I have met and heard the tragic stories of many parents. PA is a function, by and large, of a custodial ex-partner, although some alienation can start while the couple is still together.

This blog is a story of experiences and observations of dysfunctional Family Law (FLAW), an arena pitting parent against parent, with children as the prize. Due to the gender bias in Family Law, that I have observed, this Blog has evolved from a focus solely on PA to one of the broader Family/Children's Rights area and the impact of Feminist mythology on Canadian Jurisprudence and the Divorce Industry.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Globe and Mail ~ Birthday pact reverses deprogramming therapy order for three boys

'We are trusting each other,' eldest son says after helping resolve dispute that put parental alienation syndrome on national stage

From Tuesday's Globe and Mail

When an 18-year-old man arrived for a birthday dinner at his mother's house a few days ago, he never dreamed it would end one of the most bitter disputes in Canadian family court history.

Having barely spoken to one another in years, the young man and his Brampton, Ont., mother found themselves calmly discussing a resolution to an eight-year battle that caused a judge to order deprogramming therapy for the man's two younger brothers and turned parental alienation syndrome into a nationally recognized phenomenon.

“We realized that we were talking all right with each other,” the young man, known as P.F., said in an interview yesterday. “We weren't jumping at each other's throats. The idea occurred to us that we might be able to work this out with each other.”

That birthday pact led directly to a firm agreement, signed over the weekend at an emotional meeting attended by lawyers and family members. Under its terms, the family's three sons cannot be separated or forcibly sent to a parental alienation centre for treatment. All three children will live with their mother; P.F. may contact his father freely and his 12- and 14-year-old brothers can contact him with their mother's consent.

“My dad came up and shook my mom's hand,” recalled P.F., a tall, long-haired teen with a reflective intellect and an articulate, soft-spoken manner. “That was something I hadn't seen in a very long time. It was generally a very happy situation.”

The family burst into headlines last fall, when a judge ordered that the two youngest boys be sent to a U.S. treatment facility to be deprogrammed. A judge gave the youth legal standing in the case after he said he wanted to raise his brothers apart from either parent.

Yesterday, in a revealing conversation, P.F. criticized therapists and child welfare authorities in the case for clutching to pet theories about parental alienation syndrome. Under the controversial PAS diagnosis, children who are seen to have been systematically poisoned toward one parent by the other cannot evaluate their emotions accurately.

“I think they have done a lot more harm than good for our family,” P.F. said. “I think they were tilting the whole case in a direction that was more favourable to them, which was a more costly and stressful and damaging alternative for us. We don't need all these people getting into our lives and directing the way things go.”

He also criticized the justice system for too easily sidelining children who are caught up in their parents' warfare.

“Where people are making decisions, the kids should at least be heard and their opinions thoroughly considered; not interpreted or cast aside, as they were here,” he said. “When it is possible to simply walk up and say, ‘This kid is parentally alienated,' that instantly takes away all their credibility. Our family made their minds up for themselves. In a way, we emancipated ourselves from these professionals that have been breathing down our necks the whole time.”

Those who signed the weekend peace accord included P.F., his parents and their lawyers: Jeffery Wilson, Marvin Kurz and Terrence Edgar. P.F. said his mother and her former lawyer, Beverley Martel, wept from the emotion of the moment.

In brokering the deal that ended the family hostilities, P.F. also put the lie to allegations that his father had transformed the youth into his agent.

The agreement provides for all of the family members to be enrolled in therapy sessions – at the mother's expense – “to achieve the objective of the children eventually enjoying a relationship with both of their parents, wherever they reside.”

Mr. Wilson said in an interview yesterday that the parties were optimistic that Ontario Court Judge Steven Clark would endorse the agreement this week.

P.F. agreed, saying: “I trust that Justice Clark will respect our efforts and our sacrifices and our trust for each other. Because this is really what it is. We are trusting each other.”

Kirk Makin is The Globe and Mail's justice reporter

No comments: