Dr.. Heitler: I have had at least one case in which a physically abusive (to the mother) and alienating dad with half-time parenting trained the son to be physically abusive to his mother, both during their marriage and post-divorce. The mother still was able to see her son, but in response to his episodic pushing and punching, encouraged by the father, the mother was considering removing herself from further contact with the young man. Have you seen that kind of situation?
Dalia Erel: Yes, alas. In situations where domestic abuse has occurred, the court is always at risk for believing an abuser’s false accusations. These accusations can permit the alienating parent to continue post-divorce his abuse both of the child and of the targeted parent. The courts have a huge responsibility to get these cases right lest their decisions make the situation worse.