July 20, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
I’ve written before about the enactment into law of NPO’s excellent bill in Kentucky. HB 492 establishes a rebuttable presumption of equal parenting during the pendency of a divorce. Now, all temporary orders must be for equal or nearly equal parenting time unless good cause is demonstrated why another arrangement should be made. In that case, the judge has to explain in writing why unequal parenting time was ordered.
NPO is justly proud of this new law since, among other things, the template laid down in temporary orders is often followed in permanent ones. We’re also proud of NPO’s Matt Hale who spearheaded the effort. Matt did a fine job.
July 19, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
The excellent Linda Nielsen recently wrote this piece about fathers and daughters of divorce and what they can do to mend the relationship that, all too often, is damaged or destroyed by court orders and/or their violation by mothers (The Conversation, 7/10/17). In so doing, Nielsen, perhaps inadvertently, reveals much of the cultural zeitgeist on divorced dads and what they face when they’re kicked to the curb by mothers and courts.
In a 2002 study involving nearly 2,500 children, researchers found that daughters’ relationships with their fathers were more damaged than sons’. What’s more, estranged daughters are more likely than estranged sons to suffer negative effects from the damaged relationship.
July 17, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
Cara Tabachnick’s scurrilous hatchet job on the Family Bridges reunification program naturally included the story of a family whose children weren’t helped by the workshop and now criticize it. As with most of Tabachnick’s piece, that’s only part of the story. The other part, as told to me by Dr. Deirdre Rand of Family Bridges, is that the program actually worked well for the Jeu children, but the judge in the case returned custody to the alienator too quickly and the children relapsed.
It’s interesting that, out of hundreds of families who’ve taken part in Family Bridges over the years, Tabachnick chose to highlight one that actually had been helped. It’s almost as if those who haven’t been helped are few and far between. But she managed to make the Jeu family appear to be one of those, so, in closing my series on Family Bridges, I thought I’d offer a true story about an actual family whose experience with Family Bridges contrasts sharply with Tabachnick’s.
July 16, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
Continuing from Friday’s post on the Erin W. case out of Nebraska.
The trial court and the Nebraska Supreme Court found a way to deny genetic testing to a mother, Charissa W. who wanted to find out whether her ex-husband is the father of her daughter. They’re better acquainted with Nebraska law than I am, so I’ll assume they’re correct on the law.
But the decision raises the obvious question “Why would we ever not want to know who the father of a child is?” For the life of me, I can’t come up with a single reason. The closest I can get is that, as in Erin’s case, the man who’s been acting as dad may not be the actual dad and yet the child believes he is. Learning that he’s not could lead to upset on the child’s part.
July 14, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
This Nebraska Supreme Court ruling appears to be right on the law, but there’s little else about it to content us. Indeed, about the only thing positive about the case is the behavior of the father, Erin W., who, by the way, may not be the father at all.
Erin and Charissa got married while she was pregnant. She says she told Erin the child may not be his, but, whether she did or not, Erin took up the duties of fatherhood for the child. He apparently did so enthusiastically and well. Even Charissa admitted that he’s a good father and the child views him as her father.
July 13, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
They could ask me. I’d provide a straightforward, easy and fair way out of their dilemma.
But so far the Massachusetts Legislature hasn’t called and so they’re stuck (Boston Globe, 7/9/17). It’s all about the alimony reform law that became effective in 2011. Prior to that, the Bay State had one of the worst alimony laws in the country. Countless ex-husbands were supporting ex-wives literally until their dying breath. Sometimes for decades, men were supporting able-bodied women who could no longer be bothered to give them the time of day and were of course not contributing to the economy of the state.
June 12, 2017 by Ned Holstein, MD, MS, Chair of the Board, National Parents Organization
I’m going to let the working paper on the effects on children of parental neglect speak for itself. Mostly. Recall from yesterday’s post that the type of neglect the researchers are writing about isn’t the garden variety “eighth-grader comes home from school and spends three hours without parents present” “neglect.” The neglect that truly harms kids is severe lack of interaction with parents. Much of their data come from children in institutional settings, often orphanages abroad in which the children get little attention at all and almost none from a single individual to whom they could look as a parent figure. And there’s essentially none of the vital “serve and return” type of interaction that’s proven to be necessary to children’s healthy mental/emotional/psychological functioning.
That said, here are some of the salient information on what that sort of severe neglect can do to kids.
July 10, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
This is an excellent paper that’s well worth a read. It’s a 2012 working paper by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard. Its title is “The Science of Neglect: The Persistent Absence of Responsive Care Disrupts the Developing Brain.” It’s a powerful statement about the effects of parental neglect on very young children. The authors say that serious neglect of newborns, infants and toddlers is every bit as harmful as physical or sexual abuse and possibly more so.
Now, I want to be clear. What the paper refers to as neglect isn’t always what child welfare agencies refer to as neglect. Unfortunately, the paper isn’t as clear as I’d have liked about the differences. The authors insufficiently (in my opinion) stress the differences between neglect that requires no intervention from outside the family, neglect that can be remedied by, say, parenting classes or a visit to a counsellor and neglect that truly threatens the child’s current and future well-being and requires the replacement of the parent by a more competent caregiver.
July 9, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
As the lawyers say, “pleading further, if same be necessary…”
Here’s the excellent Karen Woodall adding her passion to the issue of parental alienation and what to do about it. Anyone misguided enough to have taken seriously Cara Tabachnick’s article on Family Bridges or, for that matter, any of the occasional pieces we read that attempt to cast doubt on the very concept of parental alienation, should read Woodall’s article.
As I recently pointed out, it’s not simply that Tabachnick, et al are wrong on the science on parental alienation, it’s not even that they’re intentionally wrong that’s so bad. What’s really beneath contempt is that the gist of their work is to exacerbate child abuse. After all, what they want us to do is to pretend that parental alienation doesn’t exist and, whenever a father claims his ex is alienating his child from him, he should be disbelieved and his evidence ignored. That way, the alienation, which is abuse, can continue. Writers like Tabachnick, Lauire Udesky and Marisa Endicott, whether they acknowledge it or not, are going to bat for child abuse.
July 7, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
Sigh. Sometimes it seems the news media can’t get a thing right when it comes to fathers and their children. And the simple fact is that much of that failure isn’t failure at all; it’s intentional. I just did eight pieces on some (not all) of the ways in which a Washington Post article on parental alienation and family reunification programs was either false or misleading in almost every detail.
Now there’s this (New Zealand Herald, 7/6/17). It’s astonishingly bad and, in keeping with the genre, anti-dad and anti-kid. The background on the article is that the New Zealand government asks single mothers to identify the fathers of their children. If they refuse, they can be docked $22 per week per child from their children’s benefit. Now, for a single child, that would add up to a bit over $1,000 per year, i.e. not much.
July 6, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
Today, I’d like to give a big shout out to one of the true stalwarts of the movement toward family court reform especially in Australia, Bettina Arndt. For those of you who aren’t familiar with her work, Arndt has been working to reform public policy regarding issues affecting men for over three decades. Long before there was any such movement, Arndt was writing, speaking and badgering elected officials on behalf of men and boys.
She’s still at it of course and has become one of the leading voices speaking out for recognition of those issues and their address by public policy. Of necessity she’s one of the bitingest gadflies on the quasi-religion that seeks to quash meaningful reform in family courts and beyond. That routinely dismisses any and all issues related to men’s well-being as unworthy of notice.
July 5, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
On occasion, I’ve written about the extremes to which parents sometimes go when their relationships with their kids are threatened. I’ve written about parents who abduct their children, alienate their children, even kill their children. Horrible as those stories are, they stand as mute testimony to the power of the parent-child bond. That bond of course is what allows us to be the successful species of social mammals that we are, but occasionally, that bond can create tragedy.
But so far, I’ve never seen a parent do what Michael Livingston did in this case (Miami Herald, 7/1/17). Faced with losing his children to the South Carolina Department of Social Services, he falsely confessed to having abused them. He did so in the vain hope that, if he told authorities he’d hurt his infant twin sons, they’d be allowed to return home with their mother. His love was that powerful.
July 3, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
I’m not yet finished with Cara Tabachnick. I’ll do another post or two on her scurrilous article on the Family Bridges reunification program. But for today, there’s this (New York Post, 6/17/17).
It’s in some ways a shocking story about a woman in Tennessee who, using her political and judicial connections, became wealthy by essentially stealing children and selling them to adoptive parents. Remarkable as that is, the article is all the more so for its failure to grasp how Georgia Tann’s behavior fits precisely within the history of adoption in this country and how similar her behavior was to that of state and adoption agencies today.
July 2, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
Recall that, according to one attorney quoted by Cara Tabachnick, the reunification program for alienated children called Family Bridges is just “a sham.” Recall too that, according to Joan Meier, also quoted by Tabachnick, there’s no empirical evidence with which to differentiate an alienated child from one who’s appropriately estranged from a parent.
Now let’s get back to Dr. Joan Kelly’s review of Family Bridges that appeared in the journal Family Court Review in 2010.
June 30, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
Cara Tabachnick’s woeful Washington Post article on parental alienation and the reunification program, Family Bridges, seeks to question the efficacy and even the morality of Family Bridges as well as the very existence of parental alienation. I’ve pointed out a number of ways in which the latter is simply absurd. And, as to the former, last time I referred readers to Dr. Richard Warshak’s website that gives a more in-depth look at the program than I can here. I also described Dr. Deirdre Rand’s responses to some of the more egregious claims in Tabachnick’s piece. And I quoted a Canadian judge who called Family Bridges “nothing short of remarkable” in its ability to reintegrate alienated kids with their targeted parents.
But, it may be argued, while Warshak no longer has any connection to Family Bridges, he helped create the program and may still consider it, to an extent his “baby.” Rand still conducts the program and draws an income from it, so clearly she has a stake in its good reputation. And Justice Trimble, not being a mental health professional, may not be the best person to offer an opinion on the subject. For example, he may only know a few cases in which the Family Bridges program worked well and not those in which it failed. In short, his opinion may be based on too few selected cases to be valid.
June 29, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
One of the most alarming aspects of Cara Tabachnick’s attempt to cast aspersions on the reunification program Family Bridges is her blithe acceptance of parental alienation and its shocking effects on children. After all, reunification programs generally have one aim – to reunite alienated children with their targeted parent. The hope is that doing so will help salve the psychic wounds inflicted by the alienating parent. PA is child abuse. Family Bridges and other reunification efforts try to ameliorate its harmful effects.
To most people, I suspect, that would seem a worthwhile goal, but Tabachnick isn’t “most people.” Nowhere in her article does she address the all-important question, “If Family Bridges isn’t the answer, what is?” It’s one thing to criticize a program, and my guess is that Family Bridges isn’t the final answer on how to deal with severely alienated kids, but to entirely fail to offer any better alternative calls into question Tabachnick’s motivation. That failure strongly suggests that Tabachnick would be perfectly content to allow alienating parents to continue their abuse and tell kids “It’s your tough luck; we won’t lift a finger to help you.” Certainly she never suggests an alternative.
June 28, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
One remarkable aspect of Cara Tabachnick’s frankly dishonest piece on parental alienation and the reunification program Family Bridges is the number of people who refused to be interviewed by her (Washington Post, 5/11/17). By my count, she quoted 13 people in her article, but another 11 refused to be interviewed or interact with her at all. And one of the ones who did, i.e. one of her trusted sources, Arianna Riley, won renown by threatening to bomb a TSA facility at the Los Angeles International Airport.
There are a number of reasons why a person or entity might refuse to be interviewed, but, when I spoke with Dr. Deirdre Rand of Family Bridges, she told me she saw Tabachnick as untrustworthy and promoting a dishonest agenda. Rand told me she Googled Tabachnick and found articles she’d written that dissuaded her from cooperating in the article. As but one example, this article would be enough to convince anyone who believes in fairness and balance to avoid Tabachnick like the plague (Daily Beast, 5/5/10).
June 26, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
Like all dishonest journalism, Cara Tabachnick’s article on parental alienation and the Family Bridges reunification program starts with a thesis and ignores the overwhelming weight of evidence that contradicts it (Washington Post, 5/11/17). In Friday’s piece I gave a few examples of her use of words, phrases and sentences that seem to intentionally mislead the reader. But those few barely scratch the surface. Tabachnick’s piece fairly teems with dodgy phrasing that points the reader toward her thesis – that parental alienation is a dubious theory and efforts to ameliorate its sometimes horrible results are mere “shams” designed to line the pockets of less than scrupulous mental health professionals.
As I mentioned Friday, Tabachnick undermines the first part of her thesis – that the very existence of PA is doubtful – by selecting a family on whose experiences she hangs the rest of her article, in which alienation had pretty plainly occurred. Tabachnick’s own description of the children of the Jeu family looks very much like that of alienated kids. Into the bargain, the mental health professional assigned by the court to evaluate them and the judge in the case concluded that, in fact, their mother, Sharon Jeu had alienated them. It’s a strange way to cast doubt on the existence of PA.
June 25, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
Today I’m going to deviate slightly from my previous posts on Cara Tabachnick’s misleading article on parental alienation and the Family Bridges reunification program (Washington Post, 5/11/17). Last time I pointed out several of her very many statements that, whether by design or not, clearly mislead Washington Post readers. Here’s one of the most egregious ones:
There’s scant gold-standard scientific research to help practitioners determine the best custody arrangement.
June 23, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
Continued from yesterday’s post about this article by Cara Tabachnick (Washington Post, 5/11/17).
Unlike writers like Marisa Endicott and Laurie Udesky, Tabachnick is relatively skilled at suggesting, rather than telling readers outright, that which is either false or misleading. Many of her words are plainly designed to get readers to believe a particular proposition without subjecting Tabachnick and the Washington Post to demands for a retraction and threats of lawsuits. She has a fairly high level of skill at that.
Still, Tabachnick has her moments.
June 22, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
I’ve done several pieces recently about the shoddy articles that attempt to debunk the notion of parental alienation and parental alienation syndrome. They’re scandalously bad, ignoring vast numbers of pertinent facts, blatantly making up others, mis-defining parental alienation and, of course, selecting individual cases that seem to support their off-the-wall ideas while ignoring those that don’t.
Those articles invariably channel the natterings of the “protective mother movement” that takes as an article of faith that family courts routinely remove children from “protective” mothers and hand them over to abusive fathers. They do this often, the movement claims, because the dastardly dads have an ace up their sleeve – the allegation of parental alienation. According to the movement and the articles that serve as their mouthpiece, courts, as a matter of course, ignore mothers’ claims of abuse and swallow whole fathers’ claims of PA. That, in every state, domestic violence is a factor in determining custody never makes it into the articles or the narrative of the “protective mother” movement.
June 21, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
Michigan HB 4691 has passed the Judiciary Committee 6 – 3 on a strict party-line vote. All “Aye” votes were by Republicans and all “Nay” votes by Democrats. This article quotes one of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Jim Runestad who tells the truth about it and, by way of “balance,” quotes one of the usual anti-dad suspects who doesn’t (Detroit Free Press, 6/20/17). Writer Kathleen Gray appears to have neglected to read the bill. Failing that though, she could have read this article by Runestad himself (Detroit News, 6/17/17). It gives facts about the bill she plainly hasn’t taken the trouble to learn any other way.
Absent reports of domestic violence, judges would be required to award joint legal custody of children to divorcing parents under a bill that passed the House Judiciary Committee today.
June 19, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
I spoke too soon. Of course I did. No sooner had I proclaimed that I hadn’t found any overtly dad-hating articles for Father’s Day, I stumbled across this (NPR, 6/18/17). But hey, it’s NPR, so what did I expect?
Now the gist of the article is the many problems we face as a society due to fatherlessness, with the focus on educational deficits. That’s an appropriate theme for a Father’s Day piece. But NPR just couldn’t let it go at that. It had to – just had to – get in a slap at fathers.
June 18, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
So far, it’s been a good Father’s Day. By that I mean there’ve been few, if any, article’s shaming, disrespecting, belittling dads. That’s strange, given the fact that, traditionally, Father’s Day is celebrated by much of the mainstream media by telling all and sundry how worthless fathers are. Seizing on the one day in the year when we’re supposed to simply give a tip of the hat to dads and all they do for their kids and wives/partners to instead denigrate them has always appeared to me to be not only cowardly, but in the worst of taste. After all, can’t those people manage to contain their vitriol for a day?
This year seems different. The anti-dad crowd is uncharacteristically muted. Even this article that appears at first glance to be more of the same, actually isn’t (MSN, 6/15/17). Could the lack of dad-hating articles be yet another sign that the worm is turning?