Best interest is Destructive to Your Child’s Mental Health, says Clinical Psychologist James Bedell

by | Jan 1, 2019

Because parents are arbitrarily being taken out of their parent’s lives, there has been a huge push for states to pass equal parenting bills. This year will be no different. Fix Family Courts Ron and Sherry Palmer’s views and teachings that the unconstitutional practices have been made possible and disguised by the “best interest of the child” slogan are resonating and taking off and have enabled activists like Mark Ludwig of AFESP to make progress and for experts like Dr. Cowley feel freer with explaining how and why these things have to change. 
 
Just a few short years ago, attempting to argue that best interest of the child was bad for a child would have gotten immediate scorn and your entire case for custody would be completely turned on you. Today, the tables have turned. What caused this shifting 
Dr. James Bedell, a clinical psychologist confirms that “best interest of the child” (BIC) is destructive to a child’s mental health and unconstitutional. Listen to what else he has to say as he shares his thoughts about the effects that the BIC policy has had on children and how the family courts use this concept in child custody battles. Mark ends the video with the comment that these are “things that people don’t really delve into when we talk about getting things passed from a legislative standpoint.” Yes, Mark, you are absolutely right, those of you who are seeking to craft better laws in this area must understand the constitutional limitations on state power otherwise you are going to spend a lot of time, energy, and money passing laws that just get overturned and that don’t accomplish what you want to be accomplished. 

A parent lacking some parenting skills does not qualify for the state to interfere with their parenting rights.

After 40 years of practice, including serving as a custody evaluator, Dr. Bedell has come to the same conclusions that we have. Dr. Bedell says that the state should not be trying to pick who is the better parent and should only be inquiring into a parent’s fitness. “Fitness is really the only quality or characteristic that may be looked at in terms of access to children. If a parent is dangerous than obviously it’s the responsibility of the state to protect that. The state . . . violated, I believe, the constitutional rights of children and the constitutional rights of parents when it adopted a standard called best interest. That somehow they could determine what was in the best interest of a child. And they also used that concept to say one parent can be qualitatively different. But you can’t make that kind of statement without implying that one parent is inferior to the other parent. . . If that parent was perfectly qualified and involved with their child prior to the divorce, divorce does not alter the qualitative . . . behavior of a parent toward a child, and yet the state somehow says as a result to divorce we have to develop an adversarial concept of determining which parent kind of wins by being qualitatively different and which parent loses. The perception to a child is so destructive . . .all they think about is somebody decided daddy isn’t as good as mommy when it comes to parenting me. . . .It really does undermine the sense of value of the parent that is not involved in the life of the child.”

Dr. Bedell has it partially right here. However, custody battle is not a sufficient hearing to determine fitness and divorce is not a sufficient trigger to convey authority to the state to challenge anyone’s fitness as a parent. The state is constitutionally required to presume that both parents are fit and presume that both parents are acting in the child’s best interest and it must have a constitutionally justifiable reason to go beyond those presumptions. Divorce simply doesn’t cut it because the rights are individual and not dependent on marital status. What this video shows is that they are getting there and they are learning some of the language, but they have a ways to go. It’s about time that the focus is not on man versus woman. The state loves that because you are not focused on the evil the state is doing, you are focused on the opposite sex. The state has distracted you from the real villain. Its the application of state power that causes the problem.

What Dr. Bedell is explaining the states do Ron says is only possible through the use of viewpoint discrimination. Most parents going through this come to the conclusion fairly quickly that they are not going to get fair treatment or protection of their rights when an attorney asks them “whose side are the children on?” 

Dr. Bedell says that Dr. Richard Warshak’s study with 110 mental health professionals agree that the “reality is the quantity of the time turns out to be more important than the quality of the time. Kids are more profoundly affected by a lack of quantity of time other than that of the actual environment of either parent.” This would also comport with the supreme court’s position that a parent only has to provide “adequate care,” not best and not be “better than the other parent.” Where were these mental health professionals when you were going through it, right? And why then aren’t the judges getting it?

Ron Palmer says “from a constitutional legal perspective in First Amendment terms, BIC is asking the judge to apply viewpoint discrimination. A judge applies viewpoint discrimination when they apply best interest factors and they remove a child based on their opinion and personal beliefs as to how a child should be raised. Now you can match up, the mental health perspective with the legal and present this in court.* Approaching from a mental health perspective, Dr. Bedell has come to the same conclusions that we have come to from a self-taught legal perspective. So now, finally, the two areas are speaking the same language and saying the same things.” 

a drawing of a stick figure holding hands with a person who has abandoned them saying I miss you.Dr. Bedell admits that when a child is taken from a parent in temporary orders, that the child feels that the other parent has abandoned them. He says that children don’t understand what is happening, and fill in the gaps that they don’t understand. He says a child will think the worst. He says that the child will also develop anxiety as they get more and more stressed and worried about how the other parent is doing. Finally, the moment you have been waiting for, to hear those words that the courts are the problem and not you! Finally, mental health professionals views collide with your legal rights, and validate your feelings about what is really happening — that the courts are stealing children from fit and loving parents and creating conditions that would be considered abandonment if they had not been ordered. One mother, Lydia Hubbell, on Facebook, over the holidays, stated that the amount of time she is allowed to see her daughter would qualify as abandonment under the state laws. 

“When the child doesn’t have the presence of one significant parent it causes a tremendous amount of disruption both in terms of their fears with how the other parent is doing, they obsess a lot about the quality of the absent parent’s life.” Dr. Bedell is talking about the psychological results created by the judge’s prior restraint on speech, association, and worship rights through parenting plans that restrict one parent’s time to less than the other parent. It is the expression of intimacy in the close family, parent-child association in quantity in the minutia of daily interaction and the constant interplay between parent and child that reassures a child of their place in the world that is disrupted by these judges. Dr. Cowley says this disruption in intimate close family expression between parent and child is harmful to the child psychologically and emotionally. This is in exact alignment with the Supreme Court saying that these prior restraints create irreparable harm. Once a judge damages a child in this way that damage can never be undone. That is damage the child will always have to deal with for the rest of their life one way or another, and these judges are doing this illegally.

Ron Palmer explains however that the quantity of time in legal terms is protected through least restrictive means. When courts properly apply this due process principle of ends-means balancing at the highest level each parent’s time must start off as equal and therefore the child gets the psychological benefit of maximum time with each parent. 

Picture of Dr. Bedell and logo of AFESP.com along with text that reads "Quantity of Time Matters Most. picture courtesy of Dr. Neil Cowley.
Dr. James Bedell – Picture courtesy of Dr. Neil Cowley and AFESP

In legal terms, issuing a temporary order that restricts a parent from their children is called prior injunctive restraint on intimate, expressive, close family parent-child speech, association, worship, and matters of conscience regarding child rearing. The Supreme Court has held that even minor infringements of these First Amendment rights constitute irreparable legal harm. So these courts are irreparably and illegally harming children and their parents. How can it possibly be in any child’s best interest to cause them irreparable harm through illegal mechanisms?

Next we address the idea that children who have two homes are forced to live out of a suitcase. Several years back during a legislative hearing on an equal parenting bill, HB 453, one of the legislators (who by the way was not re-elected) said that she would not support the bill because it would force children to live out of suitcases.

Children who spend equal time with each of their separated parents are not suitcase children.

Dr. Bedell says that “kids are very adaptable, and they actually benefit more from the quantity of time with a parent then whether or not they have to make transitions.” Kids learn to adapt and they know the rules at each house and that becomes the child’s consistent reality. “Kids are far more impacted in a negative way by the lack of equal contact with each parent.”  This becomes normal for them and they don’t experience any harm from that, but that they do experience harm from lack of quantity of time with each parent.

In legal terms, Ron says that this issue of suitcase children is de minimus in the face of the child’s and the parent’s fundamental right to full and equal speech, association, and worship with each other under least restrictive limitations. De minimus means it carries no weight, it means it is insignificant, and it simply is irrelevant in the face of these higher order interest. Of note, if you are having a difficult time getting your court to understand “least restrictive” when it comes to the amount of time you get with your child, it is maximum time. The maximum time that you can exercise your rights when you are separated from the other parent is 50% of the time. Even though you have 100% right and the other parent has 100% right, each of you can only exercise these 50% of the time when you are no longer together. A court is not allowed to interfere with these precious rights without overcoming the constitutional barrier.

The better parent model is a scam and does not overcome the judge’s constitutional limitations.

Dr. Bedell says that “The court is trying to determine what parent is better.” But he says when you think in those terms you are sending a message to children that is very destructive, that one parent is potentially inferior to the other parent. “Fitness is really the only quality or characteristic that may be looked at.” Dr. Bedell believes that the state adopted an unconstitutional 

Ron explains that these questions of best, better, inferior, superior are not judicially remedial, they are non-justiciable. They are matters of conscience where the state has zero legitimacy in imposing itself. These determinations of best, better, superior draw from one’s concepts of religion, the nature of life, the nature of child rearing, the purpose of child rearing, the type of adult you want your child to become, your political beliefs, your religious beliefs, your basic outlook on life, your personality. All of these things are matters of personal conscience, and no determination of best, better, or superior can ever be made without the judge drawing on these matters of conscience, their own viewpoint on these matters of conscience. Therefore, the best interest of the child standard, is, was, and has always been unconstitutional.

SCOTUS has said that among one of our most important rights is the right to be left alone by the government. Our children have this most important right to be left alone by the government, but they are not yet old enough to enforce this right against the government. It is especially important for children to have the protection of both of their parents from unwarranted government meddling in their private lives. It is even more important for both parents to have this right when one of the parents is asking a government official to take unconstitutional action and impose government meddling in the child’s life to cut out the protection of the other parent. While parents may have a special privilege to limit the rights of their minor children, they do not have any authority whatsoever to ask a government official to unconstitutionally deprive the child of the influence and protection of the other parent. This is an area we are researching where we believe parents who do this may be subject to suit under civil rights laws for damages. Keep in mind that individuals can violate your constitutional rights. But they run into a problem when they use laws to do it. People employed by the government and acting on the government’s behalf cannot violate your rights, not legally anyway.

Most attorneys refuse to protect parental rights because judges have enjoyed near unlimited discretion to do as they please in child custody divorce cases. 

This has driven parents to go pro se because most attorneys in family law go along to get along. The attorneys depend on these judges for their next case, so they are by nature of their job at risk if they fight to protect your parental rights. This has left parents to try and figure this out on their own. But this takes a very long time to figure out, too long in fact for a parent to do on their own within the timeframe that they need the information. So we have developed simplified tools for parents in this area by self educating ourselves. Parents need a shortcut so that they can benefit from the rights that protect children. Parents are entitled to raise their child as they see fit and to be free from interference. The only way they will get this though is if they can get this information quick enough to be able to use it while they have standing. There is no way that the epiphanies that Ron and Sherry Palmer have had in this area is possible for any parent to have on time. By the time, a parent in a child custody suit figured this out or gained enough knowledge to trigger their brain to have these epiphanies, it is likely that they are already so far along in the process or their child is at the age where they are going to age out. Some parents lost hope long before they would be able to process all of this legal jargon and most could not face reading case after case without it driving them into deeper depression and PTSD. 

Look at Dr. Bedell, 40 years is how long he has been doing this. Children are grown and have started families of their own by that time. 

What Caused the Tables to Turn?

Having the right information. That’s right. It’s that simple. Getting there was not so simple however. When we first started researching BIC we found that anyone who tried to challenge it was told they must not care about the child or that they were not thinking of the child so most people didn’t dare attempt to address it. So we published a book on it and this did the trick. People started talking about it and now experts are finally coming out and speaking out about the destructive results that BIC has produced.

Who are we?

We are self taught experts in how the constitution is intended to protect you and your child in family law. Many of our ancestors were self educated in many areas as well. It was more common back in the 1800s for people to educate themselves in multiple fields, take Benjamin Franklin for example. While they had formal education in some areas, others they did not, they became an expert through many hours of their own self study and development. We teach parents how to be the architect of their own future by starting with getting control over their family court litigation and high-conflict issues.

So we have put all the information you need to win child custody with your rights arguments at your fingertips in this membership site. This is where parents and attorneys can go and benefit from the years of work we have put into simplifying rights arguments that are easily understood in short periods of time. There are free motion examples in here and concepts broken down into class modules. The only thing easier would be not having to do this at all.

In this member site you will learn how the Constitution protects your right to protect your children from these destructive judges. You will learn how to tell your story through the most powerful and meaningful argument that you can take all the way to the Supreme Court. The sooner parents learn to do this, the faster they will end the unconstitutional family court practices, and finally truly protect children.

 

 

 

*We are not attorneys, not trained in the law, do not practice law, and are not a substitute for an attorney. Please consult with an attorney for more information on your rights.

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