Parental alienation is a situation where one parent turns their children, or alienates them, against the other parent.
There has been a long and unhelpful debate on whether parental alienation exists or not.
That debate revolved around whether it was an agreed medical or psychiatric condition.
Parents who knew that their children were being affected did not care whether there was a technical definition or not. All they wanted was for their observations and concerns to be listened to and for the courts to take action accordingly.
The tide is now changing, albeit still too slowly.
The courts are showing a willingness to consider parental alienation or the implacable hostility of one parent against the other. When these dynamics are present then the courts are also starting to deal with them in a very robust fashion.
An article in the Telegraph last month reported that CAFCASS – the court welfare advisory service – have had to warn their officers that parental alienation may well exist.
The article reports that their chief executive warned that parental alienation is becoming “So common in family breakdowns that it should be dealt with like any other form of neglect or child abuse.”
These are strong words indeed but they are not the words of the chief executive alone.
What is more, the belief that CAFCASS officers needed to be told this is not the belief of the chief executive alone either.
These comments have been made by the judiciary for a few years now.
In a 2014 case, Mrs Justice Parker is recorded as having said that she regarded “Parental manipulation of children of which [she distressingly sees] an enormous amount, as exceptionally harmful…Parents who obstruct a relationship with the other parent are inflicting untold damage on their children…” before going on to say that;
“It is, in my view, about time that professionals truly understood this.”
See paragraph 44 of the link above for these comments in full.
The frustration in the Judge’s comments are clear. She went on to say that;
“I am in no doubt that I am entitled to disagree with the view of both the Guardian and the social worker, both of whom, although expressing their own views forcefully, recognise that the decision is for me, having surveyed all the facts and depending upon the findings that I make. I disagree with them because they have not taken into account the degree of parental manipulation and the dangers presented to the younger children from the inappropriate power given to the eldest boy.”
We will explore in future articles how the courts are now starting to wrestle with this very difficult situation and the approaches that are now being taken to counter it.
If you live in or near Lincoln and have any questions about this subject, divorce or family law generally then please call Diane Genders Solicitors and arrange for a fixed fee interview with one of our experienced family law solicitors. You can find our contact details by CLICKING HERE.