Court Consideration of Adolescent Wishes

We read a post by Dr. Craig Childress on his blog, Attachment-Based “Parental Alienation,” regarding Court Consideration of Adolescent Wishes:

“I was recently asked a question by a targeted parent about the practice in some Courts of considering the wishes of an adolescent in custody placement decisions, and I’d like to share my response.

While I will explain my response in a lengthy post, it’s actually quite simple:

At no time should the Court ever consider the wishes expressed by the child whenever there is spousal-parental conflict.

Pretty simple. Now let me explain why. There are two primary reasons.

First, the authenticity of the child’s expressed wishes may likely have been compromised by a “role-reversal” relationship with the allied and supposedly favored parent (who is likely seeking the admission of the child’s wishes for Court consideration).

Second, whenever there is spousal conflict, seeking the child’s input essentially triangulates the child into the spousal-parental conflict. This is EXACTLY the WRONG thing to do. Bad. Bad. Bad. Extremely destructive. It not only supports the pathology in the family, it actually fosters and creates pathology in the family and it will have extremely harmful effects on the child’s underneath psychology. We DO NOT ever want to triangulate the child into the spousal conflict. No. No. No. Never. I don’t care what the age of the child is. Never. No.”

Those of you who have been following our blog remember the note we shared, which was written by my husband’s 7 and 10 year old children explaining why — when it was his turn to share the Christmas holiday with them — that they would like to spend the holiday with both parents. Even though the year before, as well as the year after, they spent both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with their mother, and did not see their father at all during either one of those days:

Christmas 1984 letter

The Court order pertaining to holiday visitation between my husband and our alienating parent was very vague. It simply said: the children will spend the Christmas holiday with father and mother on alternate years. The year in question was a year when Christmas Eve was on a Monday and Christmas Day was on a Tuesday. Since we had the children with us on Saturday and Sunday — and they had spent the prior Christmas “holiday” (which included both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) with their mother — we fully expected to receive the same time for our Christmas holiday visitation. Especially since, during the prior year Christmas Eve fell on a Saturday and Christmas Day on a Sunday — my husband’s regularly scheduled days for visitation. But since it was mother’s year to spend the Christmas holiday with the children, my husband did not see his children at all that weekend. The following year, the children also spent both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with their mother. On both occasions, we had a wonderful Christmas celebration with the children the weekend after the actual holiday.

We were horrified when we received the letter from our alienating parent, in which she had her children tell their father that they would like to change the Court ordered holiday visitation schedule. We felt at the time, and still feel, that children should not be put in a position of deciding between their parents and agree wholeheartedly with Dr. Childress’ views on asking a child to choose sides in a spousal conflict.

Dr. Childress said it best: “Under NO circumstances do we ever want to ask the child what the child wants when there is spousal conflict. We are essentially asking the child to choose sides in the spousal conflict, and we are opening the door directly to the role-reversal use of the child by the parent to meet the parent’s emotional and psychological needs. Pathology, pathology, pathology.”


One thought on “Court Consideration of Adolescent Wishes

  1. Both of my children are teenagers. Their mother has been using that as an excuse since day 1, that they are “old enough” to make their own (coached by her of course) decisions. I was never allowed to see either of my kids during any of the holidays mandated by the court and signed by a Judge. She also knew that because of the over the top expensive child support I had to pay, that I would have absolutely no way to pay for a lawyer or to file her in contempt. Even if I did, my kids were so brainwashed that they would say whatever she told them to say in front of a Judge.

    I’ve given up completely on ever seeing my kids on holiday (or even at all really). Maybe one day…my daughter is 19 now. It’s sad that this type of behavior and child abuse is allowed.


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