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The High-Conflict Custody Battle: Protect Yourself and Your Kids from a Toxic Divorce, False Accusations, and Parental Alienation Paperback – Oct 9 2014
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'When three great minds like these collaborate, a prism is created through which a light of wisdom can shine in the darkest of places. A must-read for all people touched by this unfathomable dilemma.'
- Judge Michele Lowrance (ret) , mediator and author of The Good Karma Divorce and Parental Alienation 911 'In each journey through parental alienation, it is easy to lose the way. What seems to be a clear and just path in navigating family court is not always reality. Amy J. L. Baker, Brian Ludmer, and J. Michael Bone have given alienated parents a comprehensive road map that allows them to make their journey through this highly emotional period with level heads and hearts. The authors' work empowers readers and leaves them feeling revived, secure, and confident as they travel to their final destination: reunification with their children.'
- Jill Egizii , president of the Parental Alienation Awareness Organization, USA ' The High-Conflict Custody Battle is a joint effort by writers with complementary skills and expertise: Amy J. L. Baker, PhD, is a research psychologist who has studied child psychological abuse; J. Michael Bone, PhD, is a clinical and forensic psychologist; and Brian Ludmer, BComm, LLB, is an attorney whose practice focusses on high conflict family law. The three authors have created a book that is both scholarly and highly practical, which will be helpful for mothers and fathers who find themselves coping with a difficult, overly litigious marital separation or divorce. The book addresses in detail the personal and legal crises that frequently occur in high-conflict divorce, such as parental alienation; allegations of domestic violence and child sexual abuse; and undertaking a child custody evaluation. It is notable that the authors acknowledge that all the participants in these legal battles have both flaws and biases, so no one is expected to be perfect. Although this book is primarily intended for divorcing parents, it will also be good reading for mental health and legal professionals, including judges.'
- William Bernet, MD , professor emeritus in the department of psychiatry, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN 'Having recently tried the most publicized parental alienation case to a successful conclusion, I highly recommend this book for parents coping with an alienating spouse. The authors have provided an effective guide to assist parents through difficult litigation. This book should be read by every targeted parent.'
- Jim Pritikin , fellow of The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
About the Author
Amy J. L. Baker, PhD, is a national expert on parental alienation and has written a seminal book on the topic, Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome , published by W. W. Norton & Company. In addition to conducting trainings around the country for parents as well as legal and mental health professionals, Baker has written dozens of scholarly articles on topics related to parent/child relationships and has appeared on national TV, including Good Morning America , CNN, and The Joy Behar Show . She has been quoted in The New York Times and U.S. News & World Report , among other print media outlets. Baker graduated from Barnard College, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. She has a PhD in human development from Teachers College, Columbia University.
J. Michael Bone, PhD, has a doctorate from the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science of the New School for Social Research in New York, NY. He has served as a mental health expert, consultant, and advisor to the court on parental alienation cases around the United States, and maintains a consulting practice in Florida. Brian Ludmer, BComm, LLB, is an attorney whose practice is based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He has a Bachelor of Commerce (1982) and Bachelor of Law (1985) from the University of Toronto. Ludmer has practiced corporate and securities law for twenty-seven years and in parallel he conducts a family law practice focused on situations involving custody disputes, child estrangement, and parental alienation, as well as high net worth divorce litigation and business valuation.
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Also, this book is doesn't have a lot of background about the demographics and development of (what's more or less being known as) alienation; it's about actions to take if you already believe alienation describes your situation. There are also exercises to do in some chapters, which seem very simplistic if you don't do them, but I've found invaluable. One was to make a list of your worst fears and then make some attempt to figure out just how likely they really are.
One mistake I could have avoided if I'd known about this book is that any therapy ordered by the court has to include both parents, not just the targeted parent and children. When the favored parent is omitted from the order for therapy, everyone involved tends to assume that the problem resides with the targeted parent. This exacerbates rather than helps the very problem it is intended to solve. Otherwise competent professionals can be misled by this, which is probably a form of cognitive bias.
Another mistake I could have avoided is that if the children participate in therapy to help heal the relationship, it should not be insight-oriented, which is intended to form a bond between therapist and client in order to facilitate trust, in which the client tells about their feelings and the therapist validates the clients feelings. Education-oriented therapy is more appropriate, because the problem being treated is that the children have developed misperceptions about the targeted parent. The last thing they need is a therapist who says, "Tell me more about why you feel your parent is so terrible."
The most important advice I've received from Dr Baker - and I don't remember if it's from this book or one of her others - is that no matter what happens, the targeted parent must keep showing up and use empathic responding every time to interact with the children, even if it's only for one minute. Following that advice has resulted in my parent time going from a total shut-out to being able to actually have interactions with my children.
This book is kinda tough-love-ish in places. When your reputation with your own loved ones is being denigrated, it's tempting to want reassurance. There is reassurance here; but sometimes the right advice is that you have to find a way to suck it up in order to wade into the fray. It doesn't feel good. But it's necessary, and it works. Also, the reunification therapy described at the end sounds dreamy but is hugely expensive, only available in a few places, and not yet widely recognized by courts. We as a society are still new to developing solutions to this problem.
Other recommended titles are Bill Eddy's What's Your Proposal and Margalis Fjelstad's Stop Caretaking the Borderline or Narcissist. Also recommended for more ideas on how to respond well to the children for the time you do get is John Gottman and Daniel Goleman's Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child; although the examples of parents who get to be with their children are heartbreaking when you don't have much access to yours, there are some very insightful tips about how to orient your thinking so that you can maintain an empathic response.
I'm rating this five stars not because it's perfect, but because I recommend it as an essential tool in the arsenal for parents who are experiencing one of the most devastating scenarios possible. When your children and your reputation are turned against you, you need to know which tools you can rely on. This is one of them.
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