This article never mentions the words “parental alienation,” but the phenomenon and indeed the syndrome are there for all to see (Daily Mail, 1/25/10). And the writer is happy to lead with the claim that the boy in question “hates” his father. Having established that “fact,” just how that anti-dad animus came about appears later.
It seems that the man and wife split up before their son was even born. He’s now 11. Since then, the father “has been striving to win access for years.” And Mom claims she’s “happy for the boy to have contact with his father,” so it’s strange that, in over 11 years, that seems to have never actually happened, or at best, rarely. The judge of the Coventry Crown Court, Clifford Bellamy, didn’t buy her story, and now the appellate court has upheld his ruling that the child go to live with his dad. Judge Bellamy said,
he was unconvinced that the mother really wanted contact to resume.
The appeal judges called the boy’s feelings of hate for his father ‘irrational’ and said he would suffer long-term emotional and behavioural problems if they were not reunited.
Judge Bellamy said ‘no stone had been left unturned’ to re-establish contact between father and son, but even indirect attempts through gifts and Christmas cards had failed utterly.
Despite the father being ‘devoted’ to his son, the boy was stubbornly resistant to ever seeing his father again.
The judge added that the mother’s arrangements for the boy to have extra-curricular activities every day of the week left no space for his father, adding: ‘All of this strongly suggests that, in truth, the mother has no real wish to see contact restart.’
Judge Bellamy said she had ‘significant influence and power’ over the boy.
Into the bargain, the court appointed a guardian to inquire into the matter and report to the court. Judge Bellamy ruled that she, apparently much like the mother, “had become too emotionally involved in the case and lost her sense of objectivity.”
Therefore, Judge Bellamy ordered the boy to live with his father who lives about 100 miles from his home with his mother.
On one level, this looks like a simple case of a court’s recognizing PAS and taking steps to correct the practice. But beyond that, and to their credit, both the trial and appellate courts based their decisions at least in part on the value of fathers to children. To them, it’s not acceptable for a parent to intentionally keep a child from another parent. They seem to be saying that, even absent PAS, they’d have ruled the same way.
Experts said the judgment reflected the emphasis the courts were now putting on the role of fathers and on the need for children to have contact with both parents.
To one solicitor, that’s a direct result of the actions of fathers’ rights organizations in the U.K.
Miranda Fisher, of London solicitors Charles Russell, said later that the activities of groups such as Fathers 4 Justice had tipped the balance – and courts were taking a tougher line on parents who denied contact between their children and their ex-partners.
She explained: ‘Twenty or 30 years ago it was not the normal expectation that fathers should be involved in looking after the children. Now more mothers have full-time careers and fathers are increasingly wanting to share in caring.’
In short, this is a victory for fathers’ rights and the idea of shared parenting post-divorce. As such, it’s also a victory for children and mothers. The more we equalize parenting, the more we’ll equalize workplace participation and the better off children will be. It’s a win-win-win.
Each case is different, and there’s not always an easy solution to the problem of who lives where when. But the principle is constant; everyone does better when children have two parents caring for them. We should never lose sight of that.
Thanks to Rob for the heads-up.