Parental alienation is a phenomenon in which one parent tries to turn the couple’s children against the other parent. These extraordinarily difficult divorce and child custody cases put courts to the test here in Michigan, as judges, lawyers and even family members struggle to make sense of disturbing accusations – though false and unfounded – made by a parent and child against the other parent.
Unsurprisingly, parental alienation cases are just as confounding in the UK as they are here. A recent BBC Radio report on this increasingly prevalent part of divorce and custody battles reached out to Ann Arbor family law attorney Ashish S. Joshi, an internationally recognized authority on the subject for his input.
While many observers might believe that a court confronted with wild allegations against a parent by a child is wise to call in a therapist to try to unravel the accusations and determine if they are true, Joshi says that “typically does not work.” He says “traditional therapy usually does not work” in parental alienation cases – and in fact, causes damage – because “therapists are trained to validate feelings and in alienation situations, those feelings are not founded in reality, they’re distortions.”
He said traditional therapy can “take a bad case and convert it into the worst case possible” because a therapist will often urge the accused parent to accept the allegations made against her or him, rather than arguing that the accusations are untrue.
Joshi said that if lawmakers made parental alienation a felony, it would help to reverse its growth, but “what would probably help more is education for the social workers, for the judges, for the lawyers who grapple with this question day in and day out.”
Parents who find themselves caught in the crosshairs of parental alienation often feel isolated not only from their own children, but also from the court system, making the choice of a family law attorney experienced and knowledgeable in these matters crucial.