What is parental alienation

'Parental alienation’ is one of the biggest topics in the debate regarding child contact, regularly raised as an issue in proceedings concerning arrangements for children following the separation of their parents.

The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (‘Cafcass’), has recently published a review of research and case law on the subject.

What are the issues with parental alienation?
The main issue with parental alienation is that it is extremely difficult to define and there is in fact no definition of this term as current law stands. One way in which parental alienation typically manifests itself is where a child is actively turned against the other parent, generally by the parent with whom the child lives.
The Cafcass report defines alienation as “unwarranted rejection of the alienated parent by the child, whose alliance with the alienating parent is characterised by extreme negativity towards the alienated parent. This happens when the actions of the alienating parent (deliberate or unintentional), adversely affect the relationship with the alienated parent.”

Summary of the Cafcass review
The review summarises the current and relevant law and notes that parental alienation has not necessarily increased in recent years. It goes on to stipulate the cases in which parental alienation was both successful and unsuccessful in cases which gives useful context to the issue.
The report concludes that there is a lack of evidence base for parental alienation mainly due to the fact there is no definition of the term. The Court’s approach was noted as requiring “early determination of the facts” in order to prioritise the child’s best interests. Finally, the review lists some indicators for good practice such as taking considerable time to properly investigate why a child is resisting contact.

 If you are interested in discussing any of the issues raised in this article or any other family related matter, please contact our specialist Family Team today on 01932 234 500.