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Legal Abuse Syndrome Utilizing a Tort Action in Family Law Cases

Copyright 2011, Panama Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations used in articles and reviews. First edition, October 2011

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Legal Abuse Syndrome Utilizing a Tort Action in Family Law Cases

"What do we mean by the defeat of the enemy? Simply the destruction of his forces, whether by death, injury, or any other means -- either completely or enough to make him stop fighting. . . . The complete or partial destruction of the enemy must be regarded as the sole object of all engagements. . . . Direct annihilation of the enemy's forces must always be the dominant consideration." --- Carl von Clausewitz

Disclaimers
With the author and publisher not being attorneys, you need to know the following by way of a disclaimer: The information contained in this eBook is provided solely for informational purposes and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. It is not legal advice nor a solicitation for legal work by the author or publisher. You are always advised to seek the services of an attorney. The events, situations, or suggestions mentioned in here are the results of the authors personal experiences in dealing with family law court on a Pro Se basis. This report evolved from his lack of knowledge of the procedures and requirements of the court system and desire to learn what he needed to know in order to represent himself. Hopefully, it will help to demystify the process for you. The author and publisher shall have neither liability or responsibility to any person or entity for any loss or damage caused or alleged to have been caused directly or indirectly by any information contained in this eBook. Page 3 of 61
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Introduction
After extensive research on this subject and making preparations for implementing it, the author had acquired a lot of information and resources that point to a possibly viable way to change the course of the family law proceedings and put them in favor of those who had become a victim of the system. The initial thrust of all this investigation was for the purpose of attempting a pro se effort to present the case in court. But, for the average person, it will be better to find a personal injury lawyer or similar who is experienced in tort law. And, unless you have deep pockets, preferably a lawyer who will take the case on a contingency basis where they would take a percentage of any monetary awards. Typically, personal injury lawyers take cases on a contingency basis. The lack of funding and finding a highly capable lawyer to handle the case were the prime reasons the author was not able to move ahead to test out the strategy. Since this type of case would be a precedent setting case, it was felt that it should be placed in the hands of the best lawyer possible to insure the greatest chance of a victory. While a lot of things are in place for the new strategy, there still remain some technical details and questions that remain unanswered and which can only be found out when a course of action is initiated and making further investigation. But the information in this eBook will give you more insight as to how to proceed and, in the event you use a lawyer, to check on them and provide them some background with which they might not be familiar. You will find some of the resources mentioned below invaluable for presenting your case. For those of you who are fortunate enough to be able to afford a lawyer and have the wherewith-all to pursue this strategy, it is believed that if the strategy theory is correct, then it will give you a new tool to combat and counter the antics of the ex-spouse, lawyers, and any other court appointed personnel who have brought misery to you. Not only will they be defeated, but will suffer monetary damages unlike any other case previous. Hopefully, you will be able to turn the tables on the other side and extract payback for all the grief and unhappiness you suffered at their hands in family law court.

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The Objective
The objective is to take a case out of family law court and put it into civil court where a jury trial can be had. Up to now, pro se litigants have been precluded from employing jury trials in family law court because of the present laws that do not grant them this option. However, certain conditions permit the filing a separate and independent case in civil court unrelated to any ongoing one in family law court but with the same parties. And that is where a tort is involved. Hopefully, it can be considered an independent cause of action as illustrated by the O.J. Simson case between his criminal trial where he was acquitted, but lost in a wrongful death case filed in civil court. In this instance, a question of jurisdiction between the courts then remains to be answered, as there apparently needs to be a splitting of cause of action between the family law court and a tort case. See Amec Civil, LLC v. State, 1D09-1211 (Fla.App. 1 Dist. 4-20-2010) to see if this applies. [see website support]. In essence, if you have an action in family law court for a modification of alimony or contempt of court, you might have to wait until that action has been ruled on and completed before starting the tort action. Under no circumstances does the author feel justified in letting the family law judge preside over the tort case. The underlying assumption for this statement is the fact that you wouldnt be looking into a strategy like this if the family law court judge were treating you with fairness and equity. It is believed that a judge presiding over family law court would probably not be current in cases involving torts. You dont need that extra handicap for your case. The main tool to use in being able to file a civil suit has recently been established and is now available. It is the designation and recognition by medical and psychiatric authorities of what is referred to as Litigation Abuse Syndrome a/k/a Legal Abuse Syndrome [LAS] which is closely related to the Medical Malpractice Syndrome [MMS]. LAS is a subcategory of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome [PTSD]. Using this tool will not be suitable for all individuals who are paying alimony and suffering in court.only the ones that can meet up with the criteria of having been abused by the courts to the point they can now be medically diagnosed as suffering from LAS along with being able to be certified as such by an expert. Additionally, since it is well known that jury trials have a better chance of succeeding when they are presented on emotional issues, it would be wise to have the criteria of the individuals case as that of having emotional appeal due to the abuse suffered in court.

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Table of Contents
I. II. III. Introduction eBook Support Webpage Torts a. Definition b. Types c. Functions Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome a. Symptoms b. Diagnosis c. Treatments Legal Abuse Syndrome a. Definition b. Therapy and Goals c. Medical Malpractice Litigation Syndrome Malicious Mother Syndrome a. Introduction b. Definition c. Clinical Illustrations d. Discussion Parental Alienation Syndrome - A Guide for Attorneys or Pro Se Litigants a. What is Parental Alienation Syndrome? b. Why is PAS Taken Seriously? Dealing With PAS in the Courtroom a. General Principles b. Attacking and Qualifying Experts c. Miscellaneous Points to Consider Basis for Court Case Steps to Take Legal Abuse Syndrome & Americans with Disability Act Legal Assistance Tort Litigation Tasks Summary Appendix

II.

III.

IV.

V.

VI.

VII. VIII. IX. X. XI. XII.

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eBook Support and New Developments


Be sure to check the support and new development pages on the publisher's website at: http://www.panama-publishing.com/publications.htm. The links can be found under this publications name on the list of publications. Login parameters for the Support for Book & New Developments webpage: Username: bookbuyer409 Password: nd409 Note: The New Developments page is dedicated to adding any new relevant tactics, strategies, or other related info as they become available after the publication date of this eBook. The support pages will have caselaw, sample documents, and other resources for you to use.

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Torts
There are principally three components that make up the basis of this action in court and it would be good for you to learn what they comprise. They are: Torts, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome [PTSD], and Legal Abuse Syndrome [LAS]. Torts are the legal basis under which you start an action in court. To do so, you need to have a cause of action upon which a claim can be made. The cause of action in this situation is that you need to be able to show that you are suffering from PTSD which is a broad category covering a number of sub-categories. Being diagnosed with PTSD would normally be enough to show that you have a medically established and defined problem existing and therefore suffer from a disability. The PTSD disability diagnosis will be the injury suffered by you at the hands of the family law court system, judge, magistrate, lawyer, ex-spouse, and any court appointed personnel that is assigned to your case such as a parental coordinator, and the like. Closely related to PTSD is the subcategory of LAS, which will further define that your problem, in particular, has been caused by exposure to the legal industry and its participants e.g. judges, lawyers, and other possible defendants. Having both PTSD and LAS diagnoses adds strength to your cause of action. First, lets start off by understanding what a tort actually is and of what it consists.

Definition

As defined by Wikipedia: A tort, in common law jurisdictions, is a wrong that involves a breach of a civil duty (other than a contractual duty) owed to someone else. It is differentiated from a crime, which involves a breach of a duty owed to society in general. Though many acts are both torts and crimes, prosecutions for crime are mostly the responsibility of the state, private prosecutions being rarely used; whereas any party who has been injured may bring a lawsuit for tort. It is also differentiated from equity, in which a petitioner complains of a violation of some right. One who commits a tortious act is called a tortfeasor. The equivalent of tort in civil law jurisdictions is delict. Tort may be defined as a personal injury; or as "a civil action other than a breach of contract." [citation needed] A person who suffers a tortious injury is entitled to receive "damages", usually monetary compensation, from the person or people responsible or liable for those injuries. Tort law defines what is a legal injury and, therefore, whether a person may be held liable for an injury Page 8 of 61
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they have caused. Legal injuries are not limited to physical injuries. They may also include emotional, economic, or reputational injuries as well as violations of privacy, property, or constitutional rights. Tort cases therefore comprise such varied topics as auto accidents, false imprisonment, defamation, product liability (for defective consumer products), copyright infringement, and environmental pollution (toxic torts), among many others. In much of the common law world, the most prominent tort liability is negligence. If the injured party can prove that the person believed to have caused the injury acted negligently that is, without taking reasonable care to avoid injuring others tort law will allow compensation. However, tort law also recognizes intentional torts, where a person has intentionally acted in a way that harms another, and "strict liability" or quasi-tort, which allows recovery under certain circumstances without the need to demonstrate negligence.

Types

Many people divide tort law into three rough categories: negligent torts, intentional torts, and strict liability torts. Torts arising out negligence are civil wrongs caused by negligent behavior or a failure to practice due diligence. For example, if you are playing soccer in the street and you accidentally kick the ball through someone's living room window, this may be a negligence tort. Medical malpractice and other forms of professional negligence are also covered under the umbrella of negligence torts. Intentional torts are torts which involve a deliberate attempt to harm. Defamation is often viewed as an intentional tort, as is battery, fraud, false imprisonment, and interference with the economic operations of a company. Strict liability torts cover product liability; if a potato peeler takes your finger off when you operate it as directed, the manufacturer could be liable, for example. Tort law also covers issues like nuisances, such as noise pollution and loose livestock. In some countries, industrial pollution and releases of toxins are covered under tort law as "toxic torts," allowing organizations and individuals to bring suit against companies which pollute. Nuisance torts can sometimes be challenging to prove, as the definition of a "nuisance" often varies from person to person. As can be seen from some of the examples above, a tort doesn't have to cause physical injury or distress. It might cause economic damage, by forcing someone to replace something, interfering with someone's business, or causing someone to miss work. Or it may cause damage to someone's reputation or quality of life. In order for a tort case to succeed in court, the lawyers must generally be able to prove that the accused party had committed the wrong in question, and that the client suffered as a result. Damages may be awarded by a jury or a judge, depending on the case. When someone commits a harmful act which leaves him or her open to a lawsuit which could result in an award of damages, this is known as a tort. Torts can be intentional or brought about through negligence, and they run the gamut from hitting someone while driving drunk to Page 9 of 61
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neglecting to fix the plumbing in a home, causing flood damage. If someone is convicted of a tort, also called a civil wrong, he or she will be required to compensate the victim with damages. In some cases, it is possible to violate both civil and criminal law, resulting in jail time and an order of compensation. A tort does not necessarily involve an unlawful act. For example, in many regions of the world, it is perfectly legal to adjust the controls on your car radio as you drive. If, however, you hit someone while adjusting your radio, you will be accused of negligent driving, and you will be liable for a tort suit. A tort can also involve a breach of common expectations, like the idea that restaurant owners should check their food to ensure that it is safe to eat. There are a number of different types of torts, including economic torts, which involve damage to someone's business, defamation torts, in which people cause harm to someone or an organization by spreading false information, and nuisance torts, in which the peaceful enjoyment of property is disturbed by things like pollution or loose animals. Many torts are negligence torts, with a lawsuit being filed because someone failed to do his or her basic duty. In many cases, people are required to get liability insurance to cover themselves in case they are involved in a tort suit. For example, doctors in many parts of the world must have malpractice insurance, which pays damages in the event that a doctor is convicted of negligence on the job. Landlords can also get such insurance to protect themselves from tenant suits, and drivers often carry liability insurance in case they hit other people. As you might imagine, tort law is extremely complex, and several courses in law schools are devoted to the issue of torts. Tort reform has also become a topic of hot discussion, especially in the United States, where citizens are notoriously lawsuit happy, willing to sue in almost any circumstances in the hopes of obtaining reparations for things ranging from spilled coffee to spilled chemicals. The fundamental rationale of torts admits to the fact that someone has been harmed. The common law developed a tort from a group of wrongs including trespass, deceit, slander, assault and battery convergence and a number of other offenses. The mainstay claim is that someone has sustained a loss because of another's act or failure to act. Therefore, a common element of tort liability is fault. The tortious conduct must fall below an accepted community threshold or standard of behavior/performance. Many people divide tort law into three rough categories: negligent torts, intentional torts, and strict liability torts. Torts arising out negligence are civil wrongs caused by negligent behavior or a failure to practice due diligence. For example, if you are playing soccer in the street and you accidentally kick the ball through someone's living room window, this may be a negligence tort. Medical malpractice and other forms of professional negligence are also covered under the umbrella of negligence torts. Intentional torts are torts which involve a deliberate attempt to harm. Defamation is often viewed as an intentional tort, as is battery, fraud, false imprisonment, and interference with the economic

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operations of a company. Strict liability torts cover product liability; if a potato peeler takes your finger off when you operate it as directed, the manufacturer could be liable, for example. Tort law also covers issues like nuisances, such as noise pollution and loose livestock. In some countries, industrial pollution and releases of toxins are covered under tort law as "toxic torts," allowing organizations and individuals to bring suit against companies which pollute. Nuisance torts can sometimes be challenging to prove, as the definition of a "nuisance" often varies from person to person. As can be seen from some of the examples above, a tort doesn't have to cause physical injury or distress. It might cause economic damage, by forcing someone to replace something, interfering with someone's business, or causing someone to miss work. Or it may cause damage to someone's reputation or quality of life. In order for a tort case to succeed in court, the lawyers must generally be able to prove that the accused party had committed the wrong in question, and that the client suffered as a result. Damages may be awarded by a jury or a judge, depending on the case. When someone commits a harmful act which leaves him or her open to a lawsuit which could result in an award of damages, this is known as a tort. Torts can be intentional or brought about through negligence, and they run the gamut from hitting someone while driving drunk to neglecting to fix the plumbing in a home, causing flood damage. If someone is convicted of a tort, also called a civil wrong, he or she will be required to compensate the victim with damages. In some cases, it is possible to violate both civil and criminal law, resulting in jail time and an order of compensation. A tort does not necessarily involve an unlawful act. For example, in many regions of the world, it is perfectly legal to adjust the controls on your car radio as you drive. If, however, you hit someone while adjusting your radio, you will be accused of negligent driving, and you will be liable for a tort suit. A tort can also involve a breach of common expectations, like the idea that restaurant owners should check their food to ensure that it is safe to eat. There are a number of different types of torts, including economic torts, which involve damage to someone's business, defamation torts, in which people cause harm to someone or an organization by spreading false information, and nuisance torts, in which the peaceful enjoyment of property is disturbed by things like pollution or loose animals. Many torts are negligence torts, with a lawsuit being filed because someone failed to do his or her basic duty. In many cases, people are required to get liability insurance to cover themselves in case they are involved in a tort suit. For example, doctors in many parts of the world must have malpractice insurance, which pays damages in the event that a doctor is convicted of negligence on the job. Landlords can also get such insurance to protect themselves from tenant suits, and drivers often carry liability insurance in case they hit other people. As you might imagine, tort law is extremely complex, and several courses in law schools are devoted to the issue of torts. Tort reform has also become a topic of hot discussion, especially in

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the United States, where citizens are notoriously lawsuit happy, willing to sue in almost any circumstances in the hopes of obtaining reparations for things ranging from spilled coffee to spilled chemicals. The fundamental rationale of torts admits to the fact that someone has been harmed. The common law developed a tort from a group of wrongs including trespass, deceit, slander, assault and battery convergence and a number of other offenses. The mainstay claim is that someone has sustained a loss because of another's act or failure to act. Therefore, a common element of tort liability is fault. The tortious conduct must fall below an accepted community threshold or standard of behavior/performance.

Function

Tort law has three main functions: 1. It seeks compensation to the person(s) incurring a loss as a result of another's conduct. 2. It places the cost of compensation on those who should bear responsibility. 3. The ultimate goal is to prevent a future recurrence or harm. In its simplest form, cause in fact is established by evidence which tends to show that the defendant's act or omission was a necessary antecedent to the plaintiff's injury. Generally, a jury need only draw a reasonable inference of causation so that its determination is final.

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Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome


Info Resources: National Institute of Mental Health Florida Mental Health Sources Mayo Clinic You probably have read or heard about PTSD as it is very prevalent in our society and mostly associated with people who have served in the military. But PTSD takes many forms and affects many other people. Here are some basic things you should know about it and whether or not they fit your situation.

Symptoms

According to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR Fourth Edition (Text Revision), the American Psychiatric Association's diagnostic manual, PTSD has two precipitating components:

The person experienced or witnessed an event that involved real or threatened death or serious injury to themselves or others. The experience evoked feelings of intense fear, helplessness or horror.

Symptoms vary but often involve reliving the ordeal in the form of flashbacks, distressing memories, nightmares or frightening thoughts, especially when exposed to something reminiscent of the trauma or on the anniversary of their trauma, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Emotional numbness, feeling detached from other people, sleep disturbances, depression, anxiety, guilt, irritability or angry outbursts are not unusual among PTSD sufferers. Not surprisingly, PTSD often interferes with a person's ability to shoulder responsibilities at work or school. The disorder also can spark conflicts with friends and family members. Symptoms typically begin within a few hours or days of the traumatic event, and PTSD is diagnosed when symptoms last more than one month. More than 4 percent of the U.S. population, or at least 5.7 million people, experience PTSD each year, according to the NIMH and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. A similar but abbreviated form of PTSD, acute stress disorder, is a relatively new diagnosis that is made when symptoms last from two days to four weeks and occur within four weeks of the trauma.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder DSM-IV Diagnosis & Criteria DSM-IV Criteria for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Page 13 of 61

309.81

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Legal Abuse Syndrome Utilizing a Tort Action in Family Law Cases

A. The person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following have been present: (1) the person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others (2) the person's response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror. Note: In children, this may be expressed instead by disorganized or agitated behavior. B. The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced in one (or more) of the following ways: (1) recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections of the event, including images, thoughts, or perceptions. Note: In young children, repetitive play may occur in which themes or aspects of the trauma are expressed. (2) recurrent distressing dreams of the event. Note: In children, there may be frightening dreams without recognizable content. (3) acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring (includes a sense of reliving the experience, illusions, hallucinations, and dissociative flashback episodes, including those that occur upon awakening or when intoxicated). Note: In young children, trauma-specific reenactment may occur. (4) intense psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event. (5) physiological reactivity on exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event. C. Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness (not present before the trauma), as indicated by three (or more) of the following: (1) efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the trauma (2) efforts to avoid activities, places, or people that arouse recollections of the trauma (3) inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma

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(4) markedly diminished interest or participation in significant activities (5) feeling of detachment or estrangement from others (6) restricted range of affect (e.g., unable to have loving feelings) (7) sense of a foreshortened future (e.g., does not expect to have a career, marriage, children, or a normal life span) D. Persistent symptoms of increased arousal (not present before the trauma), as indicated by two (or more) of the following: (1) difficulty falling or staying asleep (2) irritability or outbursts of anger (3) difficulty concentrating (4) hypervigilance (5) exaggerated startle response E. Duration of the disturbance (symptoms in Criteria B, C, and D) is more than one month. F. The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. Specify if: Acute: if duration of symptoms is less than 3 months Chronic: if duration of symptoms is 3 months or more Specify if: With Delayed Onset: if onset of symptoms is at least 6 months after the stressor

Treatments

No particular drug has emerged as a definitive treatment for PTSD, although medication is clearly useful for the symptom relief that makes it possible for survivors to participate in psychotherapy. According to the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, medication can reduce the anxiety, depression and insomnia often experienced with PTSD and, in some cases, may help relieve the distress and emotional numbness caused by trauma memories. Most

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clinical trials show several kinds of antidepressants help, and some other classes of drugs have shown promise. Anyone being treated with antidepressants, particularly people being treated for depression, should be watched closely for worsening of depression and for increased suicidal thinking or behavior. Close watching may be especially important early in treatment or when the dose is changed - either increased or decreased. Bring up your concerns with a doctor. Many PTSD patients have improved markedly with cognitive-behavioral therapy, group therapy or exposure therapy, according to research. Support from family and friends can also aid recovery. One large study of Vietnam veterans found that soldiers who had good social support after they returned home were less likely to develop PTSD. According to the American Psychiatric Association, early intervention may include taking sleep medication, obtaining professional counseling and freely venting feelings as soon as possible after the traumatic event. PTSD treatment is compensable under most health insurance. To learn more about PTSD see http://traumacenter.org

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Legal Abuse Syndrome


Now we come to the heart of the problem and the one that most aptly applies to you.

LAS Definition

A psycholegal trauma (a form of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is a psychic injury, not a mental illness. It is a personal injury that develops in individuals assaulted by ethical violations, legal abuses, betrayals, and fraud. Abuse of power and authority and a profound lack of accountability in our courts have become rampant. This adds greatly to the original distress requiring court assistance in the first place. Individuals suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder qualify for accommodations under The Americans with Disabilities Act (42 USC 12101). Courts have to recognize this and are required to act accordingly to the needs of the litigating parties. The official source is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th. Edition a/k/a DSM IV. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is listed under section 309.81. Under the category of Global Assessment of Functioning Stressors; legal is one among others there. It is a subcategory defended by the DSM IV. Note #1: Psychiatric Diagnoses are categorized by the DSM-IV. The manual is published by the American Psychiatric Association and covers all mental health disorders for both children and adults. It also lists known causes of these disorders, statistics in terms of gender, age at onset, and prognosis as well as some research concerning the optimal treatment approaches. Mental Health Professionals use this manual when working with patients in order to better understand their illness and potential treatment and to help 3rd party payers (e.g., insurance) understand the needs of the patient. The book is typically considered the bible for any professional who makes psychiatric diagnoses in the United States and many other countries. Note #2: A psychiatric/psychological diagnosis is made using a 5 axis system. Axis #5 is the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF), which places a number on the individual's level of functioning (goes up to 100), and usually noted for the highest GAF in the past year and the current GAF. On Axis #4, a list of stressors can be indicated, including "legal problems" as well as any other stressors. The primary diagnosis is on Axis #1, such problems as personality disorders are on Axis #2, and physical problems are on Axis #3. The diagnostic codes for diagnoses made on Axis #1 and Axis #2 are listed and the criteria described for each diagnosis is in the DSM-IV.

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Post traumatic stress disorder is a higher hurdle to make than some other diagnoses, such as Major Depression or some form of Anxiety Disorder. The "legal problems" would still be listed on Axis #4 for each diagnosis or disorder.

Therapy and Goals:

1- Creation of a therapeutic relationship filled with trust and empathy. 2- Treatment and instruction in self-treatment for stress. 3- Treatment and recovery from stress and its effects. 4- Helping to reframe the problem in the here and now. 5- Integration of this event into the spiritual/philosophical framework of the individual. 6- The individual should be motivated to do physical exercise. 7- Be aware of the need in some cases to have psychological counseling as soon as is practical.

Closely related to LAS is the Medical Malpractice Litigation Syndrome [MMLS] a/k/a Medical Malpractice Stress Syndrome. Since this is so closely related, the author feels that any information you can glean from MMLS searches [Google or?] can be incorporated into any course of tort action here that you pursue. One of the articles commented on how medical litigants were affected: Medical malpractice claims have many adverse effects on physicians. The most widely published expert on the topic, Sara Charles, MD, has found that more than 95% of sued physicians acknowledge some physical and/or emotional reaction. Physical responses typically include the onset or exacerbation of a physical illness, such as myocardial infarction or peptic ulcer disease. Emotional responses are more common and may range from anger to profound depression or even suicide. Sound familiar? Have you ever felt that way? Then you have a lot in common with MMLS. Several publications on MMLS can be found on the support website

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Malicious Mother Syndrome [MMS]


The author feels that were it not for the following two syndromes MMS and Parental Alienation Syndrome [PAS] there would less litigation to inflict LAS on spouses. However, if you can prove that MMS and/or PAS are involved, then that would lend more credence to your tort action. In any case, it is helpful that you be aware of these syndromes and use them to your advantage in whatever way you can. The information about MMS below was copied from another source and where the term Mother is used, it would be more accurately portrayed as gender neutral if the word Parent were substituted.

Article: Malicious Mother Syndrome

Posted by Ira Daniel Turket, PhD on April 1st, 2010 With the increasing commonality of divorce involving children, a pattern of abnormal behavior has emerged that has received little attention. The present paper defines the Divorce Related Malicious Mother Syndrome. Specific nosologic criteria are provided with abundant clinical examples. Given the lack of scientific data available on the disorder, issues of classification, etiology, treatment, and prevention appear ripe for investigation. INTRODUCTION A divorced man gains custody of his children and his ex-wife burns down his home. A woman in a custody battle buys a cat for her offspring because her divorcing husband is highly allergic to cats. A mother forces her children to sleep in a car to "prove" their father has bankrupted them. The actions illustrate a pattern of abnormal behavior that has emerged as the divorce rate involving children has grown. Today, half of all marriages will end in divorce (Beal and Hochman, 1991). The number of children involved in divorce has grown dramatically (e.g., Hetherington and Arastah, 1988) as well. While the majority of such cases are "settled" from a legal perspective, outside the courtroom the battle continues. The media have spent considerable effort raising public awareness about the problem posed by divorced fathers who do not provide court-ordered child support payments. Hodges (1991) has noted that less than 20 percent of divorced fathers provide child support payments three years after their divorce. Research on the decline of womens economic status following (e.g., Hernandez, 1988; Laosa, 1988) has contributed to recent legislation to address the "Deadbeat Dad" problem.

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While the media correctly portray the difficulties imposed upon women and children by the "Deadbeat Dad" phenomenon, the cameras have yet to capture the warfare waged by a select group of mothers against child support paying, law-abiding fathers. Everyday, attorneys and therapists are exposed to horror stories in which vicious behaviors are lodged against innocent fathers and children. Unfortunately, there are no scientific data on the subject. Similarly, the clinical literature has relatively ignored the problem.. A noted exception can be found in the clinical writings of Gardner (1987, 1989) who has provided excellent descriptions of the Parental Alienation Syndrome. Here, a custodial parent successfully engages in a variety of maneuvers to alienate the child from the non-residential parent. Once successfully manipulated, the child becomes "preoccupied with deprecation and criticism of a parent-denigration that is unjustified and/or exaggerated" (Gardner, 1989 p. 226). In the typical case of Parental Alienation Syndrome, both mother and child engage in an array of abnormal actions against the father. Gardner views "brainwashing" as a concept "too narrow" (Gardner, 1989) to capture the psychological manipulation involved in turning a child against his/her non-residential parent. While Gardners pioneering descriptions of the Parental Alienation Syndrome provide an important contribution to our understanding of divorce-related child-involved hostilities, the present paper is concerned with a more global abnormality. As noted in the examples provided in the beginning of this manuscript, serious attacks on divorcing husbands take place, which are beyond merely manipulating the children. Further, these actions include a willingness by some mothers to violate societal law. Finally, there are mothers who persistently engage in malicious behaviors designed to alienate their offspring from the father, despite being unable to successfully cause alienation. In sum, these cases do not meet the criteria for Parental Alienation Syndrome. Nevertheless, they portray a serious abnormality. The purpose of the present paper is to define and illustrate this more global abnormality with the hope of generating increased scientific and clinical investigation of this problem. DEFINITION The present section provides a beginning definition of the Divorce-Related Malicious Mother Syndrome, which has been derived from clinical and legal cases. As in all initial proposals, it is anticipated that future research will lead to greater refinement in the taxonomic criteria. The proposed definition encompasses four major criteria, as follows: 1. A mother who unjustifiably punishes her divorcing or divorced husband by: a. Attempting to alienate their mutual children from the father b. Involving others in malicious actions against the father c. Engaging in excessive litigation 2. The mother specifically attempts to deny her child (ren)

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a. Regular uninterrupted visitation with the father b. Uninhibited telephone access to the father c. Paternal participation in the child(ren)s school life and extracurricular activities 3. The pattern is pervasive and includes malicious acts towards the husband including: a. Lying to the children b. Lying to others c. Violations of law 4. The disorder is not specifically due to another mental disorder, although a separatemental disorder may co-exist. CLINICAL ILLUSTRATIONS In this section, I will provide clinical illustrations for each criterion using the reference numbers provided above. As criteria 1-3 are behavior specific to the Malicious Mother Syndrome, I will provide a series of clinical examples. The fourth criterion, which addresses the relationship of the proposed syndrome to other mental disorders, will be discussed more generally. Criterion 1A: Alienating the Children The range of actions taken by a mother to attempt to alienate her children from their father is impressive. For example: One mother lied to her children that she could no longer buy food because their father had spent all of their money on women in topless bars. A doctors wife forced her 10-year-old son to apply for federally funded free school lunches to delude the boy that his "daddy has made us poor." A woman who for years was very close to the children in a custody battle, was asked by their mother to give up neutrality and join her campaign against the father to "dance on his grave." When the friend refused to give up her neutrality, the mother falsely informed her children that their father was having an affair with this woman. These behaviors, if successful, could lead a child to not only hate the father, but perhaps go years without seeing him. As Cartwright (1993) has noted: "The goal of the alienator is crystalline: to deprive the lost parent, not only of the childs time, but of the time of childhood." (p.210). Criterion 1B: Involving Others in Malicious Actions The second component of the first major criterion where the mother attempts to punish the husband, involves manipulating other individuals to engage in malicious acts against the father. Examples of this kind are as follows:

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During a custody battle, a mother lied to a therapist about the fathers behavior. The therapist, having never spoken with the father, appeared as an "expert" witness to inform the Judge that the mother should be the primary residential parent and that the father needed to be in therapy. One angry mother manipulated teenagers to leave anonymous threatening notes at the exhusbands home. A mother who had lost legal custody of her children, manipulated a secretary at the childs school to assist in kidnapping the child. In the above examples, it is important to note that the person manipulated by the angry mother has, in a way, been "alienated" against the divorcing husband. Typically, the individual "duped" takes on a righteous indignation, contributing to a rewarding climate for the mother initiating malicious actions. Criterion 1C: Excessive Litigation There is little question that either party in a divorce or custody proceeding is entitled to appropriate legal representation and action. Individuals suffering from Divorce-Related Malicious Mother Syndrome, however, attempt to punish the divorcing husband by engaging in excessive litigation. A belligerent and unreasonable mother verbally attacked her ex-husband whenever she saw him. Over time, his response was to ignore her. She then took him to court, asking the judge to require the ex-husband to talk with her. One mother told a judge that her daughter was not really her divorcing husbands child One woman refused to stop attacking her ex-husband through the courts, despite numerous attorneys being fired or voluntarily leaving the case. Over a three-year period, seven different attorneys were utilized. Data exist which can help in determining the range of excessive litigation. For example, Koel et al. (1988) report on the frequency of post-divorce litigation in a sample of 700 families. Their data indicate that only 12.7% of families file one post-divorce petition to the court, whereas less than 5 percent file two or more petitions (Koel et al. 1988); less than one percent file four or more petitions. Criterion 2A: Denying Regular Visitation Experts are in relative agreement that regular and uninterrupted visitation with the non-

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residential parent is desirable and beneficial for children, except in extreme circumstances (Hodges, 1991). In fact, some states, such as Florida, have laws written to reflect this view (Keane, 1990). Unfortunately, even when the father and children have legal rights to visitation, individuals with Divorce-Related Malicious Mother Syndrome continue to interfere with it. A mother who previously attacked her ex-husband physically during visitation transfers of the children, refused to provide the children when the ex-husband had the police attend to monitor exchanges.

When one divorced father arrived to pick up his children for visitation, the mother arranged for her and the children to be elsewhere so that the father could not visit with the children. One mother had her physically intimidating boyfriend assault her ex-husband when he came to pick up his children for visitation. The President of the Council for Childrens Rights (Washington, D.C.) notes that such alienation is considered a form of child abuse (Levy, 1992). Unfortunately, the police typically avoid involving themselves in such situations. Furthermore, unless a victimized father is financially capable of returning to court on an ongoing basis, there is little that can be done to prevent such mothers behavior. Finally, even when such cases are brought to trial, the courts are often inadequate in supporting fathers visitation rights. (Commission on Gender Bias in the Judicial System, 1992). Given the physical absence of one parent, the telephone plays an important role in maintaining the bond between child and non-residential parent. Individuals suffering from Divorce-Related Malicious Mother Syndrome engage in an array of actions designed to circumvent telephone access. A father called to speak to his children and was told that they were not at home when, in fact, he could hear their voices in the background. When one father called to speak with his children, the mother put him on "hold," informed no one, and then left him on hold. Knowing that the childrens father was away on vacation, one mother encouraged them to leave several messages on his answering machine to call back immediately only if he would like some additional visitation time with his children. Some fathers find the alienation attempts so painful and fruitless that they eventually are extinguished from calling their children; they simply "give up." Placed in a no-win scenario, the fathers "abandonment" (Hodges, 1991) unfortunately achieves the precise result aimed for by the individual suffering from Divorce-Related Malicious Mother Syndrome.

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Criterion 2C: Denying Participation in Extra-Curricular Activities An integral part of the process of maintaining ones bond with ones child is to participate in activities that one did before the parents separated. School plays, team sports, and religious events are just osme of the type of activities of importance. Malicious Mothers frequently engage in maneuvers designed to prevent participation in these activities. One father was deliberately given the wrong date and time for an important event for the child. The child was asked by the mother, "I wonder why your father didnt want to come to see you today"? One mother refused to provide the father with any information about any extra-curricular activities in which the children were engaged. Prior to a childs soccer game, one mother told many of the team parents disparaging falsehoods about the visiting father. When he came to watch his sons soccer game, many of these parents looked at him with angry eyes, refused to talk with him, and walked away when he moved toward them. Malicious Mothers who engage in such behaviors rarely have to face penalties for such actions. Judges, attorneys, and policemen cannot involve themselves in every instance of blocked paternal access. Furthermore, most fathers cannot afford the financial requirements involved. As such, the cycle of access interference perpetuates itself. Criterion 3A: Malicious Lying to the Children Given their developmental status, children in a disputed divorce situation are quite vulnerable. When one parent decides to attack the other by lying to the children, examples of this type of malicious behavior may include some of the following: One divorcing mother told her very young daughter that father was "not really" her father, even though he was. An eight-year-old girl was forced by her mother to hand unpaid bills to her father when he visited because the mother had falsely told the daughter that the father had not provided any economic means of support to the family. One mother falsely told her children that their father had repeatedly beat her up in the past. These examples of malicious lying can be contrasted with the more subtle maneuvers typically seen in Parental Alienation Syndrome, such as "virtual allegations" (Cartwright, 1993). Here, the mother setting up a Parental Alienation Syndrome may hint that abuse may have occurred, whereas the individual suffering from Divorce-Related Malicious Mother Syndrome falsely claims that abuse has actually occurred.

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Criterion 3B: Malicious Lying to Others Individuals suffering from Divorce-Related Malicious Mother Syndrome may engage a wide range of other individuals in their attacks upon the ex-husband. However, with this particular criterion, the individual with Divorce-Related Malicious Mother Syndrome specifically lies to other individuals in the belligerency against the father. Some examples include the following: One furious mother called the president of the (1500 employee) workplace of her divorcing husband, claiming falsely that he was using business property for person gain and was abusing their mutual children at his work locale. One woman falsely told state officials that her ex-husband was sexually abusing their daughter. The child was immediately taken away from him and his access to her was denied. During the course of a custody dispute, one mother falsely informed the guardian, who was investigating the parenting skills of each parent, that the father had physically abused her. Snyder (1986) has reported on the difficulty imposed upon legal authorities when confronted with someone who is an excellent liar. Consistent with research on the inability of "specialists" to detect lying (Ekman and OSullivan, 1991), a skilled fabricator can be a compelling witness in the courtroom (Snyder, 1986). While sometimes seen in borderline personalities, Snyder (1986) notes that pathological lying (Pseudologia Fantastica) is not restricted to that particular character disorder. Criterion 3C: Violating Law to Attack the Husband Individuals suffering from Divorce-Related Malicious Mother Syndrome, have few, if any boundaries in their campaign against the divorcing husband. Violations of law are common in many cases, although the laws broken may be relatively minor. However, in some cases, the violations of law may be quite serious. One woman deliberately drove her automobile into the house of the ex-husband where their mutual children resided. In the midst of a custody battle, one woman broke into the residence of her divorcing husband and stole important business papers. An angry divorcing mother called a Christian evangelical television station and pledged $1,000, giving the name, address and phone number of her divorcing Jewish husband as the pledgee. The above descriptions may remind the reader of certain personality disorders (e.g., antisocial, borderline, sadistic) but these behaviors may be demonstrated by individuals with DivorceRelated Malicious Mother Syndrome who do not appear to meet official diagnostic criteria for an Axis II disorder. Further, in each of the four examples provided above, none of the Malicious

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Mothers involved was sentenced for such behavior by a Judge. Criterion 4: Not Due to Another Disorder In assessing the Divorce-Related Malicious Mother Syndrome, it is important to note that many of the above clinical examples seem to have occurred in individuals who had no prior mental disorder diagnosis or treatment. In fact, one mother who engaged in extreme maliciousness toward her divorcing husband had several mental health professionals testify that she was not suffering from any type of mental disorder. In the authors experience, for each mental disorder that might come to mind to account for some of this behavior, an exceptional case presents. For example, in some cases, an Adjustment Disorder might seem an appropriate diagnosis, yet one woman still denied her ex-husband visitation 10 years after the divorce. Other cases might suggest a possibility of a personality disorder diagnosis, yet one woman who repeatedly violated the law in attacking her ex-husband, received no personality disorder diagnosis despite being evaluated by masters level and doctoral level examiners. In some instances, Intermittent Explosive Disorder might be considered, yet the anger for many of the mothers does not appear to be intermittent. Finally, the reader should appreciate that while diagnostic accuracy for certain psychiatric difficulties is not as good as one would like (e.g., the personality disorders, see Turkat, 1990), the problem is compounded in family law where incompetent mental health examiners sometimes become involved in the judicial process (Turk, 1993). Clearly, the relationship between Divorce-Related Malicious Mother Syndrome and other mental disorders is a complex one which requires significant investigation. DISCUSSION The above description of the Divorce-Related Malicious Mother Syndrome raises a variety of important clinical, legal and scientific issues. From a clinical perspective, families that involve a Divorce-Related Malicious Mother Syndrome are subject to serious episodes of stress and distress. Yet, there is no scientific evidence on how to treat this phenomenon. It is particularly compromised by the fact that many of these cases that appear to meet the proposed diagnostic criteria deny that there is anything wrong with them. An additional difficulty is that many therapists are unaware of this pattern of malicious behavior (Heinz and Heinz, 1993). As such, there are malicious therapists who are "fooled" by such cases and, as noted earlier, will come to court testifying that there is nothing wrong with the mother involved. From a legal perspective, there are some attorneys who may unintentionally encourage this type of behavior (Gardner, 1989). On the other hand, there are some attorneys who deliberately encourage such behavior as the financial rewards for them are time dependent. In other words,

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the more involved the litigation process, the greater the profits for the attorney. (Grotman and Thomas, 1990). However, even for the subset of attorneys for whom this may be true, there is a point of diminishing returns. Furthermore, independent of economic considerations, many who become involved with family law courtrooms find that these types of cases are not handled well (Greif, 1985; Levy, 1992). The woman who is not disturbed "enough" to lose custody of her children in the courtroom will not have money denied to her because she engages in this behavior; nor will she go to jail. Thus, many clients report significant frustration when they and their children are exposed to this type of behavior, and the courts seem to do little. In a review of pertinent law literature on bias against men in family law proceedings, Tillitski (1992) concluded that there is widespread discrimination. This is well illustrated by one family law Judges statement that, "I aint never seen the calves follow the bulls, they always follow the cow; therefore, I always give custody to the mamas." (Commission on Gender Bias in the Judicial System, 1992, p. 741). Similarly, it is noted that visitation rights of fathers are not enforced as rigidly as are child support orders (Commission on Gender Bias in the Judicial System, 1992.) Such bias against men in family law proceedings results in a unique group of fathers who unintentionally become relatively helpless victims of the system (Tillitski, 1992). This situation would seem to reinforce much of the vicious behavior displayed by women suffering from Divorce-Related Malicious Mother Syndrome. The issue of sex distribution of the disorder certainly needs to be addressed. The overwhelming majority of custodial parents are female (Commission on Gender Bias in the Judicial System, 1992). Gardner (1989) has noted that Parental Alienation Syndrome appears most commonly in females, although it is possible for a male who has custody of the children to engage in the same type of alienating behaviors. The authors experience with Divorce-Related Malicious Mother Syndrome is similar to Gardners. However, the present writer has yet to see a case of a father engaging in all of the criteria listed. This does not mean that it is not possible for there to be a "Malicious Father" Syndrome. In fact, Shephard (1992) reports that there is significant abuse of some custodial mothers by non-residential fathers. On the other hand, it should be noted that there are females who are required to pay child support, but we have yet to hear about "Deadbeat Moms." Given at the present time that a case in which the father met all of the criteria for Divorce-Related Malicious Mother Syndrome has yet to be documented, it appears advisable to await scientific evidence to guide issues of nosologic labeling. How prevalent is the Divorce-Related Malicious Mother Syndrome? The answer is unknown. Gardner (1989) reports that approximately 90 percent of all custody battles involve some aspects of parental alienation. Further, Kressel (1985) reviewed data indicating that up to 40 percent of maternal custodians denied visitation to the ex-husband in order to punish him. Relatedly, Arditti (1992) reported that 50 percent of a sample of divorce fathers (N=125) indicated that visitation was interfered with by the mother. While aspects of parental alienation may be common, it is highly unlikely that such a percentage of maternal custodians would meet all of the criteria for Divorce-Related Malicious Mother Syndrome.

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In regard to incidence, it would appear through the title of this syndrome that the malicious behavior is precipitated by the divorce process. However, this is clearly an empirical question. While the malicious actions may first be noted during a divorce process, it is possible that maliciousness may have been present earlier but undetected. Research on pre-divorce parental conflict (Enos and Handal, 986) supports this speculation. Relatedly, it may also be that there are some cases of pre-existing mental disorder that have not been discovered until the stress of the divorce itself unfolds. Finally, it should be noted that research on the nature of post-divorce family functioning is beginning to emerge. Some data exist on the role of parental conflict in childrens post divorce functioning (e.g. Frost and Pakiz, 1990; Furstenberg et al., 1987; Healy, Malley and Steward, 1990; Kudek, 1988), but studies have yet to appear on the more extreme cases of Parental Alienation Syndrome and Divorce-Related Malicious Mother Syndrome. The Divorce-Related Malicious Mother Syndrome represents an important societal phenomenon. The disorder affects children, parents, attorneys, judges, guardians, mental health professionals and others. Until this phenomenon is explored more thoroughly in the scientific and clinical literature, the problems imposed by individuals suffering from Divorce-Related Malicious Mother Syndrome will continue to plague us. Hopefully, the present manuscript will stimulate research so that clinical and legal management guidelines can be developed.

Article: Management Of Visitation Interference

Ira Daniel Turkat, Ph.D. from THE JUDGES JOURNAL, NUMBER 36, SPRING 1997 American Bar Association Divorce-Related Malicious Parent Syndrome by Ira Daniel Turkat 1 Journal of Family Violence, Vol. 14, No. 1, 1999 Divorce-Related Malicious Mother Syndrome was described originally by Turkat (1995). When this initial report was published, the disorder had been observed only in females. Recent case material has emerged which suggests that the abnormality may be gender neutral. To facilitate proper scientific investigation, the taxonomic label and diagnostic criteria have been changed accordingly. Divorce-Related Malicious Parent Syndrome is a significant clinical and legal problem, which remains in dire need of pertinent research and analysis. Child custody and visitation disputes can bring out the worst in people (Gardner, 1987, 1989; Turkat, 1994). Parents with no psychiatric history and no prior entanglements with the law may find themselves engaging in highly problematic behavior during the course of a custody or access dispute. Some parents deliberately interfere with the other's visitation [see Turkat (1994) Page 28 of 61
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for a review of the literature on child visitation interference] and sometimes; parents manipulate their offspring to hate the other parent [see Gardner (1989) for a description and review of Parental Alienation Syndrome]. In certain circumstances, the fighting over children can escalate to violence. Turkat (1995) described a pattern of vicious parental behavior observed in these types of family law disputes. In the 1995 article, Turkat discussed the nature of the Divorce-Related Malicious Mother Syndrome and provided specific diagnostic criteria to facilitate clinical, legal and scientific investigation and analysis. As noted by Ammerman and Hersen (1992), ". . the first and most difficult step in assessment is identification" (Ammerman and Hersen, 1992, p. 5) and as Adams (Adams and Cassidy, 1993; Adams and Haber, 1984) points out, "The clinician begins by noticing the regularity by which certain characteristics occur together and conceptualizing them as a diagnostic entity (Adams and Cassidy, 1993, p. 5). Accordingly, significant care was taken to provide highly specific criteria for identifying cases of Divorce-Related Malicious Mother Syndrome (Turkat, 1995). At the time of providing the initial clinical description of this abnormality, the author had only observed the phenomenon in females. As such, the disorder was appropriately labeled, "DivorceRelated Malicious Mother Syndrome." However, since the original publication of that manuscript, case material has emerged, which suggests that this pattern of behavior may not be gender-specific. The purpose of the present manuscript is to recommend that the syndrome described previously by Turkat (1995) be relabeled as Divorce Related Malicious Parent Syndrome. The modified criteria for the disorder are presented in Table I. To expedite appropriate research and clinical usage, the criteria for this psychopathologic category remain intact, although the wording has been modified to reflect the gender-neutral nature of the abnormality. The reader should be aware that the present diagnostic entity carries with it a variety of important taxonomic, scientific, clinical, conceptual, and legal issues which have been reviewed in the original manuscript (Turkat, 1995); given space limitations, the reader is referred to that publication. There are several advantages to modifying the nosologic label and clinical description in the manner proposed herein. For example, the recommended modification enhances the scientific value of the abnormality's characterization, as diagnostic criteria should be as reflective of the actual phenomenon as is possible. It should also be noted that by changing the disorder's description to be gender neutral, it increases the probability that research will not be restricted to any one particular sex. The author is presently unaware of any significant disadvantage to the proposed taxonomic modification. In considering the criteria herein, the reader should appreciate that it is most likely that the proposed diagnostic attributes will change, as the research data begin to accumulate. At the present time, there is a lack of scientific information about Divorce-Related Malicious Parent Syndrome. Given the severity of the clinical and legal problems it presents (Turkat, 1995, 1997a,

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b), this situation requires significant attention. Hopefully, the modification proposed in the present manuscript will contribute to the scientific pursuit of understanding and managing the significant clinical and legal problems that accompany cases of Divorce-Related Malicious Parent Syndrome. REFERENCES FOR ABOVE ARTICLE Adams, H. E., and Haber, J. (1984). The classification of abnormal behavior: An overview. In Adams, H. E., and Sutker, P. B. (eds.), Comprehensive Handbook of Psychopathology, Plenum, New York, pp. 3-26, 1982. Adams, H. E., and Cassidy, J. F. (1993). The classification of abnormal behavior. An overview. In Sutker, P. B., and Adams, H. E. (eds.), Comprehensive Handbook of Psychopathology (2nd edition), Plenum, New York, pp. 3-25. Ammerman, R. T., and Hersen, M. (1992). Current issues in the assessment of family violence. In Ammerman, R. T., and Hersen, M. (eds.), Assessment of Family Violence: A Clinical and Legal Resource, Wiley-Interscience, New York, pp. 3-10. Gardner, R. A. (1987). The Parental Alienation Syndrome and the Differentiation Between Fabricated and Genuine Child Sex Abuse, Creative Therapeutics, Creskill, NJ. Gardner, R. A. (1989). Family Evaluation in Child Custody Mediation, Arbitration, and Litigation, Creative Therapeutics, Creskill, NJ. Turkat, I. D. (1994). Child visitation interference in divorce. Clin. Psychol. Rev. 14: 737-742. Turkat, I. D. (1995). Divorce related malicious mother syndrome. J. Fam. Viol. 10: 253-264. Turkat, I. D. (1997a). Management of visitation interference. Judge's J. 36: 17-21. Turkat, I. D. (1997b). Relocation as a strategy to interfere with the child-parent relationship. Am. J. Fam. Law 11: 39-41.

Table I. Diagnostic Criteria for Divorce-Related Malicious Parent Syndrome A parent who unjustifiably punishes his or her divorcing or divorced spouse by: * Attempting to alienate their mutual child(ren) from the other parent * Involving others in malicious actions against the other parent * Engaging in excessive litigation The parent specifically attempts to deny the child(ren):

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* Regular uninterrupted visitation with the other parent * Uninhibited telephone access to the other parent * Participation by the other parent in the child(ren)'s school life and extra-curricular activities The pattern is pervasive and includes malicious acts towards the other parent including: * Lying to the children * Lying to others * Violations of law The disorder is not specifically due to another mental disorder, although a separate mental disorder may co-exist. This article above, Divorce-Related Malicious Parent Syndrome by Ira Turkat from the Journal of Family Violence, is provided consistent with 17 U.S.C. 107 Fair Use exemptions for education, research, and scholarship activities.

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Parental Alienation Syndrome A Guide for Attorneys or Pro Se Litigants


[Note: While the following guide attempts to debunk the syndrome, whether or not that is true remains to be tried in court. But, it is useful to know how lawyers will be approaching the use of this syndrome and thereby give you some advanced notice in order to prepare a defense. It is unknown when this guide was prepared and it appears now that PAS is now accepted as to its legality. According to this legal website, pasattorney.com/pas-faqs.htm, it states: Parental Alienation Syndrome as a disorder remains controversial in psychological circles; however, PAS is now a legal reality. Family law courts across the country have recognized PAS in the context of custody litigation.] Parental alienation syndrome was coined by Richard A. Gardner and according to a number of sources [like Wikipedia and the following attorney and pro se litigants guide] and has not been recognized as a disorder by the medical or legal communities. However, this information should be able to lead you to other sources or experts and shed some light on the various syndromes associated with LAS.

Preface
Parental Alienation Syndrome or PAS has become a commonplace defense when allegations of child abuse arise in custody disputes. Although the theory has no scientific validity, many courts are admitting evidence of PAS and using PAS as grounds to discount childrens allegations of abuse. Therefore, the parties to custody suits and their counsel must be informed about PAS and develop ways to combat its negative effects in the courtroom. These materials were developed to familiarize litigants and attorneys arguments and strategies that may be employed in child custody cases and appeals where one party raises PAS as a defense to a childs allegations of abuse. The purpose of the materials is to educate litigants both attorneys and pro se parties and, through them, courts and juries about the lack of scientific validity or reliability of PAS. The attached materials may be photocopied and distributed to lawyers, pro se litigants and others for use in defending against allegations of PAS or appealing custody decisions based on PAS. Similarly, they may be recopied or reconfigured for use as visual aids or handouts in the courtroom during hearings or trials. These selected materials do not constitute a complete outline or bibliography of works on Parental Alienation Syndrome or its relatives, Parental Alienation or Malicious Mother Syndrome, and may be supplemented with independent research.

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Parental Alienation Syndrome


Introduction:
I. What is Parental Alienation Syndrome?

Parental Alienation Syndrome or PAS is a psychological theorynot a scientifically recognized or accepted psychological or psychiatric syndromethat has gained popularity among attorneys in child custody cases when they represent a parent who is alleged to have abused one or more of the couples children. The premise of PAS is that one parent intentionally has alienated the children from the other parentthe parent accused by the child or children of abuseto gain an advantage in a custody dispute. The childrens allegations are seen as a result of a mental disorder caused by the parental alienation. PAS is the creation of one man, Richard Gardner, M.D., a child psychiatrist who discovered the so-called syndrome in approximately 1985. Gardner, who died in 2003, believed that the vast majority of sexual abuse allegations in divorce and custody cases are false and the result of parental alienation. Gardners theory has not been recognized by the American Psychiatric Association or any other respected medical association. Nevertheless, in a transparent attempt to legitimize the junk science of PAS, Gardner, its inventor and most vocal proponent, describes his PAS theory as a syndrome: The parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a childhood disorder that arises almost exclusively in the context of childcustody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the childs campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parents indoctrinations and the childs own contributions to the vilification of the target parent. Gardners theory has not been peer-reviewed, a threshold qualification for acceptance in any scientific community. He avoided peer review (and inevitable rejection) by publishing his books through his own private publishing company, Creative Therapeutics, and by publishing articles in non-peer reviewed journals. One New York court that refused to admit Gardners testimony on PAS noted: Gardner has written approximately forty-three books which have been published, and all but one of those . . . have been published and marketed through his own corporation, Creative Therapeutics. People v. Fortin, 184 Misc.2d 10, 11 (N.Y. Co. Ct. 2000). Gardner also published his articles in a little known journal titled Issues in Child Abuse Accusations. This journal, which also is not peer reviewed, is run out of the office of Ralph Underwager and Hollinda Wakefield. Underwager gained considerable notoriety with his statement to a Dutch journalist that Pedophiles need to become more positive and make the claim that pedophilia is an acceptable expression of Gods will for love and unity among all human beings.

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Gardner had very unconventional views that are not widely accepted by child/family psychologists and psychiatrists. For example, Gardner advocated that a mother should punish her child if the child made abuse allegations, and that if the mother supported the child, she should be jailed. He also argued that PAS inducers . . . are not candidates for therapy and that children should be completely removed from their supposed influence. In one PAS case that made headlines, Dr. Gardner testified that a father accused of abuse should be given custody of his two sons because his wife was brainwashing the children against him. During the custody battle, the father appeared in the parking lot of his wifes place of work and shot her thirteen times with a semiautomatic weapon. At the murder trial, Dr. Gardner, relying on his PAS theory, testified on behalf of the father, stating: I believe that . . . after mounting frustration and suppressed fury [at the mothers brainwashing], [the father] became acutely psychotic and murdered his wife. Cheri L. Wood, Note and Comment, The Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Dangerous Aura of Reliability, 27 Loy. L.A. L. Rev. 1367, 1383 (1994).

A.

PAS is merely a theory, not a recognized psychiatric condition.

PAS is not recognized by professionals as a mental disorder. It is not included in the American Psychiatric Associations Fourth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), or any earlier version. Child psychologists and child psychiatrists routinely rely on the DSM-IV in their clinical practice to diagnose and treat recognized mental disorders. The DSM includes only those disorders that have been subjected to extensive research and peer review. Its introduction states that, the utility and credibility of DSM-IV requires that it focus on its clinical, research, and educational purposes and be supported by an extensive empirical foundation. American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed. 1994). Apparently expecting rejection, Gardner never submitted PAS for inclusion in the Manual despite the fact that he discovered his so-called syndrome in 1985. As an unproven and scientifically unrecognized theory, PAS lacks the reliability and credibility required for its admission into evidence.

B.

PAS is Junk Science.

Scientific testimony can have special power in courts, but when it is not relevant or reliable, its prejudicial impact is profound, as the use of PAS in the courts has demonstrated. In Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. 579 (1993), the United States Supreme Court set forth the test for determining whether expert scientific testimony is reliable and admissible. Under the Daubert standard, scientific evidence must satisfy the following requirements: 1) Is the theory or technique at issue testable, and has it been tested? 2) Has the theory or technique been subjected to peer review and publication? 3) In the case of scientific techniques, what is the known or potential error rate, and are there standards controlling the techniques operation? and Page 34 of 61
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4) Does the technique enjoy general acceptance within the scientific community? Id. Similarly, Federal Rule of Evidence 702 allows the admission of expert scientific opinion only if scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue. FED. R. EVID. 702. Under the rule, which has been adopted in identical or substantially similar form by the majority of states, the experts testimony must be based on sufficient facts or data, and is the product of reliable principles and methods. Id. Because PAS purports to be a psychiatric diagnosis, it must be based upon reliable science in order to be admissible. However, PAS does not meet the tests of Daubert or Rule 702. PAS has not been scientifically tested. It has not been subject to peer review, and it does not enjoy general acceptance among psychiatrists and psychologists. It will not assist fact finders in understanding the evidence, and, in fact, by discouraging investigation of abuse allegations, it actually prevents such understanding. PAS is founded upon circular logic. This makes it inherently unreliable as a scientific diagnostic tool. PAS is offered to prove that abuse did not occur, yet it assumes the truth of what it seeks to prove that the childs allegations of abuse are false. Gardner argues that the vast majority of abuse allegations that arise in child custody disputes are false, and one of his strongest criteria for proving falsity of the accusation is the fact that it was first raised in a child custody dispute. Moreover, because PAS is based on an assumption that the child has not really been abused, it purports to explain only the behavior of the child and the mother. It fails to scrutinize the alleged abusers conduct or acknowledge that if the child has been abused, the childs animosity toward the abuser and the mothers attempts to obstruct visitation would not only be warranted, but would be expected. Based on the unreliability and lack of acceptance of PAS, courts in some jurisdictions have held that evidence of PAS is inadmissible. For example, a District Court of Appeals in Florida articulated concerns with respect to the reliability of PAS, stating: No determination was made in the order or on the record as to general professional acceptance of the parental alienation syndrome as a diagnostic tool. In the same (unrelated) context as the above cited Gardner treatise, i.e. child sex abuse, we note the cautionary words of other current commentators [who state that] it is vitally important to avoid the confusion engendered by reference to syndromes . . . . At the present time experts have not achieved consensus on the existence of a psychological syndrome that can detect child abuse. . . . In the Interest of T.M.W., 553 So.2d 260, 262-63 (Fla. 1st DCA 1989) (citations omitted).

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However, despite the willingness of some courts to subject PAS to the scrutiny required of alleged expert testimony, far too many courts still rely on PAS either explicitly or implicitly. In many cases, a lack of familiarity with the PAS on the part of the judge, counsel for the mother, and the ad litem results in admission of evidence of PAS without proper objection. And some courts that do not allow the term PAS to be admitted, still permit experts or attorneys to utilize the inappropriate PAS methodology and make custody recommendations and determinations based on the unreliable and circular conclusions of alienation promoted by PAS.

C.

PAS puts abused children in danger of further abuse.

Gardner acknowledged that PAS is not applicable when actual abuse does exist. (When true parental abuse and/or neglect is present, the childs animosity may be justified and so the parental alienation syndrome explanation of the childs hostility is not applicable.) In reality, however, many of the courts that admit evidence of PAS rely on that supposed evidence to severely restrict or completely deny any investigation into the childs allegations of abuse. The courts simply dismiss the childs allegations as PAS-induced and, therefore, incredible. Even more disturbing than the tendency to ignore a childs outcry of abuse is Gardners horrifying cure for PAS. According to Gardner, the only way to counteract the supposed alienation is to place the child in the sole custody of the alleged abuser and severely limit or even totally prohibit contact with the supposedly alienating parent. Thus, the victim is delivered into the hands of the perpetrator and cut off from all protection. A courts reliance on PAS in custody decisions puts abused children at extreme risk of further abuse by the offending parent. PAS is used to discount a childs outcries of physical or sexual abuse as the product of the other parents hostility toward the accused abuser. Courts relying on PAS frequently fail to investigate the childs allegations, and they often reject independent evidence of the abuse. Therefore, the child who courageously has come forward to report abuse is ignored and even chastised, and therefore further abused, by the very system that has promised to protect him/her. The message is powerful and often plays right into the cruel admonition of the abuser: If you tell, no one will believe you. Abused children are handed over to their abusers and are insulated from any outside protection and support. It is hard to imagine the horror, devastation and hopelessness experienced by such children. To remedy this unjust and threatening situation, the admission of and reliance on PAS in child custody cases should be prohibited unless and until the theory is accepted by the American Psychiatric Association and described as a recognized disorder or syndrome in the DSM IV.

II.

Why is PAS Taken Seriously?

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in family courts throughout the U.S. However, bureaucratic and cultural factors may explain the popularity of the theory. Some experts suggest the following explanations as to why PAS, a theory with such shaky scientific and legal underpinnings, is given credence by many family court judges.

A.

Judicial Frustration and Bias 1. Judicial Frustration

Courts are frustrated with the nature of high conflict divorces. Most divorce and custody proceedings (70%-90%) are resolved by mediation or other settlement procedures, and only the most egregious and contentious cases actually end up in court. This means a family judges caseload is composed almost entirely of difficult, high conflict cases. In addition, the parties to these cases, having been mired in intensely negative emotions for long periods, often are resistant to positive forms of resolution. The most even-tempered judge may become chronically irritated and annoyed by a large docket of highly contentious family disputes. This frustration may be manifest as a desire to resolve these complex cases as quickly as possible. But in the context of divorce, a controversial allegation such as physical or sexual abuse deprives the court of a decisive and speedy resolution. PAS presents an attractive approach because it appears to offer a plausible rationale under which courts can dismiss or discredit child abuse allegations without ever investigating them. At the same time, PAS permits the judge to treat the child as a victim, not of abuse, but of the alienating parents manipulations. In that scenario, the judge can take comfort that he is discharging his duty to act in the best interests of the child by rescuing him or her from the manipulative parent and handing him or her over to the alleged abuser (who is seen as a victim). In short, as a supposedly scientificand less threateningexplanation for allegations of child abuse, PAS offers the judge a chance to make apparently rational and speedy decisions about divorce and custody. Thus PAS provides a plausible exit strategy for a judge who seeks to reassure him/herself that he/she is managing the courts docket smoothly and resolving disputes fairly and quickly.

2.

Gender Bias

In addition, the courts desire for and the unlikelihood of a quick resolution in messy custody cases may lead to a bias against the party who is, or appears to be, preventing the finality of the proceedings by introducing controversial allegations. That subtle and probably subconscious bias further encourages reliance on PAS, which labels the alienating parent as the problem.

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Discrimination against women in the justice system has been the subject of much study and need not be extensively documented here. Statistically, mothers are more likely than fathers to raise allegations of abuse. Thus, over time, women may be perceived by a judge as inventing such allegations in order to shape the outcome of the case. That and the fact that such allegations arise in a high percentage of the family cases that end up in court, may predispose an overwhelmed judge to give less and less credence to the allegations. Add to these factors the understandable emotional reaction experienced by mothers who know of or suspect abuse of their children and you have the stereotype of an hysterical woman. That label may be used to give further credence to the PAS theory. Finally, the concept and even the phrase, child abuse, continues to be controversial in American society. Stereotypes about the benevolence of the family cause us to doubt allegations of inter-familial child abuse. Judges may be just as vulnerable to these societal stereotypes as the rest of us, leading to a bias against the party (usually the mother) who raises a controversial and seemingly unbelievable charge of child abuse. PAS legitimizes that bias.

3.

Bias Against the Child

Although much research has demonstrated that children can and do give truthful testimony in legal proceedings, some judges still may presume that children are prone to exaggerate or lie. A diagnosis of PAS permits the conclusion that the child has a mental disorder (having been infected in some way by the parents brainwashing) that confirms his or her untruthfulness without blaming him for it. At the same time, because it comes from the authority figure in the courtroom, the judges disbelief of the child may subtly encourage mistrust and hostility towards the reporting parent and/or the child by others (i.e., experts, ad litems and even the jurors) involved in the case. In short, the assertion of PAS as a defense to abuse allegations and the courts acceptance of the defense may serve multiple functions. Subconsciously, PAS may provide a culturally acceptable screen for the court to distance itself from the very emotional and disturbing behavior of child abuse. It may be used to avoid dealing with allegations of child abuse against a parent who otherwise appears to be law-abiding. It may permit the court to blame the emotional tension already building in the courtroom on the most vulnerable party or parties. It may obscure any subconscious bias against women or children by providing a rationale for that bias. It may be used to justify placement of the child with the parent accused of abuse as being in the childs best interests. And it may allow preservation of cultural stereotypes about the value of marriage and the offensiveness of divorce. In light of these facts, attorneys and pro se parties not only must make a rational case for custody, but also must develop a second offensive to prevent the other parent from using Page 38 of 61
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PAS as a defense (to explain or distract from allegations of child abuse) and as an offense (to gain custody through the claim that the reporting parent is inadequate, both culturally and emotionally, to parent the child).

Dealing With Pas In The Courtroom


The following suggestions are offered as ways to meet and defeat allegations of PAS head-on. I. General Principles A. Educate the court about the issue of cultural stereotypes.

1. Prepare your client to counteract the cultural stereotype of women as vindictive, manipulative, shrill and overly-protective of their children. 2. Counteract the stereotype that children typically exaggerate or lie. See, e.g., American Bar Association and other research materials on questioning children in court. B. PAS. 1. Convince the court that claims of child abuse must be addressed separately and independently of any PAS defense and that an allegation PAS does not justify ignoring the childs outcry. 2. Note that Gardners own material states that PAS is applicable only when the target parent has not exhibited behavior that might warrant the vilification exhibited by the children. Therefore, the court must independently determine the credibility of the childs complaints about the parents behavior before it can consider a PAS defense. 3. Explain to the court that PAS is being used to purely to distract from and preclude admission of the childs allegations. If PAS is a legitimate defense to the allegations, then proof of the allegations must come in first. The defense of PAS would be relevant only after such proof was admitted. Educate the court about the proper procedure for addressing allegations of

C.

Debunk the so-called science of PAS.

1. Parental Alienation Syndrome is a description/allegation of behavior, not a legitimate psychological theory. It is not described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the bible of psychiatric diagnoses. See DSM-IV-TR; ICM-10.

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2. PAS has not been the subject of clinical observations and Gardners articles have not been subject to peer-review by the psychiatric community. All of Gardners articles and all but one of his books are self-published. 3. The theory is not supported by objective studies. See DSM field studies and journal articles on diagnosis testing. There have been no field studies, no diagnostic criteria, no statistical testing for falsifiability. 4. As the subject of expert scientific opinion, the PAS theory must meet legal standards for admissibility and should be challenged under controlling legal doctrines. a. PAS is not admissible under the standards stated by the United States Supreme Court in Daubert v. Merrill Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. 579 (1993). b. Even in states where the Frye test is still the law, as the law of the land, the Supreme Courts statements on admissibility in Daubert must be given substantial weight. 5. There has been no study of PAS treatments, and disagreement exists even among pro-PAS commentators about Gardners recommended treatment. 6. PAS is not admissible because it is not scientifically reliable.

a. To be admissible, scientific evidence must be reliable, that is, it must be validated scientifically through epidemiological studies and peer review. PAS has not been subjected to either form of validation. b. To be admissible, the evidence must be relevant, that is, it must assist the trier of fact in understanding a fact in issue. At best, evidence of PAS is relevant only as a defense to abuse allegations. It does not relieve the court of the duty to investigate the abuse allegations, nor does it defeat the right to put on evidence of abuse. If it is to be admitted at all, evidence of PAS is relevant only after the judge or jury has heard all the evidence of the alleged abuse.

D. II below.) II.

Identify and impeach experts appearing as proponents of PAS. (See Section

Attacking and qualifying experts.

The following outline presents subjects for exploration in qualifying your expert(s) or attacking the opposing expert(s).

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A.

Challenge an experts credentials.

In addition to raising the foregoing points concerning PAS as Junk Science, file a motion before trial to disqualify any expert who is not qualified under Daubert or related case authority to opine on PAS and other custody issues before the court. As support for your motion, look for evidence concerning the experts education and training, if any, in subspecialties relevant to evaluation of children in the context of custody, as well as his/her education in and experience specifically with PAS. 1. Advanced Degrees/Licenses a. b. Psychiatrist (must be M.D.) Psychoanalyst (1) Freudian must be M.D (2) Jungian may be Ph.D. or MSW Psychologist Master or Doctor of Social Work (MSW, DSW)

c. d.

2. Subspecialties of Psychiatry (In what subspecialty did the expert do his or her residency training) a. b. c. d. e. 3. Adult Child Adolescent Community Psychopharmacology or Psychodynamic Emphasis

Subspecialties of Psychology a. b. c. d. Clinical: Ph.D. or Psy.D. (did the degree require a Dissertation?) Counseling School Community

4.

Subspecialties of Social Work a. b. c. d. Masters (MSW) or Doctorate (DSW) Clinical School Community

B.

Anticipate and prepare to meet/discredit an opposing experts testimony. 1. Has the expert/evaluator published any articles or treatises?

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a. If Yes, were the articles published in peer-reviewed journals? b. If Yes, were the articles related to child custody evaluations? c. If No, does the expert have documented experience relevant to child custody evaluations? 2. Does the expert make claims on his/her professional website? If so, evaluate and explore the claims for possible use in cross-examination and/or impeachment. 3. Has the expert made presentations at conferences? If so, obtain transcripts and evaluate them for the same purposes. a. b. c. C. testimony. Transcript/tape of speech Outline of presentation Materials given to conference participants

Scrutinize an experts compliance with ethical constraints on his/her

1. Find out what ethical codes apply to the experts discipline and whether the experts testimony/conduct meets the ethical standard. For example, a clinical psychologist must meet the standards set out in the following: a. b. (1987); c. APA Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists (1991); d. APA Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Divorce Proceedings (1994); e. APA Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (1999). D. Determine how the expert arrived at his opinion in the case. (Forensic vs. clinical examination) 1. What are the professional and ethical norms (standards of care) for making a forensic examination of the child in this case and were those standards followed? 2. What was the extent of the examination of child? Was the examination sufficient to make a clinical diagnosis? E. disorder? What empirical studies support the experts opinion that PAS is a verifiable APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists (1992); APA General Guidelines for Providers of Psychological Services

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1.

If the expert cites a Gardner publication: Ask if the study collected empirical data (via testing instrument, or

a. otherwise); b.

Ask if the finding of PAS been corroborated by others.

c. Ask what Gardners credentials are for researching PAS. (Answer: only his own patients and his self-published books.) 2. If the expert cites other articles or books: a. b. c. 3. What definition of PAS was used in article? What empirical data was collected? Was the data corroborated by other studies?

If the experts definition of PAS differs from Gardner, ask: a. b. Why is another definition being used? Is there a Standard Definition (and why didnt he/she use it)?

4.

What standard textbooks/reference books discuss PAS?

a. Ask about Standard Psychiatric Reference Texts, e.g.,: Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry VI (Kaplan, Sadock, Cancro, 1995); Am. Psychiatric Press Textbook of Psychiatry (3rd ed., Hales, Yudofsky, Talbott, 1999; 4th ed., Hales, Yudofsky, 2003); New Oxford Textbook of Psychiatry (Gelder, Lpez Ibor, Andreasen, 2000). 5. How would the expert empirically measure PAS? (Only one known scale (SALS), was created and more recently renounced by Gardner.) 6. this case? What treatment or judicial remedy should the court use if PAS exists in

a. If the expert recommends Gardners remedy (complete change of custody), ask if this is recommended by all PAS researchers. (It is not. See Hofstra U. Law Journal, 39 Family Court Review 243-343 (2001)). b. Ask how the remedy treats or cures PAS?

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c. What follow-up or longitudinal studies confirm the efficacy of Gardners treatment? (To our knowledge, none exist.) F. Identify the experts reliance on any cultural stereotypes and challenge them as unproven: 1. 2. 3. 4. III. About women About children and their truthfulness About the divorce process About cultural norms (customs, rules, assumptions, etc.)

Miscellaneous Points to Emphasize 1. The court and jury must see that your clients concerns are for the childs welfare. Your client has everything to lose if his/her focus appears to be on condemning the other parent. 2. Educate the court that, beginning around age 4, children can answer clear questions about sexual abuse truthfully. (See the American Bar Association Handbook on this topic.) 3. Make the court aware that PAS is being used as a distraction an offense portrayed as a defense. 4. Used offensively (to gain custody), PAS should be decided separately from and only after the court decides the sexual abuse claim.

5. Moreover, because it is being used offensively, the proponent of PAS has the burden to prove the alienating behavior and the burden to prove that the PAS cure is warranted.

Other Articles and Links:

Child Visitation Interference In Divorce Clinical Psychology Review, Vol. 14. No. 8, Pp. 737-742, 1994: By: Ira DanieL TURKAT, PH.D. Florida Institute of Psychology and University of Florida College of Medicine ABSTRACT. Divorce related child visitation interference is a national problem, affecting six million children. Such interference may be acute or may represent chronic disorders, such as Parental Alienation Syndrome and Divorce Related Malicious Mother Syndrome. In certain cases, visitation interference is accompanied by vicious behaviors toward the noncustodial parent, including violence and violations of law. The present paper describes the problem of child visitation interference, associated clinical syndromes, and attributes of the legal Page 44 of 61

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system that perpetuate the problem. Absence of scientific research devalues psychological input to the courtroom. It is hoped that the present paper will contribute to the development of a body of scientific literature in this area.

Dr. Richard Gardner has put together a list of approximately 177 articles, many of which appear on this website, related to the Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), which have been published or accepted for publication in peer-review journals and published books. To view the list of articles, click here. PAS attorney.com: The resources you need to fight Parental Alienation Syndrome.

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Basis For Court Case


It follows from the above that with LAS being a personal injury it is felt that this would allow it to be treated under the Tort theory of law and thereby the person so injured [the plaintiff] would be able to go after those who inflicted it upon them in civil court with a jury trial. To the authors knowledge, a case such as this has never been tried in court in such a manner where the infliction of PTSD on one of the parties in a family law case has resulted in a tort case in civil court. It is felt that, depending upon the circumstances of the individual case, that it could be classified under any one or more of the following possible tort categories: Malicious Prosecution Wrongful Use of Civil Proceedings Abuse of Process Opposing counsel committed the intentional Breach of Duty to the court and plaintiff res ipsa loquitur (The Thing Speaks for Itself) for misrepresentations against you. Intentional infliction of emotional distress Emotional Distress, Negligent Infliction False imprisonment [in contempt proceedings] Fraud [tort of deceit] Opposing counsel and former wife committed the intentional tort of misrepresentation Civil conspiracy to commit fraud or file frivolous litigation Vexatious litigant Tortious Interference With the Parent-Child Relationship Conversion [unjust alimony, contempt purges, other taking of property or money] Defamation, Libel and Slander [Injurious Falsehood] Tort of Wrongful Garnishment Loss of consortium In filing a tort case, the defendants would be designated as anyone who has been involved with the case of the tort plaintiff e.g. opposing counsel, former wife, parental coordinators, child psychologists, and anyone else appointed by the court as part of enforcing compliance by the plaintiff and having a part in the infliction of PTSD. Simply put, sue everyone in sight who has been associated as against you in your case. The main objective is to obtain money damages for the infliction of injury to the plaintiff. You want to hurt them in their pocket books where they will feel it and remember. The purpose in obtaining money damages is to create a deterrent in the courts for attorneys and their clients from using their present injurious tactics without fear of retribution.

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Steps To Take
First, check to see that your action lies within the statute of limitations of your state. Fla. Stat. 95.11 Limitations: other than for the recovery of real property.--Actions other than for recovery of real property shall be commenced as follows: [Authors note: Non-related items have been edited out from the items listed below.] (1) WITHIN TWENTY YEARS.--An action on a judgment or decree of a court of record in this state. (2) WITHIN FIVE YEARS.-(a) An action on a judgment or decree of any court, not of record, of this state or any court of the United States, any other state or territory in the United States, or a foreign country. (b) A legal or equitable action on a contract, obligation, or liability founded on a written instrument, except for an action to enforce a claim against a payment bond, which shall be governed by the applicable provisions of ss. 255.05(10) and 713.23(1)(e). (3) WITHIN FOUR YEARS.-(a) An action founded on negligence. (b) An action relating to the determination of paternity, with the time running from the date the child reaches the age of majority. (j) A legal or equitable action founded on fraud. (k) A legal or equitable action on a contract, obligation, or liability not founded on a written instrument, including an action for the sale and delivery of goods, wares, and merchandise, and on store accounts. (l) An action to rescind a contract. (o) An action for assault, battery, false arrest, malicious prosecution, malicious interference, false imprisonment, or any other intentional tort, except as provided in subsections (4), (5), and (7). (p) Any action not specifically provided for in these statutes.

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(4) WITHIN TWO YEARS.-(a) An action for professional malpractice, other than medical malpractice, whether founded on contract or tort; provided that the period of limitations shall run from the time the cause of action is discovered or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence. However, the limitation of actions herein for professional malpractice shall be limited to persons in privity with the professional. (g) An action for libel or slander. (5) WITHIN ONE YEAR.-(a) An action for specific performance of a contract. (6) LACHES.--Laches shall bar any action unless it is commenced within the time provided for legal actions concerning the same subject matter regardless of lack of knowledge by the person sought to be held liable that the person alleging liability would assert his or her rights and whether the person sought to be held liable is injured or prejudiced by the delay. This subsection shall not affect application of laches at an earlier time in accordance with law. (7) FOR INTENTIONAL TORTS BASED ON ABUSE.--An action founded on alleged abuse, as defined in s. 39.01, s. 415.102, or s. 984.03, or incest, as defined in s. 826.04, may be commenced at any time within 7 years after the age of majority, or within 4 years after the injured person leaves the dependency of the abuser, or within 4 years from the time of discovery by the injured party of both the injury and the causal relationship between the injury and the abuse, whichever occurs later. Next, you will need to do the following to get medically diagnosed so that you qualify as having suffered [mental] injuries. Before going to a physician, psychologist or psychiatrist, be sure to read and be familiar with the PTSD symptoms so that you will know what they will be looking for in order to make a diagnosis and that you display those symptoms: 1. See your local family physician for initial diagnosis. Get referral to psychologist or psychiatrist. See psychologist/psychiatrist for PTSD and/or LAS diagnosis. [Note: get raw data from them.] Apply for Supplemental Security Insurance [Social Security Office SSI]. This will give you additional governmental support evidence of your disability for your case that is unchallengeable.

2.

3.

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a. Get Disability Determination Dept. to diagnose as PTSD and/or LAS b. If denied, get a lawyer who deals with the Social Security cases to appeal it for you. 4. Get ADA form from court and submit for future accommodations. a. DOJ intervenes if there are any violations based on the following: TITLE 42 > CHAPTER 21 > SUBCHAPTER I > 1983 1983. Civil action for deprivation of rights Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officers judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia. See 42 US 1983 claim The Department of Justice [DOJ] operates a toll-free ADA Information Line to provide information and free publications to the public about the requirements of the ADA. Automated service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to order materials for delivery by mail or through our fax delivery system. ADA specialists are available on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. and on Thursday from 1:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. (Eastern Time). Spanish language service is also available. To obtain general ADA information, get answers to specific technical questions, order free ADA materials, or ask about filing a complaint, call: 800-514-0301 (voice) Once you have been certified as having a PTSD/LAS disability, then you are qualified under ADA as described below and are now eligible for court accommodations to be made for you.

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III. "Qualified Individuals with Disabilities" Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act provides comprehensive civil rights protections for "qualified individuals with disabilities." An "individual with a disability" is a person who -Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a "major life activity", or Has a record of such an impairment, or Is regarded as having such an impairment. Examples of physical or mental impairments include, but are not limited to, such contagious and noncontagious diseases and conditions as orthopedic, visual, speech, and hearing impairments; cerebral palsy, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mental retardation, emotional illness, specific learning disabilities, HIV disease (whether symptomatic or asymptomatic), tuberculosis, drug addiction, and alcoholism. Homosexuality and bisexuality are not physical or mental impairments under the ADA. "Major life activities" include functions such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working. Individuals who currently engage in the illegal use of drugs are not protected by the ADA when an action is taken on the basis of their current illegal use of drugs. "Qualified" individuals. A "qualified" individual with a disability is one who meets the essential eligibility requirements for the program or activity offered by a public entity. The "essential eligibility requirements" will depend on the type of service or activity involved. For some activities, such as State licensing programs, the ability to meet specific skill and performance requirements may be "essential."

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For other activities, such as where the public entity provides information to anyone who requests it, the "essential eligibility requirements" would be minimal. IV. State and local governments [this would include your court]: Are not required to take any action that would result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of the service, program, or activity or in undue financial and administrative burdens. However, public entities must take any other action, if available, that would not result in a fundamental alteration or undue burdens but would ensure that individuals with disabilities receive the benefits or services.

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Legal Abuse Syndrome Utilizing a Tort Action in Family Law Cases

Karin Huffer LAS & ADA Legal Assistance


After you have completed the above, you should get in touch with Karen Huffer and retain her services. She might even be able to refer you to a lawyer in your area. Even if you dont proceed to filing a tort action in civil court, you can use her to assist you in family law court where you will be able to benefit from the ADA requirements with which the court has to comply. It is also at this time when you should start checking around for a personal injury lawyer to take on your tort case that you hope to pursue in civil court. Most of them will provide a free consultation to determine the feasibility of their accepting your case. The knowledge presented in this eBook should give you a fairly good background for presenting your case to them and explaining some of the PTSD and LAS aspects upon which your cause of action lies. This will be necessary as it is felt that the material explores new areas with which the lawyer might not be familiar. Here are some excerpts from articles from or about her and her comments on LAS: Legal Abuse Syndrome(LAS) is a psycholegal trauma (a form of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is a psychic injury, not a mental illness. It is a personal injury that develops in individuals assaulted by ethical violations, legal abuses, betrayals, and fraud. Abuse of power and authority and a profound lack of accountability in our courts have become rampant. This adds greatly to the original distress requiring court assistance in the first place. Litigants display the hallmark signs of Legal Abuse Syndrome(LAS) a subcategory of PTSD.

The symptoms can be even more intense when the named person is actually innocent. Exaggerated or inaccurate complaints often added to a lawsuit (a malicious practice that shames the system) is a highly potent cause. Other factors which can influence the intensity in these cases are whether this is the first time in this persons life they are involved in a legal action, or if they are out of a generational/cultural background making any legal action a matter of personal fear or shame (e.g. only 'bad people' get sued). The effects may permeate body, mind and spirit! A patient may typically report initial shock, dismay, and anger. This is often followed by depressive feelings, especially a feeling of paralysis and lack of power or control over her/his life. Hyperactivity, hyper acute senses and insomnia are common. There is often a feeling of abandonment and aloneness. Despondency can occur, often to the point of self-destructive behavior or even suicide. There are regular exacerbations of paranoia and persecution.

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There can be irrational fleeting thoughts that permeate EVERY activity with or without triggers. Patients say they feel as if there is no escape 24 hours a day! They speak of being the hunted/ the prey. They say they cannot look forward because they have to look behind themselves or over their shoulders at all times. There is a constant 'replaying' of the scenarios that have been claimed to have contributed to situation. They feel haunted day and night by disturbing thoughts. Patients can suffer withdrawal to the point of apathy often described as 'numbness' often resulting in spousal alienation. There is little sharing of feelings for fear of reprisals, doubts and loss of respect from others or further legal repercussions. The legal system and the situation itself can promote feelings of paranoia. This may become even more common in the future due to advertised prepaid legal services. There is also the moral side. Fighting and winning but perhaps undergoing financial ruin in the process vs. settling and paying what is considered legal extortion. Some patients will say with futility, the only winners are the lawyers in a system where the loser doesnt pay (a partial solution would be if the party initiating the lawsuit were to lose they would required to have to pay the legal costs of the other party) , and people can get away with frivolous lawsuits. The outcome is always an unknown filled with variables and a delay, perpetuation/ protraction of the suffering with no certain timeline (often years in duration), which only intensifies the stress. It is not well placated with 'go on with life', 'we're just pushing papers', or 'it's just an intimidation game'. Lawyers who are particularly punitive, overly-aggressive or felt to be intimidating may be guilty of precipitating this condition (and might be held accountable that they knew or should have known the delicacy of the emotional state, detected it and be liable for the result of their actions?) People who are even more at risk are those who have had a previous bad interaction with a particular lawyer or associated group. The associated attorneys or person making the wrongful, frivolous or exaggerated charges may well be guilty of causing this suffering and perhaps in time there will be more cases of lawyers and clients personally sued for damages. TREATMENT: As a matter of practicality, doctors and therapists can be helpful by first contacting the patients attorney to learn about documentation issues. From the outset, make sure the patient knows your legal boundaries of disclosure (or lack thereof).

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Legal Abuse Syndrome Utilizing a Tort Action in Family Law Cases

The patient needs reassurance that these feelings are to be expected. The therapist must validate and acknowledge this suffering. There is a tremendous need for communication, emotional support and reassurance. The need for a support group of family and friends is great. There is a need for regular intellectual escape. This can take the form of filling time with mundane TV programs, viewing comedies or movies with clear heroes, doing simple crossword puzzles or engaging in very light reading. Help is on the way: If you are Pro Se and suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, you qualify for accommodations under The Americans with Disabilities Act (42 USC 12101) [ADA]. Huffer will then work with your ADA Coordinators to help you in your pro se efforts. Using the Americans With Disabilities Act in one of her cases as an example, Huffer has asked that one of her clients receive accommodations so representing herself in court is less traumatic. Requesting the accommodations under the Americans With Disabilities Act, she says her client:

Cannot enter the courtroom, attorneys' offices or be in the presence of legal proceedings without flashbacks - emotionally charged, intrusive thoughts that cause exhaustion. She needs to be allowed to take breaks during proceedings. Must be allowed to videotape all legal proceedings. This feedback is critical to her ability to process the cumulative trauma that she sustains because of the unrelenting nature of her prolonged and protracted litigation. The tapes will help her minimize her symptoms during proceedings and in preparation for legal proceedings. Can feel numb or exhausted from PTSD symptoms during legal proceedings. She may need an advocate present with her in court. May need extended deadlines to complete paperwork and research because the work causes her to be symptomatic while defending herself against untruths, which arouses severe anxiety. Needs all misinformation immediately corrected on the record. The feeling of helplessness and disorientation sustained when misinformation jeopardizes the trier of facts' ability to perform greatly exacerbates PTSD. The misinformation causes her the greatest amount of stress. This is a relatively newly recognized condition. Due to the increasing number of legal actions, especially in the United States, this problem unfortunately

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will be encountered with increasing frequency. It occurs when a person is named in a lawsuit. If nothing else, if you qualify for ADA consideration, she can help you to slow down the proceedings against you. Im sure you can see where this would be useful when you are in court and befuddled from the experience of trying to contend with everything coming at you at once from the opposing counsel, the judge, and your lack of legal knowledge in representing yourself at the hearings and trial. However, even more promising is the possibility of using her in your tort case as an expert witness and an adviser to your counsel. Karen Huffer references:

Her book: Overcoming the Devastation of Legal Abuse Syndrome Fraud on the Court, June 2007, Submitted to members of the U.S. Senate and House Committees on the Judiciary

She can be reached at: legalabuse@gmail.com http://www.lvaallc.com/

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Legal Abuse Syndrome Utilizing a Tort Action in Family Law Cases

Tort Litigation Tasks


This list will give you an idea of the basic steps and flow of most of what is needed to put a case together and take it to court. Federal Rules of Procedure Federal Rules of Evidence Federal Forms F.S. 26.012 Jurisdiction of circuit court. Division of Disability Determination SSI SSI details ADA Disability

A.

Pre-litigation a. Legal research access LexisNexis b. Legal consulting w/lawyer c. Private investigator to investigate defendants. d. Clinical psychologists diagnosis and treatment litigation pg. 59 [these page numbers refers to the book Fundamentals of Litigation for Paralegals, 5th ed.] e. Develop theory of the case. litigation pg. 77, 84 f. Determine assets of target g. Determine witnesses h. Determine Amicus Curiae briefs sources i. Doctors diagnosis - acquire medical and PTSD records get raw data j. Research claims against other parties k. Acquire facts of case, documents and other records i. Samples of request letters litigation pg. 48 l. Determine defenses and counterclaims m. Determine damages n. Create litigation chart i. Elements of claim ii. Sources of proof 1. Client 2. Exhibits 3. Witnesses 4. Experts 5. Opposing party iii. Informal fact investigation 1. Client 2. Exhibits 3. Witnesses 4. Experts iv. Formal discovery Page 56 of 61

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Legal Abuse Syndrome Utilizing a Tort Action in Family Law Cases

B.

C.

D. E.

F.

Initial Docs a. File ADA form for certification b. Filing fees c. Draft pleadings and cover sheet FRCP 1.140 d. Prepare summons and serve e. Prepare pre-trial motions f. Dispositive motions to end lawsuit litigation pg. 79 g. Prepare discovery h. Prepare for summary [full or partial] judgment i. Prepare admissions Discovery a. Prepare discovery plan litigation pg. 79 b. Analyze discovery from other party c. Prepare and take depositions d. Transcripts Plan Settlement Approach Trial a. Assign ADA advocate b. Legal PI representation at trial c. Court Reporter d. Transcripts e. Prepare trial notebook f. Prepare witness list & files i. Family ii. Friends & associates iii. Other alimony victims g. Prepare exhibits h. Draft Jury instructions i. Jury costs j. Subpoena witnesses k. Draft trial brief l. Expert witnesses Post trial a. Prepare post trial motions b. Prepare record for appeal if necessary

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Legal Abuse Syndrome Utilizing a Tort Action in Family Law Cases

Summary
By giving you a basic working knowledge of tort cases and how they operate along with the medical aspects of PTSD and LAS upon which you will be focusing, it will provide you with another avenue with which you can go on the offensive against the opposition. Tort cases are easily handled and readily defined, therefore, they should proceed through the lower courts to completion more rapidly than present family law cases. The potential monetary rewards along with the emotion satisfaction gained from defeating an opposition who, up to now, seemed to have the upper hand in your family law court proceedings will go a long way to provide some solace to the sufferings you have had. Even if you dont win but close the proceedings in a tie, you will have won. The opposition will then know that you will fight a protracted battle, which will be costly to them at the least. This will hopefully be a deterrent to them to not engage you in any future battles. Remember: The purpose of fighting is to win. There is no possible victory in defense. The sword is more important than the shield, and skill is more important than either. The final weapon is the brain. All else is supplemental.--John Steinbeck

Final Note: The publisher would like to have some feedback from anyone who pursues this course of action [or anything similar] in order to let others know whether or not the tort action presented is a viable one. We would like the opportunity to place these submitted comments on our website with your permission [with anonymity if desired.] Please send your emails to: publisher@panama-publishing.com. Thank you!

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Legal Abuse Syndrome Utilizing a Tort Action in Family Law Cases

Appendix

Governmental Resources:

ADA Disability ADA Information - Dept. of Justice ADA Information - Fla. Courts ADA Publications Division of Disability Determination Federal Forms Federal Rules of Evidence Federal Rules of Procedure Fla.Stat. 26.012 Jurisdiction of circuit court. SSI SSI Publication

Internet Resources:

1. Citizens Against Legal Abuse Our Primary Goal - is to provide education, guidance and support services to victims of Judicial and Legal Abuse, and to expose the fraud and corruption perpetrated by a select few ... 2. Karin Huffer Karin Huffer. The book, Legal Abuse Syndrome written by Karin Huffer is the result of her experiences for over twenty years as a marriage and family counselor in ... 3. YouTube - LEGAL ABUSE SYNDROME knowfree April 06, 2008 Phone interview with Karin Huffer who has discovered why many people leave a courtroom frustrated and sick. Legal Q & A: Legal topics 4. Legal Domestic Abuse The Legal Domestic Abuse: Learn to Successfully Navigate the System shows you the pitfalls of the system and the ploys of using parental alienation syndrome and other forms of ... 5. Legal Abuse Syndrome -- San Francisco Chronicle Article The symptoms of legal abuse syndrome include anger, depression, loss of concentration, flashbacks, changes in sleep patterns and eating habits, feelings of guilt, shame ... 6. Verbal Abuse Law & Legal Definition Verbal abuse is the use of words to cause harm to the person being spoken to. It is difficult to define and may take many forms. Similarly, the harm caused is often difficult to ... 7. Abuse of Process Law & Legal Definition Abuse of process refers to the improper use of a civil or criminal legal procedure for an unintended, malicious, or perverse reason. Examples include serving legal papers on ..

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8. Legal Abuse This is a collection of documents and links on the general subject of legal abuse, which will be broken out into categories.

Medical-Mental:

The MultiCare Centre for Integrative Medicine Physicians Survival Guide to Litigation Stress Physicians Litigation Stress Resource page Good medical info: Judicial System Inaccessibility for Those with Psychiatric Injury Legal Abuse Syndrome as a Psychiatric Injury and Diagnosable Subcategory of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder When is a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Claim Legitimate and When Is It Not Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Bibliographic Essay Dealing with Litigation Stress Syndrome AANA Journal, Jul 2007 Tunajek, Sandra AMA Experts say litigation stress syndrome is a real phenomenon,

Misc. Articles:

PR-Reference: Legal Abuse Syndrome LAS) Or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Lanson ADA letter to Fla. Gov. Charlie Christ

Must Have Books:

A Concise Restatement of Torts, 2d (American Law Institute) Fundamentals of Litigation for Paralegals, 5th ed. Tort Law for Legal Assistants 3th (third) edition

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Professional Assistance:

Rebecca Carley, M.D. http://www.drcarley.com/bio.htm Court Qualified Expert in VIDS (Vaccine Induced Diseases) and Legal Abuse Syndrome. Dr. Jeanne King PHD Psychologist

PTSD References

1. Posttraumatic stress disorder. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2000. 2. Hollander E, et al. Posttraumatic stress disorder. In: Hales RE, et al., eds. The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2008. 3. Ciechanowski P, et al. Overview of post-traumatic stress disorder. 4. How common is PTSD? National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. 5. Nakell L. Adult post-traumatic stress disorder: Screening and treating in primary care. Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice. 2007;34:593. 6. Treatment of patients with acute stress disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder. American Psychiatric Association Practice Guidelines. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2004. 7. Self-care and self-help following disasters. National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. 8. Feldman MD, et al. Posttraumatic stress disorder. In: Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2009. St. Louis, Mo.: Mosby; 2008. 9. What is posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. h. Accessed March 3, 2009. 10. Helping a family member who has PTSD. Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.. 11. Taylor HR, et al. Prazosin for treatment of nightmares related to PTSD. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy. 2008;65:716.

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