Other-Than-Gardner Versions of "Parental Alienation Syndrome"
Friendly Parent Provisions

Resources for Mothers Who are Accused of or Charged with:

"Estrangement, " Douglas Darnall's "Parental Alienation," "Brainwashing," "Poisoning The Children's Minds Against Their Father,"

and with being

"Uncooperative," "Unfriendly," "Argumentative," "Interfering,"
and Otherwise "Unlikely to Encourage the Growth of a
"Meaningful and Enriching" Relationship Between the Child and the Father."

Compiled by Trish Wilson, © 2001
All rights reserved by author

"The friendly parent concept is most often employed against the custodial or primary parent, typically the mother.
It is less often employed against fathers."

Joan Zorza, "Friendly Parent Provisions in Custody Determinations," Clearinghouse Review, Vol. 26, No. 8, December 1992, p. 924.

Family Values in Flux

Some lawyers are growing hostile to the "friendly parent" idea in custody fights
American Bar Association Journal
Vol. 87, p. 26, October 2001

The idea, which grew out of the fathers' rights movement of the 1980s, has become so prevalent that family courts across the country rely on it regularly. A number of states have codified it.

But although a relatively young principle, the concept has some family lawyers downright hostile. They argue that courts too easily guided by the principle may overlook more egregious problems, like domestic violence. They also say judges may determine friendliness based on behavior that, paradoxically, may threaten a spouse or child.

Washington State Friendly Parent Bill SB 5511 - my testimony against it

"Washington Rejects "Friendly Parent" Presumption in Child Custody Cases"

by Margaret K. Dore and J. Mark Weiss
Washington State Bar News
August, 2001

The friendly parent concept rewards manipulative litigation tactics.

Now, three recent Court of Appeals decisions have clearly rejected the friendly parent concept: Custody of Nunn, 103 Wn. App. 871, 14 P.3d 175 (2000), Lawrence v. Lawrence, 105 Wn. App. 683, 20 P.3d 972 (2001), and In re Parentage of Schroeder ___Wn. App. ___, 22 P.3d 1281 (2001). Indeed, Lawrence expressly holds that "use of the friendly parent concept in a custody determination would be an abuse of discretion." Lawrence, 20 P.3d at 974. Lawrence is the first reported decision in the United States and Canada to both identify the concept by name, and reject it.

"The "Friendly Parent" Concept: A Flawed Factor for Child Custody,"
by Margaret Dore.

"The Stamm Case and Guardians ad Litem,"
by Margaret Dore.
Washington State Bar Association Elder Law Section Newsletter, Winter 2004-2005, p. 3.

"The New Abuse - Child Custody,"

In the War against Domestic Violence, Many Courts Are on the Wrong Side
Editorial, Through the Eyes of a Child

A "friendly parent" provision in many state's statutes basically states that if one parent expresses concern about the other parent's ability to parent, the concerned parent loses custody. The intent was to guarantee that children went to the most flexible parent--the result has been to penalize victims of domestic violence. When mothers express concern about the abuse, many courts presume they are coaching their children to say their fathers harmed them...

"Custody Order or Disordered Custody? "

By Joan Braun
Institute Against Family Violence
British Columbia , Canada

Problematically, raising allegations of child abuse can actually work against the one raising them. S. 16(10) of the Divorce Act states that, in making custodial determinations, the courts are to consider the willingness of the custodial parent to facilitate contact with the other parent. This has been called the "friendly parent presumption". As a result, if a woman raises safety concerns, but is unable to prove her allegations, she risks having the court conclude that she is merely being vindictive in order to prevent her ex-partner from having contact with his child. On the other hand, if she does not raise legitimate concerns she is putting the child's safety at risk.
"Section III: Proposed Guidelines for Custody and Visitation or
Cases with Domestic Violence"

High-Conflict and Violent
Parents in Family Court:


By Janet R. Johnston, Ph.D
Center for the Family in Transition

The "friendly parent" provision specifies that the parent most willing to provide liberal visitation to the other parent is favored as the physical custodial parent (see Civil Code section 4600(b)(1)). This provision should not apply if it would impair the ability of a parent to act in a child's best interest by protecting the child from witnessing violence.

"Joint Custody Laws Facilitate Abuse

by Jack Straton
University Studies
Portland State University
Portland, Oregon

"Friendly parent" provisions guarantee a batterer frequent and continuing access to his victim. Such provisions force a woman who has been beaten by her partner to submit to further abuse during custodial exchanges or lose custody of her child.


The "Father's Right's" Movement
How to Legally Stalk, Harass, and
Intimidate Victims of Domestic Violence
after a Restraining Order has been Issued
by Janet Normalvanbruecher

"For purposes of determining child custody, it is not in the best interest of children to (a) force parents to share custody over the objection of one or both parents when there is a history of domestic violence; (b) punish abused or protective parents who protect themselves or their children; (c) presume allegations of domestic violence or child sexual assault are likely to be made falsely or for tactical advantage during custody and divorce proceedings; and (d) make 'friendly parent' provisions a factor when there is abuse by one parent against the other or a child..." (Congressional findings, VAWA proposed 1999 amendments, H.R. 357, Title II, s. 241).
"Analysis of the Feedback Booklet"
for the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Consultation
on Custody, Access and Child Support in Canada

Developed by the Vancouver Custody & Access Support & Advocacy Association (VCASAA)
and the Battered Women's Support Services (BWSS)
May 2001

"The overall options in this booklet are flawed, largely because they are not placed in a context of issues of critical importance to women. These issues include the systemic economic and social inequalities experienced by women, the specific inequalities experienced by marginalized women, the devaluing of parenting & home-maker work traditionally done by women, and issues of violence against women and children by intimate partners."

[Trish's note: This section comments on the Feedback Booklet's Option 5: To replace the term "joint custody" with the father's rights term "shared parenting." Please see this link for the truth about how joint custody does not work, and how it benefits only the men who demand it.]

"This option holds all the problems of Option 4 and more. It places the onus on those who know shared parenting will be problematic to argue against it. This parent will then be perceived as the 'unfriendly parent' and risk losing custody altogether. It invites a lack of attention to abuse and violence against women in relationships. It will increase costs and litigation, thereby making separation and divorce disproportionately difficult for women who are poor or under-employed, women with disabilities, women from racialized and immigrant communities and lesbians."

"The Impact of Domestic Violence Allegations in Custody Determinations "

By Mardi J. Montello and Kathleen C. DuBois

"And even if you are sent to court because you are considered exempt because of abuse, judges are able and do send you back for mediation and parenting ed. So even with the exemptions for abuse, judges themselves have bought the pr about the benefits of alternative dispute resolution and are reluctant to make decisions. The attitudes can not be contained and effect the court process as well. Also when you do attend information sessions, or try and unsuccessfully to mediate, the mediator or person doing the assessment makes note for the judge about how likely or unlikely the issues are to be resolved, again we disagree with judges having access to this, and can work as a friendly parent rule against women who refuse mediation because of abuse. I have seen this happen. I think the biggest invisible problem with all this is how it effects the attitudes of the legal systems prof. Litigation has gotten a dirty name as being adversarial, it is already held against those who go to court, and certainly battered women need to be able to go to court."

Because of the too rigorous 'friendly parent' rule, battered women already know there are serious repercussions for denying access to their ex-spouses, even if there are compelling reasons to do so (abuse,drunkenness). As a corollary to the friendly parent rule, a parent should be able to protect the child from contact with a parent if that contact is dangerous.


By Tania Pocock and Fiona Cram

Joint custody, and/or 'friendly parent' presumptions are not just untenable, they effectively undercut the safety and autonomy battered women seek, both for themselves and their children, when they leave an abusive relationship.

"Executive Summary"

Brief submitted to the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Working Group on Family Law
by the Ontario Women's Network on Custody and Access
June 2001

Shared parenting is often understood to mean both parents are equal participants in their children's lives, something for which many parents strive. However, legislated shared parenting, after the dissolution of a marriage, has a number of implications that have little to do with children's best interests and everything to do with monitoring and controlling the choices of mothers, usually the primary caregiver, as they pertain to her children. This is evident from the way in which fathers' rights groups have discussed and lobbied for its implementation: a father's right to access their children is their primary goal- even when the well-being of the child may be at stake or the child does not wish to spend time with the father. The case for shared parenting is even more astonishing since the problem many women and children encounter after divorce is an unwillingness or disinterest on the part of the father to exercise his right to access altogether. Nevertheless, fathers' rights groups have succeeded in characterizing mothers who have primary custody of their children as wanting to frequently and maliciously withhold access from their fathers, and, as a consequence, need to be punished into complying with access orders and agreements. In addition to the option of equal time sharing that is proposed in Putting Children's Interests First, the document also asks Canadians their opinion on parenting plans, mandatory mediation, a strengthening of the friendly parent rule and programs and coercive sanctions targeted at the non-cooperative parent, usually understood to be the mother.? ?

"A Submission to the Custody and Access Project, Federal Department of Justice"

by Martha Muzychka with Wendy Williams
Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women, Newfoundland and Labrador
February 1994

"Friendly parent" rule

The Council does not support the continued inclusion of the "friendly parent" rule in the Divorce Act. As we noted in our comments in section 5, the lack of judicial sensitivity to women's concerns and experience make it especially problematic for the law to give the court the power to evaluate the potential of the custodial parent to facilitate access.

"RECOMMENDATIONS to the Special Joint Committee on Child Custody and Access

The FREDA Centre
for Research on Violence against Women and Children
The National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL)
March 1998

The "Friendly Parent" Rule

11. NAWL recommends that sections 16(10) and 17(9) of the Divorce Act should be removed and any similar provisions in any provincial statute also be removed.
Collaborative Lawyers Southeast Florida


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