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  • Writer's picturePenn Chambers

Family Law | Parental Alienation | Early Intervention

Updated: Aug 7, 2023

As stated in my previous articles, there is no definition of parental alienation, however, the Court is now beginning to recognise that this is one of a variety of reasons as to why a child may be resistant to spending time with a parent.

Cafcass recognises parental alienation as being:

“When a child’s resistance or hostility towards one parent is not justified and is the result of psychological manipulation by the other parent.”

Recent case law has made it clear that acting on parental alienation needs to take place sooner rather than later.

In the case of Re A (Children) (Parental Alienation) [2019] EWFC, the children’s father had initially made an application to the Court for “contact” with the children in 2011. Overall, 36 hearings had taken place, including both private and public law proceedings.

Of course, the father had hoped that this would lead to successfully re-establishing contact between him and his children.

Unfortunately, the problem of parental alienation was identified too late and the children’s alienation from their father had been underestimated and the damage had already been done.

At trial, there was an order of change of residence however this failed, and the children ran away from the father’s home once the transfer of residence had taken place.

Due to the parental alienation being identified too late, the children would not be able to live with their father as they had become so alienated from him.

As a result, the father decided to withdraw the Court proceedings, after so many hearings.

HHJ Wildblood QC and emphasised the mother’s conduct and stated that:

“…requires her to act in the best interest of her children… to promote the relationship between these children and their father… she had adult choices to make; the choices that she made were bad ones and deeply harmful to the children.”

It is very clear that parental alienation needs to be acted on sooner rather than later as the consequences can be dire, and the problems can be spotted too late. Not only can there be severe damage between a child and their parent, but the child may suffer severe emotional and/or psychological harm.

Parental alienation can be very complex, and parents may be involved in numerous assessments, however, it is important that the problem is made clear to the Court and any other experts as soon as possible.

Clearly, any delay may only cause a detrimental effect on both the parent and child(ren).

The examples of parental alienation are relatively limitless and even the smallest of behavioural snags could be considered as parental alienation, which will only worsen over time.

If you have any concerns in relation to parental alienation, you should seek advice as soon as possible to ensure that the situation does not worsen.

The information provided in this article is not intended to constitute legal advice and you should take full and comprehensive legal advice on your individual circumstances by a fully qualified Solicitor before you embark on any course of action.

Penn Chambers Solicitors

0207 183 4595

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