One important aspect of any family law case is the relative competence of the attorneys involved, the therapists involved, the judicial officer, and if appointed, counsel for the minor children.  It is not safe to assume that any one of these people necessarily know what they are doing in terms of being able to discern facts from fiction.

Assuming you have not hired an attorney to engage in a game of  who the best liar is, being able to get the truth across, and getting a judge to take notice of it, has a lot of challenges, among them several biases in favor of certain groups.

Among the most prevalent biases is favoritism toward the party who has at some point obtained an order for sole legal and physical custody.  This is a daunting advantage and if gained early on in the proceedings, becomes almost impossible to change for a variety of reasons.

Among the most important reasons is that a child who is completely controlled by one parent can be forced to say or do anything that parent wants.  For example, when a child suddenly becomes estranged from the parent  and cannot provide any plausible explanation, it should not be assumed their estrangement is the result of actual events.  There are large groups out there who have slogans such as “believe the children” which, on the surface, is something we all want to agree with. The reality is something different.  Children say things that are not true, and they say them often out of fear.

The technique used by the abusive parent goes like this: early in the proceedings, she or he starts to lobby the children, denigrating the other parent, threatening the children, using guilt or lies.  Once the children start to become estranged, the abusive parent might employ a therapist, delivering the children to the therapist after lengthy efforts to get to them to say what they want them to say.  Each time that same parent drops the child off with the therapist, they are carefully prepared by that parent to say the things they want them to say: usually some fabricated allegations of abuse of some kind that the targeted parent must then apologize for.

Even children who are abused want to see their parents. In one case, a child was beaten so severely he had bruises all across his body.  He still missed and loved his dad and was given visits three times a week only a few months after pleading guilty to injury to a child.

Another parent, having never done anything like this (and the mother being caught on video savagely beating the oldest some years back) has only one weekly visit for 8 hours, almost five years later.  Each time, incompetent minor’s counsel and incompetent therapists obsessively attack him for being “at war with reality” while making excuses for the mother.

In these cases, the sign that children are estranged for no apparent reason isn’t evidence of abuse by the “out” parent, it’s evidence of which parent they are afraid of, and that is the parent they have to live with.  The court process, having failed to protect the children from their abuser, then enlists the aid of various therapists or counsel for the minor children who are then told by the children what the “in” parent has told them to say.  What would you do if you were one of those children?  Would you challenge the parent who you know you are going home to live with? I know I wouldn’t.

Although one would think it would be obvious to any impartial observer, all the prejudices and biases that come into play are present.  Among them is arrogance combined with ignorance.  The idea that a person can tell a liar by talking to them and using their intuition is a catastrophic mistake.  Ignoring video evidence of an abusive parent, making excuses for them, and believing that such a parent would only do that once is hard to defend.  But it happens.

We need to only look more deeply into this issues to realize that taking things at face value that children say is a very dangerous business.  Most of the time they are saying one thing but telling us another.  We just have to have the skills to actually listen.