Read the news coverage and op-eds about our Shared Parenting Report Card at the links below:
By Ginger Gentile, Deputy Executive Director
January 17, 2020 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors
A British Columbia psychologist has been disciplined (sort of) for her role in a contentious child custody case (CBC, 1/14/20). Dr. Cindy Hardy committed multiple ethical violations that resulted in the child’s father being prohibited from seeing his son for over a year.
The origins of the case are obscure and none of the family members have been named either in the linked-to article or the findings of Dr. Lynn Zutter, panel chair of the Health Professions Review Board. Suffice it to say however, that, from this far remove, it appears as if Hardy actively participated in a campaign of parental alienation on behalf of the mother against the father. It further appears that, despite being found to have committed ethical violations, neither the College of Psychology of British Columbia nor the HPRB punished her behavior in any meaningful way.
In ways unexplained, the custody and parenting time matters were, in early 2016, being heard simultaneously in two courts, one in Alberta and the other in British Columbia. The child’s mother retained Dr. Hardy to assess the child, informing her that he feared spending time with his father. Hardy had little or no experience conducting forensic psychological evaluations, but did so anyway. She did so without a word to the father and indeed, throughout the entire case made no effort to contact him. Needless to say, she failed to obtain his informed consent to evaluate his son, a clear violation of professional ethics.
But it seems that Hardy was more interested in assisting the mother than in scrupulous compliance with ethics. Her initial approach to assessing the child was to have him complete the Behavior Assessment System for Children, Third (BASC-3). That’s a very standard way to begin, but, remarkably, she allowed the child to take the assessment tool home and complete it there under the watchful eye of his mother.
So situated, the child answered one question to the effect that he had contemplated self-harm. Hardy interpreted that to mean that he did so because of his concern about going to spend time with his father. There was nothing to make that connection but the mother’s say-so, but Hardy made it anyway. Later, when the child re-took the BASC-3 and answered the same question the opposite way (i.e. that he didn’t contemplate self-harm), Hardy announced that the results of the tests were invalid and couldn’t be used to assess the child.
January 17, 2020 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors
In my last piece, I criticized Danish historian Mikael Jalving’s piece in Quillette entitled “Scandinavia: Can the New Parental Team Replace Marriage?” (Quillette, 1/2/20) I did so because of his strange conclusion that shared parenting (and the scientific evidence supporting it) is dangerous because it encourages divorce. Needless to say, he cited no evidence for the proposition.
Nor did he mention that, in the U.S. at least, we know from Margaret Brinig and Douglas Allen’s work that it’s precisely the prospect of sole parenting that encourages divorce. The two researchers found that women tend strongly to file for divorce because they know that the sole-parenting custom by judges means they know they won’t lose their kids. If anything, that suggests that equal parenting would tend to discourage divorce filings.
As I said in my last piece, people divorce, whether Jalving likes it or not. Given that, surely public policy should be informed by the science on children’s welfare when their parents split up. And that science points directly to shared parenting. It’s an obvious point that Jalving missed due to his antipathy for government interference in families.
I of course share that antipathy, at least to an extent, and Jalving makes some important points about the relationship between families and governments. I’ve been studying and writing about families, children, parents and family law for over two decades now and my strong take on the subject Jalving raises is that governments are poor substitutes for parents. They prove it every day.