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Partner and Head of Family Law, Rugby
A separation can be difficult, especially when there are children involved. Children cannot always understand how the situation has changed or why their parents do not get along. However, in some cases the children are prevented from seeing the parent they do not live with due to the actions and behaviours of the parent they live with due to the actions and behaviours of the parent they live with, and are influenced into not wanting to see the other parent, and in some cases making allegations of that parent, resulting in a complete cut off from the other parent. Whilst there may sometimes be good reasons for contact to be prevented or limited, if the reason is merely to spite the other party this may be considered as parental alienation in extreme cases and can be emotionally damaging for the children.
There is no legal definition of parental alienation although Cafcass (the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service – an organisation who assist the court in any application made to court in relation to children) have defined it as “when a child’s resistance or hostility towards one parent is not justified and is the result of psychological manipulation by the other parent”.
This is a complex area of law and the courts sadly do not have a magic answer. The courts starting point is to have a presumption that the involvement of a parent in a child’s life will further the child’s welfare, unless there is evidence to the contrary. The court will need to consider any allegations of such behaviour at the earliest opportunity and make a determination if necessary.
The courts do have options open to them to determine the reason behind the reluctance of a child to see the non-resident parent. If it is deemed that one parent is using measures to unduly influence the children the court can look at appointing a Guardian who is an independent lawyer ordered by the court to represent the child(ren) as a separate party, who will act as the voice of the child and protect their interests. The Guardian will have separate legal representation by way of a Solicitor/Barrister. The Local Authority can be ordered to complete an in-depth investigation and determine whether there are grounds to consider further involvement of themselves or in extreme cases the court can consider transferring where the children live.
Parental Alienation is a developing area of law and very difficult to determine.
If you as a parent without day to day care of your child(ren) feel you maybe in this situation and are being prohibited from seeing your children, then we are here to help you explore this.
If you are concerned about parental alienation or would like advice on this subject, please do not hesitate to contact me or a member of our Family Team who can assist. We have an experienced team of lawyers who can assist you with any issues outlined in this blog and any other enquiries you might have.
Alternatively, you can contact us directly on 01295 270999.
Please treat the contents of our blogs as general guidance only. Please do not take any action based on their contents unless you have sought specific legal advice. Brethertons cannot accept responsibility for any errors or inaccuracies, loss or damage in circumstances where there is no formal retainer between us and we have not given you personal and specific advice relating to a matter for which you have given us full background details. You must also bear in mind that the contents of our blogs are based on English Law, and because they contain archival material, that material is likely to go out of date. Therefore, it is important to consider the date that the blog was posted. Please also remember that the law may differ in different Jurisdictions.