Courts - USA - parental grief syndrome
Dear Attorney General Ashcroft:
In my letter of January 21, 2002, I attempted to bring to
your attention the injustices in the family courts that are
"creating environments conducive to domestic violence,
suicides and what may very well even become homicides in the
near future." Since then, the course of my practice as
a family psychologist, the frequency of contacts from severely
distraught and potentially dangerous [to themselves or to
others] parents who have been improperly separated from their
children confirms the continuing need to intervene in our
state because "Nothing was done and nothing will be done
to prevent this catastrophe from continuing? without outside
intervention. I believe that your office has both the means
and the authority to prevent the violence that must inevitably
occur until these injustices are remedied.
As a pertinent example of the consequences of the failure
to come to grips with these issues, you may wish to consider
the case of John Allen Muhammed. From all indications, in
proceedings I have found to be typical throughout the family
court system, he was dehumanized by the process that tore
him from his children possibly resulting in a severe form
of the psychological disturbance Parental Grief Syndrome.
We must ask is Mr. Allen Muhammed simply a cold-blooded killer
or was he driven into his destructive mental state by being
torn from his children by an improper family court process.
Mr. Allen Muhammed is an extreme example, but there are many
others, as I indicated in my original letter, and I have no
doubt that unless some action is taken there will be yet others.
We must also ask how many of these are soon to become a John
Allen Muhammed or a Thomas Alaimo [suicide 2-6-01].
The essential feature of Parental Grief Syndrome is the development
of characteristic symptoms in a parent following the loss
of custody and/or the loss or reduction of parenting time
as the result of the legal process. While Parental Grief Syndrome
was first named at the On Step Institute?s symposium ?The
Paternal Instinct? in November 1999, the syndrome itself was
immediately recognized by the symposium?s participants. The
seriousness of the disorder is clearly indicated by the fact
that there has been at least one suicide per month in the
NY metropolitan area wherein Parental Grief Syndrome is implicated.
Humans have an instinctual need to love, nurture, protect
children - when this instinct is frustrated serious emotional
problems occur. For example, historical records suggest that
this was the case within the slave population wherein the
breakup of the family was considered the worst of slavery?s
evils. There is overwhelming evidence of a strong inborn need
for parents, both men and women, to fight for their children.
With the current legal system having made resistance in the
courts to separation from their children effectively impossible,
parents? anger is often turned inward frequently leading to
suicide or other self destructive behavior.
It is for these reasons that I call on you once again, to
plead with you to bring immediate legal action that will put
a halt to the violation of constitutional rights in the family
courts of New York State and others that that have simply
ignored what the United States Supreme Court has called improper
interference in the right of fit parents to exercise ?the
care custody and control of their children? see for example,
Troxel v. Granville, 99-138 [U.S. 06/05/2000 U.S. Supreme
Court, November 1999.
Mr. Ashcroft, children have a need and a right to both parents.
Please act now to protect that right.
Robert Palumbo Ph. D.