Parental Alienation – what are the consequences for a guilty parent?
Parental Alienation can be defined 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”*
The Courts and Cafcass appear to be more alive to this issue than ever before. In a recent case in Norwich Family Court, a Judge ordered an eight-year-old boy to live with his father after he heard evidence that the boy was being influenced by his mother’s “hateful feelings” towards his father.
In these types of cases, a psychologist is usually instructed to prepare a report for the court. The psychologist in this case said the mother persistently portrayed the boy’s father negatively, causing the boy’s views to be twisted against his father.
Where alienating behaviours feature in a case, the psychologist and Cafcass use their professional judgement to assess whether it is in the best interests of the child to spend time with one or both parents.
The psychologist then reports their recommendations to the court before the Judge makes a final decision about what time the child will have with either parent.
This case serves as a stark warning that the Court has the power to change who a child lives with, when faced with evidence that one of their parents is exposing them to significant emotional harm by consistently speaking negatively about the other parent.
In light of the above, warring parents must consider the impact of the negative comments they are making about any of the children in the family. Keeping derogatory comments about the other parent far away from the children is advised, no matter how frustrated a person feels. It is far better to encourage and promote a child to have a relationship with their other parent rather than let negative views about them brush off onto the child, potentially damaging the relationship unnecessarily.