Most of the lawyers, court personnel, judges and parents who read my blog are well aware that there have been many--too many--of these cases. Some cases have gained notoriety that has not been helpful -- that has often harmed not only the parents and children, but also lawyers and/or court personnel trying to resolve these vexing and destructive cases.
Thank you to Harry B. Siegel , the Managing Partner of SIEGELLAW in Ellicott City, MD, for initiating another dialogue about high conflict cases among family lawyers across the country in his post today to the ABA Family Law Listserv today. Siegel wrote: "Whether we call it parental alienation (a bad title), resistant children (likely the worst title I have ever heard in my life) or just plain high conflict cases, these are the intractable cases that vex families, divorce attorneys, mental health professionals and jurists."
Attorney Siegel opined that these cases "appear to be, at best, based on 'soft science,' which likely would never meet any Daubert standard. The Washington Post article recounted some of the history behind the term "Parental Alienation Syndrome," coined by psychologist Richard Gardener many, many years ago. It is noted that the American Psychiatric Assn has chosen NOT to include this term as a diagnosis in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which lists all psychiatric disorders, and this has created enormous uncertainty around its usage in the legal system. Siegel provided a link to a recent Washington Post article that describes the most horrific case I have ever reviewed.
The WP article describes an horrific forcible taking of children from the home of their mother in Pennsylvania by strangers and their transcontinental travel to a "re-unification program" located in California. The description of the program and of its founders leads to reader speculation that likely the benefits were not just expensive, but also without benefit. The trauma to the children and to the parents is described.
Parents, judges, case workers, lawyers: How do we manage these cases? Doctors have a mandate to "First Do No Harm." After reading the Post's article . . . wouldn't you say that the legal system should operate on the same tenet?
The Washington Post article: Read it! Please read it. Dialogue with your colleagues, your friends, your advisors, your clients. There has got to be a better way. You may read the article here: Tabachnick, Cara. "They were taken from their mom to re-bond with their dad. It didn’t go well." The Washington Post, May 11, 2017, Magazine sec. Accessed January 13, 2018. https://wapo.st/2pZuTJ5?tid=ss_mail&utm_term=.0599cf36d296