Success, in contempt
The Globe and Mail ( Canada's largest national daily newspaper ), 20 May 2009,
Family courts are not supposed to reward abusive parents, and punish parents who play by the rules. They are not supposed to allow an abusive parent to nullify the responsible parent's role in a child's life. But that is exactly what an Ontario court has done in a case of parental alienation. It has, in effect, disposed of the child's father, perhaps permanently.
Tasnim Elwan has been given permission to take her nine-year-old girl from Canada to Saudi Arabia, where she will have "a seven-bedroom home with two nannies," thanks to Ms. Elwan's wealthy new spouse. The nine-year-old hates her father because he abandoned her - or so she thinks. When he managed, with the RCMP's help, to trace her to Saudi Arabia after her mother in effect kidnapped her, and made his way to that country for 10 days, he was permitted just 15 minutes with her. Some abandonment. And now he is to be allowed one telephone call a month, which the judge doesn't expect Ms. Elwan will allow, anyway.
Ms. Elwan makes no secret of her disgust with her former spouse, Ayman Al-Taher, a chaplain at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. She calls him a mentally disturbed supporter of Hamas and al-Qaeda. If those accusations were true, asked Mr. Justice Leonard Ricchetti, why then did she agree, in a formal, court- approved settlement, to allow him any access to their daughter? And why, he asked, make that settlement if she never intended to comply with its terms? (She was found in contempt of court for taking her child to Saudi Arabia.)
Even so, Judge Ricchetti rejected Mr. al-Taher's attempt to wrest custody from his ex-spouse when she temporarily returned to Canada. To take the child from her loving relationship with her mother and turn her over to a father she is unprepared to love would be traumatic, he said. Also, "the father's income is not substantial and cannot compare with what can be offered to meet [the child's] needs in Saudi Arabia." The father is dismissed for lack of funds.
Children are entitled to have as much contact as possible with both their parents. But that principle of law was knocked easily aside by an abusive parent. (Denying a child contact with another parent is deemed abuse in Ontario child-protection law.) Is it more important for a girl to have "a seven-bedroom home with two nannies" or a father, even if he is a hospital chaplain of limited means? One wonders whether a court, if the situation were reversed, would dispose so readily of a responsible mother of limited means.
The judge is saying, in effect, "Sorry, that's the best we can do in the circumstances." But that's not nearly good enough. The first step should be to strengthen the presumption that a child is entitled to both parents. Abusers should not be rewarded for their abuse. A child should not lose her father, and a father his daughter, to spare her the short-term trauma of a reunion.
TV Show about Parental Alienation
November 7, 2009
The world of divorce is scary for any child. But when a divorce becomes especially toxic, children can become the target of an unrelenting crusade by one parent to destroy the child's relationship with the other. Experts call it parental alienation.
The New York Times, New York city, U.S.A. August 8, 2004
Not too long ago, Jacqueline Scott Sheid was a pretty typical Upper East Side mother. Divorced and with a young daughter, she had quickly remarried, borne a son, and interrupted her career to stay home with the children while her husband, Xavier Sheid, worked on Wall Street.
Early last year, Mr. Sheid lost his job and saw his only career opportunity in California. But Ms. Sheid's ex-husband, who shares joint legal custody of their daughter, refused to allow the girl to move away. So Ms. Sheid has spent much of the last year using JetBlue to shuttle between her son and husband on the West Coast and her daughter (and ex) on the East.
The New York court system, which she hoped would help her family to resolve the problem, has cost her tens of thousands of dollars in fees for court-appointed experts, she said, and has helped to prolong the process by objecting to her choice of lawyers.
Globe and Mail
May 15, 2008
Toronto - A 13-year-old Ontario boy whose domineering father systematically brainwashed him into hating his mother can be flown against his will to a U.S. facility that deprograms children who suffer from parental alienation, an Ontario Superior Court judge has ruled.
Mr. Justice James Turnbull ordered the boy - identified only as LS - into the custody of his mother. He said that the boy urgently needs professional intervention to reverse the father's attempt to poison his mind toward his mother and, in all probability, to women in general.
PA News (U.K.), July 3, 2004
A key court decision to grant a father custody of his daughters after the mother flouted contact orders for four years was today welcomed by campaigners.
Fathers 4 Justice said that the High Court ruling was a vital victory and called for more judges to take a similar stance when faced with resistant parents.
The comments come after Mrs Justice Bracewell transferred the residence of two young girls to their father because the mother persistently refused him contact, despite court orders. Read More ..
Courts criticized for recognizing 'parental alienation'
March 27, 2009
Toronto -- The scope of the courts' reach into family affairs has long been contentious, but a recent trend in Canada's legal system has brought a new controversy that has some onlookers praising judges and others condemning them for accepting what they call "voodoo science."
More than ever before, Canada's judges are recognizing that some children of divorced and warring parents are not simply living an unfortunate predicament, but rather are victims of child abuse and suffering from Parental Alienation Syndrome. Read More ..
Rick James Lohstroh, a doctor at UTMB, was fatally shot this summer, apparently by his 10-year-old son.
ABC13 Eyewitness News, Houston, Texas, U.S.A.
Dec. 29, 2004
The 10-year-old Katy boy accused of murdering his father this summer is now the face of an unofficial psychiatric disorder that may have lead to his father's death.
Some psychiatrists call it Parental Alienation Syndrome and they say that's why the son killed Doctor Rick Lohstroh last summer. The syndrome is basically caused by a bitter parent who poisons a child against the other parent, usually in cases of divorce.
THE CANADIAN BAR ASSOCIATION
L'ASSOCIATION DU BARREAU CANADIEN
May 12, 2009
By Nicholas Bala, Suzanne Hunt & Carrie McCarney
Faculty of Law
Kingston, ON Canada
Alienation cases have been receiving a great deal of public and professional attention in the past few months in Canada. As with so many issues in family law, there are two competing, gendered narratives offered to explain these cases. Men's rights activists claim that mothers alienate children from their fathers as a way of seeking revenge for separation, and argue that judges are gender-biased against fathers in these cases. Feminists tend to dismiss alienation as a fabrication of abusive fathers who are trying to force contact with children who are frightened of them and to control the lives of their abused former partners. While there is some validity to both of these narratives, each also has significant mythical elements. The reality of these cases is often highly complex, with both fathers and mothers bearing significant responsibility for the situation.
Two of the many findings are:
Mothers are twice as likely as fathers to alienate children from the other parent, but this reflects the fact that mothers are more likely to have custody or primary care of their children; in only 2 out of 89 cases was a parent with only access able to alienate a child from the other parent.
Fathers made more than three times as many unsubstantiated claims of parental alienation as mothers, but this too reflects the fact that claims of alienation (substantiated and unsubstantiated) are usually made by access parents, who are usually fathers.
Study says such cases should be moved out of court system, handled by individual judges
The Globe and Mail
May 13, 2009
An escalation in parental alienation allegations is draining valuable courtroom resources, a major study of 145 alienation cases between 1989-2008 concludes.
"Access problems and alienation cases - especially those which are more severe - take up a disproportionate amount of judicial time and energy," said the study, conducted by Queen's University law professor Nicholas Bala, a respected family law expert.
"One can ask whether the courts should even be trying to deal with these very challenging cases." Read More ..