Howard Drutman Voices Concerns of “Parental Gatekeeping” in a Tragic Cobb County Case

September 24, 2015

This article was written by Rebecca Lindstrom, WXIA and originally published on 11Alive.com –

“COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Two years ago, police say Marilyn Edge took her two Cobb County kids to California and killed them. The story shocked the nation and emotionally paralyzed their father, who until now has resisted talking publicly about his loss…”

“…For six years, he says his ex-wife fought his efforts to get regular, unsupervised visits with their children.  A judge finally ruled on his behalf, giving him not only visitation, but full custody.  But three days later, police knocked on his door to tell him his children would come back to Georgia, but only to be buried.

“It destroyed, it hurt me so badly,” Mark Edge said. “Basically I fell to my knees.”

In court records, Mark Edge is never accused of abuse.  He says his children were eager to be with him.  In the end, a judge would admit Marilyn Edge “willfully failed and refused to allow the father any type of meaningful relationship with his children” for no justifiable reason.

“It was all systematic,” Mark Edge said. “OK, if he wants to visit them at school, then I’m going to home school them, and to keep him from coming to my home I’m going to file a trespass or some type of restraining order.  Whether it’s valid or not, that’s what she did.

Psychologist Howard Drutman says there’s a name for it.

“Gatekeeping is when a parent is restricting some manner of information or access to the children,” Drutman said.

And in Edge’s case, the gate was locked shut.  Drutman says there are valid reasons for gatekeeping, such as a parent prone to physical or emotional abuse.  Drutman wasn’t involved in the Edge case, but says predicting what would happen next was impossible.

“What you’re really talking about is predicting dangerousness.  And whether it’s kidnapping or ultimately it’s murder, psychologists, mental health professionals, lawyers, judges… are not good at predicting (it).”

But Drutman says there were warning signs that should have made the courts take pause.

Any time you have a case of a child that doesn’t want to visit or a parent restricting access to the other child it needs to be investigated,” he said.

But Edge says no such investigation ever took place.  Instead he was criticized, his ex-wife given 100% of the parenting time due to his “failure to exercise visitation.”

“I was reduced to an ATM,” said Edge.”

 

You can read this story in it’s entirety on 11Alive.com.

Posted Under: Divorce and Family, Parenting

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