Following your divorce, has your child become more hostile towards you without justification? Are you being denied access to your child despite sharing custody with your ex-spouse? It’s possible that you’re the victim of parental alienation. Here’s how to deal with parental alienation legally.
What is parental alienation?
Parental alienation is considered to be a form of psychological abuse toward a child and the rejected parent. The issue of parental alienation is becoming more recognised and understood in the UK. In a recent case, a judge ruled a change of residence for children who were being alienated by their mother from their father.
In some other countries, including the USA, parental alienation is recognised as a syndrome. However, this is not the case in England and Wales. Nevertheless it is now recognised by The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), although there is no single definition for what parental alienation actually is.
Cafcass describes the alienation of a parent as ‘the increased hostility of a child towards one parent that is not justified and is the result of psychological manipulation by the other parent.’
Parental alienation typically looks like a parent being rejected by a child without just cause, having previously shared a loving relationship.
Cafcass officers, who are responsible for reporting suspected parental alienation to the courts, now have specific guidance to follow to identify the alienation of parent, known as the Child Impact Assessment Framework (CIAF).
How to deal with parental alienation legally
If Cafcass is involved in your case, you can report your concerns to Family Court Advisers (FCAs). If the matter goes to court, the court has power to order what’s known as ‘contact activity directions.’
A contact activity direction can involve one or both parents attending a programme, class or counselling, with the aim of helping parents to maintain or improve contact with their child.
For example, the Separated Parents Information Programme is a course which helps parents understand how to put their child first while separating, even though they may be in dispute with the child’s other parent. The course helps parents learn the fundamental principles of how to manage conflict and difficulties.
The court can order Cafcass to investigate suspected parental alienation and produce a report of its findings.
In some cases, where you have serious concerns over your child’s emotional wellbeing, a guardian can be appointed. Under these circumstances a guardian is a professional who has a duty to protect the best interests of a child during court proceedings.
Once appointed, the guardian can instruct a family lawyer to represent your child, provide appropriate advice and then report to the family court on how the child’s best interests can be protected, acting as a voice for your child.
Help with parent alienation issues
The alienation of a parent is a tough issue to tackle, but one that has serious implications for the child(ren) affected. Holland Family Law is seeing an increase in the number of divorce and separation cases where parental alienation is a factor, which is why we recommend talking to us if you’re impacted by alienation from your child.
Holland Family Law’s team of specialists offer a confidential, sensitive and supportive service to help you deal with emotionally distressing cases. Arrange a free, 30-minute consultation with us today. Call 0116 436 2170 or email firstname.lastname@example.org