Kayden's Law is Title XV of the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2022 (VAWA). The concern that the VAWA places on curbing domestic violence and protecting children and victims of violence is both praiseworthy & necessary to prevent tragic cases such as the murder of Kayden Mancuso. However, Kayden's Law is so extensively inaccurate and xenophobic in its portrayal of parental alienation (PA) that it needs to be amended. It was cleverly written to undermine almost all testimony regarding PA without ever saying the words “parental alienation”. Nevertheless, its anti-PA legislative intent (which is based upon inaccurate & false information) is pervasive. It will ultimately harm the children that this law is meant to protect.
The excerpts below from Kayden's Law are examples of its intention to discredit and exclude the admissibility of parental alienation in custody cases, to preclude parental alienation experts from expert witness status, and to prevent court officials from receiving training in the science of parental alienation. In order to truly protect children from all types of physical and emotional abuse including parental alienation, Kayden's Law needs to be amended.
A consortium of parental alienation experts created a briefto explain the misrepresentations about parental alienation that are found in Kayden's Law and the harm that this law will cause. This website was created to make this brief available to the public, explain its content and to proclaim a CALL TO ACTION to amend Kayden's Law. This website speaks on behalf of various organizations representing children, mothers, veterans, and victims of abuse including The Hero's Circle, Servicemembers and Veterans for Children's Rights, Mothers Against Child Abuse. The Eeny Minie Moe Foundation and others.
These findings are based on the "research" of Joan Meier. The alleged findings of this research were not accepted for peer-reviewed publication in any high-quality journal. A comprehensive empirical study by Harman and Lorandos in a highly regarded peer-reviewed journal refuted her findings and exposed gapping research flaws and statistical manipulation in Meier's research. This peer-reviewed publication did not deem Meier's responses to this critique worthy of publication. Therefore, the legislative intent behind this law (to discredit parental alienation theory and to portray PA as a threat to mothers who allege abuse claims) is based on highly suspicious and not replicable research. Bullet #6 needs to be removed.
The legislative intent of this section is to deem PA an unscientific theory. This is a myth that has been perpetuated by a gender-biased element of domestic violence groups. It ignores the vast body of scientific research and acceptance in the professional community about PA. Likewise, it alleges that experts who rely on PA theory lack expertise when in fact that are up to date with the current scientific knowledge. This bullet needs to be removed to reflect the scientific reality of PA.
THIS SECTION ASSUMES THAT ONLY EXPERTS WITH A CLINICAL BACKGROUND ARE EQUIPPED TO OFFER OPINION. THIS IGNORES THE COMPLEXITY OF THESE CASES AND THE NEED FOR VARIOUS KINDS OF EXPERTS SUCH AS TO DETERMINE THE EMOTIONAL HEALTH OF A PARENT. ALSO, IT LUMPS TOGETHER ANY PRIOR HISTORY OF ABUSE NO MATTER HOW LONG AGO IT OCCURRED OR IF THERE IS A CURRENT DANGER. IT ALSO TAKES INTO CONSIDERATION RESTRAINING ORDERS EVEN IF THEY WERE UNFOUNDED. IT LIKEWISE MISUNDERSTANDS PA TO BE A RELATIONSHIP PROBLEM INSTEAD OF AN ABUSE ISSUE AND DENIES CUSTODY CHANGES TO PROTECT FROM THIS EMOTIONAL ABUSE. THESE ITEMS NEED TO BE CORRECTED.
The legislative intent of this section is that since "PA doesn't exist", any efforts to deal with it are no more than relationship building and should not be at the expense of the relationship of the other parent. This is a misconstrued understanding of PA. PA is psychological and emotional child abuse that causes live long damage to the health of the child. Reunification therapy is not for the purpose of building a relationship but to provide the child with the emotional stability to recover from this emotional abuse. Any removal of a child from an alienating parent is because the alienating parent is emotionally abusive. Just like CPS regularly removes a child from a parent who is physically abusive, it is sometimes necessary to do the same when a parent is emotional abusive. This sections also ignores that a child could be attached to a parent in an emotional unhealthy way such as in enmeshment. Closeness cannot mitigate the need to deal with abuse. Likewise, this text assumes that PA reunification programs are unscientific when in fact research confirms their scientific basis and effectiveness. This text needs to be amended to reflect the abusive nature of PA, the scientific basis of treatment programs and the necessity to remove custody from alienating parents in cases of severe alienation.
The text states that training focuses "solely on domestic and sexual violence and child abuse." The legislative intent in this statement is to exclude training about PA. This needs to be amended to include PA which is a form of emotional abuse and coercive control. Likewise, the qualifications for trainers in the program are intended to exclude those with knowledge about PA and to also create intrinsic biases by advocating that preferably only victims of abuse should be allowed to conduct the treatment. This needs to be amended to reflect the validity of PA and to remove biases in the training. Likewise, experts in PA should play an integral part in this training.
Kayden’s law needs to be repealed or amended to reflect accurate and transparent scientifically sound research on parental alienation and domestic violence. The law should acknowledge that:
PA is real
PA is scientific
PA is psychological abuse to children and domestic violence to parents
PA organizations should have a seat at the table when it comes to providing training
False allegations of abuse do happen
When custody is provided based on false allegations, psychological abuse can be as damaging as physical and sexual abuse