March 8, 2013

Regarding the March 4 editorial “Protecting families”:

As someone who has accompanied my clients to family court in Montgomery County, I have observed bizarre judicial decisions that put children at risk. Many of the contests over parenting arrangements that end up in court are there because one parent is trying to protect the child from the damaging behavior of the other. Damaging behaviors include such things as threatening the other parent in front of the child, leaving the child alone, starting an argument in front of the child or a father showering with his young daughter.

All judges in family courts need extensive training to prepare for what they are seeing. Usually the judge has no knowledge of the personality disorders that fuel most of these cases. The disordered parent can be very charming in public but often is controlling or self-serving, and sometimes dangerous, in private. The other parent can appear anxious and fearful in court and may be viewed by the judge as weak, deficient or angry.

Emily M. Brown, Alexandria