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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!
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Mental Health Treatment

Characteristics of the PAS Diagnosis

Dr. Gardner identified eight factors that can contribute to alienation. The alienating parent engages in a “campaign of denigration” against the targeted parent. In other words, PA is not a spouse saying one mean or spiteful remark out of context. The parent has to systematically say or do things to convince your child of your wrongness.   The depreciation is based on weak or absurd reasons.  It’s one thing for a parent to say: I’m so furious at your father for feeding you nothing but Kool-Aid and cupcakes over the weekend. That’s completely irresponsible, and I’m scared for you to go over there again. It’s quite another thing to say: I can’t believe your dad gave you an ice-cream sundae for dessert. You know how I feel about sugar! I can’t let your father keep poisoning you like that! As with many things in life, the dose makes the poison.   Lack of ambivalence. Even happily married spouses sometimes snap at each other and say less than flattering things in front of their children. However, there’s a big difference between losing your temper and then later reflecting and repenting, and engaging in a relentless, non-ambivalent campaign. For instance, the alienating parent might always call the other parent Mr. Liar or Dr. McCheatOnMe and use these insulting nicknames frequently with the child.   The child claims to come up with negative thoughts about the parent on her own. This is also known as the “independent thinker” phenomenon, and it’s a real hallmark of Parent Alienation. Disturbingly, a child will tell other people – and even come to believe – that he or she invented reasons not to like the targeted parent independently.   The child exhibits “reflexive support” for the alienating parent. This is somewhat related to factor #4; it speaks to the depth and breadth of the brainwashing, as well as the malleable psychology of young kids and adolescents.   The child expresses no feelings of guilt regarding the rejection of the targeted parent. For instance, let’s say the child says “I hate daddy” or “daddy is a mean liar, and I never want to stay at his house.” Even though kids sometimes naturally fight with their parents — or go through periods where they prefer one parent over the other — they usually moderate these stances or at least later “feel bad” about saying mean things. But in...

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Parental Alienation 101: Understanding the Basics

No one is born hating another person… People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. – Nelson Mandela American psychiatrist, Dr. Richard Gardner, coined the term and concept “Parental Alienation System” (PAS) back in 1985, based on work he had conducted in the 1980’s, to describe what happens when one parent prejudices a child against another parent. Here is how Dr. Gardner originally articulated the idea: “The parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against the parent, a campaign that has no justification. The disorder results from the combination of indoctrinations by the alienating parent and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the alienated parent.” Dr. Gardner and likeminded scholars have always carefully distinguished alienation – in which the child rejects a parent for no good reason – from estrangement – in which a child rejects a parent for understandable reasons, such as abuse, neglect or criminal behavior. For skillful, experienced assistance battling back against untrue allegations of child abuse or neglect, call the Williams Law Group, LLC immediately at (908)...

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Have You Been the Victim of Parental Alienation?

Even under the most amicable circumstances, negotiations over child custody during a divorce can turn bitter, even brutal. It’s one thing to haggle over how to divvy up the living room furniture or the wedding China; it’s another thing entirely to develop a nuts and bolts plan for how to co-parent, split up time and figure out who should go with whom over the holidays. Custody battles can test even the most compassionate among us, and they can also lead to devastating consequences, such as false allegations of abuse or neglect, a topic we covered extensively in a recent e-book and blog post series. Parents often do crazy, hurtful and sometimes even illegal things to win points in a child custody or divorce negotiation. This blog post series focuses on one of these hurtful tactics, Parental Alienation (PA). One parent — or sometimes a step-parent or grandparent — engages in a campaign of brainwashing and emotional manipulation designed to alienate a child from another parent. This process not only rips apart families but also permanently damages parent-child relationships. Once a child buys into the negative narrative made up about the targeted parent, the brainwashing “sticks” for years and even into adulthood. Whether you only suspect that your ex has been manipulating your child; or you have strong evidence of alienation, this series will give you a crash course on what to expect, how to fight back, and how to repair and hopefully restore your relationship with your child. This post and other posts that will follow on the same subject obviously do not constitute legal advice, and they in no way should substitute for advice from an experienced New Jersey child custody attorney. However, the series hopefully can ground your thinking and inspire more compassionate and strategic actions.   Here’s a quick rundown of what we plan to cover:  Section 1: Parental Alienation 101 In this section, we’ll learn about the history of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), define and explore key terms, and examine what drives the process and what remedies exist for it.   Section 2: Getting the Alienation to Stop and Repairing the Damage This section will cover tactics and strategies to get control of the situation and explore programs like Dr. Richard Warshak’s “Family Bridges,” which helps reverse the effects of severe parental alienation. We will also discuss what to do (and what to avoid doing)...

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Conclusion to Blog Series on False Abuse and Neglect Allegations

Standing accused of false allegations of abusing or neglecting your children can be one of the most painful and emotional experiences you will ever face in your life. Congratulations on working your way through our blog series on this topic. You’ve taken a brave first step to understanding what challenges you face and what resources might be available to you. Hopefully, this series has begun to return to you a sense of clarity and control. Over the past few weeks, we defined the critical terms and processes involved in New Jersey abuse and neglect cases, and we discussed strategic and tactical tools a falsely accused parent can use to restore parental rights, challenge unfair actions by DCP&P, negotiate more effectively, and communicate in a loving, clear fashion with your child throughout the experience. We also touched upon how to handle myriad problems in your life that are related, if only peripherally, to your case. Finally, we discussed how to find appropriate legal help and to communicate in a coherent, resourceful manner with your legal representative. Whether you are a falsely accused parent – or you are a medical provider, psychologist or criminal defense lawyer who works with falsely accused parents – we’d love to speak with you at length and in confidence about your case and your needs. Please call us at (908) 810-1083 today to set up the consultation, or discover more about what we do and why at http://newjerseydyfsdefense.com. We wish you the best of luck and healing as you navigate the complexities ahead of you. Stay strong. Stay focused. You can clear your name and restore your family to...

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A Quick Survey of Parental Alienation Behaviors and Their Severity

There are 3 basic types of alienating behavior. 1. The parent can positively reinforce the alienation. The parent rewards the child when he or she agrees with a critical statement about you or makes fun of you. For example: “You’re so right that your father looks ridiculous in that picture. He was never able to control himself around alcohol.” 2. The parent can negatively reinforce the alienation. The parent can scream or become emotionally agitated when the child refuses to go along with the criticism of you. For example: “What are you talking about? Your father does NOT look like he lost weight. I’d be surprised if that fat slob has even moved from that couch of his. You can never excuse that kind of lazy behavior!” 3. The parent can partially reinforce the alienation. This is the most vexing and psychologically harmful strategy. The parent mixes up positive and negative reinforcement, so that the child never knows what to expect. To stop this chaotic behavior – and regain a sense of control – the child may agree with the attacks to mollify the alienating parent. Even when a child just “goes along with” the alienating parent just to get the unpleasant behavior to stop, over time, he or she may come to believe the lies and distortions. In such cases, reversing the brainwashing can be quite challenging. Once the false narrative has been fully implanted, the child may resist attempts to rewrite that narrative and may start even inventing new details to embellish and support the stories made up by the alienating parent. Three Levels of Parental Alienation 1. Mild Alienation This is characterized by the following: • The alienating parent occasionally says or does things to make the other parent “look bad” in the eyes of the child but then later regrets the actions and often tries to engage in repair of the relationship; • The parent generally complies with court orders and engages in respectful conversation with the targeted parent; • The alienating behavior typically occurs during the most challenging times of a divorce and then later stops;   2. Moderate Alienation This is characterized by the following: • The alienating parent often loses control and engages in rage-fueled alienating behavior, which he or she often later deeply regrets. • The parent will comply with court orders, but the relationship with the targeted parent is very...

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FAQs about DCP&P and Child Neglect and Abuse Charges [Part 6]

How do visits with your child work? In general, when your child is in foster care, it’s up to DCP&P to arrange visits that will occur for one hour every other week at the DCP&P office. Your attorney can help you obtain longer and more frequent times to meet up with your child. You also may be able to arrange things, so that you meet with your child outside the DCP&P office at a place like a park or restaurant. Your attorney can help you negotiate other elements of the process, such as when and how you can communicate with your child via mail, phone and email, etc. How should you make most of the visits with your child? The number one rule is to be as pleasant as possible. Put away distractions, such as your cell phone, and be your best self. Demonstrating good behavior at the visits can obviously help you, while losing control verbally, emotionally or physically will obviously not be helpful. Especially since you face false or trumped up allegations, you may find these visits quite emotionally challenging. Perhaps the child is now living with the ex-spouse who lied about you, and the child has grown to believe the false tale that’s been constructed. Or maybe the child is not sure who is telling the truth. Use active listening. Be empathetic. Try to reflect your child’s feelings and needs without getting caught up in your own thoughts, feelings or drama. For instance, let’s say that your child reports that he got a string of D’s and C’s on his report card. He used to be a mostly A and B student. This revelation about the report card could be quite charged. Your instinct might be to sympathize, tell stories, get emotional, blame, etc. For instance you might find yourself saying things along the lines of: • “I’m really disappointed.” • “This is all my fault. If I hadn’t got myself into this mess, your grades would be better.” • “Your teachers are obviously not listening to you.” • “I remember when my friend Johnny went through something similar.” Engaging in this manner makes the situation all about you and your feelings and needs. Instead, take a step back and just be a mirror for your child. You can follow this three-step process. 1. Just reflect the objective facts of the situation, almost as if you...

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FAQs about DCP&P and Child Neglect and Abuse Charges [Part 5]

How confidential is any information I share with my attorney? In general, what you tell your attorney in confidence (when no one else is around) must remain confidential. However, your attorney is obligated to go to the police if you say that you are going to commit a crime in the future. Will the general public be able to access information from the court hearings? No. Both information at the hearings and also information contained in DCP&P’s files must remain confidential. What are some tips and strategies for how to handle your DCP&P caseworker? First off, keep records of who your caseworker is and what happens in various meetings. As the Chinese saying goes, the faintest ink is clearer than strongest memory. Track information, such as the person’s name, email, telephone number, supervisor, etc. Track the dates and times of any conversations or emails with DCP&P representatives (including covering workers, supervisors, etc.). Include failed attempts to reach the agency, such as voice mails or emails that don’t get returned. Your attorney can also help you organize and orchestrate these communications. Be your best self when interacting with DCP&P. Avoid getting heated or overly defensive, even if you feel understandably emotional about the situation. Yelling at people or making inappropriate emotional appeals will not serve your interests. Instead, be business like. Be diligent. Be clear. Understand precisely what your responsibilities are and what kinds of deadlines you have to meet during the process. Stick with facts instead of generalities. What responsibilities does DCP&P have to you and your child? In an ideal world, DCP&P is supposed to try to keep families intact, to create action plans to solve underlying issues and to provide needed support. The reality, as we’ve discussed, can be often quite different and more adversarial. But that’s at least the mission statement. DCP&P, at minimum, must provide a case plan for you and your family, offer services that can restore your family or keep it intact, and keep you up-to-date about the case. If your child is placed in care, DCP&P must set up times for a visit with your child and also inform you about what’s going on with your child educationally, developmentally, medically, and so forth. Is DCP&P obligated to help you? In severe situations, DCP&P can ask the judge to be excused from assisting you, because your parental rights have been ended or because...

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Is supervision required any time DCPP files a complaint alleging abuse?

To learn about supervised visitation any time DCPP files a complaint, watch this...

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I heard there is a law called UIFSA what does this law do?

Watch this video to find out about the new law called UIFSA, and what this law...

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FAQs about DCP&P and Child Neglect and Abuse Charges [Part 3]

What is the Legal Service’s Family Representation Project? Legal Services of New Jersey (LSNJ) sponsors this project, which connects low income parents with legal assistance for dealing with DCP&P cases involving accusations of neglect and abuse. What is the DAG? The DAG, also known as Deputy Attorney General, is an attorney who represents the DCP&P in Court. What is a Law Guardian? This is an attorney who will represent the interests of your child. The Law Guardian is appointed by the Court from a special section of the Office of Public Defender — the Law Guardian’s Section. What are the judge’s responsibilities in your case? Judges, obviously, strive to shield children from harm caused by neglectful or abusive parents. At the same time, they also want to protect the rights of parents and try to keep families intact. The judge will try to assess, objectively, the facts of your case in light of applicable New Jersey law and form an equitable decision. However, when in doubt, most judges err on the side of DCP&P. For this reason, it is imperative that you have a skilled attorney at your side to ensure you have every opportunity to successfully defeat specious requests made by DCP&P. What is a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)? The CASA worker is an agent of the court who is tasked to get to know you and your child and collect information for the court to evaluate. What’s the difference between a DCP&P action and a criminal case? The kind of action we’ve been discussing in this book is known as a civil action. As we touched on earlier, there are several critical distinctions between civil and criminal cases. In a criminal case, for instance, the prosecuting side must prove its case “beyond a reasonable doubt”; whereas in a civil case, the prosecution needs to prove its case by a “preponderance of the evidence” – basically, 50% plus a little more. Evidence that would be strong enough to achieve victory in a civil case, for instance, could fall short in a criminal case. On the other hand, criminal convictions come with criminal penalties, such as jail time. If you lose your civil case, you will not be subjected to criminal penalties. Even if you are found culpable of child abuse or neglect in a DCP&P action, most cases are eligible for reunification between parent and child. For...

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