The sad reality that children can be used as pawns in an effort by one parent to hurt another parent never dawned upon me until I witnessed it first hand.  Throughout my entire life, I had never seen, or heard of such a thing and it never occurred to me that anyone would do such a thing.

A parent who would teach another child to hate, it has been said, represents a clear and ever-present danger to the emotional and mental well-being of that child.  Unfortunately, the courts are slow to recognize this and divorce attorneys do not get paid for doing the right thing.  They get paid for representing clients within the boundaries of the law, and some of them receive ample reward for representing their clients OUTSIDE the boundaries of the law.  What is more unfortunate is that courts do not always prevent bad behavior on the part of family law litigants.

One of the more troubling trends comes in the form of an unspoken decision among the various court personnel to put one parent out of their misery and euthanize the relationship of the child to that parent.  Recognizing that the conflict will continue, helpless to prevent it, and under the belief (not entirely invalid, frankly) that the child needs a life free of conflict to thrive, courts will decide in favor of the bad actor simply to create peace.

This reminds of a famous quote: “They did not want peace.  They simply did not want war, which is not the same thing.”

Below is an excerpt from an article by Dr. Richard A. Warshak

Portsmouth Family Division No. 2009-806
Opinion Issued: March 31, 2011

Vacated the lower court’s award of custody to a mother who was found to be alienating her children from their father.

After effectively interfering with the father-child relationship, the trial court awarded custody to the mother primarily because the children had spent the majority of their lives with her and that is where they feel most comfortable. This is typical in cases where one parent has effectively interfered in the children’s relationship with the other parent. The absence of contact establishes a status quo that the court then feels bound to honor in order to spare the children a drastic change in their lives.

The Supreme Court recognized that the father was denied contact with his children for more than two years as a result of unfounded allegations of abuse, and that awarding custody to the mother because of the lack of father-child contacts, raises a concern that the mother is rewarded for violating court orders.

The court quoted the Vermont Supreme Court: “Although obviously well intended, the court’s decision effectively condoned a parent’s willful alienation of a child from the other parent. Its ruling sends the unacceptable message that others might, with impunity, engage in similar misconduct. Left undisturbed, the court’s decision would nullify the principle that the best interests of the child are furthered through a healthy and loving relationship with both parents.”

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