The divorce industry has a lot of experts. Some of them are convinced there’s an epidemic of “parental alienation syndrome” that they say is akin to child abuse and caused by mentally-ill parents. Others say there’s no such thing and that it’s a bogus diagnosis meant to muddy the waters and allow greedy and corrupt court actors to place children in danger for money.
Meanwhile, father’s rights groups are fighting for shared parenting laws known as “presumed 50/50,” sparking another flaming-hot controversy. Domestic abuse victims say that shared parenting forces abuse victims to continue being abused. Who is right? Can anything be done to bridge the gap and help the children who are suffering from what looks like a breakdown of the entire system set up to help them?
In the last few weeks, I’ve met people on both sides of this issue who are passionate about their viewpoints. They deserve to be heard. I hosted a debate on Friday to let each side battle it out. Arguing for 50/50 laws is Kenneth Rosa of the Father’s Rights Movement. Rosa also says he’s a victim of parental alienation. Arguing against both is investigative journalist Michael Volpe who has been covering domestic abuse, divorce, and custody disputes along with judicial misconduct for many years.
My rules for the debate were simple. Each participant was allowed to ask a victim or expert to accompany them (neither did), and each was allowed to use media clips in lieu of their two-minute time window at any point. I did my best to moderate objectively while also bringing on my own chosen expert, attorney Barry Goldstein, a nationally-recognized domestic violence author, speaker and advocate.
One of the major problems this country has now is the inability to have a civil debate. Too many people do not value the art of intellectual fencing that begins and ends with a handshake and no ill will. None of us have all the answers. Our political landscape is far from civil and if we expect to solve anything or help anyone, we have to start talking to one another. I hope that this debate will bring together moms and dads who are fighting against the same thing: family court corruption—not one another.
Let me know what you think about how it went in the comments below.