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NPO publishes blog articles to inform and to stimulate conversation about issues of importance to NPO's mission.  All blog articles express the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Parents Organization, its Board of Directors, or its executives.  

September 5, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Do I see the next exhibit on offer by those who seek to convince anyone who’ll listen that parental alienation is junk science and a plot by fathers to wrest custody from “protective mothers?” I just may. Richard Ducote and the various journalists who’ve put forward that nonsense may want to take note. Karin Wolf may be just the person for them.

Wolf’s latest shenanigans have involved abducting her 14-year-old child from its father, Edward Crane (North Jersey, 9/3/18). She was apprehended after a nine-day investigation by multiple law enforcement agencies. She’s been charged with interference with child custody and contempt of court in Glen Rock, New Jersey.    

As we so often see, Wolf was given primary custody of the couple’s two children after they divorced in 2007. Three years later, Crane filed for custody claiming Wolf was alienating the children. Apparently the judge agreed because custody was transferred to Crane. That didn’t sit well with Wolf.

At some point, she established the “Women’s Civil Liberties Union,” that looks very much like nothing but a website created by Karin Wolf to air her grievances about anything and everything. If you’re looking for legal advice, don’t take it from Wolf, who’s (a) not a lawyer and (b) has little-to-no concept of the law. For example, she informs visitors that the mere claim by one parent that the other parent is alienating the children constitutes a cause of action under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a claim that’s spectacularly at odds with the truth.

So it’s no surprise that her take on parental alienation itself is just as screwy. Consider:

The segregation of mothers and their children has been achieved via Richard Gardner’s highly-controversial, pseudoscientific theory Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), which has been rejected repeatedly by the American Psychological Association (APA); and fails Daubert and Frye standards.
Gardner was a misogynist who claimed that when the child(ren) do not want to spend time with the father, it is because the mother is alienating him from the child(ren). This is bogus, a bill of attainder against women. It is natural for a child to prefer the mother, it is simply nature. Look at everything from puppies and kittens to cubs and ducklings.

Let’s see how many objectively untrue claims Wolf managed to pack into about 90 words. 1. PA has nothing to do with “segregation of mothers and their children.” 2. PA is not Gardner’s idea having changed considerably from his PAS analysis almost three decades ago. 3. The APA actually included the concept of PA, if not the name, in its most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. 4. PA has met the Daubert and Frye standards many, many times. 5. Gardner’s understanding of PAS was emphatically not that whenever children don’t want to spend time with Dad, it’s necessarily the result of alienation. 6. She has no idea of what a bill of attainder is. It’s a legislative enactment condemning as criminal a specific individual or set of individuals. 7. It is in fact not “natural for a child to prefer the mother.” Humans are bi-parental and the science on children’s attachments is clear that there’s no hierarchy of preference. 8. Puppies and kittens aren’t human beings. Dogs and cats aren’t bi-parental species and humans are. Accordingly, their parental preferences differ from ours.

Not bad. That’s almost one misstatement of fact for every 10 words. I’d say that alone recommends her very well to the protective mother movement as an expert on parental alienation.

But it gets worse, far worse. Wolf turns out to be one of those parents who, when the court does something she doesn’t like, sues everyone in sight. Her suit was a comedy of errors at least for those of us who didn’t have to deal with it. I feel sorry for the federal judge and her clerks who had to wade through Wolf’s 120 pages of legal and factual nonsense.

Now, you may think I overstate the matter when I say she sued everyone in sight. I do, but not by much. She sued something like 58 defendants. Among those were at least one church and its pastor, 12 judges, one superior court, the entire appellate division of the State of New Jersey, lawyers who never represented her, social workers she hadn’t hired and countless court personnel. Many of those people and entities had little or nothing to do with her case. Here’s how Federal Judge Madeline Cox Arleo described Wolf’s petition:

Although Plaintiff's 120-page Complaint is somewhat difficult to decipher, this action apparently arises out of Plaintiff's 2007 divorce from her husband, Edward Crane, and ensuing child custody proceedings that ended with the Bergen County Family Court awarding legal and physical custody of the Children to Mr. Crane on August 30, 2013. See id. ¶¶ 86-87. In this lawsuit, Plaintiff names as defendants essentially any person or entity with any conceivable connection to the state court custody proceedings.

And what did she want from her lawsuit? Oh, not much…

Plaintiff seeks declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief in various forms. See id. ¶ 396. To provide a few examples, Plaintiff asks this Court to do the following: (1) declare the Bergen County Family Court proceedings described above void ab initio for lack of subject matter jurisdiction; (2) enjoin essentially all entities and persons connected to the proceedings from further involvement; (3) order the state entities to provide Plaintiff with free transcripts of the proceedings; (4) temporarily seize all of Defendants' assets; (5) award $100 million in damages and treble damages under RICO; and (6) award Plaintiff interest calculated from the date Mr. Crane filed his petition for custody in Bergen County Family Court. Id. ¶¶ 396(e), (l)-(n), (s)-(u). In addition, a large number of Plaintiff's requests for relief are declaratory judgments that call upon this Court to reorganize the New Jersey justice system, create a new federal court for interstate custody disputes, and rewrite New Jersey family law. See id. ¶¶ 396(aa)-(mm).

I particularly like the demand for $400 million in damages and the ones to reorganize the entire state’s judicial system, create a new federal court and rewrite New Jersey family law. Hey, why not think big?

Needless to say, the court dismissed all of Wolf’s claims.

The odd thing is that even someone like Wolf isn’t actually too far out of the mainstream of those who seek to cast doubt on the fact of parental alienation. That’s why I recommend her so highly to them to provide services as an expert. I can see it now - the next article of that sort we see quoting Karin Wolf. After all, didn’t she found an organization with the august-sounding name of the Women’s Civil Liberties Union? She must be an expert, right?

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