As reported in today’s New York Post by Kieran Crowley, a Long Island woman lost custody of her daughters after plastering stickers around town calling her estranged husband a Hummer driving dead-beat who let his kids go hungry. Judge Carol MacKenzie reportedly found the mother’s testimony that she knew nothing about this to be "incredible." More importantly, the judge also found that the mother had tried to "brainwash" the kids by lying about their father. The mother also allegedly had friends of her picket the custody hearings. Her denial of knowledge of this stunt was found to be "ludicrous" by the judge. As a result of the conduct, the Post reports that Judge MacKenzie refused the mother’s request to have more than two days with her daughters until she got the psychiatric help "which this court concludes she badly needs."
Unfortunately, disparagement of one parent during or after a divorce happens far too often. Many consider this a act of parental alienation, a topic we have written about in the past. In fact, based upon a prior blog that we did where a New York judge threw a parent in jail for custodial appearance, it appears that New York courts may take this more seriously than the courts that we practice in in New Jersey (though this is a small sample of comparison, I know). That said, we have also recently blogged on how parenting alienation played a large role in the Dwyane Wade custody decision in Chicago. There has even been talk about adding parental alienation to the next edition of the DSM.
The bottom line is that disparagement of the other parent and/or parental alienation is damaging to the children and their relationship with the other parent. The offending parent’s anger, if not hatred. for the other parent clouds their judgment and poisons their conduct to the detriment of the children. As seen by this case, if taken seriously by the court, the penalties can be devastating to the offending party. Why shouldn’t they be.