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SC Family Lawyer Featured in Article About Parental Alienation

Posted by J. Benjamin Stevens | Jan 21, 2007 | 0 Comments

Lawyers Weekly USA recently published an excellent article on parental alienation syndrome (PAS).  "Parental Alienation: The Latest Weapon in Nasty Divorces" takes an inside look at the various aspects of PAS from the perspectives of those involved in the legal system.  The article features interviews with psychologist Richard Gardner and several divorce attorneys: Steve Pradell of Anchorage, Alaska; Susan Gallagher of Minneapolis, Minnesota; Michael R. Walsh of Orlando, Florida; Patrick O'Reilly of Buffalo, New York; and me, Ben Stevens.

Some of the quotes from me in this article are:

  • Although parental alienation has become a common weapon in custody cases around the country, proving it can be a tall order.  "It's like everything else in a custody case – it all comes down to what you can prove at trial. A lot of bad things happen, but they're very difficult to prove," said Ben Stevens of Stevens MacPhail in Spartanburg, S.C.
  • But the heart of any parental alienation case is the expert testimony, according to Stevens.  "Take the child to a mental health professional and let him do testing," he suggested. "Then you've got an expert witness to come and say, ‘In my expert opinion, this is what's going on.'"
  • Third-party witnesses can also be a powerful weapon in court.  "Try to line up witnesses that would have had the opportunity to see [the parent] interact with the child. Teachers, scout leaders, dance teachers, karate teachers – people who see them during times when parents let their guard down and can say, ‘I've never seen Dad say anything bad about Mom or Mom say anything bad about Dad,'" Stevens suggested.
  • "I encourage my clients to act reasonably, assume anything they do or say could be shown to the judge – or better yet, that the judge is standing there watching," said Stevens. "I don't know if that's great advice or I've just had good clients, but I haven't had many alienation claims alleged against my clients."
  • Stevens is also careful to take cases he believes in strongly.  "It's not worth it to me to deal with clients who are acting deliberately," he said. "If they're going to do that to their child's parent, I'm going to have a problem with them at some point."

The other attorneys interviewed in the article make interesting points, and some even disagree with  me on certain issues.  I strongly suggest that you read this article and consider all of the points raised by the various contributors.  You can read the full text of the article by clickingHERE.

Source:  "Parental Alienation: The Latest Weapon in Nasty Divorces" by Amy Johnson Conner, published at Lawyers Weekly USA.

About the Author

J. Benjamin Stevens

Senior Partner


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