Saturday, January 24, 2009

Mom loses custody for alienating dad ~ Judge Faye McWatt applies justice not just gender biased law

Some progress is being made albeit slowly in the Ontario Family Law legal system. We had the Turnbull decision in 2008 and now the McWatt decision this week. Alienation of a child by a parent is child abuse that will last a life time unless steps are taken to remove the alienator from the children. Many alienators are female, but not all, but no matter the gender it is harmful. The target goes through a grieving process without end and only the target knows how excruciatingly agonizing it is to have his/her children turned on them. I'm a target and I get my trial this coming April. I don't have the resources of the target in this case but I'll do my best to stay in the lives of my children. Hopefully more judges will be able to see this is child abuse affecting the mental health of children for life if not stopped.MJM

Toronto Star

Ruling a 'wake-up call' for parents who use kids to punish ex-partners
Jan 24, 2009 04:30 AM
Comments on this story (18)
Tracey Tyler
LEGAL AFFAIRS REPORTER

In a stunning and unusual family law decision, a Toronto judge has stripped a mother of custody of her three children after the woman spent more than a decade trying to alienate them from their father.

The mother's "consistent and overwhelming" campaign to brainwash the children into thinking their father was a bad person was nothing short of emotional abuse, Justice Faye McWatt of the Superior Court of Justice wrote in her decision.

The three girls, ages 9 to 14, were brought to a downtown courthouse last Friday and turned over to their father, a vascular surgeon identified only as A.L.

Their mother, a chiropodist identified as K.D., was ordered to stay away from the building during the transfer and to have her daughters' clothing and possessions sent to their father's house.

McWatt stipulated that K.D. is to have no access to the children except in conjunction with counselling, including a special intensive therapy program for children affected by "parental alienation syndrome." The mother must bear the costs.

Harold Niman, the father's lawyer, said the decision serves as a wake-up call to parents who, "for bitterness, anger or whatever reason," decide to use their children to punish their former partners.

"Maybe if they realize the courts will actually step in and do something and there is a risk of not only losing custody, but having no contact with their children, they'll think twice about it," Niman said in an interview.

McWatt's judgment was released Jan. 16 and published on legal databases this week. By yesterday, it was a hot topic within the family law bar.

The judge said awarding A.L. sole custody was the children's only hope for having a relationship with their father, given their mother's long-running transgressions.

These include ignoring court orders, shutting the door in A.L.'s face when he came to collect the children and refusing to answer the phone when he called to say goodnight. (He was granted telephone access to say good night on Monday, Wednesday and Friday). At times, she also arranged for police to show up when her daughters had overnight visits with their father.

Eventually, K.D. cut off contact altogether, refusing to allow A.L. to see or speak with his daughters. He was reduced to shouting goodnight to them through the door of their home, often not knowing whether they were there.

"It is remarkable that A.L. has not given in to the respondent's persistence in keeping his children from him over the last fourteen years and simply gone on with his life without the children as, no doubt many other parents in the same situation would have and, indeed, have done," McWatt said.

The mother squandered several chances to change her behaviour and is unable to accept it is in her children's best interests to have a relationship with their father, the judge said.

Nicholas Bala, a Queen's University law professor who specializes in family law, said "badmouthing" or negative attitudes by one parent toward another is quite common among separated couples. But in recent years, the justice system has begun to understand the harmful effects of the worst form of this behaviour.

In most cases, the problem is resolved through counselling, where parents are encouraged to accept they'll both always be in their children's lives, said Bala. "I tell them, `... if you're the survivor, you'll be going to the other's funeral, not because you love that person, but to support your children.'

"Having said that, there are some people – and I think some of them are suffering from personality disorders – who will not respond to therapy and will not respond to directions from judges."

Transferring custody is a last resort, because "it can be quite dramatic and traumatic" – yet sometimes better than the alternative, said Bala.

"We often talk about the best interests of the child, but often it's the least detrimental alternative, really."

Bala said courts are unlikely to take such a drastic step without hearing expert testimony about what's happening in the family. A child may be avoiding a parent for legitimate reasons such as physical or emotional abuse.

McWatt heard testimony from Barbara Fidler, a Toronto mediator and clinical psychologist who predicted eight years ago the three girls were at risk of becoming alienated from their father.

The Office of the Children's Lawyer argued the family dynamics could not continue.

Fidler said research points to long-term damage in people alienated from a parent in childhood.

Children are more susceptible at about age 10 or 11, after their brains have developed to the point where they can hold positive and negative information about a parent.

If what one parent is saying about the other doesn't accord with their own perceptions, they can become confused.

In some cases, the only way out of the emotional conflict is to take one parent's side. The child can even begin inventing his or her own reasons for hating the other parent, the court was told.

Early intervention is best, Niman said."Really, parental alienation is a process. If you can nip it in the bud, that's the best advice I can give to clients.

"Because the longer it goes on, the more difficult it can be to undo."
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Thank goodness

I have gone through and continue to go through what this father has. His (and his children's) victory gives me hope and encourages me to keep up the struggle. The article doesn't say, but I wonder how much this cost him. Lawyers' fees and the cost of expert testimony are a huge barrier to fathers seeking to maintain a paternal relationship through the iron curtain of a hostile and aggressive ex.

Submitted by Mao Li Osa at 9:02 AM Saturday, January 24 2009

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parental alienation syndrome aka revenge!

Submitted by Proud Scarberian at 8:53 AM Saturday, January 24 2009

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JUSTICE AT LAST!

I can totaly sympathize with the father. I have gone through a very similar situation in Ontario & my ex spouse bad mouthed a great father and because of it I lost contact with one of my children who was brainwashed. Thankfully my other child was too young for that ( she eventually threw the child out at 11) and my childbnow lives with me. Well it looks like finally a Judge did the right thing. If I did the things my ex wife did, I would still be in jail...this is the first step forward for fathers rights and now will have set a precident. CHEERS!!!!!!

Submitted by RustyF at 8:42 AM Saturday, January 24 2009

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About time!

Hopefully this warning will be taken seriously by all parents with custody of their children. It may be tempting to badmouth and isolate the other parent but it is harmful to the children.For me, the ruling comes 15 years too late. My ex-wife insisted I had "left the family" when, really, I had just left her. One child believed her and still is bitter, one didn't believe her and we have a close and loving relationship. Unfortunately, I didn't have the assets (I was never behind on support payments) to pursue the issue as the father is this story had. Bitter, vindictive custodial parents (male or female) - pay attention!

Submitted by Turners at 8:23 AM Saturday, January 24 2009

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court case

how much did this cost? both parents are well-heeled. justice for the rich and d-all for the rest of us.

Submitted by gonzo at 8:20 AM Saturday, January 24 2009

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You have to have money

Unfortunately the average Joe doesn't have the money to take his complaint to court.Another example of the justice system being only for the rich

Submitted by Dewey at 8:04 AM Saturday, January 24 2009

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About Time!

This has been going on for years, including my family. Does this mean there is precedence to sue my mother to bear the costs of emotional abuse using the kids as pawns?

Submitted by TechnoRob at 8:03 AM Saturday, January 24 2009

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Hurray for the kids

When my first wife and I divorced in 1984 it was nasty to say the least. Thakfully we had no children as I know that we would have used them as weapons against each other. I could very well have behaved the same as "KD" in this case and so could my ex'. Ultimately it is the children who will pay the price in these cases and quite likely their children as well. I love children and regret never having any, but given what happened in my earlier marriage, it is far better that I have regrets than innocent children being put through hell. I wish "AL" and his daughters all the best.

Submitted by Uncle Peter at 8:03 AM Saturday, January 24 2009

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Not the only one

And how many more fathers out there are in the same position but don't have the $$ to go to court! Lots I guarantee, maybe there should be a government subsidy to start and maintain proceedings!

Submitted by knowall at 7:59 AM Saturday, January 24 2009

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Finally,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

the courts should open up more cases,and give more parents the wake up call to be civil, its gone on too long,and to many children have been scarred from this behavior, This women needs life long treatment. the judge deserves a pad on the back.

Submitted by ztazti at 7:44 AM Saturday, January 24 2009

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it is about time

that courts level the playing field a little. guys in a family law dispute always start at the end of the line no matter what while the opposite is true of the woman. nothing against woman. just an observation taken place over 30 years watching family law evolve.

Submitted by galaxygroove at 7:28 AM Saturday, January 24 2009

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Its About Time!

I, as a father and parent, am so elated to read this article. I know what my ex has put me through and I'm sure that there are men out there that are just as vile. We need to do more for the kids. It shouldn't be a given that either parent can do a better job just because of their gender. This article proves my point succinctly. The kids should come first!

Submitted by Naramsin at 7:19 AM Saturday, January 24 2009

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2 comments:

Badger said...

Does anyone have this Judges email address or a physical address where I can send flowers. Hopefully this is just the beginning. Parent Alienation Syndrome (read male parent alienation syndrome by ex)has been ongoing for generations. This is a win for the good guys.

Michael J. Murphy said...

I'm uncertain which court she is based in. I'd suggest trying to search out some of her decisions and see which court house most come from. I believe she is African-Canadian from snippets of info I've glanced at.

Judge Turnbull made a decision last May sending a 13 year old boy to Dr. Warshak's facility in Texas so it is becoming more recognized by the courts as a problem.

The work of Fathers 4 Justice and the Pain of Fathers ~ Activism in the UK

Equal and Shared Parenting ~ The Movie