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Rick’s Story

A Father’s Journey: Divorce and
Parental Alienation

I’m a very private person. It may not seem like it when you review this site and realize how much of my personal journey I’ve shared with you, yet it’s true.

Three things compel me to share my journey with you despite this fact. The first is an inexpressible and inexhaustible love for my sons. The second is my love and compassion for other children that have been alienated from their parents and families. The third reason is that I’m a Christian and the God I gladly serve has led me down this path to help others.

I was married in 1986. My marriage was extremely difficult from day one. I am not saying there were no good days or memories, just that the difficult ones were way more frequent than the good ones.

Our first son was born in January of 1992. Before he was born, my wife and I had already been to see 6 or 7 different counselors and pastors. In July of 1994 our second son was born. During the years that followed, things got progressively worse.

Although I won’t go into detail about how volatile & intense things got during my married years, suffice it to say that there were many threats and actions that I attempted to protect my sons and I from.

I still have evidence of her violent threats, including a court recording and transcripts of my ex-wife admitting that she had viciously and aggressively threatened my life. She threatened to drain our bank accounts, move out of state, and that I would never see our sons again.

In the spring of 1997, I petitioned the family court for separate maintenance (or a legal separation) because of these threats. My ex-wife counter-filed for a divorce. I thought that the insanity was over. I had no idea that this was just the beginning of real hell on earth…

Both during our separation and after the divorce my ex employed many manipulative parental alienation tactics to destroy my relationship with our sons. My sons shared some of those with me.

When she was alone with them, they were repeatedly asked “who do you love more mommy or daddy?” Even worse “who do you love more Mr. — or dad?” That was referring to a new partner in one of her relationships.

Father and Sons pic

She would call them on the phone and ask, “Are you having a good time with Dad, or do you want me to come and get you?” “I’m sorry you have to be with Dad this weekend. We’ll have fun when you get home.”

I was threatened many times during my marriage that I would never see my children again. And time has shown just how real those threats were. I had no concept that any parent would be willing to abuse their own child in order to hurt the other parent. I had never heard of Parental Alienation and had no idea what a targeted parent was.

I also had no idea just how common such abusive parental alienation tactics were in divorce, or how any parent could get away with such alienating behavior, especially when the family courts and even mental health professionals were involved.

I found out quickly that the ability to obtain legal protection for your children when you’re the targeted parent can be very difficult. So much depends upon the judge, attorney representing you, and having a skilled mental health professional assist you in identifying PA tactics.

My experience with the family court system was a nightmare. I was totally unprepared for what I was subjected to by a court system that was supposedly serving families and protecting children. The entire system is set up to promote conflict and litigation. The judge has almost unlimited power in their court room.

Over the next two years the children’s mother started a campaign of letters and phone calls to the Friend of the Court about me. It became apparent by her actions, statements, and other people’s observations, that their mother didn’t want me in our son’s lives at all. Sole child custody and complete alienation seemed to be her ultimate goal.

At this point I began researching Parental Alienation. As I studied family law and mental health research in this arena, I soon realized I was a targeted parent in a severe case of alienation.

At one point, my ex-wife went to the family court and stated that she was fearful that I might kidnap our sons. This was especially ironic when you consider that I had recordings of her threatening to kidnap our sons from me. The judge issued an ex-parte PPO against me for almost 5 years because of her supposed concerns. In the end, there was never any evidence to support this assertion. But the damage to my sons had already been done.

According to testimony by my ex-wife, she recruited everyone possible to view me as a potential threat. She got teachers at the boys’ school involved, had a police officer speak to them about “getting help” if they saw me. And had the pastor at her church talk with the boys about the danger of allowing me to contact them.

It appears she used every authority figure available to brainwash and scare my sons into distrust and fear me. Unfortunately, I’ve learned that this is a common tool used by alienating parents.

She cut our sons off from contact with my parents, their grandparents. Even though they lived 1,500 miles away, she thought it was just “too hard on the children” to accept phone calls or even receive gifts from them. She totally and heartlessly cut them out of our son’s lives.

My father died in April of 2006 from complications of Parkinson’s disease. He died never having committed any crime, yet he was deprived of sharing his life with his grandsons for the last 8 years of his life. Cutting the children off from them was supposedly in the best interest of my sons. Cutting extended family off from contact with the children is a favorite tool for alienators. To make certain that no one will contradict their version of reality.

The judge refused to allow any contact with my sons for over 4 years. She mandated that I have a psychological exam. I ended up having three of them because she didn’t want to accept the first 2 results. All 3 mental health professionals recommended that I immediately be reintegrated with my children. But unfortunately the damage had already been done.

It’s amazes me that the family court constantly uses rhetoric that they’re doing what’s in the best interest of the children, but at least in my case and many others, appears to do exactly the opposite in practice.

The children’s mother admitted under oath that she physically assaulted me and had violently threatened my life. And yet I was the one with a PPO and cut off from my children.

During this court battle a common tactic used by the judge was to schedule an early morning hearing, and at the end of the day to state that she didn’t have time to hear my case. She knew my attorney charged hundreds of dollars an hour. This seemed to validate a personal vendetta against me and fathers like me that dared to fight to be in our children’s life.

I had three different legal firms represent me and all three separately said “she can’t do that” at some point while they were representing me. Even they were aghast and incredulous at what was happening in that court room.

At one point I was in an evidentiary hearing. My attorney was about to introduce rebuttal testimony as evidence that contradicted sworn statements my ex-wife had made. In the middle of introducing that evidence, the judge stood up and said, “I’ve heard enough, I’ve already made my decision”. I have the court transcripts as evidence of this incredible breach of legal procedure (as I understand the law).

Rick and Joshua Nischalke pic

My attorney became convinced that the judge was conducting herself in such a biased manner that he asked her to withdraw from my case. He even went through the legal motion to have her removed. What a joke that was.

After tons of litigation initiated by my ex, she filed a motion for me to pay her attorney’s fees. Of course, the judge ruled in her favor (hard to imagine by now isn’t it) in the amount of approximately $57,000.00 dollars. That did not include my own attorney’s fees.

After 4 years and well over $150,000 in legal fees, I was finally allowed to see my sons in court-ordered therapy with a psychologist. We met for approximately 1½ years. During this process the children’s mother began asserting that counseling was too traumatic for the boys, and she was concerned for their health. They were allegedly having headaches and stomach aches from the stress.

It finally became obvious to the doctor and I that because of what they seemed to be experiencing at home, my children were in fact under a great deal of stress from this situation. It appeared that being put in the position of counseling (and the backlash from their mother because of it) was indeed affecting their health. Once I became convinced of this it became painfully clear to me as their father what I needed to do for them.

I shared the passage in the Bible with the doctor that describes an incident with King Solomon and two mothers. Two women had given birth to a baby boy at approximately the same time. While sleeping, one of them rolled over on her child and he suffocated and died. The next morning the mother realized that her child was dead, so she took the other mother’s baby and switched it with her dead baby. When the second mother woke up, she quickly realized what had happened and fought to get her child back.

The two mothers were brought before the king. He listened to both and said he’d decided to cut the child in half. And they could both have one half to end the dispute. The first mother (the one that had rolled over on her own child) said fine, go ahead and cut the child in half!

The REAL mother said please let the child live! She can have him if you will only let him live! It was obvious from their reaction who the real mother was. The real mother loved her son more than she loved herself. She would rather give her child to someone else than to let harm come to him.

I told the doctor that I would be that parent for my sons. That I would stand aside and remove them from the stressful situation that they were in. I asked the doctor to release them from the court ordered counseling process, until they were old and strong enough to face the repercussions from their mother when they wanted to see me again. I am still waiting for that day.

In May of 1999 I married the most incredible woman I’ve ever met. My wife has walked with me through all of this. And despite the intense journey, our relationship is stronger than ever.

She’s shared the trauma of me losing my sons, the horrific family court battles, and the financial devastation that came with it. She’s suffered through all of this. And yet continues to have a very special love for children that she has never met (except through my memories, pictures, and our prayers for them).

I can’t imagine how I would’ve made it without her. She had two beautiful daughters from a previous marriage, and they continue to be a joy to both of us. They are both grown and married, and we presently have 7 grandchildren as well.

She had her own experience with Parental Alienation that caused problems with one of our daughters for years, until our daughter finally discovered the truth. She had been lied to by her father. It’s our hope and prayer that Joshua and Nicholas will also learn the truth someday.

In May of 2004 we put together a website for my children based upon a suggestion in the book Divorce Poison by Dr. Richard Warshak. We suggest building a website if you’re separated from your child. It’s a great source of healing for you and provides a way for your child to reach out to you when they’re ready.

Some of you may be feeling VERY hurt by things your children have said to you and about you. If you really understood what’s been done to them, you’d easily forgive anything they’ve said or done. The Alienating Parent is the perpetrator here. They’re the ones that refused to protect your children from themselves and their wrath, hatred and need to control.

We believe that the preservation of the family is crucial to every child’s health and well-being. In my opinion, only those with selfish, immature, or special interests believe otherwise. Hatred, bitterness, and control issues almost always fuel Parental Alienation. Many times, mental illness can be the catalyst. Your love and commitment to putting your children first is the antidote to the poison and abuse they’ve been subjected to.

Rick and Nicholas Nischalke pic

It’s our belief that your battle isn’t just with the powers of this earth but is very much a spiritual battle as well. Turning to the God that made us all, is the only way to survive and win the spiritual battle that you and your children are in.

We’ll do everything possible to assist you in your quest for peace, sanity, and forgiveness along the way. Please go to our Suggested Reading Materials page under Parental Alienation Resources for more information about this very important topic.

This site and ministry exist today because of the heart-rending experience that we’ve endured and live with daily. Although I wish that our experience with Parental Alienation and the family court system was unique, it is not. But if you are reading these words, you probably already know that.


God bless you sons. This site and ministry are only possible because of all that we have been through. I am so sorry for what has been done to you – done to us. I love you and I am waiting.

Love, Dad

UPDATE:
We frequently get asked for updates. As of 2023, we still haven’t heard from either of my sons. I’ve been separated from them since February of 1999. Parental Alienation is a powerful and toxic poison that harms everyone it touches, including the perpetrator. Please don’t ever do this to your child. They need and deserve both parents.

  • Please review the rest of the site to find Parental Alienation Resources that can help you or other families being affected by this terrible form of child abuse.

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