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Dr. Phil on Custody Battles:
The Bridget Marks Custody Case

Commentary by
Dr. Reena Sommer

I am a huge fan of Dr. Phil McGraw. However, I am very dissapointed in how he presented the segment that featured a follow-up on the Bridget Marks custody case. The picture presented was a joyful reunion between mother and children. This clearly left the impression that a "wrong had been righted" and that justice was finally served. Dr. Phil demonstrated that finally there was a rightful conclusion to a very difficult and ugly custody battle. But does this depiction correctly describe the really the way it is?

There is no doubt that the children are probably very pleased to be returned to their mother's care. Afterall, this is where they have spent most of their lives - until the judge's decision to remove them from their mother's custody. And it is with their mother that the children's sense of security and safety lie. Not many can dispute this or that being caught in the cross fire of parents fighting over custody is something that no child should have to be exposed to.

Dr. Phil was also quick to describe how difficult it was for the children to cope while in their father's care - that they missed their mother terribly - that he was unable to meet their needs - how he was unable to provide an environment in which they could flourish and enjoy activities such as ballet lessons.

There is every reason to believe that what Dr. Phil presented about returning the girls to their mother, Bridget Marks could all be true. But is this all there is to this story. I think some very important issues have been left out.

One very glaring issue that Dr. Phil completely neglected to addess was the reason Bridget Marks lost custody in the first place - the fact that the court found that she deliberately manipulated and encouraged her daughters to make false allegations of sexual abuse against their father. Putting aside for a moment the potentially damaging consequences this has for their father, there are also the tremendously damaging implications for the girls - in having them falsely believe they were molested by someone who should love and protect them.

The more appropriate question are:

  • were the children finally returned to Bridget Marks because the damage caused to them by her actions sufficiently remedied during the time they were removed from her care?
  • ,br>
  • was Bridget Marks sufficiently rehabilitated by losing custody, through supervised visitation and counselling understand the consequences of her actions toward her children?
  • It is not difficult to accept that the children are bonded to their mother and feel more secure and comfortable in her physical care. But the real question remains can Bridget Marks provide a psychological environment where the children know they are not threatened by either of their parents.

    Dr. Phil, I am sorry - but I think you missed the boat on this one! To read more about what Dr. Phil has to say about divorce and custody battles, click here.

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    Dr. Reena Sommer,
    M.Sc. (Family Studies),
    Ph.D.(Psychology & Family Studies)

    Divorce & Custody Consultant
    League City, Texas 77573
    Phone: 281.534.3923
    Dr. Reena Sommer


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    For more information on divorce and custody
    visit our other websites at:

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