PARENTAL ALIENATION: Over the past year I have been asked to comment about children aligning with one parent and rejecting the other to the point that the rejected parent is totally excluded and isolated from from the children. I have observed this fractured relationship in both a “functioning marriage” and during and following a divorce. The optimal time to raise this issue is as soon as the behavior is observed by way of family counseling and therapy. Unfortunately this requires the cooperation of both parents, which is usually not forthcoming.
1. I urge divorcing parents, who are not legally removed from their own homes, to remain there until issues of child custody and visitation are established. This can be accomplished in either Family Court or in (New York State), Supreme Court.
2. If the parties are divorcing in Supreme Court or litigating the issue of visitation in Family Court, this issue must be immediately brought to the attention of the Judge. The issue can be raised in conference with the Judge or by Motion / Order to Show Cause. The Judge has the authority to appoint a Lawyer for the children (often referred to as a Law Guardian). The Judge may also choose to interview the children in camera (chambers). The procedure of interviewing the children in chambers is frequently referred to as a Lincoln Hearing, where the children are brought into chambers with their attorney to be questioned by the Judge. Neither parent nor their respective attorneys are present during the hearing in camera.
3. Even though the Judge is the ultimate decider (trier) of the facts, he or she will need the assistance of professionals (forensics) to establish a visitation schedule and determine custody.
4. Somehow the legal system must decide if the fracturing of the relationship between parent and child is as a result of Parental Alienation or Realistic Estrangement.
5. It is the job of the attorney to educate and convince the Court of the correct position. Our hope is that the skill and knowledge of the attorney can assist the Judge to overcome any personal bias that may influence the outcome.
6. As an active member of the Matrimonial Bar, I am comited to educating members of the Bench.
7. In some instances therapeutic visitation when conducted by a skilled therapist can help. Supervised visitation is a last resort, to be used only when there is no alternative
8. The most important consideration is the Best Interest of the Child. Wherever possible, keep the kids out of the fight.
I am available to answer a limited number of questions and can be reached either through my website or by email: email@example.com.
Bruce H. Guttman Esq
The Guttman Law Group LLP
555 Broadhollow Road, Melville NY 11747