Parental Alienation is the psychological manipulation of a child into showing unwarranted fear, disrespect or hostility towards a parent and/or other family members.

The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, more commonly known as CAFCASS has recently revealed that Parental Alienation occurs in more than 125,000 cases they deal with each year. CAFCASS are concerned that many children are being denied meaningful relationships with their parent as the other parent deliberately turns the child against them.

To address this, from the spring of 2018 CAFCASS will launch the “High Conflict Pathway” This is a strict set of guidelines similar to one used by social workers when trying to determine whether a child has been alienated from his or her parent and if proven, CAFCASS will be able to recommend removal of that child from the parent manipulating the child. Of course the decision ultimately lies with the Court, but in my experience the Courts do listen carefully to the views of CAFCASS

CAFCASS have also considered what to do beyond the guidelines, as ultimately they have the same goal as the Courts, which is to ensure the child has a meaningful relationship with both of its parents. To assist in this process, they have also developed a 12 week programme called “Positive Parenting.” The aim of the program is both to get the parents to empathise with the position of the child and prevent any further manipulation.

These steps undoubtedly will have a positive effect in children matters and help parents to focus on what is most important following the breakdown of a relationship, namely the best interests of the child.