This is an interesting issue relating to the impact of one parent alienating their children against the other parent. This has caused quite a media storm and rightly so in my opinion as the ground-breaking response by CAFCASS may seem severe to one side of this debate; but heaven sent to those parents who have “lost” their children due to their ex partners or spouses successfully alienating them.
The court has always had the power under the Children Act 1989 to vary the place of residence for a child if it felt that one parent was more capable of promoting contact with the other but this is the first time CAFCASS have committed to positively promoting such outcome to the court in the event that it makes findings of parental alienation. And it goes one step further by suggesting that not only should there be a change of residence but that the “offending” parent may face the consequence of limited contact or no contact with their child if they fail to address their behaviour.
I have seen too many cases of parental alienation during my legal career and this is the most positive step I have seen to address this issue which can often involve only subtle manipulation of a child but can have such a devastating impact upon family life for both the child and the parent who has been alienated.
It is important to note that recommendations made by CAFCASS to the court within Children Act proceedings are not binding but they are very much persuasive as their report is often the only impartial evidence viewed by the Judge. Therefore, this new approach being trialled by CAFCASS should impact upon the decisions we see in the family court.
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