circumstances that may be considered contrary to a child’s best interest.
• Violence or physical endangerment – A noncustodial parent may be denied visitation rights if the parent has abused the child or threatened physical violence.
• Emotional harm – Where sufficient proof is offered of potential emotional harm or that standard visitation has detrimentally affected a child’s welfare, supervised visitation may be ordered.
• Child’s wishes – A court may consider the child’s wishes as to visitation. The weight given to a child’s preference is dependent on the child’s age, emotional stability, maturity and motives.
• Abduction – There must be a showing that there is a strong imminent probability of abduction to limit visitation on this basis.
• Substance abuse – A parent who abuses drugs or alcohol may be ordered to supervised visitation restrictions if the conduct endangers the child or if the parent uses abusive language and/or mistreats the child.
• Mental illness –Mental incapacity may be a reason for supervised visitation only if it is determined by the court that there is a reasonable potential for harm to the child due to such mental illness.
• Sexual behavior – Courts rarely deny visitation solely on the basis of a non-marital heterosexual relationship. Courts will, however, cancel overnight visitation by a child with a parent because of the parent’s cohabitation on a showing of an adverse and material negative impact on the child.
• Incarceration – Visitations due to incarceration may be suspended only on a showing that such visits are detrimental to the child.
To have more of your questions answered on supervised visitation in Texas, or for answers to any other Texas child custody concerns you may have, call Dallas Divorce attorney Mark Nacol of the Nacol Law Firm P.C.