Deliberate parent alienation after divorce is a form of abuse says Cafcass

By Lenore Rice

Parents who deliberately manipulate their children against the other parent following a divorce are guilty of "abuse", says Anthony Douglas of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass).

Cafcass is the agency tasked with protecting young peoples' interests in divorce proceedings and other family court matters. It estimates that approximately 80 per cent of the more complex cases that are handled by the family courts involve parental alienation. Alienation involves behaviour designed to force the child to reject the other parent, and can include limiting or forbidding discussion about the parent in question, speaking negatively about them, and limiting the amount of contact the child has with them.

Mr Douglas says parental alienation should be dealt with like any other form of child abuse or neglect, and says it is "just as powerful a public health issue as smoking or drinking." He says that removing the child from the offending parent is not always a simple option as it can "rebound on the child". A panel of experts are exploring whether a committee could be established to tackle the growing problem of parental alienation.

If you require legal advice from a family law solicitor in respect of a divorce or child contact matter in Northern Ireland, contact Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast by clicking here.