Hansard – Parental Alienation

Full text of the debate yesterday in parliament about PAS. Mainly positive remarks, but no real movement on the side of the department of justice.

Quotable remarks from the debate:

Danzuck: Despite those shocking statistics, the United Kingdom lags behind many other countries across the world in addressing the issue. Parental alienation is not recognised in the lower courts and, although the higher courts acknowledge that parental alienation occurs, many family rights campaigners feel the courts do nothing about it. Although there have been small steps in the right direction, progress in the UK has been far too slow.

Fernades: Does he agree with Mr Justice Munby, as he then was—he is now president of the family division of the High Court and has judged many family cases involving contact disputes—that the cause of these problems is delay in the court system, the failure of the courts to challenge groundless allegations against non-resident fathers and the failure of the courts to get to grips with defiance of contact orders and child arrangement orders and to properly enforce against breach? Does he agree that that is the core of some of the problems?  (my emphasis)

Any Dr Baker was quoted with such a simple common sense statement that it hurts that it has to be said :

“Children do not typically reject a parent, even a relatively bad one, unless they have been manipulated to do so.”

Compare with this: The government’ response to the petition to criminalise Parental Alienation which closed on 17.02.2107.

The Government does not believe legislation is needed to criminalise parents who alienate their children against the other parent as the court already has the power to take effective action

In cases where parents are separated, parental alienation refers to a situation in which one parent (usually the parent with whom the child lives) behaves in a way which creates anxiety in the child, so that it appears the child is opposed to living or spending time with the other parent.

The family court has a range of powers to deal with cases where alienating behaviour features. A parent who has concerns about such behaviour could make an application to the family court about the arrangements for their child. The Children Act 1989 contains adequate provisions to deal with these concerns and the welfare of the child is the court’s paramount concern in making its decision. Under legislation introduced in 2014, family courts are legally required to presume that the involvement of a parent in the life of the child concerned will further that child’s welfare, unless there is evidence to the contrary.

Under section 8 of the Children Act 1989, the court has a wide discretion to make arrangements designed to meet a child’s welfare needs. Where the court is dealing with a dispute about child arrangements, it must consider the ascertainable the wishes and feelings of the child concerned, commensurate with that child’s age and level of understanding. The court may also ask the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) to prepare a welfare report into any other matters relevant to the child or the family. In intractable cases the court can make the child party to the case, which means they will have their own legal representation.

Cafcass practitioners understand and recognise the potential for implacable hostility by a party in high conflict cases involving child arrangements following divorce or separation. Practitioners, who are professionally qualified social workers with a minimum of three years’ post qualifying experience, are aware of the potential for children to be influenced by parental views and are alert to this possibility throughout the progress of a case. Cafcass has various tools available to assist practitioners in being able to assess the presence of implacable hostility. These include a tool for use in direct work with the family and a learning module, as well as access to resources and new research via their in-house library service.

Where a previously made order is not working, the court can vary that order to protect a child in a situation where parental alienation is present. The court has the power to direct Cafcass to monitor compliance with the order and to report on this to the court.

Where a court order is in place, the court has a range of general powers to deal with any breach of the order. In addition to treating breach as contempt of court, for which a fine or term of imprisonment can be imposed, the court has other powers to deal with breaches. Child arrangements orders can be enforced by means of an enforcement order requiring the person who, without good reason, failed to comply with the order to carry out unpaid work. It is also possible to apply to the court to award financial compensation to a person named in a child arrangements order who has suffered financial loss as a result of a failure by another named person to comply with the order.

Ministry of Justice

Parental Alienation needs to become more visable before something will be done I am afraid.

via Parental Alienation – Hansard Online

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