Malicious Mother Syndrome is a term coined by Ira Daniel Turkat, Ph.D.
It was mentioned by him in an article published by the
JOURNAL OF FAMILY VIOLENCE,
VOLUME 10, NUMBER 3, p 253-264, 1995.
However, a follow-up article,
more politically-correct called Divorce-Related Malicious Parent Syndrome, (Journal of
Family Violence, Vol. 14, No. 1, 1999, p.95-97) must be read with some caution. It
contains misleading information about "deadbeat" dads and about "deadbeat"
moms. Overall, it seems that the article provides good information about PAS, but it
clearly perpetuates worn-out myths, either deliberately or out of ignorance.
Two excerpts from the article are of concern in that respect (comments and corrections
are shown after each excerpt).
1) With respect to "deadbeat" dads:
...Hodges (1991) has noted that less than 20 percent of divorced fathers provide child
support payments three years after their divorce. Research on the decline of women's
economic status following (eg., Hernandez, 1988; Laosa, 1988) has contributed to recent
legislation to address the "Deadbeat Dad" problem.
It's necessary to look at other sources, most importantly at Sanford Braver's "Divorced Dads: Shattering the Myths."
[After three years] "When mothers receive sole custody of the children despite the
fathers' wishes, fathers reported paying 80 percent of the child support they owed;
according to mothers, fathers paid 62 percent. When joint legal custody was awarded
over the mothers' initial objections, child support zoomed to a very high compliance: 93
percent by fathers' reports; 89 percent by mothers' reports." [pp. 1993, 194]
"Contrary to some critic's claims, joint legal custody did not lead to
correspondingly greater conflict between the parents, psychological distress in the
mothers or mothers' diminished capacity to parent." [p. 195]
The average compliance ratio is 68 percent according to mothers, and 84 percent
according to fathers. [p. 32]
Why are fathers not paying? "While the father-reported compliance rate at Wave 1
was 92 percent, this figure rises to 100 percent when fathers who experienced a period of
unemployment are excluded from consideration....(According to mothers' reports, the figure
rises from 69 percent to 80 percent when including only those fathers who held their job
for the entire year."[p. 34]
Sanford Braver reports about an incident "at a 1988 conference at Arizona State
University, at which a well-known demographer--one of the most respected in the
country--moderated the panel." The poor record in child support
collections in Arizona was discussed and Sanford Brave had a chance to bring up his
findings. "...the moderator stood up and said, 'You know, I've heard about your
findings. Our panel was discussing this very issue, of differences between mothers'
and fathers' answers, over lunch. And what we concluded was that if the mother tells
one thing and the father tells you something else, then the father is a God damned
liar.'" [p. 35]
It seems to me that elsewhere in the book Sanford Braver pointed out that two thirds of
cases of non-compliance are due to inability to pay (unemployment, underemployment,
illness, incarceration, and death), but I can't lay my hand on the exact spot where that
was stated. Nevertheless, there is some information in the comments after the second
item of concern below that illuminates that issue.
At any rate, it's too bad that Ira Daniel Turkat didn't bring up Sanford Braver's
findings in his article. He couldn't have done that in the original article
published in 1995, as Sanford Braver's findings were published in 1999.
However, as shown in the comments following the second excerpt of concern, other sources
of information were available in 1995 and in 1999 that could have been used to provided
better and more objective information about the CS payment record of non custodial fathers
in the article by Ira Daniel Turkat.
I wonder, could it be that Ira Daniel Turkat thinks that fathers, including Sanford
Braver, are God-damned liars, does he plainly not know any better, or doesn't he care
enough to include more relevant information than that which he provided?
2) With respect to "deadbeat" moms:
...This does not mean that it is not possible for there to be a "Malicious
Father" Syndrome. In fact, Shephard (1992) reports that there is significant abuse of
some custodial mothers by non-residential fathers. On the other hand, it should be noted
that there are females who are required to pay child support, but we have yet to hear
about "Deadbeat Moms."
The last sentence in the preceding excerpt is very much open to interpretation.
It could mean one of two things:
1) There are no deadbeat moms.
2) There are deadbeat moms, but we don't hear about them.
It so happens that not only are there deadbeat moms, but that we know a fair bit about
the extent of the problem of deadbeat moms, that is, mothers who were ordered to pay child
support but don't. Although Sanford Braver provides no information about them (It's
too bad), there are other sources who do, and, seeing that Ira Ira Daniel Turkat repeated
the hoax that 80 percent of non-custodial dads are deadbeat dads, we should know about the
truth with respect to deadbeat moms.
79.6% of custodial mothers receive a support award
29.9% of custodial fathers receive a support award.
46.9% of non-custodial mothers totally default on support.
26.9% of non-custodial fathers totally default on support.
20.0% of non-custodial mothers pay support at some level
61.0% of non-custodial fathers pay support at some level
66.2% of single custodial mothers work less than full time.
10.2% of single custodial fathers work less than full time.
7.0% of single custodial mothers work more than 44 hours weekly.
24.5% of single custodial fathers work more that 44 hours weekly.
46.2% of single custodial mothers receive public assistance.
20.8% of single custodial fathers receive public assistance.
Analysis Paper No. 42 - U.S. dept. of Health and Human Services - Office of Income
- 40% of mothers reported that they had interfered with the fathers visitation to punish
"Frequency of Visitation" by Sanford Braver, American
Journal of Orthopsychiatry
- 50% of mothers see no value in the fathers continued contact with his children.
the Breakup" by Joan Berlin Kelly
90.2% of fathers with joint custody pay the support due.
79.1% of fathers with visitation privileges pay the support due.
44.5% of fathers with no visitation pay the support due.
37.9% of fathers are denied any visitation.
66% of all support not paid by non-custodial fathers is due to the
inability to pay.
"Child Support and Alimony: 1989 Series"
P-60, No. 173 p.6-7, and
"U.S. General Accounting
GAO/HRD-92-39FS January 1992
These and other related stats can be accessed at <nl980130.htm>.
A few more statistics that are shown in another source, in Glenn Cheriton's book on Canadian family-issues-related
The average child support award in Canada was $4,411
The average CS paid by fathers was $4,883
The few women who paid in 1991 paid an average of $2,758
The proportion of women who default on child support and don't pay
anything at all is 93%
In 1991 there were 136,825 fathers eligible for CS and 127,602 women
who didn't pay any of what they were supposed to pay.
Total CS paid by women to single fathers in 1992: $18,314,000, or
about 1 percent of all support paid. (Revenue Canada, Statistics Division). There
are 170,000 lone parent families headed by men. The average single father receives
about $109 per year or about $6 - $7 per month per child.
To me it seems that there is a problem with the credibility of Ira Daniel Turkat.
If he's so seriously wrong about the statistics he quoted about "deadbeat" dads
and moms, even though a wealth of information regarding accurate numbers from reliable and
reputable sources is available, is it possible that the rest of his message is based on
non-truths as well? Even though the rest of what he reports has appeal to people who
would like to see a balanced view with respect to reporting about PAS or Malicious Mother
Syndrome, can it be trusted? Is it biased too, or isn't it?
I would appreciate it if someone could fax Ira Daniel Turkat the information shown
after the excerpts shown above. My fax manger is on the blink, and as there is
absolutely no funding for addressing Fathers Rights issues, I can't afford to buy a real
Ira Daniel Turkat's fax number is (941) 488-9407