Legal advice from Karah Lane, Family solicitor based at FDR Law’s office in Warrington
Q: What is meant by Parental Alienation?
A: The phrase Parental Alienation refers to parents who are separating, and where one or both of the parents involve their children in adult disputes, whether directly or indirectly which results in influencing the children against the other parent.
In our experience this has been an issue that has been around for some time and has caused real problems, which in extreme cases means one parent losing a relationship with their child..
From Spring 2018 Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) will embark on a pilot scheme called the high conflict pathway to address this issue. It will itemise the steps that will be taken in suspected cases of Parental Alienation. Parents will be hugely criticised for this practice, and in extreme cases could result in a parent losing contact, or for the child to reside with the other parent
The new approach will involve an intense 12-week programme called ‘positive parenting’ which is designed to help the alienating parent break their pattern of behaviour. There is also an option of experts such as psychologists, psychiatrists and mental health workers to be brought in to assist. Ultimately the alienating parent may have to face the prospect of seeing their children on a supervised basis.
Parents need to understand that by involving their children into adult issues they are opening the children up to long term difficulties. This can not only impact on their views of the other parent, but can also impact negatively in terms of future relationships, confusion over their identity and their self-esteem.
It is important that separating parents are proactive when dealing with arrangements for their children, and they should not allow any significant gaps in contact, as this will only make it more difficult in reintroducing the relationship later on.