11. Inadequate or destructive court orders, continued:
Different conditions prevail if your child is severely alienated. When is your child “severely alienated” ? When your relationship has been disrupted to the point that interaction with you is either non-existent or close to non-existent, and unrelentingly negative and hostile. In this case, contact with the alienator must be stopped or strongly restricted for a period of time. You must ask for sole custody of your child, which would most likely constitute a reversal of custody, and for the alienator to have no unsupervised access with your child until your child’s relationship with you is repaired. Ideally a qualified third party (parenting coordinator, psychologist, maybe the judge) would monitor this. Access for the alienator would increase conditionally, contingent upon the child’s relationship with you remaining solid and supported. Not easy. Obviously, this is an extreme remedy, and most judges will be uncomfortable with it. You must make the case that the present situation is extreme: abnormal and pathological. You must convince the judge that alienation is abuse, that your child is being abused, and that the court has the power and the responsibility to help.
There is absolutely no doubt that losing a parent through parental alienation is a threat to your child’s future health and functioning. However, damage sustained in the present may not be obvious. What if your child appears to be flourishing – doing well in school and socially, and also claims to not want a relationship with you, to not need you, and to be better off without you? You must show that since there is no good reason for the degree of rejection, then the rejection itself is a sign of pathology, and therefore inevitably problems will follow. There is evidence showing that serious long-term damage does manifest itself in adults who lost a parent through alienation. I will cover this in a separate post. (If you need info now, start with Amy J. L. Baker’s 2007 book Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome, www.amyjlbaker.com and Warshak’s Divorce Poison. www.warshak.com and the bibliography on the American website http://pasattorney.com/pas-resources-links.htm )
On the other hand, what if your child is doing badly and claims it is because of your pressure and interference? It may be obvious to you that your child is suffering directly because of the alienation, but others may believe your child, or even if they don’t, still believe that leaving the child with the alienator and waiting for the child’s attitude to change (through maturing or through therapy) is better. They are wrong. Whether your child is apparently doing well or badly right now, serious long-term harm to your child is being perpetrated. It is true that in the short term a change of custody will cause upset and anger, but the short-term distress is nothing compared to the weight of the damage that will otherwise result. You must prove this as clearly and emphatically as you possibly can. Maybe you have a good assessment that can help. If there is no assessment or no good assessment, you can still make a forceful and convincing argument by comparing your child before and after. The relationship with you before & after, relationships with relatives, before and after, changes in your child’s demeanor, mood, behaviour. Since these changes constitute the very symptoms of parental alienation, you should not have difficulty presenting examples. The hardest part will be convincing the judge to order the necessary remedy. It can be made easier by emphasizing that you want what is best for your child – a healthy relationship with both parents. You are hopeful that your child’s relationship with the alienator can improve too, and no longer be predicated on the rejection of you.