Parental Alienation – what is it and what is the approach of the Family Courts?
23 January 2020 by Julia Brewer
Parental alienation can be described as when a child is subjected to negativity from one parent towards the other, and when that negativity is such that is causes psychological manipulation of the child who in turn may resist having a relationship with the other parent, or completely reject the other parent.
Over the last few years, there has been increasing awareness of parental alienation and the impact of this.
These cases can be distinguished from cases where a child may reject a relationship with the other parent due to other factors, such as experiences that they have had whilst in the care of the parent they are now rejecting, for example, domestic abuse or unsafe or frightening care.
If parental alienation is suspected in a case then the court are likely to order that CAFCASS undertake a report and, if the CAFCASS officer considers parental alienation to be present, the Court would normally appoint a guardian to act for the child, who will normally appoint a solicitor to represent the child’s interests.
It is also likely that the Court would wish to involve an expert psychologist to consider the issue and the dynamics of that particular family.
The Courts recognise that the loss of a parental relationship for a child constitutes emotional harm and, in those circumstances, the Court may decide that it is in the child’s best interest for them to be moved to the care of the other parent. This decision has to be carefully considered by the professionals and the court. This would include careful consideration of the impact on the child of any move to the care of the other parent.
Ultimately the Court has to decide what is in that particular child’s best interests.
The factors that the Courts are required to consider are set out below:
- The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of the child’s age and understanding);
- The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs;
- The likely effect on the child of any change in his/her circumstances;
- The child’s age, sex, background, and any other characteristic which the Court considers relevant;
- Any harm which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering;
- The capability of each parent ( and of any other relevant person) of meeting the child’s needs;
- The range of powers available to the court under the Children Act in the proceedings in question.
We have an experienced team of family lawyers who are able to advise and assist with a range of Family Law matters – contact Fisher Jones Greenwood by calling 01206 700113 or email [email protected].