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Court-ordered "reunification" and Florida families

Many parents have heard the term "parental alienation" but are unsure how that concept is applied during a child custody case. The idea of parental alienation is relatively new, and courts in Florida and across the nation are struggling to determine how to approach cases in which one parent accuses the other of alienating a child against the other parent. Unfortunately, a questionable industry has arisen to address these matters, and the outcome can truly be devastating to families.

An example is found in the case of a family in which four children refused to spend time with their father. The custody case went on for six years before the judge made the decision to send the children to a family "reunification" program on the other side of the country. They were forced to go against their will. Once there, the program administrators determined that they should have no contact with their mother for a period of time. That turned into a year without seeing or speaking to their mother.

She was eventually able to regain visitation and then her custody rights, but the children had gone through significant trauma by that time. The two older children refused to have anything to do with their father after they turned 18. They told reporters that the reason they felt so strongly about him was because of his abusive behavior, and not due to any acts of parental alienation.

Their story illustrates the risks that families face during a highly contentious child custody case, in Florida or elsewhere. In this case, the mother was threatened with arrest if she was unable to force the children to go with their father. Then, in order to get them to comply, they had to be "tricked" on several occasions. Those circumstances simply could not be healthy for anyone involved and should not be part of any child custody matter.

Source: The Washington Post, "They were taken from their mom to rebond with their dad. It didn't go well.", Cara Tabachnick, May 11, 2017

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