Thursday, May 25, 2017
From the Washington Post:
Laura, David and their siblings are among a growing number of children in high-conflict divorce cases being sent — often unwillingly — to nascent and unproven “reunification” programs, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars. These workshops have sprung up in the past decade mostly to address parental alienation, a disputed disorder coined in 1985 by psychiatrist Richard Gardner that refers to a situation where a child chooses not to have a relationship with one parent because of the influence of the other parent. Opponents charge that the reunification programs, and accusations of parental alienation itself, are shams — a way for lawyers, psychologists and social workers to profit from parents in bitter custody battles, and for the more financially secure parent to gain a custodial advantage. Proponents say that parental alienation involves truly harmful psychological behaviors that should be recognized by the therapeutic community and tort law, and that reunification programs are sometimes the only way to put families back together.
“There is just no empirical scientific evidence or way to determine if children are estranged because they were maltreated or if a favored parent turned them against the other parent,” said Joan Meier, a clinical professor at George Washington University Law School and founder of the Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project, which provides appellate representation in domestic violence cases.
Read more here.