Episode 67 - Transcript - Author Series - Andrew Keith Walker

By Michael Rhodes | May 25, 2022

This is a transcription of Episode 67.  The transcription was done by software, apologies for anything that seems out of whack. A link to the episode is below.

Michael –

With me today is Mr. Andrew Keith Walker. Andrew, let’s just dive right into it wants to tell us a little bit about yourself.

Andrew –
Well, I’m a writer and a podcaster. And I worked as a journalist, originally, I was in technology, and had a background and number of tech startups and sort of got involved really from from day one on the internet, at least when it broke in the UK, so mid to late 90s. And I’d always worked in tech for a long time. And eventually, you know, even though I did politics at university, and it’s weird, because I wound up with a tech startup, called treatments, certain another one called tweet Congress, which was our sort of us partner. And we tracked politicians on Twitter. So somehow, the tech and the politics sort of came together. And also, I had written a little bit in newspapers, I used to work at a newspaper. And then we started writing articles about politicians on Twitter and trending stories in that. So I sort of found myself, all roads seem to be dragging me back towards journalism and that kind of thing. So I wrote about technology and that kind of stuff in the impact of technology on our daily lives for a bit for various newspapers, and eventually wound up podcasting like you. So I podcast about obviously different things usually to do with Finance, Financial Technology. I’m just about to launch a new show about NF Ts, and the metaverse. But in between all of that I have worked fairly consistently, sometimes as a journalist, sometimes as a ghost writer. And it is here that, you know, obviously, I never expected to be interviewed, because when you’re a ghost writer, the whole point of it is no one knows who you are, right? So this is, this has come as a, you know, a bit of a surprise to be interviewed as a ghost writer. But obviously, as we talked about the nature of the project meant that someone had to be the voice for the actual author of the book.

Michael –
Yeah, so let’s dive into that. Let’s talk about the book. And that’s why you’re on it. It’s about parental alienation. It’s it’s something I in my sphere and space here a lot about, fortunately, knock on wood, if that is a thing, need to knock on it a lot. I don’t deal with that. But but let’s so let’s talk about how, what is the book and how did you become involved?

Andrew –
Good question. Well, I mean, the book is called the invisible parent, which seems like the best title we could come up with, to try and explain the experience of parental alienation simply because it is quite literally, about one parent quite, you know, becoming invisible in the lives of his children. And, I mean, interestingly, it’s something I knew nothing about. I was, and I think probably like most people, unless you’ve been through this situation, or been through a difficult custody dispute, and most people don’t imagine just how tough it can be and the massive impact that this kind of emotional trauma can have on someone. So for me, it was, it came as quite a surprise. I mean, the author of originally wanted to write an autobiography, because he’s had a very interesting sort of life journey, sort of rags to riches, you might say, and has, you know, worked at the very highest levels globally, with, you know, I’ve been been hugely successful himself. And we started off talking about his life’s journey. But what I noticed in the early stages of this project was one question, one topic kept coming up, and that was his children, how the fact he hadn’t seen them. And as we talked about it, it became very clear that this was something that was dominating his thoughts, and was was hugely affecting his emotional life, you know, he continues to be hugely successful in the world of business, for sure, and is there’s no issues there. But in terms of how he is as a person, I think, you know, he clearly been through something deeply traumatic. And as we wrote about it, we realized that actually, there wasn’t just this story there. But I think why it was sticking so much in his thoughts is because he wanted to do something about it. He wanted to try and reach out and tell his story to other parents who might be going through something similar. And that, of course, is why the book is anonymous, and that’s the elephant in the room, which is under UK law. And I think under many legal systems around the world, there’s a gag act on what goes on in court. Especially in hearings to do with divorce and what have you. It’s not like it’s a criminal case. It’s not like something it’s reported on. So, and that means that the stories and the abuses that go on internally within the family courts never really get spoken about. There’s a huge pressure to perform it. But people don’t really understand why and what those pressures are. And he wanted to get his story out there to try and help people. And that’s why it has to be an anonymous book, because it breaks all those privacy laws,

Michael –
in the course of writing it or working on writing it what at what point did you was decided that pretty early on that he would be anonymous, and that your name would be attached? like at what point in the process of that occur?

Andrew –
Well, that’s, I’m laughing because No, it actually happened quite late in the process, we finished the first draft and first draft, we sort of sat down and read it. And within a very short period of time, we looked at each other and said, Look, if you publish this, then it’s going to be the mother of all lawsuits, you know. And the problem with that is, he’s a very wealthy individual. And he said, I’m fine. I’ll fight the mother of all lawsuits, which is very much his view. But the thing is my take, and you know, the legal teams take was, yeah, but it’ll, it’ll never be, it’ll just never published, it’ll get bogged down. No publisher will touch it with a 10 foot pole. And it’ll just, it’ll never get out there. So we needed to come up with another way to tell the story. And that’s where we hit on the idea of making it anonymous, which is a tradition, it’s a, you know, tradition in writing across the world, the spokes have emerged over time to get round legal issues. I think most recently in the UK, and the one which sort of signaled to us it was doable was a book called The Secret barrister, where a barrister talked about the internal workings of the legal system and how it’s failing certain groups within society within criminal law. And so we thought, well, this, this clearly can be done. And there’s a precedent for doing and that’s that’s why we went that way.

Michael –
All right. So let’s dive into the system, then. It’s a good segue into my in my experience, well, I don’t have experience. So I’m not I don’t want to say I’m skeptical parental alienation, because that’s not the case. I guess what I am I, I’m not skeptical that people do it. But what does what I am a bit skeptical about, I suppose or at least I don’t know, skeptics, right? Where it’s probably too strong. But I’m curious is the system would allow it, like, eventually, I would think the chickens would come home to roost, so to speak, like, eventually, these people would be taken to task for their misdeeds of influencing these children. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. And so I want to start talking about this from the standpoint of, was it more her the acts? Or was it the system that caused all this man’s issues? Or was about

Andrew –
I think that’s, that’s an absolutely, I think that’s it that is the central sort of pickle, and the whole, you know, argument, because which is it? And I think the answer is, as often in these cases, both. I think the system facilitates parental alienation in certain ways. You know, I think to sort of take a step back and just just rewind a little on that argument. Sure. I’ve never experienced anything like this. I’m happily married. I’ve got two kids, I had no idea how bad things could get. And coming at it from a journalist background, I said to the author, look, we can’t put anything in here that we don’t we can’t corroborate with some kind of that. So he gave me his all his papers, all his email correspondence over the sort of three four year period that this book covers. And I just basically sat in the room with sort of an archive stacks and stacks of papers and went through everything and tried to find only items where we could find two pieces of evidence that could back it up. So someone has said something, was there a witness? Was there a piece of legal paper to back it up and some argument that have been made by solicitors or by lawyers in court? So we went through this process to try and get on how this can happen, and it became very, very close wife. She didn’t have to do anything at all, the system will take care of everything for you, by virtue of the fact that your children are not children forever. Right? This isn’t like a legal dispute over a contract where the contract doesn’t age. You know, this is a situation where the children’s come into this process legally when they’re aged 1112. And you know, the clock is ticking by the time they reach 16. It’s not because they can have their own representation. They can you know, in fact, you can have your own representation earlier they get it at 14 in this case. And once You got your own representation and the way the courts run, everything takes so long, that by the time a resolution could be found, you are getting to the stage where they’re not children anymore. And the thing you’re fighting to try and get, which is a relationship during childhood has gone last last. So the system by virtue of the fact it works very slowly works in favor of the alienator. Because, you know, it’s almost impossible to prove the system also fails on behalf of the person who’s being alienated. And one really critical way. alienated parents do not come across well, you know, they are not nice, reasonable people making nice reasonable arguments. And I think this is one of the hardest things, all right, imagine you’ve lost your kids, and no one will listen to you, right, you’re desperate, you are angry, you are frustrated, and you’re trying every possible way you can think of and where your lawyers can think of, to try and reverse the situation. Now all the alienator has to do is say, Hey, listen, I’m just supporting my kids. And that was the the argument the mother makes all the way through, I’m not going to force my kids to see their debt. That was it. That’s all she ever really said it’s their wishes. I’m not gonna force them to see their dad. Now, when the father then says, but it’s bad for kids not to see their parents, it’s bad for them to, you know, be cut off and choose negative, how can they choose never to see me again, they’re 12 years old, you know? The answer to that is, well, I’m not gonna force them, I’m not gonna forth, so that you don’t have to do anything. And of course, as a result, the man seems like a very reasonable supportive person. Although she is referred to in a number of court reports as being passive, and omit causing problems through omission rather than through commission. So a number of court appointed psychiatrist, court appointed therapist and a mutually agreed child counseling, charity all report that the wife is will not do anything to help that, that she doesn’t want the children to have a relationship with the Father. And she’s not going to force them to have one, they will point this out and say that without her support, they can never rebuild this relationship. Family Therapy can never work, nothing can ever work. So I mean, it’s all there in paper. But as she says, I’m just supporting my kids. Meanwhile, the dad comes across as a caged animal who is, you know, clawing at the bars and getting increasingly desperate over a four year process. And by the end of it, it’s it’s quite apparent.

Because he ends up in the very final instance, getting rid of his lawyer and standing there himself, representing himself and saying, This is me. No lawyers, no tricks, please let me see my kids. And the answer is no, for trivial reasons, which are caught up in legal technicalities and the opinion of the judge who has come out of retirement to meet the backlog because the courts are so stressed is taken nearly four years for this thing to get results. So in answer to that question, the system isn’t fit for purpose. And parental alienation isn’t and isn’t widely understood enough for people to realize how the often someone will appear to be the very worst sort of candidate in the situation. Here’s the anxious angry person, of course, the kids don’t want to see them. But that is a reflection of the fact that it’s someone who’s lost their children is desperate, and no one will support.

Michael –
Yeah, and that I want to, I want to get to that point, I want to talk about that point of what is parental alienation? Because that’s something he does bring up in the book. And I think it’s an excellent point. As far as I can tell, there isn’t really defined anywhere, at least in the courts. Right? So what in your view after doing this and his view? What is that definition? What is parental alienation? And how and more importantly, how do you know when it’s occurring? Because I think at this point, it’s sort of like, I forget what senator said it in the 80s. I think when he was asked about obscenity, he was like, I don’t know what the data define it, but I know it when I see it. But that doesn’t really fucking help in this regard. Right, because it’s left to interpretation. So in your view, after doing this, in his view, perhaps what what is it? How do you define it? And how do you recognize it when it’s occurring?

Andrew –
Well, yeah, and that’s a very good question, because the author in this he didn’t recognize it. He didn’t realize what was happening. For some time, it was I guess, if we go through the sort of timeline of events for him the problem here and in fact, the broader problem, which is parental alienation has in recent years, it’s suffered very much from major setbacks because there is this issue, that it has been used as an argument by predominantly fathers who are abusive have been abusive in their relationships. And when they aren’t awarded custody or access because of the behavior, they will say I’m being alienated and forced further investigations and forced visits with children, while that issue is being resolved, and in a couple of high profile and very tragic cases have actually killed children as a result of this, so, there have been abuses of the system by abusers who have used parental alienation as an argument and also a large body of research where say, research, you know, a large body of sort of intervention was taken place was based on the research of Dr. Richard Gardner, who’s now dead, who, you know, has been he’s very, he’s a controversial figure in terms of opinions. He quote, he coined the phrase parental alienation syndrome. It hadn’t gone through the right kind of peer review process to be labeled the syndrome. There were various sorts of issues to do with its application and opinions, etc. And where it’s legally where it’s used as an argument and where it’s not, it’s not admissible. In the UK, there’s no recognition of parental alienation syndrome, regardless what. So there’s a lot of there’s a messy background in terms of research and what have you, there has been a lot of research into the impact of losing. Parents. Early on, there was a UCL study, we based a lot of our analysis on this 19,000 children that was taken over 13 years of an early departure of one of the parents as a child and the effects that has on later life outcomes and behaviors. And all of those, incidentally, came true for the children in this story, in terms of withdrawal, dysphoria, self harm, sexual relationship problems, sexual behaviors that were you know, weren’t right for 12 year olds. So, you know, there are these issues that come out from it. But there is no clearly defined scale, and no one has the same scale. It’s recognized by the UK Child Services, calf casts the sort of court appointed social workers children’s recognized by them, they have their own framework for assessment, you will find, I mean, in this case, one of the mutually agreed therapists who was going to start family therapy was actually using Richard gardens scale to assess parental alienation. Then the court appointed psychiatrist who did you know, three reports during the course of this long legal battle, he didn’t use that scale at all, he, you know, used his own scale for measuring alienation, which he always refers to very carefully in the legal wording is in the plain English term of the word, which means to turn someone against someone else through influencing them. So it means the same thing as parental alienation it when it’s used as the terminology, but again, there are lots of different legal get out of the plant. So there’s no clear assessment framework for it. Now, you compare that with other forms of domestic abuse, if you say I’ve been physically abused, there is a fairly standardized approach for for that to be measured. And we will see increasingly in cases of, say, a forced marriage or coercion in the home, you know, you will find there’s much closer alignment with courts or with support charities in terms of how they want to try and define and analyze this with parental alienation. There isn’t very much falls through the cracks. And in fact, if you’re legit, sadly, if you saying well, I believe I’m being alienated. It tends to go against you, because people will look and say, Okay, fine, you sound like one of those, you know, angry misogynist, abusing, you know, partners. So you need to take a step back and look at it. Now, this is really what really caught my attention. Because when he first mentioned it to me, I did obviously research into the topic and I sort of uncovered it’s there’s got this checkered history, there’s this complexity, there’s a lot of issues around it. There’s there are cases where people have insisted on 5050 custody, and children have died as a result, because they’ve been put with an abusive parent, or a negligent parent. I mean, you know that this is a very, very troubling area. And yet here is a doting father, who is rich, let’s just call a spade a spade, you know, he is rich here. There’s no

problems with him providing for his kids. He’s always provided he paid all their legal fees. He paid all his ex wife’s legal fees completely throughout the entire thing. Interestingly, she wanted the fees to get paid out of the Children’s Trust Fund before he offered it. She said, Well, she wasn’t gonna pay it out of her own money she paid out of the Children’s Trust Fund. He said, No way I’ll pay. So this is this is the kind of guy we’re talking about here. Yeah, he’s not he is not the kind of person. Yeah. In fact, one of the arguments that took place during this was a financial argument where an ad set of hairs which had been worthless due to the financial crash, came back to maturity. His ex wife demanded that it was paid over to her. And he said he paid into the Children’s Trust Fund. And she took him to court over that to say, no, she wanted the money herself. And it was, you know, half a million dollars or less

Michael –
how? How is that kind of shit? Not a red flag to the system? Like oil? Or does it not make it to the system? Like because I wouldn’t be like, Hey, excuse me, this this woman doesn’t she? She doesn’t want my kids to have money. She wants their legal fees to be paid. But like all these things seem like they are they are can you bring that up? Did that come up?

Andrew –
Well, yes, red flags do not get noticed by the Family Court. Because in this case, it’s a four year case, six different judges hear different parts of the hearing over four years. Some of those judges, district court judges, UK, you’ve got, you know, the county court judges, you have the full time judges, the salary judges, and then you’ve got the district court judges who are paid on a case by case basis. And they handled sort of overspill and, you know, sort of backlog. So much so that in the final case, which ruled it to an end of the judge had come out of retirement to hear the case, and was clearly out of touch, referred to the author as a stockbroker, when, you know, he’s not a stockbroker in any way, shape, or form, where he got that from it was nobody said, Well, he was a stockbroker, he does something in business. And he’d obviously skim read the notes, and you know, wanted to get it over before lunch. So you know, he could get back to playing golf where ever it wasn’t, it was It was tragic, tragic lack of attention. But the problem is, of course, these red flags don’t get flagged up the children, for example, in a number of their assessments, one of the reasons they say they don’t see their dad is because he’s mean. And he’s, you know, what hasn’t paid his fair share, and the mother is always struggling for money. Now, to put that in perspective, the mother walked out of court with about $15 million dollars in settlement, she lived in a house with seven bedrooms in a very sought after upper class area, which is dominated by, you know, bankers and politicians and people like that. We’re not talking about someone who was struggling to pay the bills. Similarly, the children have a trust fund set up, you know, millions of dollars, they go to a school that costs, you know, $100,000 a year to attend, they have tutors, they have everything, he flies them on his private jet to California to go on holidays, on the yacht, etcetera, etcetera. I mean, this is the lifestyle we’re talking about. And this is why it really attracted me because we’re not talking about someone who’s, you know, a deadbeat or an alcoholic or down their luck or trying to come back from addiction. We’re not talking about someone who’s got ghosts, you know, in their closet, or skeletons in their closet. We’re talking about someone here who, you know, one of the complaints the children made against him, apparently, and the first deposition was, you know, they wanted to go to Disneyland. And instead, you know, he took them on holiday skiing with royalty kind of thing, you know, they wanted to go to a West End Show. And instead, you know, he flew them to Miami, you know, in his private jet. And, you know, he was on the phone all the time, and they didn’t they were bored, you know that that was the sort of arguments they were making. So this is a very privileged set we’re talking about here. And I thought, well, that’s interesting. Because the mum isn’t, you know, someone who’s struggling for money, and you know, in poverty, because often, you know, this is this is one of the many narratives, though, that lands in the core is that men abuse their ex wives by withholding payment by withholding maintenance, and ex wives abuse the ex husbands by withholding access to children. And this is a trope, which is often referred to as characterizing the opinions of court cases. So parental alienation plays into that. Because if you haven’t paid your maintenance, and you know, a mother who’s desperate for cash is saying, Well, I’m gonna withhold access to the kids. Fathers can say, Oh, look, they’re they’re turning the kids against me and vice versa. If you know, the father isn’t paying the bills, mothers can say, look, he’s not paying maintenance, I’m struggling with money, you won’t look after his kids. Why should he get to come every other weekend and take them out to the zoo? And you know, when all the plaudits are and I’m the one doing all the hard work in the week, right? So we know there are these difficult problems. And the courts aren’t here to deal with it. But it means when you say hey, I’m being alienated here. You know, it’s a story that the people in the court have heard a million times before but never from you, they don’t know you. They don’t know you, your background, the history. And so his here this is a very unusual case where it’s someone who most people would run out of Money. By the time this guy got to the end of his court case that had given up already, he saw it right the way through, and he paid everyone’s fees. And by doing that exposed end to end, the failings of the whole process, which is why he wants to get his story out there.

Michael –
I want to go back to something you said earlier. And I think it’s a key point in the, in that in that trope, right, he talked about, because, unfortunately, there there are men that are shitty, for lack of a better word. And I don’t mean shitty as in, they’re not paying their child support. Should he hasn’t they’ve murdered children or their exes or their wives or whatever. And so, I think and he points this out in the book, it’s sort of the the yardstick that men are measured by is is maybe isn’t fair. But I struggle with that. I’m not I’m not saying the man is wrong. I’m not saying the system’s right, either, but because there is. Because there has been a loss of life and real abuse. I don’t know the answer to the question of, well, there’s a couple things are one, is there a bias against men? I think that’s the first question. And two, if there is, what do we do? Is it justified? Like, I don’t, it’s so fucking complex, like you don’t want to aid someone in abusing. But how does that how do you how do you measure a man? I gotta, there’s so many fucking questions here. How do you measure a man fairly? Knowing that men have done this? Again? I don’t I don’t know what’s fair here. I don’t know what’s right. But I do know that some men are fucking shitty. And that is unfortunately, a part of the collective conscience of the legal system of all of us. Right. So how do we how does he think that needs to be addressed?

Andrew –
Well, it’s an interesting one, because he’s he will be the first person to agree and say, Look, yeah, that this is a difficult one. This is a thorny one. But what he would also say is this is that, you know, his there is a bias there. And I think there is bias inherent in the system, was his first barrister. In the first court case, when it when he first realized he had to take things to family court, quite a high level to try and restart contact with his children. His first barrister, who was a woman, very experienced family court, barrister said to him, Okay, fine. You’re, you’re a rich guy. Okay. So this means that, you know, it’s halftime, you’re to nail down and you haven’t got a goalie in the girl, she is this sort of football analogy, but she said, you know, you’re already halfway to losing by virtue of the fact that no one is, you know, this was at a time, you know, we’ve just been through the financial crash. So rich people, you know, there’s Occupy protests going on outside the court, right. So you, you turn up in, you know, the limo, and, you know, people are chucking stuff at you. Okay. So, you know, it was a bad time. He obviously appears in court. And, you know, the there is he assumes there’s going to be a fact finding process. But his lawyer said, No, don’t go for a fact finding process. If you have a fact finding, it’ll be another six months before you’re back here again, and you won’t find any facts. Because this isn’t a fact finding kind of situation. It’s he said, he said, she said, so forget about that, we want to move as quickly as possible, to reestablishing contact in some way, because the longer you have no contact, the harder it is to reestablish it. And what most lawyers will tell you, I interview, I spent about three hours interviewing family lawyers. As I went through this, and checking my own thoughts, and just getting them to explain processes to me and what have you. And they said, the same thing is that basically, when you enter that court, you are pretty much stuck like a flying Amber, you will be stuck forever. With a situation where you walk in through those doors, the best thing you can do is come to any kind of amicable solution. And get out of there with some kind of contact reestablished. Because what will happen eventually is the courts will just say, right, the kids have had enough, we’re going to freeze things where they are. And if they freeze things where they are and you’re not speaking, then you may never get to speak to them again. And that’s that’s just the way the system tends to work. Because, of course, the court process weighs heavily on children. And the court is constantly assessing and social workers are constantly assessing. Is this too much for the kids to bear? If it is they just put a stop to it? Regardless of whether or not there are big outcomes to come from this, you know, which which happen when you don’t see both parents. It’s recognized in UK law in US law and statutes, that it’s the welfare it’s a for the the advancement of a child’s welfare to have a relationship with both parents. So you have this situation where you know, he’s gone into court and his lawyer just told him basically, you know, just take what you can get here. And he that’s what he did. He took what he could get, which was okay, fine. Could they mutually agree to see some kind of therapist and try and restart it and he agreed to this. The problems of parental alienation started to emerge to him there because he assumed you’d get to see his kids. He assumed there’d be some kind of assessment, where they, you know, the court would appoint an expert to assess him with his children. But there wasn’t there was none of that. Instead, his lawyer said, Okay, we found someone who’s a therapist who durations, like their wife’s lawyers agreed, that would be okay. And they could they could do it, and have another hearing. And this seemed like an amicable outcome, right? So they start with this therapist, and the therapist does an assessment, which is the first one where she actually uses the gardener scale and says, Well, there’s there’s some kind of alienation going on here. It’s not classic case. But there’s definitely a hybrid case, the mother is very passive and is not going to support the children seeing him. The therapist asked him to record a video message for them, he recorded a video message for them, and they refuse to watch it. And the therapist said will the children refuse to even look at look at the video messages sent? He tried to write to them, they wouldn’t look at anything except that they they wanted nothing to do with him, which is she the therapist herself admits was odd. She said, This is odd. I think that there’s some elements of alienation going on here. The mother would not force the children to look at a video message from him. They she wouldn’t force the children to send him a message or anything else. It was no, I’m not gonna force them to do anything. They don’t want to do these two.

Kid 11 and 12. So here’s his one basics. He says to the other legal team, okay, fine, this therapy is from now we might be able to start you coming for sessions. He said in four years, it’d be 16 seconds, it’s not gonna make any sense. So then he goes back to court says, I watched a natural assessment of what’s going on here proper assessment, one psychiatrist to see my kids and assess them. So, you know, that’s when, of course, things are ramping up. And it becomes well hang on a second. He’s the aggressive one here. He’s he’s stopped therapy, you know, then the story. I mean, how did he lose touch with her kids, with the children, he had a Rao with them, he was going to be getting married again. And his fiancee turned out to be a con woman who stole money from him. And the whole thing was a disaster for him emotionally, what have you and for the children, who were very excited about, you know, dads getting remarried, and they were planning on having a family, they were gonna have a new little brother or sister and everything was going to be great. And, you know, for divorced kids, you know, of a certain age, you know, their age 10 At this point, sort of, you know, between the ages of nine and 10, when this relationship sort of begins, it’s a big deal. You know, Dad’s getting a new family and it felt like a nice, warm, fuzzy thing. So fast forward to the end of that relationship. You know, he turns up, she’s she’s, you know, stolen, you know, vast quantities of money, she returns the money, but she keeps, you know, you know, $100,000 wedding ring or $200,000, wedding ring, whatever, you know, all sorts of stuff like this. He’s heartbroken puts a strain on everybody. The kids are upset. They have arguments, of course, families go through difficult times, they argue. And it was one of these arguments where he then says, Okay, listen, they say the kids say they want to go home, he says fine, you can go home, the nanny drives them home, via their, you know, lessons and the weekend stuff they do. But they she takes them home early. And that’s that He then gets a phone call from the school that say, Hey, listen, you know, the kids are upset, they don’t want you coming to see them, they’re very upset, we suggest we’re going to therapy, because we dealt with these breaks all the time. And you just need they need a bit of time, you need a bit of time, and then we’ll bring it all together again. And you know, we’ll we’ll do some therapy here. That was the last year of service kids, the therapy never happened. He was in contact with them at this point. Because they were planning on going away on holiday together and they’re sending him messages. One of them says love you, Daddy can’t wait to see you in a couple of weeks, you know, etc, etc. And everything looks like it’s gonna be great. Suddenly, their phones have gone, the numbers have changed, you can’t contact them. They’re cut off. And suddenly the mother is saying they don’t want anything to do with you. And they’re very upset. I’m not gonna force them to send you messages and you know, they wanted a check. They asked to change their phone numbers, etc, etc. So suddenly it’s all change. And from then on, you know, he can’t get to see them. The charity gets involved the therapy. The charity eventually writes a report that says, look, the mother is doesn’t believe that you know, they want to be in your life and she’s not going to force them. So we think that’s The problem you need to, you know, get family therapy, he goes to court goes for the family therapy gets the mutually agreed solution, because he’s, you know, doesn’t want to, you know, turn it into a fight, the mutually agreed solution completely fails, it then starts to turn into a fight. Now, at this point, he’s getting desperate, he gets a top child psychiatrist, appointed by the court to do an assessment, the Court agrees. And he comes back and says, Look, you know, there’s, there’s something I wouldn’t it’s, as he says, I’ll call it alienation in hybrid sort of insert in plain English sense of the word. This is a case of alienation. But by the same token, you know, if the mother doesn’t want a father, to have a relationship with the children, no solution ever really works, I would recommend assessments, etc. The children wouldn’t be assessed with the father at this point. So he still hasn’t seen them. And you know, the psychiatrists diagnosis the children at this point and says, look, there, they’ve got anxiety and depression, I recommend that they get, you know, therapy. So the children now are going into therapy. The father is, you know, gnashing his teeth and thinking, What can I do about my kids? At the same time the school, then start saying, okay, yeah, we’re not gonna share information with you, other than their academic, we will give you a month, every month, you can have an academic update, we won’t tell you anything about the kids. Okay. Now, at this point, there are serious safeguarding issues that come into play one of the children is sexually abused by an online predator,

through devices that are being accessed in the mother’s home, and also at school. School says there’s been a few issues, but it’s all fine. It’s all under control. He says, what issues and they say, well, there was someone on the internet who was behaving a bit weirdly, and they’ve sent a few pictures to it, but it’s all fine. You know, the sort of thing that would give you nightmares if you’re a dad? Yeah. Right. Yeah. He then says, no, no, you’ve got to give me all the information. And they say, oh, no, that the children won’t consent for you to have their information. He says they’re 12. They say, doesn’t matter. They’re 12. They’re old enough to consent whether or not you can see their information. Now, by law, he has a right to see their academic records. And as eventually he gets has to get a court order to force the school to hand over the information about the fact there’s been a serious sexual abuse issue. And the police are involved. But he can’t find any of this information out at the time, and no one will talk to the he tries to get information from the Children’s GP about treatment. And again, there is no no, no, they won’t consent to share any information. But and he said, and then, of course, and this is going back to the bias situation, as he’s made the case in court, how can it be that my children, or one of them is you know, also depressed, anxious, has been self harming one of them has been abused. And they’re happy for the mother to know all about it, but they’re refusing to let the father know anything about it, because they’re terrified of why he hasn’t seen them. He hasn’t seen them for over a year. You know, by the end of it, the final assessments made, again, by the court appointed child psychiatrist says he doesn’t understand how the children can be so frightened of a man they haven’t seen for years. And they blame him for events that have occurred, which he wasn’t even around for. And he said, you know, they don’t, he doesn’t understand how they can be blaming the Father for, you know, discipline issues, or various things that happened to them, you know, living in the mother’s house, and they hadn’t seen him for two years. So you’ve got all these flags, and he can draw attention to them. In fact, they reported in those last few cases, he had a USB stick full of family photos and videos of them having fun on holiday. And one of the big things that had come out was oh, he used to take us on these holidays, and we hated it. We hated going on holiday to you know, on Uncle Max’s yacht in, you know, California, etc, etc. He said, here’s a film of them laughing and playing with Uncle Max. You know, the response to this was we don’t know who that man is. You know, we don’t know who Uncle Max is. We can’t remember him. And we hated that holiday. You know, the the court never looked at the pictures. No one ever looked at the pictures. He gave these pictures for everyone. So look at these holiday pictures. Look at these holiday videos of us having a lovely time. This is the miserable children who were saying that the you know, they had this terrible life. Look at us having fun. We’re clearly having fun. And it was the final court case where the Clark said sorry, we couldn’t open up any of the files on your USB stick.

Michael –
In that, that brings me to a question that I always put up as it is, is is the system lazy? Or does it lack resources to go after these things? Is that those are the only two scenarios I can think of. I’m sure there are 1000 others but is the system just lazy and doesn’t want to look into these things in a real way, or do they just lack the resources and funding and things of that with funding? I can’t imagine. But but maybe I’m just trying to figure out like, what’s the solution? And first, you have to figure out what the problem is?

Andrew –
Well, there’s a come, I’m in the UK, and I have to talk about, I suppose, specifically the UK family courts, because that’s where all this took place, is, the bottom line is, is that the system isn’t fit for purpose. You know, courts are very good, you know, sorting out contract disputes over your neighbor’s fence and your border lines. Right. They’re great at dealing with, you know, various other kinds of issues. But we see time and again, their relationship and social structures that have fallen out of, you know, court purview. We talked about employment tribunals, right. We talked about rent tribunals, we talk about conciliation between unions and employers in the workplace, you know, time and to HR tribunals time and time, again, we’ve seen where you have complex things that don’t fall into here’s a contract is in breach or not, you know, case law, that we have a different approach. And the problem, clearly is this is that, you know, you are left to the devices of people who don’t have a recognized framework to assess parental alienation. You’re left to the opinions of, you know, in this case, a retired judge, who comes out and makes the most

judgment based on the fact that children have complained about excessive or in the sort of bottom quartile of their class, they weren’t getting great marks, he was having them tutored, they went to a very expensive private school. And he was paying for a tutor on top a few times a week to help them get through their exams, which they did with flying colors, which is great, but they said it was too much pressure. And he said, I think you’re, you know, you’re a bit Victorian, or a bit obsessed with education. He In fairness, he takes it very seriously. Here’s a man who left school at 16, with bare minimum qualifications, you know, son of, you know, hard working, working class parents, you know, not particularly nice part of the world. And he rises to being, you know, the very top of his game, and, you know, part of a very rare, international set of highly successful, highly educated, he’s got degrees and all kinds of stuff. Now he’s educated himself, he takes it very seriously. So, you know, he said, for sure, you know, I sent my kids to $100,000 a year school, and I paid for them to have a tutor that makes me a bad dad, apparently, in the eyes of the court in the eyes of this judge, who said, Really, these kids should just be at home snuggling on the sofa watching TV. And you know, that’s, there’s no place for that. And when you’re deciding the life of the kids, the court appointed social workers, again, not laziness, but you know, you have one person’s opinion saying, I’ve interviewed the children, they’re just normal kids with normal teenage problems. Now, they’re not normal kids, they’re the children are multimillionaires. Right, that’s by if you normal is the mean average, you know, that’s not very average life circumstance. They’re in a facility. They’ve been admitted to a psychiatric facility for anxiety and depression. Again, that puts them in a minority of you know, teenagers, one of those being the victim of online sexual abuse of blackmail, again, that puts you in a minority. So these aren’t average kids with average problems, right? We were average kids with average problems. Okay. So yeah, sure, you know, what, we got busted, you know, trying to, you know, smuggle booze right down to a party or, you know, maybe smoking some weed or something like this. We weren’t victims of crime and luck. And, you know, admitted to a psychiatric units in between mansions. Alright. So, it’s just, there’s so much opinion and without a framework to look at the facts. So the author wants to see a shift away from family courts or tribunal system where, you know, because the other thing is, of course, the courts will set a date six months down the line a year down the line, well, we’ll come back in six months, and we’ll see what’s happened. And so the clock ticks, the clock ticks, and then eventually your children aren’t children anymore. And if there is an issue, frightened of the boogey man, because you know, they’ve got this idea in their head, because they’ve been scared by a manipulative, parental alienation abuser, then that just gets worse, the longer they’re alone with them, the worse it gets. So this is something which becomes, you know, very time critical, tribunals generally speaking, deal with something in a short timeframe, they have teeth, they deliver meaningful results at the end. That’s why they’re used for parole boards, you know, as opposed to the parolee getting to go to court for four years to see whether or not he can get out of jail. You know, we take these things seriously. So, so this should be something where you’ve got someone who is probably a divorced parent who’s been trained to be a sort of mediator like Mental Health tribunals here in the UK, you normally have former service user who is one of the people on the panel to who because they can relate to the issues that are there. You should have someone who’s a child expert psychiatrist, or a psychologist who works with children and can deliver, you know, insights there, you should also obviously have a judge there, but a judge that is trained to deal with this stuff, not someone who’s come out of retirement, that doesn’t seem sensible at all. However, it’s not just that, if you look at other countries around the world, this is the thing that we’ve discovered, as we sort of went through this, they approach these things totally differently in Denmark, Denmark, sort of hired divorce rate than the UK, but it also has much higher happiness and wellbeing ratings when people are surveyed, and much, much lower cases of acrimonious divorce and difficult family relationships. And that’s because before you can get divorced in Denmark, you have to go on a course, which is all about managing your split up and you know, the managing the split and custody issues in an effective way that minimizes harm to children and harm to one another emotionally by you know, so you go through mediation effectively before they give you a license to divorce. Similarly, in Norway, you get a certificate that you have to get a certificate of mediation to show that you have been through a set of training, especially looking at custody issues.

And, you know, in much the same way that if you look at the history of child abuse, child poverty, and malnutrition and neglect, when prenatal classes became a thing, in the post war period, in most of the western world, and in all around the globe, in fact, prenatal classes trained parents to be better, when the baby comes along, pre divorce classes, you know, are proven to make a big difference to the well being outcomes for children. So I think, you know, we look at it and say, okay, there should be those sorts of things in in place, the author as well is very passionate about the assumption of 5050 custody, which has it as a, you know, the wrong default position, because if you have one parent being an abuser, then 50% of the custody of the kids is with an abuser. And that is, you know, thorny one. And we don’t necessarily agree on that automatic assumption. But I’m here to represent his view, which is, you know, it should be an automatic 5050 assumption, because from his point of view, he wanted to parent he wanted to do all those things he was doing before for his kids, because he doted on us, John loved them very, very much gave them everything. So from his point of view, every dad should be stepping up and taking on as much as you possibly can, you know, rather than there being a, you know, the burden on the mother, which then often leads to issues of maintenance and abuse, what have you. But, but if you were to put those things together, it will be much harder for one parent, to influence the kids. And it can be one of the issues that came up in the court case. And we did this thing we call the hug, headlock test. And that was he bumped into his kids, because he lived in the same town, he bumped into them coming out the supermarket. And by this point, he had managed to get the school to release the information that obviously one of them had been abused. The other one had psychiatric problems. He saw them, he gave them a big hug. He saw his kids, they’ve been through a terrible time, he gives him a hug. Everything’s fine. You know, there’s tears, what have you is the last time you saw them, that’s it. And off they go. And he’s left, you know, feeling like okay, maybe there’s some hope for us. The next day, he gets a letter from the mother solicitor saying that, you know, he physically assaulted them, the supermarket. So, of course, he said, Fine, you know what, let’s get the CCTV footage. We can see what it was. And then he gets another letter saying that, you know, there was excessive hugging, in that he hadn’t got them in a headlock, there was excessive hugging, but this twisting of it is, which is the game that is played because this is a $2 billion. global industry, right? So this is huge. This is you know, family law. messy divorces is a growth industry. I know that sounds wrong. You’re right. That’s how it is. Right? So you’ve got this growth industry. And you know, you’ve got lawyers who play very, they play great games, you know, you see your kids and hug them. We’re gonna send you things saying you’ve attacked. And you know, of course, all these papers wind up with these key words, stand out to some retired judge says, Well, you’ve been physically abusive. No, I haven’t read the paperwork they take you know, that’s that’s what you get. And so, this this problem, we did a test with a hug, a mock test, and it started out with you said mean things about mum, being one of those issues, why we don’t see you again, because he’s sending things about them. In fairness, the mother had been involved with the breakup with his fiancee, they had been in contact in secret, he was devastated to find out and in fact, the common woman who left him heartbroken, had left a had made arrangements with the mother to help her get out of the country, you know, etc, etc. So this all came out later on, through various sort of court interviews and papers. But so, so he, yeah, he got angry and said, you know, what, your mum messed up my relationship, you know, there you go.

That, of course, turns into you were trying to manipulate us to hate our mother, which is something that he never did, right. But four years later, three years later, that’s where it goes to. And this happens again, and again, you know, you, you know, made us do all the schoolwork, and you involve yourself and either put us under too much pressure is where it ended, it started out with, you know, you took us, you know, on the private jet to the yacht, as opposed to, we wanted to go and see the Lion King, you know, so there is this thing. And of course, the big thing being is that there were various personal issues that he had gone through, that were private. And at some point, according to the mother, the children broke into her office, and read all the private documentation. So they were privy to aspects of his private life, to do with a failed relationship and a child that he didn’t have any contact with, who he did support, and to this day, financially supports, and has a fine, you know, perfectly cordial relationship with the mother who wrote as a character witness on his behalf to say, he had behaved very decently. He, their relationship had broken up, and she discovered she was pregnant. And he was going through difficult times with his own kids, he couldn’t take on that burden, he felt he wasn’t ready for it. I think maybe he regrets that, I don’t know. He hasn’t really confronted it, because he’s gone through this terrible trauma. And he’s that still waiting for him, you know, but as he said, it was his business. It was private, he informed the ex wife so that she knew what had happened, because it felt like the right thing to do. And he asked that he be able to tell the children in his own time, because in time, obviously, they need to find out that you know, they had an Australian sibling. But they found out about it, you know, along with all the emails and the text messages, and all this stuff that exchange between him and his wife, all the arguments, everything else and this. And then, in the final report, the thing that they mentioned, which, of course, they found out without him being around, was, Oh, he’s got this estranged child, and therefore he’s a monster, he’s abandoned the baby, just like he abandoned us. And the sort of you can see how the pieces of this narrative fit in with, you know, and the psychiatrist because he does the final report says, well, he can’t understand why they’re terrified of him, apart from the fact that they are horrified that he’s abandoned this baby. But of course, you know, he never got a chance to talk to them about it, something like that is a very delicate issue, you need to be able to talk to it, you know, to children about it at the appropriate time. They shouldn’t discover it when they’re 12. And they shouldn’t discover it, you know, going through their mother’s filing cabinets, you know that. And that’s a failure of safeguarding. It’s a failure, as he said, like the abuse that took place in the mother’s house over the internet, it’s a failure of safeguarding on her part, it seems all these things happen to them in her home on her watch, that they then blame him for. And now, you know, they don’t want to see him. Although they do still expect him to pay for various aspects of their lifestyle, which they are still getting the mother to ask him to do, even though they are now adults, which, you know, gives you some idea of how commoditize this this relationship has become?

Michael –
Does he have any hope that this will, that there will be a relationship someday with with with his children?

Andrew –
He’s Yeah, he’s you couldn’t have, I think, achieved the heights that he’s achieved and be a quitter? Certainly not. He is absolutely well aware that he lost his kids. And when he sees them again, they will be grownups. There’ll be adults. And, you know, he is sort of holding firm to his values. You see, the interesting thing about all of this, and I think the thing that really, I think, is one of the saddest or most poignant parts of this is here is someone who, despite being able to give them everything, didn’t spoil his kids, you know, sure. You know what, he took the places and they enjoyed the lifestyle that he could provide. But you know, he hasn’t. He’s wanted to set up trust funds. He wanted them to work for their money he wants them to achieve for themselves. And this was the big point that led to the split with his wife, because she said, What does it matter? They’re rich, they never really have to work they can do what they like, why did they have to do well at school? And he said, No, no, you got to do well at school because it’s for you His personal development, it’s about growth. And so they used to say, Oh, he was mean and didn’t buy as much for Christmas. And he said, You know what, when I was a kid, you know, I got sawed off for Christmas, you know, we couldn’t afford it. And he said, you know, he can see what money does to people, and he doesn’t want that to happen to them.

And he’s in a situation where he said, Look, I will very happily finance your university education. But you come and talk, you got to come and talk to me, you know about what you want to do with your life and all of this, you have to have some kind of interaction with me, rather than view me as this sort of person that only exists to write checks, because that’s not a healthy way to relate to people. That’s not a healthy way to develop an independent life. And their response to this was no thanks. Just send us the money. And so he’s, I think, heartbroken, not just because of the childhood that was lost, but because he’s worried that his, that his children now aren’t the kind of people that he wanted them to be that their values are out of whack that they’ve emerged from this thing, you know, broken with, you know, a sort of warped view of, you know, how the world and relationships should be, which, sadly, is something that was predicted in the UCL study that ran over 13 years, 19,000 kids saying that, you know, the way it affects your life outcomes when you’re split from parents in a messy way. At a young age, it’s all panned out. And I think that’s the thing that stuck with him worse is that he told everyone who would listen. You know, I believe I’m being alienated? Well, there’s no proof of that fine. Well, if my kids self harm, if my kids get into inappropriate sexual situations, right? Well, both of those things happened within a year of him saying it, you know, if my kids relationship, difficulties, you know, if they have educational problems, which again, they’ve had issues with education at school, in fact, it’s funny that the court put a stop to the tutoring. As soon as that was over, the mother applied to him through his list to start paying for tutoring again, because their grades were bombing. So and she hired the same. So basically, you know, the thing that the court in the end say, Okay, fine, you’re obsessed with education, you’re like some sort of Victorian workhouse dad who’s constantly making his kids work, like some sort of high pressure, hot house, etc, etc, we’re putting a stop to that they need to have a nice, you know, relaxed life like normal teenagers. And then what happens is that, you know, the mother then reimpose his all the things that he said was good for them in the first place. Because they weren’t doing very well at school. And she she, you know, wanted that to happen. But you can imagine that from his point of view, he said, Look, they’re going to have issues with their grades, they got issues with their grades, they’re going to have problems with antisocial behavior. There was one other time that he saw them on the high street. And there was an incident where they, they had been told by their mother, that there was a an injunction that he couldn’t come within so many feet of that now, this is nonsense never existed, there was never any question of him not being a fit and proper parent, there was never any issues to do with his behavior or anything else. There’s never been anything like that. He’s a model citizen, and a pillar of the community as well, actually, with his charity work and things like this. I mean, you know, he sees them through the window of Starbucks, and they start swearing and you know, being highly abusive towards him, the person he’s with, and there is an issue, he eventually he said, What would you do so when I told the police, that, you know, that this is how they were heavy, and the police invested, they dropped, he didn’t make any charges that police got to write letters of apology, which is the last thing on which was the letter of apology for this behavior. And, you know, they were really reprimanded. And, again, this is antisocial, Hooli hooligan behavior, where they need to get kicked out for, for kicking off in a public place in a very violent and aggressive way. And again, this was predicted. So all the things he predicted happened. And the tough part about it is is that he predicted these things. And every time there was an opportunity to try and get that information. He was blocked on data protection grounds. GP said, Oh, no, sorry, I can’t give them information. They won’t consent. The school says or they won’t consent to give you the information. And so this, they’re putting, you know, 12 1314 year olds in charge of their own information to a point whereby they can decide that their divorce father never needs to find out about them being abused in the mother’s house. You know, another thing is, as he said, This is where data protection becomes the enemy of safeguarding because he’s trying to make choices about you know, are His children safe or not? And he can’t find out if they’re safe or not, because he can’t get this information. So he’s left in this situation where I believe that one day this will resolve him starts because everyone needs to go back to their roots at some point, they got to find yourself. And I think certainly one of the children that perhaps was a bit more conflicted about it and did actually was referenced in the psychiatrists analysis as being conflicted. And feeling like they needed to show solidarity with their sibling, and with the mother was clearly conflicted over the situation and didn’t really understand why this split occurred? I think, certainly, yeah, that relationship could definitely restart, but it could it might be 20 years, you know, maybe 10 years? Who knows?

Michael –
So, seems like the solution is, is a changing of the system. So what is the how does he propose that happens? And is it funding a particular organization or creating an organization? Is it funding? Certain politician? Is it pushing for changing the laws? But you know, how, like, what, what is the, I understand that he’s had some ideas for the solution? How do you get there?

Andrew –
Well, yeah, I mean, he’s involved. And with various other groups, charities that are campaigning in this space. And there are some very good ones. I mean, there’s one charity in particular that we met, during the process of putting this together, who are who specialize in making sure that schools give the right information to both parents, and one parent doesn’t get excluded, because there’s a lack of guidance at the national level, about what your right, so one angry parent will turn up and say you can’t share information with the other parent. And schools don’t want to touch it with a 10 foot pole, right? They don’t want to get in there and get, you know, into an argument between parents and get dragged into a messy divorce. So sometimes they will say, Okay, fine, and they will minimize the amount of information they’ll share, without there actually being any legal reasons to do it. Also the lack of guidance. So he’s working with organizations who are trying to clean up the sort of messy fuzzy edges of the situation, the problem he keeps hitting, and the problem that organizations that are pro parental alienation hit is it’s such a controversial topic. There are many charities in the domestic abuse space, for example, who refuse to acknowledge it exists. And there are a number of sort of women’s abuse charities who will say that actually, it’s used so much to abuse women that therefore, you know, they don’t support it, because they haven’t found any real cases of it. Now, of course, if you go onto Facebook, the parental alienation groups you can find on there, there are 10s of 1000s of people that say it’s happened to them. And the question, we have to ask ourselves as decent people, and I have to ask myself as a happily married man, who’s, you know, the worst thing that happened to me, or the saddest thing that happened to me was, you know, reading through years and years of court paperwork telling this story is, how many of these cases can fall through the cracks? And it’s okay, you know, that’s the problem, when is there going to be a knowledge meant that this is a possibility, and it has to be investigated properly, and analyzed properly, because, you know, we had in the, in the UK a couple of years ago, a high court judge resigned, because, you know, there was a woman who was coercively controlled in a, you know, a very heavily culturally ethnically culturally influenced case. So, from his view, is, you know, a wealthy, highly educated, you know, white Englishman, well, she could have just walked out. But of course, if you’re being mentally controlled in a forced marriage situation, you can’t just walk out. So you are a prisoner, you are being abused, even if you have all the freedoms, it doesn’t mean that you feel mentally free, that you can break out. So this was overturned, he was, you know, taken to task by the Law Society, he resigned and said, Look, I’m out of my depth here. I haven’t had adequate training, etc, etc. And you know, what’s more, the courts aren’t helping people like they should. And so this is, this has led to call to reform in the family court courts reform of abuse, and that there is currently a redrafting of domestic abuse act going through the UK Parliament. And within that there is this huge route where parental alienation was going to be included. And then then various other lobbyists said no, because it’s part of coercive control, it should be in there and it shouldn’t have its own category. And various other groups that come in and say, look, it’s a way for abusive men to re victimize women who’ve been through difficult abusive splits. So it’s post separation abuse, as they call it, a post divorce abuse. And this is a hugely complex quagmire of people who, you know, may all be motivated by the best of intentions. But the bottom line is, is there are parents who have done nothing wrong, who love their kids who go through a hard time mentally or emotionally that leads to a split and they never see their kids again, and there’s nothing they can do to change that. And that is, you know, leading to negative outcomes for them as lead is disastrous outcomes for the kids in some cases. And you know, there is no real weight of movement, there are proponents in Parliament who are saying we have to include this in the legislation. And then there’s, you know, a chorus of voices that say, oh, no, because of x, y and Zed in the same way, in the same way that, you know, I was taken to task by a few people could sort of test read the book, because I had said that, look, you know, the majority of domestic abuse is men or women. And

even though the majority of reported domestic abuse is, I have a charity. So actually, no, we think it’s roughly equal. And analysis says it could be meant under report. And the problem I have as a journalist is that you know, I can’t guess on under reported numbers, I can only go on facts that we can corroborate. Otherwise, we can’t stand by the book. But I do accept those arguments. Maybe there is a much more complex situation about domestic abuse out there, and their voices and all sides. The bottom line, though, is until there is a material shift, I think, you know, as the author thinks it’s too late for him, right, this book is too late for him. And I think most poignantly, I guess the way to sum it up for me was when I interviewed one of the witnesses, who was, you know, close very close with the children and a close friend of his who said, you know, if you sat down every time, a couple said Rome with kids that we’re going to split, if you sat down with the author of this book for half an hour, and listened to him talk about the, the unhealable wounds that this has left in his life, then, you know, she said, half of them would never get divorced. And the other half would do everything they could to make sure that they didn’t suffer what happened to him. And we always think it can’t happen to us, right. But you know, the thing, you get their foot bitten off by a shark while they’re swimming, right. But we still get travel insurance. And this divorce custody split situation, there is an extreme outcome that does happen, that isn’t studied, it’s not allowed for consistently by the courts, it is not set up in the right way across multiple agencies that deal with this stuff, to look after the best interests of the children and protect parents from this, this is the worst thing that could ever happen to you, you know, worse than losing your own life and losing your kids fishing, ask any parent, that’s what they’re gonna say. So that’s, that’s his goal. He’s trying his very best. And hopefully things will change. But the problem still remains that until there is some acknowledgement that this can happen at an official level, and there is an agreement about how you assess it, then you will still have people in the situation, they appear desperate, they’re anxious, they’re angry, the system seems to be failing them and they’re treated like, Okay, fine. You’re a pain in the ass as opposed to, you know, actually, you’re a victim of abuse.

Michael –
Yeah, I mean, I can speak from the divorce angle with with children. It is incredibly painful. You said? I think the the comment was a wound that will never heal. I don’t think that’s very far from the truth. I think you learn how to deal with it. But But I don’t have I have my children in my life. I had them here this morning, you know, took them to school. I can’t imagine what this would be like to go through without them. It’s hard enough. And so I want to thank you for doing this. I am not. Like I said, I haven’t experienced this. So I’m not an expert on this shit. I’m not sure I’m an expert on anything. But just this topic, I certainly am not. And it’s the book that I’ve been able to dive in a little bit. And I’m fascinated by it. I’m my eyes have been opened a little bit more, for sure. And it’s something that I don’t know how these people that have to deal with it. Do. I just, it’s hard enough. And so the last question I asked him, perhaps I’ll ask this a little differently. I always ask everybody, what are some words of wisdom they would impart to a man who’s about to begin his divorce process? And I think I’ll maybe change this question a little bit and ask you what words of wisdom would you impart to a man who’s going through this and is going through some parental alienation?

Andrew –
Well, the the I’m going to refer to the sort of aggregate wisdom of the child, Family Court lawyers. I spoke to who all agreed on one key point which is the situation you’re in when you entered the court is the situation you’re probably going to come out with at the other end of it, you know, don’t expect anything to change. Don’t expect anything to make sense. And don’t expect there to be a fair audit of your situation, because that’s not you know, what’s good, what’s happening here. So what’s happening is, you know, a judge will sit there and take the advice of everyone else on aggregate and decide whether or not and this is something really obvious that they can fix that they will try and just maintain the status quo. So the longer you can stay out of court, and the more you can come to an agreement, the better. And as one of the lawyers interviewed said, you know, what, you, you would be better off to choke on it, and say, Fine, I’ll accept whatever you give me to maintain contact with my kids, because the flip side is you lose contact with your kids. And that is, that is shocking, there is not much hope in that glass, you know, and that is very, very, that’s not even half empty, is it that’s like, you know, there’s a few drugs in the bottom of that glass. But he said, you know, this is, this is the thing he said, you know, don’t expect it to make sense, you will go in there with a rock solid case. And, you know, here is someone who went in there with a legal team that is, you know, beyond reproach, with deep, deep pockets that could see him get right the way through here, someone who, you know, does not lose court cases. And in the eyes of the family court, you know, they just, he had a, he exited the court with the same judgment he went in, we’re not going to force your kids to see that. And there’s nothing you can do about it. And it took, you know, three years, and, you know, most people’s life savings to to get back to square one. So avoiding it, that’s the best advice, avoid it in the first place, do what you got to do put up with what you got to put up with. And as one of these guys said, you know, the thing is, the psychological manipulation of a child does, it’s not some Manchurian Candidate situation, here, we’re talking about kids, you know, you’re talking about a nine year old. So what do you do to a nine year old, they come back from, you know, weekend with daddy and say, Hey, I had a great time. And what do you do? You start to cry and say, Oh, so you prefer your father? To me? That’s what you got to do. You know, you do that enough, when they’re nine. And when they’re 10, they’re gonna come back and say, they had a bad time. You know, when you say, oh, yeah, dad, and I did this, and it was fun. You know, all you got to do is say, Oh, really, and, you know, not disguise your emotions, if you’re jealous if you’re angry. And it works both ways. I mean, there are many mothers who have come forward, you know, during the course of writing this book, who actually, I mean, six of whom actually, you know, have sort of come out publicly and written letters of complaint about why aren’t you including this?

I mean, you know, it’s hard, it’s hard for people to talk about, but I come back always to the same thing, which is, if you can stop, if you can stay out of court for as long as possible. That’s your best possible outcome, because the thing that is least likely to happen is the children will be moved from one home to another, you know, there are there are various treatments, I mean, therapies for this. In the US where that’s absolutely right, you will have a big move for a child from one home to the other over a period and then reciting a family therapy, and it can be addressed. But it’s a huge trauma for the child to go through. And most of us wouldn’t want to do that to our kids, either. And I think that’s that’s been the the terrible thing is that, you know, the author here was well aware that his kids were under strain, but he said, you know, what’s the alternative that he just gives up and sees them fall apart? Or does he fight to see them? And you know, again, looking back at it, I think, the longer it, we decided that, you know, the problem was, he was badly advised in the first place, take a break, say to your kids, we’ll take a break, we’ll cool off and we’ll go into therapy, and then everything will be fine. If you’d never taken that break. If he just said, Fine, you go home this weekend, see you next time, you know and carried on as normal. Things might have worked themselves out. I mean, it’s honestly I think, given the history with the ex wife or the things that happened on her watch the turn the children against him. I think it’s unlikely I think this was, you know, a revenge kit a passive aggressive sort of acting out of feelings of, you know, anger towards the husband. Yeah, I think that’s not something that is unusual. I think probably goes both ways in all divorces at some point. You know, I certainly my friends who got divorced, I know sometimes though, there is an extreme case where it goes to find the same way sometimes we all lose our temper sometimes, you know, sometimes we lose our temper and you know, we beat someone to death of the golf club. You know, it’s rare, but it’s just the other end of that spectrum of you know, getting into a bus of over parking a golf cart. All right. So this is the same thing, the passive aggressive maxing out in a difficult divorce, in some cases goes to an extreme, which has devastating consequences.

Michael –
Sadly, I see I see it daily, I can, I can confirm what you’re saying, What’s the best way for people to find the book to find info? about parental alienation, perhaps. And and yourself? Well, how can people find you and and purchase the book?

Andrew –
Yeah, the book is actually the books of it, if you just Google it, the invisible parent, by anonymous with Andrew Keith Walker, then yeah, it’s in most good online bookstores. And you can order a copy there. And also, if you contact, literally PR, and I’ll find you the details over then, you know, they can, you know, hook you up, if you’re interested in finding out more about it. As for getting support, and help, you know, there are a lot of organizations out there that are switching on to this issue. And you know, it’s about finding one locally that can, you know, you can connect with that can, you know, contact you is going to be probably your your best starting point, mostly, you’re going to find its charities and child focus charities, that are the ones that are most aware of this issue, because as with so many things, it’s coming from the community first. And it’s very slow to see the adoption of this sort of grassroots movement by the sort of more sort of official state channels. But it is it is coming and it is going to change. I think there will be a time where we turn around and say actually, do you remember when people said parental alienation didn’t exist? In the same way that they said there wasn’t a gender bias in the workplace, or there wasn’t a racial bias in policing, whatever it might be, we’re seeing these norms turned on their heads. But when people actually talk about their life and their lived experience, and I think parental, parental parental alienated parents out there starting to do that now feel more confident about doing it without being labeled as a wrong and I suppose actually, that would be the thing I would say, most of all, is that I think one of the thing that really brought a lump to my throat was when I was talking to the author about it, and he said, You know, I played golf the other day with someone who was a business contact, I’ve known them for 20 years, you know, we go back a long way, etcetera, etcetera. We’re very, very close. And he said, we’re there he goes, and I’m about to strike the ball. And he says to me, so Okay, did you? Did you do something? And he said, What do you mean? He goes, Well, did they catch you interfering with your kids? And he said, that was the end of their friendship. That was it. It was over. He said, Because how can I play golf with someone who was willing to play golf with a pedophile? A and B, he said, the horror that someone who he was a close friend with could turn around and actually even ask him that question. What did you do? Right? And this is the thing that the shame that is layered onto parents who say my ex is taking my kids away, let me see them, the immediate thing they hit with is what did you do? And it’s the narrative of victim shaming that is so familiar in so many other walks of life, and we don’t, we’re not talking about any of them or an expert in any of those things. But I can say, for sure that every alienated parent faces the same, you know, awful accusations. When they say my kids don’t ever want to see me again, because genuinely no one can believe that this would happen. But you know, it does.

Michael –
Yeah, sadly. Well, Andrew, I want to thank you for writing the book. With with Mr. Anonymous, please pass along my thanks to him. And I really appreciate you doing this. We will stay in touch and probably do it again. I’d love to do a follow up at some point in the future.

Andrew –
Absolutely. Music Thank you very much for having me. And, and also, I’ve been listening to the show, and I think it’s a very, it’s a very brave project and you know, you you’re doing in a way what the author of this book has done right is you’re you’re baring your soul a bit here for the world to try and connect with other people who are going through the same thing. And so having never been through anything like that, hope I never do. I’m just gonna say I really respect you for that man and congratulations on a really worthwhile show.

Michael –
Oh, thank you, man. I really appreciate that means a lot. Thank you.

Episode 67 – Author Series – Andrew Keith Walker

https://www.risingphoenixpodcast.com

– Support The Show –

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.