A child should be able to have a loving relationship with both parents and this is usually always in the best interests of the child. Only in exceptional circumstances should the contact with one parent be stopped. This is usually seen as a last resort by the Courts.
Parental alienation can occur in many circumstances. It is it often the parent who lives with the child that causes the alienation. Although it can be known in cases where the other parent may use this to try and obtain more contact or a ‘Live With’ Order. Parental alienation is becoming more recognised in the Courts during Family Court proceedings.
There is no fixed definition of parental alienation as it is so wide in nature, but it is usually first identified when the child is reluctant to spend time with the other parent without any reason. It occurs when one parent manipulates a child to reject the other parent, who they had previously had a good relationship with, and the rejection occurs through no fault of the other parent and without reason.
The child ends up showing hostility to the other parent and will either not want contact or seek reduced contact with them. The manipulation by the parent causing the parental alienation is usually emotional and psychological manipulation, which in turn causes the child to show emotion such as fear or hostility to the other parent.
This can be devasting for the parent against whom the child is being subjected to parental alienation but fortunately there are ways of dealing with this, or preventing it from happening.
If you are concerned and believe your child is being turned against you, there are some signs of parental alienation to look out for. These are:
If you notice any of the above behaviours, you also need to consider whether you believe the behaviour is a result of the other parent whether it be directly or indirectly. However, it is important to remember these signs do not automatically mean your child is being subjected to parental alienation. Children in their nature can sometimes favour one parent to the other or refuse to do something because they are being stubborn, rather than being manipulated by the other parent.
Parental Alienation by a parent is not always deliberate. Sometimes, the behaviour can be very subtle, other times it is very clear. It can take lots of different forms including.
If you suspect parental alienation is occurring, then is it important to act quickly so the behaviour can be tackled sooner rather than later. It is a troubling time for the parent being subjected to the alienation but also affects the child both emotionally and psychologically. The process to restore the relationship with the other parent can be a long process. It will need to be a careful and structed approach due to the psychological damage caused. Therefore, early intervention can help as the more alienated the child becomes, the harder and lengthier time it can take to resolve.
An application to the Court for a Child Arrangements Order will usually be required. The Courts tend to work alongside other support such as psychologists and have the power to order assessments and involve experts when needed.
CAFCASS will also become involved at the early stages of proceedings, CAFCASS officers are able to identify alienating behaviours from assessing the child and parents. CAFCASS then prepare a letter or report with the outcome of their assessment and make recommendations to the Court.
The Courts will always encourage a loving relationship with both parents. If the relationship with a parent is being stopped and without good reason, the Court can become involved to resolve it. The Court will consider the circumstances and the best interests of the child as each case is different. What may be suitable for one child may be different for another. Therefore, the Court has wide powers to ensure best interests are met.
In some serious cases, a Court may transfer the residence to the other parent to prevent the alienation and further emotional harm to the child. However, the best interests of the child will always be considered when making orders and is dependent on the circumstances. The child’s welfare is always paramount.
Parental Alienation cases are complex cases, in some circumstances it may be necessary to add the child as a party to the proceedings and a legal guardian would be appointed to represent the child. In most cases it is likely the Courts will appoint a psychologist who specialises in Parental Alienation to assess the child and the parents to decide if Parental Alienation is present in the circumstances and make recommendations to the Court.
There are various orders a Court can make including:
We strongly recommend you obtain expert legal advice if you believe your child is a victim to parental alienation.
If you suspect your child is being subject to parental alienation, then it is extremely important that you act as quickly as possible and seek some legal advice. If there is Parental Alienation present and it continues without being challenged, then this can cause serious damage to the relationship between the alienated parent and child and can take a long time to repair.
Here at Andrew Isaacs Law Limited we will go through the alienating behaviours with you, discuss your options and advise on the best way forward to resolve the issue for you and your child. Contact us today to arrange a consultation.