Family Court Mafia

Picture of the Year- Family Court Mafia by How Stuff Works, Inc. This just says it all! We need justice NOW!

Mothers who escape violent relationships then come forward with allegations of the abuse in Family Court, while fighting for custody of their children, face a new battle–Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS).

Dr. Richard Gardner (deceased) developed PAS to counter abuse allegations, and create avenues for abusive fathers to gain custody by inventing a bogus syndrome that discredits abuse allegations by stating the mother is suffering from a severe mental condition called “parental alienation syndrome”…and the cure is limit, reduce or take away her custodial rights. PAS states the mother invents abuse allegations to turn children against the father, and her motivation is that she has an obsessive sexual desire for her ex partner and is angry that he spurned her. The Mother then begins a campaign of denigration against the father and enlists the child as an unwilling ally—brainwashing the child to believe abuse has occurred. Dr. Gardner developed this theory exclusively for mothers—he worked as a paid court witness, and expert speaker; gaining credibility through self promotion and not through any substantial education or experience.

Other controversial beliefs held by Dr. Gardner include that incest is “not necessarily” harmful to children, babies enjoy sexual experiences and orgasm, and that court judges themselves get a sick thrill out of sitting on the bench. Gardner died a grisly death by suicide; his legacy lives on with devastating results.

This article is based on a transcript of an interview with Jane Shields, reporter, and a panel of guest speakers who have experience working in Family Court, and have knowledge of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), it’s use in the courts and it’s effects on families. I want to extend a special thank you to Richard Ducote for posting this informative transcript, and for your tireless efforts to eradicate PAS from the courts.

This is a very informative article based on inside knowledge of the court system and from experienced professionals who have access to places unobtainable to the public. I highly recommend! Some of what is reveal includes:

* Richard Ducote, Louisiana attorney, and expert on PAS, leading a movement to remove the use of PAS in the courts has been involved in the Court system for over 22 years. Ducote believes attorneys use PAS because it is an easy–and devastating defense–to counter child abuse allegations. Further, most family court attorneys are not ”true litigators   they do not challenge evidence, they do not challenge witnesses, they don’t like to make waves, they like to mediate and they like to compromise…”

The results are tragic for children, who when placed in the custody of an unsafe parent, are  usually abused & traumatized with no one to help.

*Ducote on Dr. Richard Gardner- “When I cross-examined him shortly before he committed suicide, he acknowledged that he had not spoken to the Dean of the Medical School at Columbia for over 15 years, and that he had not had hospital admitting privileges at any hospital for approximately 25 years, so he really was out there on his own. ”

*Gardner’s ideas are widely discredited by the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Medical Association for having no scientific validity. Yet many Courts, attorneys and court officers still use PAS, and embrace it as scientific truth–or accept it blindly and rely on the word of a guardian ad litem, mediator, attorney or evaluator to verify it’s validity. PAS has spread to courts all over the world.

*PAS allegations can be made, and Court can render a decision without actually using the words“parental alienation” or calling a mother an “alienator”. This is because PAS has become so accepted in a broken legal system that it is not questioned–nor is it’s truth, and scientific basis, examined. Other labels that may be used against mothers include: crazy, mentally ill, malicious mom syndrome, unwilling to communicate, and uncooperative.

*Mothers will lose in court because a court personnel that accept PAS will be suspicious and mistrustful of the mother; and readily excuse abusive or red flag actions of the father.

*According to Gardner, the cure for PAS is almost always taking away the rights of the “alienator” and awarding full or a majority of custody to the alleged abuser.

*Thea Brown, Professor of Social Work, with Melbourne’s Monash University (AU) believes the court is promoting PAS through it’s staff: the psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers who prepare reports for the Family Court.. AND “..we found that usually, that is in 70% of cases, the judge would follow the recommendations of the court-appointed expert.”

*Cases that involve documentation, evidence, witness statements and medical evidence should not be considered to be a “false allegation” or evidence of PAS but need to be taken seriously by the Courts as substantial allegations of abuse

*According to Dr. David Wood, Director of Paediatric Health Services and Chairman of the Abused Child Trust in Queensland, and Chairman of Kids, AU) the Court is part of an “adversarial system” that is not designed to heal or resolve family issues but instead to take a side, and pick a winner and a loser. A legal culture exists within the Courts that thrives on conflict and sets aside the best interests of the children, and families involved. The Court is innately biased because this culture exists, and does not have the tools or framework to find meaningful resolution, or to protect families from abuse.

Source: “ABC Radio National – Parental  Alienation Syndrome January 14, 2012” by Richard Ducote.

“So You Support Dr. Gardner & PAS?” Quotes by Dr. Richard Gardner, and Examples of Legal Abuse by Judges Using PAS in Court:

Stop Family Violence Resources Page on Parental Alienation Syndrome:

A Review “What I Like About Me! A Book Celebrating Differences”

Author: Allia Zobel-Nolan

Illustrator: Miki Sakamoto

Publisher: Reader’s Digest Children’s Books: Pleasantville, NY. 2010.

Genre: Children’s Books, Board Books. Age range 2-8, but suitable for all ages. The message and bright colors would also appeal to older kids, and teens.


“This fun-loving book proves to kids that, in a world where fitting in is the norm, being different is what makes us special” — From the back cover.

“What I Like About Me” is a lyrical, silly children’s book that reads like a child skipping through a park on a windy, spring day.

The message is very endearing. “What I Like About Me” praises the unique, one of a kind characteristics of “Me”–the unibrow, big ears that wiggle, braces, and big feet are all given a loving tribute. The book is beautifully illustrated with bold colors, expressive faces and humorous touches. “Me” is portrayed in the faces of children from all backgrounds, who romp and play throughout the pages. This book is upbeat, and leaves room for parents to add their own creative touches when reading to their child.

For a child who has been abused, bullied or feels different in any way–this book will be especially inspiring. Qualities that may cause children to be teased, or bullied, are celebrated in this book. Also, one of the neat aspects of “What I Like About Me” is that it shows children how to reframe their thoughts, or the messages given to them to turn a negative into a positive, and to celebrate their individuality. The silly rhyme and humor will appeal to children, and get them thinking at the same time.

I highly recommend “What I Like About Me: A Book Celebrating Differences”, and hope you enjoy it as much as I do! 🙂 EJ Perth, 2012


Allia Zobel  Nolan Author Page:


Sophie is an incredibly cute little girl with two blonde braids that stand straight out like antlers and a spray of freckles on her nose but when she gets angry…waaaatch ooouut!

When Sophie Gets Angry” by Molly Bang is a colorful, child friendly book about a little girl who fights with her sister, has a tantrum and learns to soothe herself until she feels calm again.

There are alot of things I like about “Sophie”: The pictures are alot of fun, they almost look like they were made with fingerpaint. The book lets kids know it is okay to be angry, and shows them positive ways to deal with emotions . It’s an easy read that could appeal from an age group of 2-10. The book depicts family as warm and nurturing, and shows that when people disagree they can still find a way to get along (in a realistic language, not pie-in-the-sky ideals). Not to mention the author’s name is so cute..Molly BANG!

Her temper, is what makes Sophie so loveable. When my daughter read “Sophie”, her high, girlish voice was so cute dropping into a gruff tone , “Oh, Sophie is ever angry now!”  My daughter perfected the “Sophie” glare: chubby arms crossed over her chest, her eyebrows knit into a sharpened arrow, her lip pushed out in a tough pout. The tension lasted for but a second when we all fell on the floor laughing at this perfect depiction of “Sophie”.

My son loved to act out all the dramatic parts–Sophie stomping her foot when her sister stole the toy gorilla, roaring like a dragon, Sophie throwing her arms to run back into the warmth of home… Difficult feelings became funny and easy to talk about because of Sophie. When my kids read about Sophie’s tantrum and what she did to soothe herself  (they have memorized every line in the book!), it took time but slowly my kids were better able to identify when their feelings felt really big (hard to control) and when to ask for help. And I learned to listen to my children’s cues because they did not always have the words.

And for a child that has been abused, like my children have been, “Sophie” shows that anger does not have to be scary, you can control your feelings–and chose other ways of expressing yourself than hurting other people.

I highly recommend “Sophie“.

See a preview online at:

Source: “When Sophie Gets Angry–Really, Really Angry…” by Molly Bang.   Publisher The Blue Sky Press – United States, 1999.

Molly Bang Online:

Questions & Answers for when Sophie Gets Angry:

The failures of Family Court affect children with devastating consequences. Vulnerable, often abused or witnesses to abuse, children rely on Family Court to protect them, and ensure their well being in the choices they make when deciding custody or visitation. When that does not happen, children are traumatized and subjected to further abuse.

For children with special needs, such as Autism, the results can be particularly detrimental because not only is their safety being compromised but their medical needs are not being met. An abuser who gains custody of an Autistic or special needs child may neglect medical care or even deny there is a problem because they don’t want that child to get well, and reveal what is going on in the home. The abuser may also use the child as a pawn to gain control over the ex partner, to gain sympathy/attention or for financial benefit. Other abusers may neglect the child or not be able to handle the demands and resort to further physical or mental abuse. So these kids with special needs suffer the agony of a broken family while also struggling with tasks of daily life caused by their disability; their coping strategies are already weakened or impaired and the additional trauma can trigger symptoms or lead to crisis, causing their symptoms to worsen.

Another factor to consider is that if the Court does not have the education or experience to understand Autism, the child’s needs may be completely ignored or overlooked. In this case, getting help for the child becomes a legal battle—and is not considered a priority. An abusive father may negate the child’s illness, blame the mother or raise false allegations, and resort to manipulation to gain custody. Parents seeking help for their children are likely to lose custody because it now appears they can’t manage the child or the child only has troubles while in their care! And the abuser will be happy to point this out.

I lost custody of my son who is suspected of having Aspberger’s (high functioning Autism) in this way. I am sharing a little bit of my story to raise awareness, and to let other moms going through a similar struggle to know that you are not alone. Though I lost custody, I know I did the right thing to fight to get my son help. I will never stop fighting to bring him home.


The moment came with the darkness of raven wings soaring over my tiny one bedroom apartment, the realization that I have done all I could to help my son and now I had to let him go. The realization that Son (age 6 1/2) needed more help than I could provide (in-home PCA services and respite care) and since I shared joint legal custody with the abuser who was refusing treatment, I could not get that help.

The abuser fought my attempts to get treatment for Son knowing that when Son was well, he’d talk about the abuse. Already Son had disclosed that dad choked him, dad broke his toys, when dad gets mad the dog shakes…Son said he hit himself in the head with his fist because the pain took away the bad memories.

The abuser not only prevented treatment for Son but he would make no one would believe me when I asked for help by doing everything he could to destroy my reputation with various false allegations against me. I couldn’t just be a mother doing her best to help her troubled child I had to think like an attorney and anticipate the latest attack or legal charge the abuser would wage against me. I had to think like a therapist and find ways to help my son, often relying on my own resourcefulness and creativity. I had to be an advocate for my son. I had to be the punching bag when my son had a “meltdown” and take the hitting, biting, kicking, swearing and threats. I had to take it again when the abuser went to court claiming nothing is wrong with my son, I am making this all up…or I did something to provoke my son’s rage or I deserved to be hit. I had to hold back tears and stay strong.

When the moment came, Son had a “meltdown” and after hitting and spitting on me, I put Son in time out in the bathroom. A psychiatrist told me the bathroom was the safest place for time out because there was nothing Son could throw at me, and since I cleaned the bathroom out–nothing he could use to hurt himself. I kept the door open to keep an eye on Son, who leaned against the wall, heaving. His knees were to his chest and dark eyes glared at me, full of challenge. Son sat that way for some time when I turned my back to check on my daughter. Then I heard a loud crash BAM! Again, BAM! BAM! I ran to the bathroom, my heart racing. Son was now standing, pounding his small fist against the wall with such force that he was punching holes in it! Intervention was met with this fists pounding me. Tears welled in my eyes as I called 911. I knew when the police came, they’d take Son away..that there was a good chance my abusive ex would move to take my child away permanently. I also knew that things could not keep on this way, my son needed help. This was the hardest decision I had to make.

Later, in the behavioral unit of the ER, Son was strangely calm–detached, his face blank. He clutched his fist possessively to his chest. Then slowly his fingers uncurled, revealing a small chunk of drywall–a piece of the wall. Son would treasure this last reminder of home, and keep it with him through the changes that would come.

In a small voice, hardly audible, Son said, “I did this Mom?”

“Yes you did that Son.” I sighed, exhaustion dragging my shoulders down.

“Am I going to the hospbible?”

“Yes, to get help. We have to get you feeling better so you can be safe at home.”

“I like the hospbible. My big feelings go away.”

Since the abuser attacked me then threw the kids and I on the street like trash, we’d been homeless for months. Only recently had we been accepted into transitional housing. I wondered if the hospital psychiatric unit with it’s predictable routine, it’s warm bed and toys and fun OT activities, it’s dining room with meals Son could pick foods from several choices on the menu became the home, the safety Son was looking for. I felt like a failure. I fled the abuse to give my kids a better life and instead Son was falling apart.

“I’m gonna miss you Mommy. I cry at night for you.”

“I will miss you too Son.” I turned my head so Son would not see the pain written across my face, I’d do anything to have him come back home and be a happy child who did not struggle with memories of abuse.

— EJ  2011


For More Information: Autism Custody Battles

“I found myself becoming increasingly angry. Undoubtedly, much of my rage grew out of the abuse and fear I lived with every day at home. But I had a deeper frustration: I didn’t seem to belong anywhere. I was not normal. It wasn’t so much that I looked different from other members of my family or dressed differently from my classmates; I was different. And the aching feelings of loneliness and doubt, which I kept to myself, hurt more than my father’s frequent beatings.

I struggled since I was six or seven years old to figure out whom I could depend on, whom I could trust. By fourteen, I began to ask myself another question in earnest: Who am I?  I was Walter to my friends on Third Street, to my teachers at school and to my parents at home. I knew, though, that this boy Walter spoke and acted very differently in all three places and felt complete in none.” — Walter Anderson

Source: Meant to Be: The True Story of a Son who Discovers He is his Mother’s Deepest Secret, page 21, by Walter Anderson. Harper Collins, New York: New York. 2003.

Genre: Memoir, Biography


Meant to Be is Walter Anderon’s account of growing up in a home dominated by his abusive, alcoholic father who frequently beat and belittled Walter and his family. Throughout his childhood, Walter struggled with anger and frequently got in fights with peers or sabotaged any success he made in school. As much as Walter wanted to escape his troubled life at home, feelings of fear and self-doubt held him back. Walter pushed away those who gave him attention or showed kindness, at the same time savoring the fleeting feelings of belonging, that he mattered…and was special. He never forgot those few, precious memories. Despite his mother’s attempts to placate his father, the abuse continued until Walter finally escaped from home by joining the Marines at age 16 where he was enlisted into Vietnam. For the first time Walter experienced structure, discpline and a sense of belonging in the ranks of the Marines. Initially the hardships of the War combined with the prejudice Walter faced returning to a nation where many people took their frustration about the War, and the social upheveal of the country, onto the Veterans, caused Walter to again revert to anger, fighting and sabotaging his own success. It seemed the past was creeping up on him… However, Walter eventually was able to see that striking out against others–even if he felt justified–made him no different from his abusive father. This would propel Walter into making changes to break the cycle of violence he had experienced.  

Now on his own, Walter begins a very different life–for the first time, he persued the dreams long denied to him. He got married, had children and learned values of love, loyalty and intimacy never experienced before. And after the death of his father, he learns a secret that his mother has been keeping all his life…that will change Walter’s perception of himself, and cause him to question and search for who he really is.

Article: Tell Your Children the Truth

Author: Dr. Sam Vaknin

Source: Online, (Retrieved 12/22/2009)

Summary: Should you tell your child about domestic abuse that occurred in your family or just move on with your life? What are the repercussions for not talking to your child about domestic abuse that occurred in the home?

“Most victims attempt to present to their children a “balanced” picture of the relationship and of the abusive spouse. In a vain attempt to avoid the notorious (and controversial) Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), they do not besmirch the abusive parent and, on the contrary, encourage the semblance of a normal, functional, liaison. This is the wrong approach. Not only is it counterproductive – it sometimes proves outright dangerous…” — Dr. Vaknin

According to Dr. Vaknin, children have a right to know the truth about abuse in the family, and to know the relationship/marriage between the parents is over. Children will tend to blame themselves for the break-up of their parents. Discussing the issues honestly, and in a straight forward manner will not only relieve some of the child’s guilt and anxiety but also help in the healing process.

Dr. Vaknin warns that when talking to children, avoid blame or bad mouthing the other parent. It is important that the parent teach the child appropriate behaviors, and how to develop healthy boundaries. The best example is the one a parents models for a child. Dr. Vaknin recommends explaining what abuse is and that abusive or hurtful behavior is not okay. “Teach your children to avoid your paranoid ex and to report to you immediately any contact he has made with them. Abusive bullies often strike where it hurts most – at one’s kids. Explain the danger without being unduly alarming. Make a distinction between adults they can trust – and your abusive former spouse, whom they should avoid.”  He goes on to elaborate that children should be taught to identify warning signs of abuse, and how to be assertive so they can vocalize their needs, and get help if necessary.

Dr. Vaknin also discusses the abuser’s personality and their parenting style (ie: treating the child as an object, incest, and different types of conflict). He offers a lot of experience and insight on this topic, which is not comforting but may answer some questions for the victim, and will educate others on abuse. This site also offers alot of articles and information.

 Finally. Dr. Vaknin offers some advise for victims to survive their abuser and ongoing methods of abuse and/or intimidation ( His advise is to ignore the abuser but also to follow the guidelines set by the court, if there is any court involvement.

Do NOT contravene the decisions of the system. Work from the inside to change judgments, evaluations, or rulings – but NEVER rebel against them or ignore them. You will only turn the system against you and your interests..” There is about 15-20 suggestions which may be helpful, including not to react blindly when triggered by your abuser–think things through before acting. You may be walking into a trap, by which your abuser will manipulate, humiliate or further undermine you by causing you to react out of emotion.

I really like what Dr. Vaknin has to offer, he is very thorough and clearly is very experienced. The article is a bit lengthy, and tend to drift away from the initial subject. But it is worth a look, and has a lot to offer.


What really hit home about Tell Your Children the Truth is that Family Court personnel advised just the opposite–I was told not to talk about abuse, I was told I could not “prove” it happened and I was criticized for efforts to seek help for myself.

Dr. Vankin is right when he says this is dangerous for the children. I have seen my children suffer tremendously and my son is now modeling abusive behavior. To lie is to enable the abuser–it does not resolve problems, and encourages further violence.

It does not make me feel better to read articles like this. What does help is having the information, and knowing that I am not crazy or making this up…my concerns are valid. And sometimes that bit of information will give the strength needed to keep fighting for justice, and to keep fighting for my children.

E.J. Perth, 2009

Thank-You, Dr, Vaknin for posting your articles online, and offering your advise and thoughts to us all!

An Angel for all the little ones…