‘Brainwashed’ daughters returned to dad after being found

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Child Custody on Thursday, January 28, 2016.

Most of the time, after divorce parents recognize that their relationship has changed, but not ended. They must continue to co-parent their children, working together to make sure they are as emotionally and physically healthy as possible as they prepare for adulthood.

Unfortunately, in Illinois not every former couple is able to do this. Their relationship has deteriorated to the point that they cannot work out a child custody plan that is fair to both parents and in the child’s best interests. Even more troubling is when one parent puts the kids in the middle by insulting the other parent in their presence. Making a child choose between their parents can be deeply traumatic and destructive.

In an extreme case, a Minnesota woman “brainwashed” her teenage daughters against their father, the woman’s ex-husband, after a difficult divorce. The woman convinced the daughters that their father had abused them. By the time a judge granted the father full custody in 2013, finding no evidence of abuse, the girls had run away.

They were missing for more than a year, and police suspected the mother was keeping them in hiding. Finally, U.S. marshals arrested the mother. Shortly thereafter, a break in the case led police to find the sisters at a horse ranch. They brought them back into their father’s custody.

Today, the father tells the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the family is slowly healing. After going through a reunification therapy program, the father took them, along with their other siblings, to Disney World. He says his daughters no longer think he ever abused them, and are calling him Dad.

Though few Illinois fathers will ever go through this sort of ordeal, in many cases men need vigorous legal representation to ensure they get the custody and other parental rights they deserve.

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