The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), which looks after the interests of children involved in family court proceedings, is shortly to begin trialling a new process to deal with cases involving parental alienation.
Cafcass says that parental alienation, whereby one parent ‘brainwashes’ their child against the other parent, occurs in significant numbers of the 125,000 cases it deals with each year. Sarah Parsons, the assistant director of Cafcass, says that the new process, which could result in parents who try to turn their child against the other parent having the child taken away from them, is intended to send out “a very clear, strong message”.
Under the process, Cafcass caseworkers will be given a new set of guidelines called the ‘High Conflict pathway’, which will itemise the steps they must take when dealing with cases of suspected alienation. Alienating parents will be offered a 12-week intense ‘positive parenting’ programme, which is designed to help them put themselves in their child’s position, and give them skills to break their patterns of behaviour.
If this doesn’t work then psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health experts will be brought in. However, if the alienating parent continues to perpetuate the abuse then they could have their child removed from them and placed with the other parent. In extreme cases, the alienating parent could even have their contact with their child terminated.
A trial of the process will begin soon. The trial will be evaluated in the Spring, after which it is expected to be rolled out across the country.
Family Law Cafe says: parental alienation is a terrible thing that can have devastating consequences for all involved especially, of course, the child. Clearly, it should be treated by the system with the utmost seriousness. Whether this new process is the best way to deal with it, only time will tell. What is clear is that it will be even more important than ever that both parents have the best possible legal advice, whether they are the ‘victim’ parent, or the parent accused of alienating the child. Family Law Cafe can help you find that advice – to contact us click the Contact link above and fill in the form, or call us on 0208 768 2278.
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