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Ex Partners and Parental Alienation Syndrome

By: Additional Article - Updated: 1 Jan 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Divorce Children Parental Alienation

At its heart, Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is where one parents attempts to turn the children against the other parent. Where divorces are less than amicable, it’s sadly not uncommon, and generally used by mothers in an attempt to ensure little or no contact between their exes and children.

Done subtly, it can be hard to prove, and at its worst it can produce Allegations Of Child Abuse Against The Fathers. Even when not pressed to those extremes, it causes anguish for thousands of men (which isn’t to say fathers haven’t used it against mothers, but in general it’s mothers who are the perpetrators).In court the result can be devastating, resulting in minimal or no contact for fathers.

How it Works

PAS is a kind of brainwashing. If the parent with custody can convince the child that he or she doesn’t want anything to do with the father, that carries weight in court, since one of the factors taken into account regarding contact is the wishes of the child. For obvious reasons, it works better with younger children, who are more easily swayed and subject to emotional pressures. In difficult situations, they naturally want to please the parent they’re with.

It can happen for any number of reasons, from fear of losing the children to the other parent to revenge. Sometimes trying to establish the root cause can be impossible.

Is it Legal?

If it could be proven that a parent had used PAS, there could be legal repercussions. In practice, however, establishing that can very difficult. Using it on a child is a form of abuse in medical terms, and legally it becomes a type of coaching, both of which are illegal.

What would tend to happen, though, is that the custodial parent’s assertions of the child’s wishes would end up being ignored when it came to contact. A few courts might order family therapy, but would be unlikely to prosecute beyond that. That said, authorities do recognise it happens.

What Can the Victim do?

For the victim, generally the father, to prove PAS is very difficult. You’ll need a good solicitor, a Child Welfare Officer who’s willing to go beyond the surface to investigate your side of the story, and the willingness to pursue this, probably at County Court level, which means expense.

You’ll need extensive notes on conversations with the other parent, a diary of time spent with the children, and their excuses for not spending time with you. Note instances where the other parent has gone to schools or clubs to say you should have no contact with your children there (if that has happened), or if the other parent has stopped the child communicating with other members of your family.

The stronger the body of evidence you can build, the greater your chances of proving PAS and re-establishing contact. The problem, though, is that eventually the children can believe it really is their wish not to see you.

Where there is a contact order, try to make sure you see your kids. It keeps a line open, and acts as assurance that they don’t really hate you. It also opens the door for more contact. If it’s possible to Keep Communication With The Mother – which in many cases it won’t be – then do so; minds can change, and it all becomes more ammunition if you have to go to court.

Divorce Resource

This article is taken from our sister site: www.DivorceResource.co.uk. For more information on access rights, child support and looking after your dependants following a split, take a look at this section on divorce resource.

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I now have custody of out 8 year old son. I was awarded custody following emotional harm to my son. My ex is supervised professionally and is still victim of her tactics. In short, can I now tske the matter out of the civil courts and give extensive reports and evidence to criminal courts or police? I.e under Cinderellas law
Adamfish - 1-Jan-17 @ 4:17 PM
I now have custody of out 8 year old son. I was awarded custody following emotional harm to my son. My ex is supervised professionally and is still victim of her tactics. In short, can I now tske the matter out of the civil courts and give extensive reports and evidence to criminal courts or police?
Adamfish - 1-Jan-17 @ 4:15 PM
@Mum-not-dad - No it isn't just for dads, parental alienation can happen via any parent, you just happen to be on the Separated Dads website, which 'is' aimed at dads.
Ed - 17-Nov-16 @ 1:00 PM
This isnt just for DAD'S !!
Mum-not-dad - 15-Nov-16 @ 8:59 PM
my husband and i have been stopped from seeing our grandchildren by our daughter and her partner and we have just started legal proceedings for contact. our daughter has a 10 year old son with her ex who then left her when their son was a baby. 18 months ago our daughter decided to get back with he ex and had another son. we previously saw our eldest grandson every day, took him on holidays with us and he stayed over at our house at least once a week. since his 'dad' came back into his life our daughter has turned against us. her partner never liked us and was resentful of the contact and close relationship we had with our grandson and he slowly but surely turned our daughter against us to the point she has stopped all contact. she is now claiming our eldest grandson does not want anything to do with us and does not want to see us, we need help to prove our daughter and her partner have been using alienation techniques to turn our grandson against us and if anyone has any advice we would be so grateful. are cafcass trained in spotting the signs of parental poisoning/alienation?! please help
s.dot - 11-Nov-16 @ 10:25 PM
Dillon - Your Question:
Hi can anyone advice me on what I should do next I am the father to a 7 year old boy who lives with his mum and I have been stopped access with my son since the end of January 2016. my ex-partner refuses to engage in any contact with me and she also refuses to engage with Cafcass or the court process basically just ignoring everything and I am unsure what I should do next???I have written letters to my ex-partner trying to be civil and arrange access for my son and I have also tried mediation twice which she has also refused.I was granted a court order to see my son every Sunday in 2014 and I was seeing him for a year and a half until she stopped it in January 2016 so I then took the matter back to court but I am having no joy as she just does not attend and the courts seem to just do nothing and she is basically getting away with whatever she wants. I am on the birth certificate please someone offer me some hope??

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. However, if your ex is in breach of the court order, you can take the matter back to court to have it enforced and there are repercussions if your ex ignores the order, please see link here. As difficult and as frustrating as this may be, you need to follow the court route. I will also post your comment on our Separated Dads Facebook page, as our dads are great at giving helpful advice, as many have been through a similar scenario before. Please refer back to our Separated Dads Facebook page for answers, which I hope will help.
SeparatedDads - 9-Nov-16 @ 11:21 AM
hi can anyone advice me on what I should do next I am the father to a 7 year old boy who lives with his mum and I have been stopped access with my son since the end of January 2016. my ex-partner refuses to engage in any contact with me and she also refuses to engage with Cafcass or the court process basically just ignoring everything and I am unsure what I should do next??? I have written letters to my ex-partner trying to be civil and arrange access for my son and I have also tried mediation twice which she has also refused. I was granted a court order to see my son every Sunday in 2014 and I was seeing him for a year and a half until she stopped it in January 2016 so I then took the matter back to court but I am having no joy as she just does not attend and the courts seem to just do nothing and she is basically getting away with whatever she wants. I am on the birth certificate please someone offer me some hope??
Dillon - 8-Nov-16 @ 4:37 PM
My advice to all alienated parents (which I am one) is to pray to God for justice because the civil courts are biased towards Mothers and if enough people pray to the just judge he will hear us because he cares about children and justice. see Luke18 v1-8 All we can do is what our children do keep going and carry on. In hope and peace we trust
DAV - 30-Sep-16 @ 3:07 PM
My exwife has been turning my 3 children against me with lies about me being horrible to her, they now don't want to have any contact with me even though I've always been a good dad. Please can someone give me some advice because I'm heartbroken and don't know what to do.
Jason - 27-Sep-16 @ 1:48 PM
Ron2016 writes about concern over his daughter being home educated. This is something I deal with every day, as it is my expertise. Quite often the concerns can be allayed if the worried parent understands the home education process better. If Ron would like to look further into it, I am happy to help (pro bono naturally).
Jenny - 14-Sep-16 @ 9:23 AM
My ex partner and I have an amicable arrangement and I see my daughter every other weekend. During this I endeavour to take her to as many different places and environments as I can (farms, play centres, swimming , seaside, etc.) so that she can appreciate life outside of 4 walls, as her mum does not like leaving the house unless she is with another adult. My concern is that she is homeschooling our daughter,and initially this was only going to be for the 1st year, I was not in support of this but she insisted and said she would start school the next year (school year 1).Ofcourse this didn't happen and now our child is nearly 7. My concern is that socially she behaves more like a 5 year old although she reads reasonably well and knows some times tables. But her mum has always had problems going outside the house and my daughter has never been to nursery school, played dressing up, had a best friend or gone to any birthday parties.My ex wants to continue homeschooling but I have said that she must attend school and benefit (as have her other 4 children) from a structured learning environment which includes working to the national curriculum, and most importantly, have the opportunity to mix with other children her age.This is causing problems and she is brainwashing our daughter - giving her all the negatives of school, i.e. telling her that she will hate school, (to be fair she probably will until she settles in,) that other children will bully her, make fun of her and that she will be working 6 hours every day (no mention of play times) and how much she will miss her mum, etc etc. and it will all be her daddy's (i.e. my) fault. Allthough my ex has reassured me over the past 2 years that the education authority are "backing her 100%", and how good their reports are, I have discovered that she has only had ONE assessment since homeschoooling began and that was last year, and also that my ex would be within her rights to refuse access to the inspector if she so wished.She does not have to work to the school curriculum.I have had many converations with my ex and she does notappear to understand the negative effect on our daughter insofar as social development.I would add that my ex has no qualifications, has never worked, and is very controlling, i.e. "my way or no way". Any ideas?
Ron2016 - 9-Jul-16 @ 3:16 PM
Hi, I just need advice on what to do when your partner undermines you and belittle's you, name calling all in front of our 7 year old son all the time and never support's me.
Sha - 29-Jun-16 @ 10:23 PM
dav - Your Question:
Hi,my ex wife should know that money,power and control are not the most important things in life.That truth,honesty and right and wrong,generosity of spirit and sharing are more important motherly attributes. The court system is biased towards Mothers but I will maintain my standards and not stoop down to hers and one day the truth will out.

Our Response:
Thank you for your comments. We hope it works out for you.
SeparatedDads - 20-May-16 @ 3:05 PM
Hi, my ex wife should know that money,power and control are not the most important things in life.That truth,honesty and right and wrong,generosity of spirit and sharing are more important motherly attributes. The court system is biased towards Mothers but I will maintain my standards and not stoop down to hers and one day the truth will out.
dav - 20-May-16 @ 2:41 PM
Hi guys,some advice please.My ex and I split 6.5 years ago and we have 7yr old son together.Through this whole time I have always had him alternate weekends, taken him abroad, and shared special days.During this time my ex has always called the shots threatening and carrying out stopping contact if she didn't get what she wants. In May last year I had a ruff time and ended up admitting myself to hospital with severe anxiety & depression.After my discharge we resumed alternate weekends.This lasted until just before New Year when she stopped contact again.I haven't had my son this year at all. I do speak to my son on the phone however she always without fail puts the conversation on loud speaker so everybody in the room can hear what is meant to be a private conversation, I can hear her and her new partner coaching my son what to say.My son doesn't like the whole loud speaker thing and keeps asking when can he come and stay with me.Which is shortly followed by him saying "mum is shaking her head" I have started legal proceedings in order to establish contact again and I am going for 50/50.I have written to her asking to establish contact again but she goads me to take her to court.I have written to her asking her to stop with the loud speaker thing advising that it is not in our sons interests but she ignores it. Is the PA? And what can I do please
Inny1807 - 4-Mar-16 @ 11:43 PM
Hi guys,some advice please.My ex and I split 6.5 years ago and we have 7yr old son together.Through this whole time I have always had him alternate weekends, taken him abroad, and shared special days.During this time my ex has always called the shots threatening and carrying out stopping contact if she didn't get what she wants. In May last year I had a ruff time and ended up admitting myself to hospital with severe anxiety & depression.After my discharge we resumed alternate weekends.This lasted until just before New Year when she stopped contact again.I haven't had my son this year at all. I do speak to my son on the phone however she always without fail puts the conversation on loud speaker so everybody in the room can hear what is meant to be a private conversation, I can hear her and her new partner coaching my son what to say.My son doesn't like the whole loud speaker thing and keeps asking when can he come and stay with me.Which is shortly followed by him saying "mum is shaking her head" I have started legal proceedings in order to establish contact again and I am going for 50/50.I have written to her asking to establish contact again but she goads me to take her to court.I have written to her asking her to stop with the loud speaker thing advising that it is not in our sons interests but she ignores it. Is the PA? And what can I do please
Inny1807 - 4-Mar-16 @ 8:31 PM
Laceman - Your Question:
Hi all,Don't know if anyone could point me in the right direction with this but here goes.My partner is in the middle of his divorce to his ex, who he has two children with, ages 2 and 7. His ex has done everything in her power to split us up, stopped my partner seeing his children and being extremely difficult over the divorce. My partner had to wait 3 months for a court date, and now he has access to the children (1 overnight stay per week and a couple of evenings), they have an agreement when it comes to school holidays, Christmas and taking the children on holidays. Now the last thing to discuss at court was me, she has never let the children be around me, and the agreement they came to was after 3 months (from the court date) if we were still together then the children were allowed to start being introduced to me. The reason I am posting under PAS is that she has told us that she will say and do anything in her power so the children will not want anything to do with either of us. She has always said things to the children, things children shouldn't have to hear, about me, about their dad, about our relationship. I think she emotionally blackmails them and I just do not know what to do.I am wanting some information on anything I can do, anyone we could speak to? Is there anything my partner should be saying to the children?We have been looking forward to the day we can all do things together but this last week she has been stepped up a gear, so I want to try and sort this out before the end of the 3 month period so we can all move forward.Any information, suggestions, help would be much appreciated.Thanks

Our Response:
The first option would be for your partner to put in writing (text, email, letter, solicitor's letter to his ex that the three months is up and he would like to introduce his children to you, as specified in the court order). Then wait for her response; if she is in agreement fine. If she is not, then you would need to keep any correspondence from her as evidence should you need to take it further. If she starts being awkward with regards to the children meeting you, then you would need to log each way she has attempted to avoid the issue, or make things difficult. If she refuses, then your partner would have to take the order back to court to have the order enforced as she will then be in breach, please see link: Breach of Contact or Residence Order: What to Do, here. You will then have the evidence you need to ensure the order is enforced. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 3-Mar-16 @ 10:48 AM
Hi all, Don't know if anyone could point me in the right direction with this but here goes... My partner is in the middle of his divorce to his ex, who he has two children with, ages 2 and 7. His ex has done everything in her power to split us up, stopped my partner seeing his children and being extremely difficult over the divorce. My partner had to wait 3 months for a court date, and now he has access to the children (1 overnight stay per week and a couple of evenings), they have an agreement when it comes to school holidays, Christmas and taking the children on holidays. Now the last thing to discuss at court was me, she has never let the children be around me, and the agreement they came to was after 3 months (from the court date) if we were still together then the children were allowed to start being introduced to me. The reason I am posting under PAS is that she has told us that she will say and do anything in her power so the children will not want anything to do with either of us. She has always said things to the children, things children shouldn't have to hear, about me, about their dad, about our relationship. I think she emotionally blackmails them and I just do not know what to do. I am wanting some information on anything I can do, anyone we could speak to? Is there anything my partner should be saying to the children? We have been looking forward to the day we can all do things together but this last week she has been stepped up a gear, so I want to try and sort this out before the end of the 3 month period so we can all move forward. Any information, suggestions, help would be much appreciated. Thanks
Laceman - 2-Mar-16 @ 11:51 AM
ae1968 - Your Question:
HiSo as a father of a 9 and 7 year old I have been through PA for the last 6 months, and things are getting worse.my question is this, when faced with PA based comments from the children such as - "we only want to go abroad with Mummy on holiday not you", or "you are not our dad anymore" "we don't want to call you daddy anymore - we have made up a nickname" how wrong is it to get frustrated with the children with responses like "why wont you just treat me like your father" this just seems to fuel their distance from me, I regret it but faced with no willingness to talk about their statements frustration sometimes wins.I am beating myself up over it and it always gets reported back to the ex.

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. Children will always try to push boundaries, especially if they feel you are perhaps feeling a bit vulnerable or sensitive. They too may be suffering from the separation and do not know how to direct their energies, especially if you think their mother may be trying to turn your children against you. While the article gives advice on how to deal with the practical aspects of PA, you may wish to investigate what psychological reponses you should be giving to your children. Obviously, your ex will get pleasure from your negative repsonses, and by responding in a negative way you are playing straight into her hands. The best advice I can give is to ignore these statements and promote a simple change of attitude and focus, choosing to spotlight their kids' positive moments and minimise the attention given to the negative comments. It is very difficult not to go under when faced with such heart-wrenching comments, but if you are strong you can override them, by making sure your kids enjoy their stay with you and you don't rise to these comments. Please also see link: Using Reverse Psychology Effectively, here which may give you some additional pointers. Remember your kids are just kids and they may be finding their way around a very difficult time. Patience, understanding and communicating effectively with them, should overcome any strategies your ex may have.
SeparatedDads - 5-Feb-16 @ 11:03 AM
Hi So as a father of a 9 and 7 year old I have been through PA for the last 6 months, and things are getting worse....my question is this, when faced with PA based comments from the children such as - "we only want to go abroad with Mummy on holiday not you", or "you are not our dad anymore" "we don't want to call you daddy anymore - we have made up a nickname" how wrong is it to get frustrated with the children with responses like "why wont you just treat me like your father" this just seems to fuel their distance from me, I regret it but faced with no willingness to talk about their statements frustration sometimes wins....I am beating myself up over it and it always gets reported back to the ex...
ae1968 - 4-Feb-16 @ 2:50 PM
Desperate Dad 1970- Your Question:
Hi. Would appreciate some advice please? My ex and me divorced in 2011. Have had the boys (17,15 and 10) at weekends ever since. The 17 year old doesn't always want to come because he wants to see his friends and that's fair enough. However, the 10 year old has now started to not want to come as well and she wont let me speak to him to find out why. It is his birthday tomorrow and I have to send all his cards through the post rather than give them him as I haven't seen him (we don't live close to each other) and I haven't bought him anything yet because I haven't been able to ask what he wants. I cant send money to the house because she will open the cards and take the money (I am expecting her to throw the cards away and not tell him they have arrived). She really is a horrible person and is happy to hurt me without thought of what it is doing for the boys - she doesn't get that all 3 need to see both parents. She spends all of her time telling them what a bad father I am. Is there anything I can do here? Thank you

Our Response:
I am very sorry to hear this. I have put your post on our Separated Dads Facebook page as I think it may be one our readers will be able to give some good advice on - as many of them have possibly been through the same issues themselves previously.Please refer to the Facebook page for your answers. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 27-Jan-16 @ 2:42 PM
Hi.Would appreciate some advice please?My ex and me divorced in 2011.Have had the boys (17,15 and 10) at weekends ever since.The 17 year old doesn't always want to come because he wants to see his friends and that's fair enough.However, the 10 year old has now started to not want to come as well and she wont let me speak to him to find out why.It is his birthday tomorrow and I have to send all his cards through the post rather than give them him as I haven't seen him (we don't live close to each other) and I haven't bought him anything yet because I haven't been able to ask what he wants.I cant send money to the house because she will open the cards and take the money (I am expecting her to throw the cards away and not tell him they have arrived).She really is a horrible person and is happy to hurt me without thought of what it is doing for the boys - she doesn't get that all 3 need to see both parents.She spends all of her time telling them what a bad father I am.Is there anything I can do here? Thank you
Desperate Dad 1970 - 27-Jan-16 @ 9:08 AM
I have been separated from my ex 4 years and divorced for 2 years. To start with I wasn't allowed to see my daughter 2 and half at the time without my ex being around. Then she allowed me to see her regularly until 1 day my daughter asked me to stay the night so I asked. My ex but she accused me of all sorts of things... In the end I had to take her home where she was snatched out of my arms and was told I wouldn't be able to see her again unless I went to court. So that is what I done and was given every other weekend and one night over night in the week which as worked well till now.. Bring it forward to present and my daughters needs have changed so I have been asking the ex for more time with my daughter but have been told no. When I wa sticking my daughter up this morning she told me that she didn't want to spend any more time than she does with me I believe that she is cohursing my daughter into saying this as my daughter tells me she would like to live here.. I believe that my ex knows that I am taking her back to court for 50/50 shared parenting and she is now cohursing my daughter into saying this in case cafcas interview her.. Does anyone know of a way to prove this or do I peak to cafcas and explain what I feel to them and hope for the best....
Daddy000 - 23-Jan-16 @ 8:39 PM
Many thanks for your message and taking the time to reply to me. My partner has tried mediation. She point blank refused. He can't afford the costs of court. He is continuing to go along to the kids house to see the kids for all of two mins while he continues to get abuse from his ex. The woman is unbelievable. She hasn't been paying the mortgage on the kids home so she's being taken to court two days before Xmas! Police have been involved as she's assaulted him several times and caused trouble. Any other suggestions?? Please help.
Steph88 - 14-Dec-15 @ 6:01 PM
Steph88 - Your Question:
I thought the point of these threads was to get advice from one another???? No one has given me any advice.

Our Response:
I'm afraid while we try to answer questions, we can't get to them all. The most difficult issue with 'parental alienation syndrome', is proving this in court. If your partner and his ex can't agree between themselves about childcare arrangements, then your partner could suggest mediation which would help draw up an agreeement that might benefit both parents. However, mediation is not official and his ex can refuse to attend. To obtain official access to his children, your partner would have to take it to court. Please see link: When Your Ex-Partner Denies You Access, link here. Your partner would have to go through the process laid out in the article from which Cafcass would get involved. Cafcass would hopefully be able to get to the bottom of why his children do not wish contact and attempt to resolve these issues before it goes to court. Please see link: What Goes into the Cafcass Family Report? Link here .I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 14-Dec-15 @ 2:42 PM
I thought the point of these threads was to get advice from one another???? No one has given me any advice.
Steph88 - 13-Dec-15 @ 9:44 AM
My partner split from his ex about a year and a half ago. At first he was allowed to see his three girls, 11, 6 and 3. Then after months of them spending time with him at our home they decide they don't want anything to do with their dad no more. They come out with things that no child should be aware of. She's caused nothing but trouble for us in the last 18 months where police have been called leading in her getting social services visits. It's killing my partner. We're getting married next summer and all he wants is to see his children. She won't allow him to take the kids from her house yet when it suits she has a go at him for not taking them to school when back in September he told her he could take them to school every morning and she refused. We really need some help and advice please...
Steph88 - 28-Nov-15 @ 3:12 PM
PM - Your Question:
I have two sons one twenty and the other 11 I haven't seen them for 3 years despite getting a court order to see my youngest this was not enforced and my ex-wife would say he didn't want to come or at Christmas wouldn't bring him on the arranged days.Both have been told lies about me by their mother so its a battle to have any chance of building a relationship, as soon as she had a new partner, the attitude changed again and being manipulative and lying was the norm My oldest has is graduating from Unversity soon, I won't see that and they have changed their surname.My life has been hell with out them and trying to find some happiness and meaning is so hard, life is a daily challenge,As for the courts and cafcas they are hopeless, men are just stereotyped as at fault.The sad thing is I don't think I will see my sons again, life is cruel and very unforgiving its not like a Hollywood film where it all turns out good in the end

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. Have you tried to get in touch with your oldest son? There are various methods available, see article How Do I Find My Children's New Address? here which should give you some suggestions. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 16-Nov-15 @ 1:55 PM
I have two sons one twenty and the other 11 I haven't seen them for 3 years despite getting a court order to see my youngest this was not enforced and my ex-wife would say he didn't want to come or at Christmas wouldn't bring him on the arranged days. Both have been told lies about me by their mother so its a battle to have any chance of building a relationship, as soon as she had a new partner, the attitude changed again and being manipulative and lying was the norm My oldest has is graduating from Unversity soon, I won't see that and they have changed their surname.My life has been hell with out them and trying to find some happiness and meaning is so hard, life is a daily challenge, As for the courts and cafcas they are hopeless, men are just stereotyped as at fault .The sad thing is I don't think I will see my sons again, life is cruel and very unforgiving its not like a Hollywood film where it all turns out good in the end
PM - 16-Nov-15 @ 12:59 AM
I have 2 children. 8 & 10. I fought for 18 months for a child arrangements order. I got all the cafcas and mat reports in my favour. My son has been programmed to the extent that he just won't come. Court orders are worth nothing as my ex just says its him that doesn't want to come. The trouble is after nearly a year of great times with my daughter she is starting to do the same. This is because my ex has realised she can now get away with it. My legal cost are now at 15k. I'm at a loss as to what to do. Any advice welcome
Gavron - 13-Nov-15 @ 1:00 PM
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