Tag: Family law

cps, news
Appellate record shows Dallas County family law judge has long history of reversals

Thank you David Yates for this piece, click here to view original article.

DALLAS – For nearly a decade, Judge Andrea Plumlee has presided over the 330th Judicial District Court in Dallas County. And in that time, the family court judge has racked up quite a few reversals at the appellate level, with justices frequently finding that she has abused her discretion.

One of Judge Plumlee’s earlier corrections came in 2013 in the matter of the marriage of Jesus and Maria Villa.

Judge Plumlee entered a default judgment against Jesus Villa, even though the court record shows the trial court did not notify him of the default judgment hearing.

The Fifth Court of Appeals found that Judge Plumlee entered the default divorce decree in violation of Jesus Villa’s due process rights.

In the case of In re Young, the Fifth Court found Judge Plumlee abused her discretion by ordering genetic testing, even though the statute of limitations for such testing had expired.

When pieced together, Judge Plumlee’s appellate history shows a pattern of her exceeding her authority, according to an opinion issued by the Fifth Court on March 11, 2019.

The case was titled In the interest of D.T., a child, where Judge Plumlee ordered the father to pay $1,450 in child support. The Fifth Court reversed because the amount did not appear to be based on either the evidence or on the mother’s request.

Some of Judge Plumlee’s rulings seem to be shaped outside the guidelines of the Texas Family Code.

For example, in the case of In re Foreman, the Fifth Court found Judge Plumlee was required to transfer the case out of her court pursuant to the Texas Family Code.

“The undisputed evidence showed that the children’s principal residence on the date the petition was filed and during the six month period preceding the commencement of the suit was Collin County,” states the Fifth Court’s Jan. 9, 2014 opinion. “Under those circumstances, transfer is mandatory…”

Several other instances of Judge Plumlee being reversed on appeal remain on file.

And while the judge has declined to return a request for comment on her past rulings, at least one man had something to say on social media.

On June 22, 2018, Luke Spencer made a Facebook post to the State Bar of Texas page, stating that Judge Plumlee put his wife in jail for protecting her kids.

“Judge Plumlee has made it clear that she is not interested in anything my Wife has to say, and claims that she is a liar as well as the children,” wrote Spencer.

“The judge will not allow the children to speak on their own behalf, and has belittled them. I wanted this information to be known by the State Bar of Texas due to the demonstration of the lack of being fair and impartial…”

Life isn’t always fair, every five year old knows that, but fairness and impartiality is something one should expect from any judge, says Langston Adams, a Texas attorney who practices family, criminal and civil law.

“When I go before a family court judge, I expect what I expect from any judge – for them to be fair and follow the law,” Adams said.

Adams says that in his experience he’s found most family court judges to be fair, despite not every case ending in a win.

“You’re not always going to get the result the client wants … but it’s rare when I see a family law case go up on appeal.

Adams, who has been practicing law since 2002, says he’s only had one appeal in a family law case.

“Most of my appeals have stemmed from criminal cases,” he added.

Since 2011, the year Judge Plumlee first started presiding over the 330th, approximately 108 cases out of her court have been appealed.

abuse, cps
Understanding The Batterer In Custody and Visitation Disputes

If you are involved in a custody battle with your abuser, ESPECIALLY if Child Protective Services has involved themselves in your life, this article is a must-read.

by R. Lundy Bancroft

cps, parental alienation syndrome
Obsessed Alienation – Severe Parental Alienation in Custody Cases

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“I love my children. If the court can’t protect them from their abusive father, I will. Even though he’s never abused the children, I know it’s a matter of time. The children are frightened of their father. If they don’t want to see him, I’m not going to force them. They are old enough to make up their own minds.”

The obsessed alienator is a parent, or sometimes a grandparent, with a cause:

to align the children to his or her side and together, with the children, and a campaign to destroy their relationship with the targeted parent.

For the campaign to work, the obsessed alienator enmeshes the children’s personalities and beliefs into their own. This is a process that takes time but one that the children, especially the young, are completely helpless to see and combat. It usually begins well before the divorce is final.

The obsessed parent is angry, bitter or feels betrayed by the other parent. The initial reasons for the bitterness may actually be justified. They could have been verbally and physical abused, raped, betrayed by an affair, or financially cheated.

The problem occurs when the feelings won’t heal but instead become more intense because of being forced to continue the relationship with a person they despise because of their common parenthood. Just having to see or talk to the other parent is a reminder of the past and triggers the hate. They are trapped with nowhere to go and heal.

The characteristics of obsessed alienation are as follows

  • They are obsessed with destroying the children’s relationship with the targeted parent
  • They having succeeded in enmeshing the childrens’ personalities and beliefs about the other parent with their own.
  • The children will parrot the obsessed alienator rather than express their own feelings from personal experience with the other parent.

  • The targeted parent and often the children cannot tell you the reasons for their feelings.

  • Their beliefs sometimes becoming delusional and irrational. No one, especially the court, can convince obsessed alienators that they are wrong. Anyone who tries is the enemy.

  • They will often seek support from family members, quasi-political groups or friends that will share in their beliefs that they are victimized by the other parent and the system.
  • The battle becomes “us against them.” The obsessed alienator’s supporters are often seen at the court hearings even though they haven’t been subpoenaed.

  • They have an unquenchable anger because they believe that the targeted parent has victimized them and whatever they do to protect the children is justified.

  • They have a desire for the court to punish the other parent with court orders that would interfere or block the targeted parent from seeing the children. This confirms in the obsessed alienator’s mind that he or she was right all the time.

  • The court’s authority does not intimidate them.

  • The obsessed alienator believes in a higher cause, protecting the children at all cost.

  • The obsessed alienator will probably not want to read what is on these pages because the content just makes them angrier.

There are no effective treatments for either the obsessed alienator or the children.

The courts and mental health professionals are helpless.

The only hope for these children is early identification of the symptoms and prevention. After the alienation is entrenched and the children become “true believers” in the parent’s cause, the children are lost to the other parent for years to come.

We realize this is a sad statement, but we have yet to find an effective intervention, by anyone, including the courts that can rehabilitate the alienating parent and child.

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More on Parental Alienation

Divorce is one of life’s most painful passages. It is painful for the spouse who wants it, painful for the spouse who feels rejected, and painful for the children.

We can understand and empathize with the spouse who feels wronged and wants revenge, or the spouse who is overwhelmed with anxiety at the thought of losing the children, or the spouse who prefers to forget that the marriage ever was.

But using the children to get revenge, to cope with anxiety, to erase the past, is unacceptable.

Parents must hold themselves to a higher standard.

Parent/child relationships are particularly vulnerable when children are first informed of the impending separation, or when one parent actually leaves the home.

If your spouse manipulates the children to blame you for the divorce, or to believe you have abandoned them, affection can dissolve overnight as their distress and hurt feelings are channeled into hatred.

The risk becomes multiplied if, for any reason, you have no communication or contact with the children after you leave the home. This keeps you from reassuring the children of your love and helping them understand that they do not have to choose between their parents.

A child who feels caught between two homes may feel that the solution to the conflict is to declare a clear allegiance to one household. This motive can result in alienation from either parent.

A child who is anxious or angry about the remarriage may channel these feelings into unwarranted hatred of the remarried parent and stepparent. Or the child’s alienation may express the disappointment of reconciliation wishes that have been dashed by the remarriage.

Regardless of the child’s underlying motivation, if the favored parent welcomes the child’s allegiance and fails to actively promote the child’s affection for the other parent, the child may cling to a maladaptive solution.

The parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the target parent.

enablers

PAS is more than brainwashing or programming, because the child has to actually participate in the denigrating of the alienated parent. This is done in primarily the following eight ways:

1. The child denigrates the alienated parent with foul language and severe oppositional behavior.

2. The child offers weak, absurd, or frivolous reasons for his or her anger.

3. The child is sure of him or herself and doesn’tdemonstrate ambivalence, i.e. love and hate for thealienated parent, only hate.

4. The child exhorts that he or she alone came up with ideas of denigration. The “independent-thinker”phenomenon is where the child asserts that no one told him to do this.

5. The child supports and feels a need to protect the alienating parent.

6. The child does not demonstrate guilt over cruelty towards the alienated parent.

7. The child uses borrowed scenarios, or vividlydescribes situations that he or she could not haveexperienced.

8. Animosity is spread to also include the friends and/or extended family of the alienated parent.

In severe cases of parent alienation, the child is utterly brainwashed against the alienated parent.

The alienator can truthfully say that the child doesn’t want to spend any time with the other parent, even though he or she has told the child that he has to, it is a court order, etc.

The alienator typically responds, “There isn’t anything that I can do about it. I’m not telling the child that he can’t.

Alienation advances when the alienating parent urdses the child as a personal therapist. The child is told about every miserable experience and negative feeling about the alienated parent with great specificity.

The child, who is already enmeshed with the parent because his or her identity is still undefined, easily absorbs the parent’s negativity. They become aligned with this parent and feel that they need to be the protector of the alienating parent.

Parental alienation can be mild and temporary or extreme and ongoing. Most researchers believe that any alienation of a child against (the child’s) other parent is harmful to the child and to the target parent.

Extreme, obsessive, and ongoing parental alienation can cause terrible psychological damage to children extending well into adulthood.

Parental Alienation focuses on the alienating parents behavior as opposed to the alienated parent’s and alienated childrens’ conditions. This definition is different from Parental Alienation Syndrome as originally coined by Dr. Richard Gardner in 1987:

“a disturbance in which children are preoccupied with deprecation and criticism of a parent-denigration that is unjustified and/or exaggerated.”

Parental Alienation Syndrome symptoms describe the child’s behaviours and attitude towards the targeted parent after the child has been effectively programmed and severely alienated from the targeted parent.

Parental alienation, on the other hand, describes the alienating parent’s or parents’ conduct which induces parental alienation syndrome in children. Parental alienation is a form of relational aggression by one parent against the other parent using their common children.

The process can become cyclic with each parent attempting to alienate the children from the other. There is potential for a negative feedback loop and escalation.

At other times an affected parent may withdraw leaving the children to the alienating parent. Children so alienated often suffer effects similar to those studied in the psychology of torture.

Alienating parents often use grandparents, aunts/uncles, and other elders to alienate their children against the target parent.

In some cases, mental health professionals become unwitting allies in these alienation attempts by backing unfounded allegations of neglect, abuse or mental disease. Courts also often side with the alienating parent against the target parent in legal judgements because parental alienation is so difficult to detect.

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Extreme forms of parental alienation include obsessive brainwashing, character assassination, and the false inducement of fear, shame, and rage in children against the target parent. Moderate forms of parental alienation include loss of self control, flare ups of anger, and nconscious alliances with the children against the target parent. In it’s mildest forms, parental alienation includes occasional mild denigration alternating with a focus on encouraging the children’s relationship with the other parent.

Parental alienation often forces children to choose sides and become allies against the other parent. Children caught in the middle of such conflicts suffer severe losses of love, respect and peace during their formative years.

They also often lose their alienated parent forever.

These consequences and a host of others cause terrible traumas to children as studied in Parental Alienation Syndrome.

Parents so alienated often suffer heartbreaking loss of their children through no fault of their own. In addition, they often face false accusations from their alienated children that they cannot counter with the facts.

Finally, they often find themselves powerless to show that this little-known form of cruel, covert, and cunning aggression is occurring or has occurred.

Often the problem can be cured only by realizing the underlying causes. The reasons are very numerous and varied. These are examples:

  • Money. The custodial parent may wish to have more than the non-custodial parent is willing or able to provide and the children are leverage pawns.
  • Retaliation. ‘You wanted a life without us. Now you have it.’
  • New family member.The mother forms a new romantic relationship and wants her new man to be the father. The non-custodial parent is a hindrance to that new relationship, an unwanted reminder.
  • New partner’s interference. Mother’s boy-friend or new husband wants to be the man in the child’s life and works to exclude the father.
  • Jealousy Mother’s empty life is in stark contrast to Father’s recovering one. Mother may not wish the father’s new partner to have the role of ‘rival mother’ – particularly if she is insecure about her own abilities.
  • Property rights. Mother regards child as her property and is unwilling to share
  • Social appearance.Mother could never admit that she is not the sole focus of her child’s life.
  • Depression, Poor health.General negative view on life interpreted by her as being a result of the marital breakup and therefore his fault.
  • Simple hatred by the mother of the father.
  • Hostility from the father toward the mother is viewed by her as a risk to the children as well, so she feels that she must ‘protect’ the child by preventing the father from visiting. Mother may have no basis whatsoever for feeling that the father will be hostile to the child.
  • Possessiveness of the child’s attention and affection. The Mother may have no other close family and be envious of the father’s friends and relatives.

  • Mother convinces herself that the father is a dangerous human with extreme character flaws to which the child should not be exposed. Mother assumes that activities enjoyed by the father are risky to the child, even though other children may engage in those same activities.
  • Mother has taken a gender approach and is hostile to all men. This can be particularly true if the mother has limited her own contacts to other single mothers. She may be unable to sustain a wholesome relationship with a man.
  • Punishment. Mother eliminates visits or shortens contact with the father if the children do not behave. “You have not finished your homework. You cannot go to dinner with your father.” or “You did not obey me about your bedtime. You are grounded here and while you are with your father this weekend.”
  • Perceived competition with the former spouse. This is particularly true when the non-custodial father spends more on the children than the mother is able to do. Also called “Disneyland Dads”, the father uses his time in high dollar activities while the mother has to make do on free and low cost amusements for them. This also works in reverse with the “competitive” mom – where the non-custodial parent plans an activity, such as a driving vacation and then the custodial mom has to ‘trump’ it by flying the children out of the country on vacation. Neither parent seems to notice that the TWO vacations are far more than the child would have received if in a pre-divorce home and that the child’s values are being distorted on a very subconscious, but permanent level.
  • Self-esteem. The mother’s interests and activities may be so focused on the children that she has no life if they are not around. She does not wish to, or cannot admit, that they have fun if she is not part.
  • Fear of abandonment.Mother worries that children may choose the father over her if given the opportunity.
  • Control. The children may be the only means the parent has of directing the life and emotions of the former spouse.
  • Reverse control. The mother may have never wanted a man except to sire the child and, once that role is complete, the mother wants him well away from her child. Watch for parents who say ‘MY child’ when talking to the other parent.
  • Punishment to the Father for forming a new marriage. ‘You were supposed to stay single and grieve for me forever.’
  • Mistaken belief that the father was actually not interested in the child.Many men are not granted much of a role in baby care, so as the child grows older and the father is ‘learning how to parent’ he may not spend as much time with the child –which may be viewed in retrospect as disinterest. Parenting does not come naturally to everyone and non-custodial parents have less of a chance to practice, with their mistakes being more visible.
  • Lifestyle conflicts.Mother and father have different choices in cultures, religions, and values and she wants to isolate the children into hers.
  • Emotional dependence.The mother may feel that the child has only so much capability for affection and wants it all for herself.
  • Resentment of reminders of failure.The mother may view the dissolved marriage as a failure and wish to avoid all memory of it.
  • Concealment. The mother may be having difficulties and does not want the children to provide information about her situation to the father.

Theses cases involving Parental Alienating are very frustrating to the targeted parent. Many times the offending parent feels totally justified in their actions. They cannot see the damage they are causing their children.

How can targeted parents in these situations be helped?

Encourage them to keep their heads up, maintain perspective, and contact the right professionals. Open up the line of communication with their children, recognize early warning signs of trouble, and respond appropriately to rude and hateful behavior.

Avoid common errors made by rejected parents through recognition of the problem and quickly obtaining the proper experts, which is crucial in developing a strategy inn a custody case involving Parental Alienation.

If necessary, ask the courts to order an evaluation and most of all to order treatment to reverse the damages caused by such conduct.

Sources:

Parental Alienation Syndrome by Lynn M.Swank,

Dr. Richard A. Warshak. Divorce Poison, Protecting the Parent-Child Bond from a Vindictive Ex, Regan Books, New York,

Gardner, R.A. (1998). The Parental Alienation Syndrome, Second Edition, Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

Three Types of Parental Alienation Copyright 1997 by Douglas Darnall, Ph.D.)

Forensic Family Services, Inc.

awareness, child abuser, cps, custody, false allegations, family, home, love, parental alienation syndrome
Backlash Against Parental Alienation: Denial and Skepticism About Psychological Abuse

By Richard A Warshack, Psychologist and expert on P.A.S. @richardwarshack

This post is in honor of Parental Alienation Awareness Day—April 25.

A boy wrote a letter to his mother telling her that she belonged in a mental institution, that she was nothing to him, that she was nothing but a screw-up, that she was sick, selfish, that he wanted to have nothing to do with her or any of her relatives, and that he hoped she died a horrible, painful death. In other words, this boy disowned his mother with the most aggressive, vile, and hateful language.

The father’s attorney attempted to minimize the child’s alienation by claiming that the boy merely loved his dad a lot more than he loved his mom.

Attorneys spin the facts to zealously advocate for their clients’ positions. We expect it.

But what excuse do others have for denying the reality that a child can become irrationally alienated from a good and formerly loved parent? And for denying the reality that the child’s unjustified rejection of one parent can be traced to the other parent’s relentless manipulations to drive a wedge between child and parent?

How could anyone who works in the family law system deny the reality — affirmed nearly unanimously by legal and mental health professionals — that children can be influenced by one parent to turn against the other parent?

Encouraging a child to align with one parent against the other, and teaching a child to hate a parent for no good reason, is cruel. If a teacher did this to a student, bad-mouthed a child’s parents and systematically undermined the child’s love and respect for her parents, that teacher would be out of a job.

“Stealing the soul,” is how I described this process in DIVORCE POISON—enlisting children as agents in their own deprivation and violating children’s trust.

Leading authorities on divorce agree. Dr. Joan Kelly and Dr. Janet Johnston held no punches: “Whether such parents are aware of the negative impact on the child, these behaviors of the aligned parent (and his or her supporters) constitute emotional abuse of the child.”

Society has a checkered track record in recognizing and protecting children from abuse. Denial and minimization intermittently subdue awareness and acknowledgment. It has been this way with physical abuse, with sexual abuse, and with psychological abuse. So we should not be surprised that a subculture of parents and professionals denies that children can be manipulated to reject a parent for no good reason—or that they go so far as to claim that most children will turn against the parent who is abusing them in these ways.

How do deniers rationalize their apparent blindness?
Here are five strategies.

1. Deflect attention from the reality of divorce poison and its destructive impact with debates about whether parental alienation constitutes a bona fide syndrome. The claim is that because the official manual of psychiatric diagnoses (DSM-5) does not include the term “parental alienation,” the problem must be bogus. You also will not find “reckless driving syndrome” in the DSM-5. But you would be wise to avoid getting in a car with a driver who has this problem. Children need protection from reckless, toxic parenting, regardless of how we label the parent’s behavior. Moreover, the DSM-5 does refer to the concept of irrational parental alienation. The diagnostic manual mentions “unwarranted feelings of estrangement” as an example of the diagnosis: Parent–Child Relational Problem.

To the parent who loses her child, or the child who loses a parent, it matters little whether we label the loss a syndrome, a disorder, a condition, or a problem. What matters is whether a child is suffering and whether a parent’s behavior contributes to a child’s suffering.

2. Claim that it is only a speculation, hypothesis, or theory that children can become alienated from one parent when exposed to the other parent’s negative influence. As I explained in my article, “Bringing Sense to Parental Alienation,” there is nothing theoretical or speculative about the existence of irrationally alienated children. These children can be directly observed by anyone willing to look.

3. Attribute unsupportable, fake positions to parental alienation studies, and then refute the fake positions—a tactic known as “attacking a straw man.” For instance, a recently published study claimed that “the alienation hypothesis” (see denial strategy #2 above) maintains that parental denigration is only unilateral, not reciprocal, and that all children exposed to parental denigration become alienated from the target of denigration. When the study found that a group of volunteer college students reported that both parents denigrated each other, and the children did not reject either parent, the authors of the study concluded that “the alienation hypothesis” was not supported and that parental denigration does not cause children to reject the parent who is denigrated.

The problem with this line of reasoning is that no scholar has claimed that parental denigration necessarily leads to a child rejecting the denigrated parent. Of course many children whose parents badmouth each other maintain relationships with both parents. Rejecting a parent is an extreme consequence, not a common one. Furthermore, anyone who has worked with irrationally alienated children knows that these children are reluctant to admit that their favored parent maligned their other parent— in fact, these children are reluctant to admit anything negative about the parent whom they favor.

Researchers who genuinely want to learn about the forces that lead children to irrationally reject a parent will begin by studying alienated children. Studying children who are not alienated merely makes the obvious point that their parents occasionally bad-mouth each other without alienating the children from either parent. This is the sort of “scholarship” that gives social science a bad odor because the study advocates for and confirms a bias against the existence of parental alienation.

4. Ignore studies that fail to support one’s pet theories. For example, while promoting skepticism about the notion that children can be manipulated by a parent to hate the other parent, the authors of the study mentioned above failed to cite the largest study, published by the American Bar Association, that explicitly attributed children’s problems to being brainwashed by one parent against the other. They also failed to cite the volume of scientific evidence about various mechanisms by which children’s attitudes can be influenced and by which negative stereotypes about a parent can be promulgated.

Children’s feelings and behavior toward each parent are influenced by the way their parents treat each other. Does any reasonable person seriously believe otherwise—that children are immune from a parent’s influence? If so, tell that to all the child psychologists and authors who study and write about how to raise smarter, healthier, happier, and better behaved children.

Ironically, one of the authors of the straw-man study, in a previous article, railed against scholars who selectively cite research that confirms their biases, a tactic he called “cherry picking” or “stacking the deck.” Pot, meet kettle.

5. Promulgate, or accept without investigation or critical scrutiny, dramatic and exaggerated claims that the evaluator, therapist, child representative, and judge in a case mistook a child’s justified rejection of a parent for unjustified alienation, or that children removed from toxic alienating environments have been abused by the family court system. Such claims are repeated without considering all the evidence weighed by the court in reaching its decision.

We have a lot to learn about the roots of parental alienation and about why some children become ensnared in a campaign of hatred toward a parent while others resist. And why some children draw closer to the target of bad-mouthing and reject the parent who dispenses divorce poison, a phenomenon called “blowback” in the video, WELCOME BACK, PLUTO: UNDERSTANDING, PREVENTING, AND OVERCOMING PARENTAL ALIENATION.

But the existence of parents who effectively teach their children to hate the other parent, and of children who absorb this lesson, is beyond dispute.

Exactly two weeks before Parental Alienation Awareness Day in 2017, British High Court Justice Russell delivered her judgment in a Liverpool family court case. She wrote, “By manipulating her children, [the mother] has achieved what she has always wanted and stopped contact with their father. She has done so either because she cannot help herself or because she had quite deliberately set out to expunge their father from their lives. These children have suffered significant emotional harm as a result of their mother’s manipulative actions.”

Do the deniers and skeptics think Justice Russell was deluded?

As journalist Kathleen Parker observed, “Anybody old enough to drink coffee knows that embittered divorcees can and do manipulate their children. Not just women, but men, too.”

We may not want to face the fact that some parents prey on the children in their charge—physically, sexually, or emotionally. Often these parents carefully groom children to engage in harmful acts that victimize children. Whether children are victims of sexual abuse or psychological abuse, we must not turn a blind eye to them.

The fact that some children are able to resist does not obscure the reality that such abuse exists. Professionals who feed denial and skepticism play into the hands of those who want us to look away.

Because deniers and skeptics contribute to a backlash against protecting psychologically abused children from efforts to alienate them from a parent, 13 years after it was introduced we still need Parental Alienation Awareness Day to shine a light on the plight of children and parents caught in this maelstrom, and to remind us that much work remains to be done.

#PAADay #ParentalAlienation