Should our courts honor lawsuits to compensate victims of parental alienation?

By Dr. Leon Koziol

Director, Parenting Rights Institute

Former civil rights trial attorney

You can’t just run into court and expect a recovery simply because you were wronged by someone. It has to be a legal wrong to avoid dismissal. Legal wrongs accepted by the courts are generally known as a cause of action. Your facts or grievance must satisfy the elements of a cause of action to be actionable for an award of damages.

So, for example, there are causes of action for civil assault, fraud, conversion (civil theft) and breach of contract. Then there are what’s known as developing causes of action, gradually accepted by judicial rulings, which eventually become commonplace. One example is the tort of Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress. The elements which typically must be satisfied are 1) an intentional act by the defendant 2) which is extreme or outrageous 3) and the direct cause of 4) severe emotional distress.

Over the years there have been variations of such torts in family courts such as custodial interference, but when it comes to the destruction of a non-custodial parent’s relationships with his or her children, the courts have yet to convert such a wrong into a legally recognized one. To give you an idea of how long this latter developing tort has been around, it was my 1983 assignment in the Illinois State Moot Court Competition while in law school.

There has been no progress in the four decades since because the remedies for such wrongs have remained limited to custody modifications. These limitations fail to compensate victims for the severe emotional harm caused by the outrageous conduct of the alienating parent. In addition there is no optional recovery against judges who fail to correct the injustices due to a judge-made doctrine known as judicial immunity. And because a lawyer accomplice (i.e. child attorney) has no legal relationship with the same victim, malpractice is also unavailable.

Parental alienation was offered as a psychological disorder by Dr. Richard Gardner in 1985. However, to this day, the psychiatric profession has failed to recognize it among the 300 or so disorders found in the DSM-5 manual (even though many of the established disorders combine to cause alienation). In my research and precedent-seeking litigation over the past twelve years I have argued that parental alienation is not so much a psychiatric disorder as it is a cause of action for damages against the alienating defendant regardless of his or her status.

Our courts have not adopted this logic because it would undermine the lucrative nature of custody and support battles in family court. Face it, a custody modification is only a partial remedy. Properly completed with a damage award, a new cause of action for parental alienation would further deter future misconduct by any would-be alienator. The elements of this new form of lawsuit can be an extension of those already established in the intentional tort context.

Given the history of parental alienation, elements such as outrageous conduct and severe distress cannot be disputed. These are common characteristics which a civilized society would want to have rectified with children as additional victims. And strictly from a legal standpoint, our Supreme Court has declared parenting rights to be the “oldest liberty interest” protected by the Constitution. This is why I attempted to obtain recovery under an optional cause of action established under our civil rights acts, most notably 42 USC section 1983.

Many victims have sought similar refuge by filing pro se actions under this section in federal court. Such actions are routinely dismissed in deference to state courts. In my case, retaliation set in early, resulting in an unprecedented number of persons and entities infringing on my “oldest liberty interest.” My actions against them fell victim to various immunities, abstention doctrines and jurisdictional technicalities as as result, see i.e. Parent v New York, 786 F. Supp. 2d 516 (NDNY 2011). This 45-page decision is all that one needs to confirm that federal courts have closed the doors to wrongs committed in any divorce or family court case.

A parental alienation cause of action was not recognized in the Parent case either as a tort or civil rights violation. As a result, instead of deterring misconduct, this decision only added fuel to the fire, emboldening my ex-wife (custodial parent) to escalate her outrageous conduct. With the support of biased judges, 40 of whom were removed or disqualified over a twelve year period, she created an impossible environment for me. Her hatred was so severe that I received no visit from them in more than six years. Shockingly I also received no phone contact during the holidays four months ago while hospitalized for a life-threatening condition.

That life-threatening condition was caused by the incessant persecution I sustained as a reformist and whistleblower, adding further justification for a parent alienation cause of action. Few could withstand the daily stress I endured for so many years simply to spend more time with my children. There was never even a report of child abuse and no finding of unfit parenting while all offense petitions of the alienating parent, Kelly Hawse-Koziol, were thrown out. Where was the accountability or justice for the true victim here? And should not the courts also allow a monetary recovery against a third party acting wrongly as a substitute parent? To be sure, convicted felons received more contact in prison than I did.

During my 23 years as an unblemished practicing attorney, I was able to get a restraining order on a $30 million high school project right out of law school, substantial recoveries and jury verdicts for victims of government abuse, a perfect record of acquittals for the wrongly accused, and a state supreme court order invalidating a billion dollar casino compact. see i.e. Patterson v City of Utica, 370 F.3d 322 (2nd Cir. 2004); Oneida Nation v Oneida County, 132 F. Supp. 2d 71 (NDNY 2000); Peterman v Pataki, 2004 NY Slip Op 51092(U); Koziol v Hanna, 107 F. Supp. 2d 170 (NDNY 2000); Currie v Kowalewski, 842 F. Supp. 57 (NDNY 1994).

Today I am unable to get a family court order for a phone call with my teen daughters. This demonstrates the extreme to which the system will go to preserve the family court goldmine. My case is much more than judicial retaliation but a series of human rights violations warranting a federal investigation. These violations are chronicled in my 2017 book, Satan’s Docket, with much more to come hopefully in the way of a documentary. Help me help you by donating to our cause and making this post viral.

Contact me, Parenting Rights Institute, at (315) 380-3420 or

One thought on “Should our courts honor lawsuits to compensate victims of parental alienation?

  1. Pingback: Putting a face on the parent alienator: meet Kelly Hawse-Koziol (Usherwood) – Welcome to Leon Koziol.Com

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