Parental Alienation has been in the headlines recently following the Chief Executive of CAFCASS, Anthony Douglas warning against the dangers of behaviour known as “parental alienation”. – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/12/divorced-parents-pit-children-against-former-partners-guilty/ .
The topic has also been debated recently in Parliament – https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2017-03-15/debates/1920253C-C972-40A3-9A63-714220EDE50D/ParentalAlienation
“Parental Alienation Syndrome” is not recognised by the World Health Organisation and it is not on their list of health topics on their website – http://www.who.int/topics/en/ . However, the Courts in England and Wales are using the phrase to describe a process whereby one parent will seek to turn a child against the other parent. “Parental Alienation” can take many forms such as preventing the child spending time with the other parent; belittling the other parent; badmouthing them to the child and interfering with the exercise of parental responsibility.
Where allegations of “Parental Alienation” are made, the Court will investigate these and make such decisions as are necessary in accordance with the best interests of the child. Under The Children Act 1989, the court considers that the best interest of the child are paramount when determining issues such as where a child shall live and how much time they should spend with the other parent.
When families separate tensions can run high and the relationship between parents can become strained. The reality is often that one parent becomes the “resident” parent having day-to-day care of the child and responsibility for the day-to-day decisions.
It is important to focus on the child and to remember that it is in their best interests (where it is safe for them to do so) for them to continue to have a healthy relationship with the other parent. This is particularly difficult when adult relationships break down and there is animosity between the parents.
If you feel that parental alienation is a feature in your family dynamic, then you may wish to obtain some advice on your circumstances and we have family law specialists available who can provide legal advice and dispute resolution services, including family mediation. If you would like to speak with one of our Family Law Specialists, please do contact our friendly team.