What Causes Child Rejection
to a Visit With a Parent?
Some children, especially those in high conflict
divorcing families, resist contact with a parent or even reject that
parent. This updated Decision Tree guides the reader through the myriad
of reasons behind such resistance or rejection. Could it be a part of
normal development—an affinity or alignment? Or could the resistance or
the rejection be reality based, as in a reaction to abuse—child abuse,
substance abuse, and/or intimate partner violence. Could it be because
of some kind of parenting problem—alienating behavior, misattunement,
intrusive behavior, discipline that is too lax or too rigid,
self-centeredness, and/or enmeshment? Perhaps it is a combination of
some or all of the above—a hybrid.
One of the more challenging areas in child custody is
the assessment of allegations of intimate partner violence or domestic
violence. The chart that follows is a visual representation of how that
assessment might be conducted. What are the behavioral dimensions of
the abuse. Is it physical, emotional or psychological? Or is a
situation in which the issues of relationship control are prevalent.
What is the pattern, the frequency and the severity of the abuse? Has
it been recent or in the past? Who is the instigator of the abuse—the
father? the mother? Or has it been mutual or was the violence defensive
or reactive? And most important of all, what are the risk factors in
this current situation? Has there been a history of previous violence?
substance abuse? a major mental disorder? Was there an early onset of
violence or a history of a Conduct Disorder for the aggressor? Has the
abusive partner made threats, obsessively followed the victim? And are
there weapons in the home? It is standard practice in the domestic
violence field to differentiate the kind of abuse since clearly not all
abuse comes in the same package. The major kinds that have been written
about are Coercive Control (battering), Situation-Specific,
Conflict-Instigated, and Separation Associated kinds of Violence.
Additional kinds of violence may include Substance Abuse Associated and
Major Mental Disorder Associated Violence.
Abuse and Alienation Are Each Real: A Response to a
Critique by Joan Meier
This article is in response to an article in this
same issue by Joan Meier, "Getting Real About Abuse and Alienation: A
Critique of Drozd and Olesen's 2004 Decision Tree." The authors of the
2004 Decision Tree are the authors of this article. In this article,
the authors describe some similarities and some differences that they
have with the approach that Meier takes with child custody cases that
have multiple allegations. The main differences between the approaches
are the result of their different perspectives given the populations
they see. In the end of her article, Meier describes seven steps for
how to deal with what she sees as a primary problem with the Drozd and
Olesen 2004 Decision Tree, that is, how to deal with allegations of
alienation in a manner that those allegations do not eclipse the abuse
Custody & Visitation in Cases with
Domestic Violence: A Judge's Guide
While there are rules of evidence to direct judges in
determining who qualifies as an expert, practical resources are lacking
to help judges critically review the expert testimony of child custody
evaluators, determine whether the evaluator's testing methods were
accurate and reliable, or tease out the biases of individual
clinicians, particularly when domestic violence is involved. This
publication is designed to be a practical tool for judges on how to
order, interpret, and act upon child custody evaluations and includes
bench cards and supplementary materials.
Is It Abuse, Alienation, and/or Estrangement?
Allegations of family violence, child abuse, and
alienation often occur in the same contested child custody case.
Custody evaluators often are poorly trained in forensic assessment of
allegations of domestic violence and allegations of alienation. The
authors of this article suggest language that is designed to
differentiate between cases in which the term alienation is
appropriate, as in non-abuse cases, and when it is best to use other
language such as estrangement, sabotaging, and counter productive
protective parenting in cases where there is abuse. This article
describes a decision tree that is designed to assist evaluators in
identifying the causes of multiple allegations of maltreatment and
Click on the image below to see and download the full
Safety First: A Model for Understanding Domestic
in Child Custody and Access Disputes
A substantial percentage of contested child custody
cases involve allegations of domestic violence. The impact on the
psychological health and physical safety of the child exposed to
domestic violence has only recently become a focus of the courts’ and
child custody evaluators' attention. Currently, the majority of state
statutes include consideration of domestic violence in ‘best
interests’ child custody criteria. However, many of the statues do
not provide the child custody evaluator the specific criteria to
consider, especially if the domestic violence allegations have not been
previously reported to authorities prior to the commencement of
separation and divorce proceedings. This article presents the first
three steps of the six-step Safety First Model, designed to assist the
legal and psychological professions to focus on the priorities on the
safety of children exposed to domestic violence.
THE COVER: A decade has passed since Claudia Black's
million-copy bestseller, It Will Never Happen to Me, set countless
individuals on the path to self-discovery. Now, in The Missing
Piece, Black teams up with therapist and lecturer Leslie
Drozd to give you the courage, practical information, and the
loving guidance to take the next step on your journey to wholeness.
Black and Drozd explore the life crisis experienced by individuals
consumed with the nagging feeling that "something's missing."
1001 Dove Street
| Suite 110 | Newport
Beach, CA. | 92660