December 14 , 2014
Some parents call it legalized child abduction. Others call it kidnapping or emotional child abuse.
Parental alienation by any name wreaks devastating consequences on children throughout the nation, who, through family court decrees and psychological manipulation by one parent against the other, find themselves emotionally unmoored, distrustful and eventually broken as adults.
Divorce creates enough drama for children, but when one parent pits their vulnerable child against the other parent, the consequences can be devastating.
Patrick Glynn should know. The resident of Old Agoura went through a harrowing divorce, but he never dreamed that he, a devoted caregiver of his two daughters since they were born, would be seen as the enemy by his wife and the court system.
To raise awareness of the impact of parental alienation on mothers and fathers throughout the nation, Glynn spent a month on a walk, speaking about the phenomenon that, at times, can be a form of brainwashing.
Called the Walk for Lost Kids, he trekked 400 miles from Boston to the U.S. Capitol from Oct. 15 to Nov. 14 to raise awareness and possibly enact some common sense laws to protect the rights of both parents.
Glynn’s story, unfortunately, is typical. Glynn was not deemed by the court as the primary caregiver to his daughters. Yet, nobody, including his ex-wife, could say he wasn’t there for his children.
“My financial situation forced me to find work 300 miles from my kids so I was forced to move,” Glynn said.
The long distance didn’t stop Glynn from seeing his girls every weekend.
“I drove the 10-hour round trip each weekend religiously,” he said. “Every break, every weekend was with my kids. When my case hit the courts, I learned firsthand how family court had little to do with justice. Simple assumptions, like expecting 50 percent access to my kids, were quickly swept away. My ex, probably egged on by her attorney, tried to declare my custody at 7 percent—an occasional dad. And from day one in court I had to prove myself a worthy father,” he said.
Glynn isn’t just railing against partners who play dirty in divorce court. He is furious at how the court system aids and abets in the agony of divorce and child custody cases.
“I went from being an involved, hands-on dad to the courts relegating me to seeing my two daughters for six weeks a year, all because my wife wanted a divorce,” he said. “Now I pay her support and alimony in return for her keeping my children away from me.”
Parental alienation is more than just keeping children away from their parents. In the most severe cases, a parent subtly turns children against a parent through psychological manipulation. Although Glynn’s divorce was thorny, he has a relationship with his children although it’s been diminished by the legal battles.
Regardless of whether the alienation is slight or severe, children suffer, he said.
“I’ve experienced the atrocities and injustice firsthand, and that’s why I decided to walk 400 miles,” he said. “On my journey, I heard countless stories of lost kids—all eerily similar. Family law attorneys and courts perpetuate an adversarial situation, pitting two parents against each other to battle over their kids and the profits that result from being ‘awarded’ custody rights.”
Glynn’s efforts are making headway. The Walk for Lost Kids was sponsored by Divorce Corp., a group that hosted a divorce reform conference in November.
But the battle for divorce reform has a long way to go since most of it resides in the hands of state legislators.
At the conference, Glynn and other parents stung by parental alienation tactics learned how other countries handle divorce and child custody cases. Flawed economics of the U.S. child support system, corrupt family courts and even racketeering between judges and attorneys were also discussed at the event.
Tragic tales of loss predominated but a few success stories were shared. Alimony laws have been reformed in Massachusetts, and a reportedly corrupt judge in North Carolina lost his seat to a man dedicated to reform in child custody cases.
According to the National Parents organization`s report, which rates each state’s shared parenting legislation, most earned a C or a D grade.California earned a D and New York an F.
When Glynn ended his 400-mile walk at the steps of the U.S. Capitol, he gave a speech. He talked about the defeat of divorce exacerbated by the humiliation of being driven into poverty by the family court system and “selfish” ex-spouses. But the most pain, he said, comes from having the children you have adored and raised since birth taken away.
“It’s this very humiliation that has allowed so much corruption in family courts to blossom,” he said. “What the courts are doing to remove loving parents from our children’s lives is unconstitutional, illegal but most of all, it’s just plain unethical.”
Glynn is proposing a 50/50 custody solution, where divorce automatically gives each parent 50 percent custody without court intervention. The option to relinquish time would be allowed on an annual basis. The law would eliminate the tendency for one parent to discredit the other in order to “win” the child custody battle.
“In the current system, the likelihood is that one parent will merely eliminate the other,” he said. “This is in the interest of the ‘winning’ parent, the lawyers and the judges but not in the interest of either the children or the ‘losing’ parent.”
In his speech, Glynn asked some pertinent questions. “What kind of people remove a loving parent from a child’s life,” he asked. “What kind of government puts a financial incentive in place to encourage the practice? There is not a single more destructive thing you could do to a child’s life than remove a loving parent.”