Like us on Facebook




As attorneys, our main focus is on our client's well being. We fight aggressively to protect you and your loved ones.




For more information, call us at (908) 810-1083 or complete our online contact form.



Connect with us on LinkedIn



When you choose us, you work directly with our seasoned attorneys. We will get to know you so we can recognize your unique needs and strive to meet them.




For more information, call us at (908) 810-1083 or complete our online contact form.



Follow us on Twitter



We strive to protect what is most important to you; utilizing our broad experiences and talent in negotiation, advocacy, and litigation.




For more information, call us at (908) 810-1083 or complete our online contact form.



Follow us on Google Plus



Our law firm will provide you with the information you need to understand your options and make the choices that are right for you and your family.




For more information, call us at (908) 810-1083 or complete our online contact form.



Watch us on YouTube



Legal cases can be emotionally and financially draining. From the very start, we will work diligently to find avenues to resolve your case as efficiently and effectively as possible.




For more information, call us at (908) 810-1083 or complete our online contact form.

Allison Williams Williams Law Group Family Law, Divorce, Custody & Support
As an attorney, it has always been, and will always be, about helping people. I'm passionate about my clients and I aggressively represent them. The Williams Law Group uses ethical means to create winning strategies. If you have a legal issue/s, we'd like to hear your message!
Send

                                            avvo

Legal Standards

When Exaggerated or Untrue Accusations of Abuse Enter the Picture

In previous works, we’ve discussed the horrendous problems that can be unleashed when you’re falsely accused of abusing or neglecting your child. Even if you clear your name and reputation – and salvage your relationship with your child – the sting of the fight over the allegations can last for years and damage or negatively alter many relationships in your life. In the case of alienation, a desperate instigating parent may make up allegations, exaggerate problems, and persist in inventing claims even after you have been cleared of any wrongdoing. Here’s the basic problem. Once the instigating parent gets the notion that abuse or neglect is occurring (or might be occurring), it’s very hard to unring that bell. Meanwhile, if the child is prone to listening to the instigating parent, things can get even more out of control and lead not only to problems with the relationship but also to legal problems for you that could lead to job loss, fines and possibly jail time. Even if you can disprove any allegations in court, the child may still come to believe the narrative constructed by the instigating parent. The fact that you will have “evaded justice” may only stoke the child’s righteous indignation, leading to a vicious cycle that can make unwinding the damage to the relationship almost impossible. Small incidences can be blown out of proportion to paint a misleading picture. For instance, let’s say that one night, you are too tired from fighting in court to cook a fresh dinner, so you order pizza. The instigating parent discovers this decision and, because she views everything you do in a harsh light, concludes that you have “malnourished” your child and put him or her at risk of diabetes. Stern words said over unfinished homework can be twisted to make it sound like you’re verbally abusive in general. A child’s cell phone video taken of you losing your temper over the dog making a mess in the kitchen can suddenly become evidence of your “violent personality.” Correcting these distortions can feel like a game of plugging a bursting dam with your fingers. There’s only so much you can do to keep things from crashing in on you. Again, the key is to develop a robust but flexible strategy for counteracting these accusations (and/or dealing with their legal and custody related implications, if it’s gone that far) by working with...

Read More

When a Parent Breaks Visitation, Custody or Spousal Support Rules

Just because a couple has developed a parenting plan or the court has imposed rules regarding time sharing or financial support doesn’t mean that everyone will abide by those terms. What happens then? As we’ve discussed previously, the alienating parent may flout visitation rules by inventing excuses or by pretending that the child is sick or overwhelmed by homework or sports. The goal – often subconscious – is to shorten visits with the targeted parent. Calling out these rule violations and getting them to stop can be tricky, to say the least, particularly if the slights are small and incremental. It’s one thing for a parent to abscond to Quebec for a two-week vacation with a child without telling the other parent. But many times, the rule violations are quite subtle. For instance, can you prove that your child wasn’t actually sick on some day, particularly if the child believes that you’re the problem and is in collusion with the alienating parent? Without access to vehicle and shop records, how can you prove that the other parent didn’t actually have a flat tire on the day she claimed that she couldn’t drop the child off at your apartment for the weekend? Documenting, investigating and ultimately ending this “nickel-and-diming” behavior can take patience as well as keen observation. An attorney experienced with handling complex child custody and Parental Alienation cases can help you develop a plan for how to regain control. For skillful, experienced assistance handling your Parental Alienation case, call the Williams Law Group, LLC immediately at (908)...

Read More

Core Principles to Bear in Mind for Handling Parental Alienation

Scholars and practitioners recommend the following principles for resolving alienation: • Document what happens, and pay attention to people’s actions. Writing down comments, behaviors and reactions from family members – as well as strategies tried to stop or unwind the damage – can be quite useful. An objective record of what has happened can help those caught up in destructive patterns to identify and change them. As Marilyn Vos Savant once said, “To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.” • Be patient. Especially as a victim of alienating behavior, you may yearn to reverse the damage done and “get your child back” as soon as possible. However, trying to rush the process could make the situation worse. Your child was not brainwashed overnight; even if he or she wants to repair your relationship, unwinding the damage and rebuilding trust will take time. • Set expectations that will inspire motivation. Setting “reasonable” expectations doesn’t mean giving up your faith and conviction that you will succeed. If your 15-year-old daughter just yelled at you over the phone, saying that she hates you and never wants to see you again, you shouldn’t give up on the relationship. However, it’s essential that you remain aware and accepting of what’s actually happening in the relationship, as opposed to what you wish was happening. Appreciate that the path ahead will likely be rocky, beset by setbacks and confusion, but never surrender faith in a positive outcome. • Care for yourself and manage yourself. Even with court intervention and therapeutic help, you can never force a child to love you or compel the instigating parent to behave in a civil or even reasonable manner. However, what you can do is monitor your own thoughts, behaviors, habits and attitudes. You can strive to be as resourceful as possible, given the realities of your situation. Recognize your needs that have gone unmet as a result of the alienation, and strive to meet them in spite of the circumstances. For instance, let’s say that you lost custody of your 8-year-old and 4-year-old. You’re feeling lonely, because the house is empty and because your 8-year-old yells at your every time you get on the phone together. Recognize that you have needs for love and companionship that are going unmet. Then work to meet those needs by, for instance, conscientiously reaching out to friends. No...

Read More

The Appropriateness of an Intervention for Parental Alienation

This can depend on a constellation of factors, such as: • How long has the alienation been happening? • Does the alienating parent acknowledge that he or she has been doing something wrong? Does that parent want to change? • How severe has the alienation been? • How has the child’s behavior or disposition changed toward the targeted parent? • What is the state of the relationship between the alienating and targeted parents? For instance, are there other legal issues at play that could influence the situation, such as a contentious divorce, allegations of child abuse or neglect, or a fight over paternity? • Does either parent have a criminal history or history of mental illness? • Are there other children involved, including step-children? • Have other trusted adults (including family members, therapists, older siblings, etc.) played a role in the alienation? • What interventions have been tried already? If so, what happened and why? Even when the situation is relatively simple — for instance, there are no counter allegations of abuse or neglect; or the instigating parent feels embarrassed and wants to get control of his or her behavior — unwinding the damage can take time and care. In some ways, you can think of the situation as like a tangled ball of colored yarn. The yellow strand of yarn might represent the rejected parent’s feelings. The green strand might represent the instigating parent’s backstory. The blue string might represent the child’s story. “Pulling” on one strand inevitably creates friction on the other stands. Unskillful work can make the messy knot even tighter and more intractable. It takes patience, experience and an informed sense of the family and its root conflicts to create a strategic plan. For skillful, experienced assistance handling your Parental Alienation case, call the Williams Law Group, LLC immediately at (908)...

Read More

Picking Up the Pieces After Parental Alienation

How, exactly, should a family repair itself after the trauma of alienation? In previous posts, we discussed Dr. Richard Warshak’s Family Bridges program, which is designed to help families reconcile after severe parental alienation. Different scholars and practitioners who specialize in this area have developed other solutions, however, often based on conflicting philosophies. Gardner’s Transitional Sites Dr. Richard Gardner, perhaps the most famous academic in the field of PA, originally thought that the child should be taken from the home of the alienating parent and forcibly placed with the other parent. From a practical standpoint, however, this could create difficulties. The child might rebel further, run away, or become resentful and brooding. To that end, Dr. Gardner later advocated for the idea of so called “transitional sites” — neutral spaces, like parks or coffee shops, where the targeted parent and the child could meet to chat and reconcile. Darnall’s Focus on Parental Behavior, Rather Than on the Child Dr. Douglas Darnall offered a different solution in his now classic 1997 article, “New definition of parental alienation – What is the difference between Parental Alienation (PA) and Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)?” Dr. Darnall wanted to focus “more on the parent’s behavior and less on the child’s role in denigrating the victimized parent … by the time the children have come to agree with the alienating parent’s propaganda, it can be too late to prevent the significant damaging effects of the alienation.” Therapists Unwittingly Becoming Part of the Problem Frustratingly, therapists and other advocates who are supposed to be neutral can get caught up in the drama and pick sides, despite their best intentions. In 1995, Mary Lunn wrote that “therapists, especially individual child therapists, can unwittingly become part of the system maintaining [PA], because very few therapists know about [what alienation is, why it happens and what can be done to stop it].” A social worker or family psychologist working with a family may have little to no understanding of parental alienation, for instance, and thus little insight into its triggers or possible solution. For skillful, experienced assistance handling your Parental Alienation case, call the Williams Law Group, LLC immediately at (908)...

Read More

Cultivating Empathy for the Alienating Parent

As someone who has been victimized by alienating behavior – or who believes that you’ve been victimized – you may find it very challenging to conjure empathy for the other parent. After all, this person is (you believe) trying to destroy your relationship with your child! However, you may find empathy to be a very useful tool not only to control your emotions but also to cultivate insights into what therapeutic and legal tactics might be appropriate. If you understand what the alienator is feeling and needing — if you can connect on some level — you might be able to diffuse the situation and/or reverse the damage done. Empathy is powerful but hard to access. The goal is to try to “hear beneath” the negative images and accusations to identify what’s alive in the other person. For instance, let’s say your ex-wife says something like “you don’t love your children, so why do you even bother fighting for the right to see them?” Your goal with an empathic response is not to get defensive or to offer counterevidence. Rather, you want to listen and understand what’s going on with her that’s motivating her to make that statement. Maybe she’s feeling adrift since the divorce, because she lacks a stable network of friends, like you have. So she is clinging to her relationship with your child, so that she feels connected. The drive to “feel connected” is understandable; it’s a very human drive. The strategy she’s pursuing to fulfill that drive (by alienating the child against you, so that she can have the child all to herself) is obviously inappropriate. But the fundamental need certainly makes sense. Here are some common needs that might be underlying Parental Alienation attempts: • The need for control and anatomy. Going through a divorce can be a chaotic life transition, even for the most emotionally stable and happy people. The yearning for control can lead to destructive behaviors and habits. • The need for justice. The alienating parent may have developed a belief that you’ve been hitting or00 neglecting your children. She is in the grips of a false paradigm that you are a wrongdoer who needs to be stopped. She might be wrong, but her needs for justice and fairness can be understood. • The need for love. This may sound like a strange need to be at the core of alienating...

Read More

What Inspires Parents to Become Alienators in the First Place?

Given the damage that Parental Alienation causes not just the children caught in the middle and the targeted parents but also the alienating parents themselves, why would anyone engage in this strategy? Here are six reasons that clinicians have observed: 1. The parent develops inaccurate beliefs about key family relationships. For instance, maybe while you were in the midst of divorce, the school called and reported that your son fell off the monkey bars and got bruised. The school might have initially suspected that you caused the bruises through physical abuse. Although later evidence exonerated you — maybe a teacher came forward and said that she saw your son fall off the monkey bars — your ex-wife refuses to believe that evidence and becomes obsessed with the idea that you’ve been secretly hitting your son. As a result, she is now on a crusade to sever your relationship with him “for his own good.” 2. The alienating parent is mentally or physically ill. For instance, a parent in the early stages of schizophrenia or a parent affected by bipolar disorder or borderline personality might develop delusional beliefs that you are a wrongdoer and that you need to be separated from your child at all costs. 3. The parent is lashing out at you because of a divorce or custody setback. If the divorce has turned ugly, and the other parent worries that you might prevail at court and obtain certain treasured property or custodial rights, he or she might seek revenge by alienating your children against you. 4. Influence from a charismatic, persuasive figure might lead to alienation. For instance, maybe you and your wife’s mother never got along. When you ended the relationship, the mother immediately badmouthed you to your ex-wife and convinced her that you were a threat to the children. In other words, one brainwashing can beget another. 5. Something unrelated to the divorce or custody fight triggers a reaction of anger, fear or hopelessness that inspires the alienation. For instance, maybe your ex-spouse just got fired or got diagnosed with a scary health problem. She turned to alienating behavior to try to regain a sense of control over her life and her environment. A drug or alcohol addiction can also fuel aggressive, alienating behavior. For instance, while sober, your wife would never think of badmouthing you to the child and would instead prefer to maintain...

Read More

Positive, Negative and Partial Reinforcement

Dr. Richard Gardner, who’s largely credited for bringing Parental Alienation to the attention of the legal and psychological community, cataloged alienating behavior in three ways. 1. Positive reinforcement This strategy involves rewarding the child’s behavior, words or actions when the child “goes along” with the alienation. For instance, let’s say the child says something to the effect of “Mom, I totally agree that dad’s a loser. Last weekend, he barely left the couch; he watched TV almost the entire time I was over there.” The alienating parent might reward this admission by buying the child ice cream or allowing him or her to use a special toy, or she may just revel in how much of a “loser” the dad is. 2. Negative reinforcement This is basically the flipside. If the child says or does something out of step with the negative narrative, the alienating parent gets mean, withdraws or chastises the child. For instance, maybe the child says something to the effect of “I don’t know, Mom, the last time I was over Dad’s house, the place was clean, and his new girlfriend, Janine, gave me ice cream.” The alienating parent might respond by flying into a rage or going on a rant to the effect of: “Janine gave you ice cream? You know how bad sugar is for you! Do you want to become obese and diabetic like your father is?” Or the parent might react passive-aggressively by suddenly ‘getting a headache’ and withdrawing for the evening. 3. Partial reinforcement This strategy uses a toxic mixture of both positive and negative reinforcement. The alienating parent behaves like Jekyll and Hyde. The child never knows whether “good mom” or “bad mom” will show up. As a result, the child often goes along with the alienation, because of the fear of the outrageous and unpredictable behavior. For skillful, experienced assistance handling your Parental Alienation case, call the Williams Law Group, LLC immediately at (908)...

Read More

Family Bridges: Healing Families Affected by Severe Alienation

Fortunately, most cases of parental alienation are not so severe that the damage cannot be unwound through skilled, timely therapeutic intervention. However, in special cases – in which alienators are particularly relentless or egregious, or where the child is uniquely susceptible to the brainwashing – more formally structured assistance may be needed. Dr. Richard Warshak developed a program called Family Bridges, which is available in Canada and throughout the United States, to help such families repair the damage done by PA and reconstruct their relationships. This private workshop involves multiple sessions over four consecutive days, designed to teach children how to have more balanced, objective views of their parents and also to develop skills to resist brainwashing and outside pressure. The goal is to empower children to form their own opinions independently. Parents, meanwhile, get practical tools they can use to diffuse conflicts and manage relationships. Not all families qualify for this intervention program. If the child’s history with the rejected parent is rocky — the child doesn’t want to live with or communicate with the rejected parent because of abuse, neglect or disparagement, for instance — that family cannot participate. The sessions strive to help children think critically, extract themselves from the middle of conflicts and stop them from unfairly rejecting parents. They also teach children and parents how to set and enforce limits and to prevent interactions that are psychologically damaging. Some Science Validates That Even Severe Alienation Can Be Reversed One research analysis found that the Family Bridges workshop has a 95% of success rate, when measured in terms of whether children regained positive attitudes about rejected parents. The results seem to stick. Follow-up surveys found that 82% of these mended relationships remained positive long after the sessions concluded. Another peer reviewed study with a smaller sample of children (23 total) found that, by the workshop’s conclusion, 22 out of 23 of the children regained positive feelings for the targeted parent, and 18 out of these 22 children retained positive feelings over the long-term. For skillful, experienced assistance handling your Parental Alienation case, call the Williams Law Group, LLC immediately at (908)...

Read More

Keep the Home Environment Stable

Children are far more resilient than many parents realize. For instance, children caught in a divorce can experience temporary setbacks at school, loss of motivation, depression and anxiety. However, these symptoms generally go away on their own, and most children of divorce rebound afterwards to exhibit similar levels of motivation, happiness and responsibility to those of their peers from intact families. Research conducted by Johns Hopkins University Professor, Andrew Cherlin, suggests that the stability (or lack thereof) of the home environment after divorce can play a powerful role in terms of influencing children after divorce. In his book, The Marriage-Go-Round, Cherlin builds a case that children who live in homes in which a newly divorce parent is constantly dating or re-partnering can be traumatized, because of the fundamental instability in the home. The child sees a string of male (or female) authority figures entering and leaving the house; this chaos creates confusion and vulnerability. Perhaps a better solution – a counterintuitive one – is to wait before dating or re-partnering and to take new relationships slowly. In other words, rather than re-partnering quickly to provide a “two-parent like” environment for the child, it might be better to stay single and keep the home stabilized. For skillful, experienced assistance handling your Parental Alienation case, call the Williams Law Group, LLC immediately at (908)...

Read More