What is parental alienation?
Parental alienation occurs when, following a separation, one parent deliberately tries to turn a child against the other parent with the aim of permanently excluding that parent from their life. Parental alienation is thought to occur in 11 – 15% of divorces involving children.
Parental alienation varies from the mild to the extreme and can be severely damaging to the child involved. The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) say that it amounts to child abuse. Judges and experts are increasingly recognising parental alienation with the consensus being that it is exceptionally harmful and will not be tolerated.
What are the new plans?
In Spring 2018 all frontline CAFCASS caseworkers will be expected to follow a new ‘High Conflict Practice Pathway’ which will list the steps to be taken in cases of suspected parental alienation. Offending parents will first be given the opportunity to change their behaviour by enrolling on an intensive 12 week ‘Positive Parenting Programme’. It is anticipated that if there is no improvement following this, then CAFCASS will recommend that the child be removed from the offending parent and in extreme cases, that the child have no further contact with that parent.
It will be a while before we know whether the new regime has been successful, but in the meantime, it is reassuring that efforts are being made to tackle the issue.
If you have any Family matters that you would like friendly, professional advice and support on, please contact Jamie Wood.