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Entries in amicus briefs (1)

Wednesday
Mar182015

Putting the case about alienation to court

Linda GottliebAmicus briefs are submissions to court from an expert on a general point, rather than about specific circumstances in a case. They are normally used in connection with appeals at the highest level, sometimes to the Supreme Court or to the Inner House of the Court of Session in Scotland.

An expert family therapy practitioner in America, Linda Gottlieb, has prepared an amicus brief about children in high-conflict divorce cases, which can be seen on her web site. In presenting information about the alienation in such cases, she makes five points about how children's own wishes and opinions should be considered:

"In evaluating the consideration that should be granted to a child’s wishes and opinions in determining the nature of the relationship to have the non-custodial parent, I wish to stress that doing so does not serve the child's best interests." 

"Firstly, in cases that reach the point of an adversarial court proceeding, it is impossible to separate the child's wishes from the influence of the residential parent. In a high conflict parental relationship, we can expect that the child will merely mimic the thoughts, feelings, and wishes of the custodial parent..."

"Secondly, it is exceedingly unusual for a child to feel enmity for and reject a parent..."

"Thirdly, all the recent research indicates that children who have a parent either absent from lives or only marginally involved develop very poor outcomes..."

"Fourthly, we need to consider how unhealthy it is for a child to linger with unresolved anger for a parent..."

"Fifthly, at some point in the child's life he will recognize that he has rejected a parent when he rebuffed that parent’s efforts to reenter his life..."

It may not be possible to deploy these arguments wholesale in the initial hearing of a case, but it is worthwhile knowing what an experienced practitioner is prepared to put before a court.  See her web site or her book for further details.