Thousands of divorced fathers are eliminated from their children’s lives because of the ‘implacable hostility’ of mothers with custody, writes Neil Lyndon
From The Telegraph…
The story made headlines last October. Left-field events like this happen so rarely that they almost always get onto the front page.
A High Court judge in London ordered that a 10 year-old girl should be removed from her mother’s care because the girl had been systematically estranged from her father by her mother’s “ranting” against the man.
Ruling that the mother’s conduct was manifestly harmful for the daughter and contrary to her long-term interests, Mrs Justice Parker observed that the child had been manipulated into believing that her father did not want her; and she ordered that the girl should be taken into the care of social services as a half-way measure towards placing her in her father’s care. The court heard that the girl was likely to be resistant to being reunited with her father without such interim measures.
To the national media, this story stood out as an extraordinary moment, reversing normal prejudiced assumptions that a mother will give children kindly care while a feckless father swaggers off over the horizon.
Men’s and fathers’ groups saw the case in a different light, however. To them, it reflected a phenomenon that they see all too frequently – the elimination of fathers from their children’s lives by unmitigated, unscrupulous demands on the children’s loyalty on the part of the mother with custody, along with the unremitting denigration and belittling of the father.
For those organisations, the only unusual feature of this case was that the harmful conduct of the mother was actually recognized by the court; and that, for once, officialdom did something about it.
As Ross Jones of Families Need Fathers put it: “We see lots of cases like this. Such conflicts of loyalty for the children do seem to be a common feature of high-conflict separations. It’s a huge problem for many users of our service and one which receives very little attention.”
Nine out of 10 children of separating or divorcing couples live most of the time with their mothers so the controlling parent is likely to be the woman and the estranged, undermined parent is likely to be the man. It is not unknown, however, for mothers to be on the receiving end of this process, where the children are living mostly with the father.
It is called “implacable hostility”. Some psychologists have written about “Parental Alienation Syndrome” but that designation is not recognized by the courts. The phenomenon is so broadly overlooked in the family law system that no official figures exist for the numbers of children it may affect.
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