Letters From Our Readers
My ex-wife is trying to alienate my two children from me. We have been divorced for almost a year. Each time I go to pick up my children for visitation they are hesitant to come with me and it gets worse each time. The last time, my youngest refused and I took the other one alone. Both girls have told me that my ex-wife tells them that I am a cheater (never did) and a liar and they should not trust me. I called my attorney and he told me that I can’t talk about alienation to the courts. What gives? That is impossible.
Help me before I lose them altogether.
Wow, you have presented me with a loaded situation; one that I am all too familiar with and am currently finishing up a book on the topic of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). Your attorney is absolutely correct. The courts will not address the issue of PAS. In fact, some courts will chastise the parent who accuses the other of engaging in it.
PAS is a complex syndrome so in the interest of brevity I am unable to delve deeply into the underpinnings of it here. What I can tell you is that your ex-wife appears to be alienating your girls from you. One main sign is that a child begins to either fear or no longer wants to see the (alienated) parent for no apparent reason.
Now, there is a wrench that I need to throw here. You did not mention your girls ages. It is not unusual for children to hesitate going with the other parent for a myriad of reasons, many which are developmental and age related. Young children may develop separation anxiety and don’t want to leave the custodial parent. Some children get involved with their friends, in their community, and weekends at Dad’s are no longer appealing. Still, given those situations, the children will go with the other parent. When they flat out refuse, as in your case, “something” else is going on. the fact that your children have shared that your ex-wife has told them you are a cheater and a liar is very disconcerting.
Mark, you still see your daughters which is a good thing. I would start by suggesting you contact your attorney ASAP. If your attorney is not willing to accept that the girls are being alienated from you, you may have to take the entire issue into your own hands. I know that seems scary and it is. All of us who have been alienated know that “the system” does not want to acknowledge this syndrome. However, you can work around it. You can go to the courts and file contempt agains your ex-wife since it is her responsibility to transfer the children to you when it is your time to visit. She is NOT the decider whether the girls see you or not since you have a clearly defined visitation schedule. She is making unilateral decisions and usurping your rights as a custodial parent. These are behaviors that the courts detest and behaviors that alienators have lost custody over.
Please pick up a copy of Divorce Poison by Dr. Richard Marshak. He is a leader in PAS and his book became my Bible. I have communicated with him several times and he has his hands on the pulse of this horrendous issue.
Again, you can circumvent the alienation by having the courts recognize that your ex is interfering with your visitation which is something they will enforce.
Good luck and let me know how it goes.