Parental Alienation and the Law by Alex Beavis, Children Law Solicitor
If you’re going through a divorce or separation, things often get stressful. Especially when kids are involved. If one parent negatively influences a child’s view or opinion of the other parent, it could affect them for the rest of their life. This is called Parental Alienation.
What is Parental Alienation?
Parental Alienation often occurs during a high conflict divorce or separation. It happens when one parent uses strategies to distance a child, or children from the other parent.
Alienating behaviours often include;
- Talking negatively or telling lies about the other parent
- Encouraging the child to be disrespectful or defiant towards the other parent
- Blaming the other parent for the breakup
- Manipulating a child to make them believe the other parent is untrustworthy or dangerous
An example of parental alienation might be when the mother tells her child their dad doesn’t love them. Or a father tells a child that mummy prefers her new family.
Accusations can be mild or severe. Either way, they distort the child’s view of the alienated parent. Regardless of how good their relationship used to be.
If parental alienation goes unchallenged, it could result in a full breakdown of the relationship. A consequence of this might be that one parent gets completely excluded from the child’s life.
What to Do if You Feel Like You’re Being Alienated
Unfortunately, there is no law in the UK for dealing with parental alienation. That said, family courts can and will step in when a child’s welfare suffers as a result.
There’s a presumption that it’s in a child’s best interest to have a positive relationship with both their parents. Unless there are safeguarding issues.
So if you think your child is a victim of parental alienation, you should seek legal advice as soon as you can. There are legal options you can take.
You can make an application for a Child Arrangements Order. This will let you spend time with your child. Or for your child to live with you.
You can also apply for a Prohibited Steps Order if you believe the other parent may try to move, change your child’s school, or change their name without your consent.
The court could issue a Family Assistance order. In this case, Cafcass or a Local Authority will work with the family. This can only be done by the agreement of the parents.
In some circumstances the child may be party to the court proceedings. If so, they will be allocated a children’s guardian. They will instruct a solicitor and will put forward what they believe is in the children’s best interests.
If the concerns for the children’s welfare are significant, the Local Authority may be asked to consider whether care proceedings should be issued.
We can help
If you feel that your child has been subject to parental alienation, get in touch as soon as possible. Email us on [email protected]
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Alex is a Solicitor in the Children Law Team at Ringrose Law. Alex has Experience working in Private Law Children, Public Law children (Care Proceedings) and pre-proceedings and has experience with Domestic Abuse cases including dealing with injunctions and legal aid.