By Robert L. Mues   |   June 27th, 2009

parect.jpgOne of the most interesting and well written pieces that I have read in a long time is a keynote address presented by Dr. Frank S. Williams to the National Council for Children’s Rights in Washington D.C. on October 20, 1990. Dr. Williams is a noted child psychiatrist and the Director of Family and Child Psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. While this presentation was almost 19 years ago, Dr. Williams’ sage advice is no less relevant now than it ever was!

During my 31-year law career, I have focused a large part of my efforts both professionally and as a member of various community organizations and non-profit Boards towards diverse child-welfare related causes. So with that stated background, I whole-heartedly encourage everyone to read Dr. Williams’ presentation in full, by clicking here.

I will attempt to capsulate some of the salient points as well as set forth the six (6) recommendations he made based on his extensive clinical experience to prevent parentectomies.

According to Dr. Williams, a ”parentectomy” is the removal, erasure, or severe diminution of a caring parent in a child’s life, following separation or divorce. A parentectomy is the most cruel infringement upon children’s rights to be carried out against human children by human adults. Parentectomies are psychologically lethal to children and parents.

The consequences for a child may be that he or she is actually abandoned by a parent who became burned out by years of court fights and battling a pervasive pattern of alienation known as parental alienation syndrome (PAS). According to Dr. Williams, that while kids hate to see battling parents, they misinterpret a parent giving up the fight as that parent not caring enough about them. “These children frequently become depressed – especially in later adolescence. At times their depression reaches suicidal proportions. In my own clinical work, as well as in school and emergency room consultation experience during the past 15 years, I have found a very high correlation between suicidality in adolescents and a divorce in their earlier years, which virtually results in one parent being erased from their lives.”

So what did Dr. Williams conclude or recommend you ask? He states that “the following recommendations on how to prevent parentectomies may, in part, appear drastic. These prevention measures, which are presented in the spirit of suggestions and based on clinical experience, include:

  1. Person contemplating marriage and children should consider a proposed mate’s tendency toward relying on the role of being a parent as his or her exclusive identity. Such persons may need to rely totally on full-time control over the children for identity following divorce.
  2. One should try to fall in love with and have children with a mate who has great empathy for children’s needs and feelings. A mother or father with empathy who loves his or her children will usually not subject the children to a parent removal.
  3. One should not separate from one’s mate without a scheduled, structured, legal custody arrangement in advance of parting the marital relationship.
  4. Once separated, a parent should never speak with and certainly should never see a mental health professional – other than a court appointed one – that he or she has not helped choose in advance; and should further avoid like the plague a friendly-sounding psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or counselor, who calls and says he or she wants to help the parents and children through the pain of divorce. This is especially so when that professional has already seen the children and the other parent.
  5. Parents should seek and hopefully find attorneys not biased by the conviction that all children need a primary home and a primary caretaker after divorce.
  6. The first moment it becomes clear that scheduled custodial time with one’s child is being consistently blocked, the parent so blocked should run (not walk) with his or her attorney to the nearest family court.”

As a teaser to encourage you to read the rest of his address, I have purposefully omitted some very candid observations about “hired-gun” child development experts, false allegations of sexual abuse, psychological “allergic” reactions to the other parent and how attempts at performing a “parentectomy” surgery create a psychological reign of terror!

Parenthetically, I must note that Dr. Williams also makes a very interesting point based upon his personal consultations with Dr. Richard A. Gardner, a renowned clinical professor of psychiatry, known for coining the term parental alienation (PAS) in 1985. Apparently, Dr. Gardner defined the term “joint custody” much more narrowly than most. When Gardner stated that “joint custody” requires a high degree of parental cooperation, he was using his particular definition of joint custody – one in which there is a free-flowing, flexible arrangement; one in which the children and the parents may frequently shift schedules, may often change the days and times the children are with each parent; and may alter parental responsibilities for the children’s school and social activities. Dr. Williams learned that Gardner believed “that when there are two highly bonded loving parents, a rigid structured schedule of even 50-50 shared residential overnights, as well as a pre-defined structure decision-making authority plan for each parent may be appropriate to best serve the children.” Unlike most people, Dr. Gardner would just not define such a 50-50, rigid structured arrangement as “joint-custody”. So when a psychologist or lawyer talks about Dr. Gardner’s conclusions about joint custody, it is worthwhile to appreciate how he defined that term.

I will be posting more in weeks to come based upon my recent personal conversations with Dr. Williams. He has many more interesting insights to share! Stay tuned…

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Robert L. MuesAbout The Author: Robert L. Mues
Robert Mues is the managing partner of Dayton, Ohio, law firm, Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues, and has received the highest rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability. Mr. Mues is also a founding member of the "International Academy of Attorneys for Divorce over 50" blog.

Preventing a Parentectomy After Divorce
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9 thoughts on “Preventing a Parentectomy After Divorce

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  • June 28, 2009 at 10:07 am
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    Dear Mr. Mues:

    Your comments and reference to Dr. Williams article were most helpful! I had read the Williams address some time ago, but not as thoroughly as you have, so thanks for renewing my interest in it.

    I have posted your blog on our Children’s Rights Council of Illinois Facebook page and I will share it with some of our members here.

    Have you contact with the Children’s Rights Council chapters in Ohio? They are very motivated and have done some good work there.

    Thanks again for your information!

    Sincerely,

    Michael Doherty, Chair, The Children’s Rights Council of Illinois

  • June 28, 2009 at 3:36 pm
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    Here is a lawyer that cares and is very aware of the evils of destroying a child to get to the other parent.

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  • August 6, 2009 at 10:32 pm
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    i dont like the idea of parentectomy..it’s alienation of you child. after divorce, children must be properly taken care of. abandoning the child because the court cannot decide to whoever custody he/she shall stay. divorce doesnt mean that you’re free from responsibilities, in fact, this the period that you should make extra effort to let your children know about the state of your marriage.

  • August 20, 2009 at 8:03 pm
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    I am a father in ohio and reasonally just split up, I found out my wife was cheating on me and it hurt but not as much as keeping my son from me. Its been two weeks since I have seen my son and I really cannot function without him I never knew that the love for a human could be so strong. After i found out about the cheating I was going to my pastor to discuss it with him and while I was gone she went to police and made a bunch of false statements so I got arrested I have never been arrested and a really good dad. Now she is keeping my son from me. PLEASE IF ANYONE CAN HELP CONTACT ME AT Nathan.moore74@yahoo.com

  • April 22, 2010 at 3:55 pm
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    My story starts 15 years ago. Ex divorced my while preg. for youngest son. Other son is now about 17. During divorce no visitation, after supervised visits during weekday work hours. I later found out the judge hated my lawyer. That lawyer died in prison, but thats a sidebar. Well I got a another lawyer, proved myself a worthy father and got standard visits. Then a cycle of abuse charges; mental, physical and sexual. Of course, visit cut-off. Each time it took money, lawyers, and time to fight off charges and restore visits. I had to file a motion so ex would use my last name for sons not her former name. Every time I saw my sons, it was always on my mind when will I see them again and what will I be charged with. This went on until she had her current husband beat the youngest, then she lied to the police. Arrested at gun point handcuffed and lead down the sidewalk in front of my house. Well, I got that charge dismissed. Nobody cared she lied, its save the children, mommy never worry.
    I got visit restore. Then about a year after the arrest, another civil charge. That is when I learned about ex-parte orders, wow my voice not even heard in court. More lost time with sons, more lawyers to get visit restored. During the first visit after that last charge, the ex called and said “If you ever see them again I will have your chicy baby arrest” she was referring to my wife. Well, enough is enough, kids are being put through hell and being a target parent is no fun.
    Now after 10 years, ex lets me see my sons.
    Oldest son is very anger, felt I abandoned him.
    Youngest son is in juvy system now. Ex cannt deal with him. For the last 2 months I have him every weekend. Wow something I thought would never happen. He is a good kid, we have no problems. No we are not bonded by having the enemy, I do not run their mother down.
    My wife has anxiety problems from this severe PAS.
    I have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
    The ex still PA, I only get to see them because she cannt control them.
    I WAS NEVER NEVER NEVER LATE ON SUPPORT PAYMENTS.
    First thing I learned state enforce support and fights against father for visitation.
    My dear sweet wife, of 14 years, did not have to ask me twice if I wanted any more kids.

    The laws, the courts, the expert, the lawyers its all about keeping the cases going and bleeding the father dry.

  • April 22, 2010 at 4:03 pm
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    Nathan,

    I am so very sorry for you.
    The mothers are treated like GODS in ohio courts and the state will take up her fight against you the father. You cannt fight city hall. Just save everything, all the court papers, the photos, the RTS birthday, christmas cards. Record the phone calls. Someday when they are older tell them it was her and you have proof.
    You should get help, this is much like a lost, a death, of a child.
    So sorry, remember not all women evil. But no more kids to much risk.

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