Parental alienation is child abuse says Cafcass

parental alienation

Parents who try to alienate their children from their ex-partners are committing a form of child abuse, the head of Cafcass has claimed.

The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) works with children and their families involved in care proceeding and also with those caught up in private disputes. Chief Executive Anthony Douglas has now openly condemned the phenomenon of ‘parental alienation’, in which one divorced or separated parent openly denigrates the other to their children or encourages them to think of the absent parent as threatening or frightening.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Mr Douglas compared the behaviour to child neglect or abuse and said it could have a significant impact on the long-term wellbeing of affected children.

“I think the way you treat your children after a relationship has broken up is just as powerful a public health issue as smoking or drinking.”

Cafcass believe that deliberate parental alienation accounts for the majority of the most intractable family disputes: perhaps as much as 80 per cent.

The absence of a law specifically outlawing alienation complicates matters, Mr Douglas continued.

“But we do have family law and through assessments and enforcement proceedings, we do have the ability to send parents to prison or give them community sentences.”

But such penalties are rarely applied, he added, “because ultimately the punishment on the parent will rebound on the child.”

Nevertheless, some family court judges have begun to acknowledge the issue, and respond to deliberate alienation by taking children away from the care of the badly behaved parent. The Chief Executive warned, however:

“…this is fraught with difficulty. It’s a rocky road and a difficult process.”

Image by Nick Kenrick via Flickr

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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81 comments

Peter Davies - February 13, 2017 at 1:54pm

At last!
It is the emotional abuse of a child and the coercive control of a parent.
People that do it should be treated with the same contempt as any other abuser.

Paul Massey - February 14, 2017 at 1:01pm

Of course, I agree! But CAFCASS has been the problem up til now! Let’s hope that changes. You do wishes and feelings reports that simply echo what the alienated child says they want. What a waste of your time! And because you look at children’s wishes and feelings as expressed, uncritically, and because judges read your reports with the same uncritical eye, the alienation continues.

The court of appeal have made it clear, as does the legislation, that the WELFARE interests of the child trump wishes and feelings. Of course they do!

Would you ask a child what their wishes and feelings were about going to school, or the dentist, or doing their homework, or having a bath?!

Enough of this irresponsible slopey-shoulder BS.

WAKE UP CAFCASS!!! GROW UP too! Someone has to be the grown up in this situation and CAFCASS are not, simply are not, doing that job. ANd lower courts are so weak and useless that they just do what CAFCASS says.

Look at the judgement of Parker J, quoted with approval by McFarlane LJ in Re H [2014] EWCA Civ 733 at paras 72 onwards (of the Parker J judgement)… and weep.

Must every single case go to the HIgh Court or above for a just result?

keith - February 14, 2017 at 8:17pm

it certainly looks that way because justice is never done in the family courts.
Justice Pauffley exposed the secret clandestine deals going on between Social workers and judges back in 2014.
how they have managed to get away with it this long i just dont know.

Neil Owens - February 16, 2017 at 3:15am

It is Government misconduct. It’s states in the Codes of Conduct on the House of Commons website, that all Mps must not discriminate. So why are they? You can report it to the Police. It is misconduct in a Public Office. It can carry life imprisonment.

Ian - April 14, 2017 at 5:46pm

Totally agree
My ex accused me of abusing her and told the children the same story the courts don’t look into her allegations because they’re completely unfounded but the children believe her and Cafcass do nothing to help. She stop me seeing my boys and now she wants four times the amount of maintenance that I had to pay when we had shared custody together. Can’t see my kids cant affording to take her back to court to hear her lies again

russell armstrong - February 13, 2017 at 3:55pm

At last someone who can make a difference has had the guts and sense to make this comment. It is also with a great sense of relief to see that the figure is stated at 80%. It has always been my contention that I have never seen why so called “intractable” cases aren’t immediately seen as coercive control?
In all but the top few percent (which we must remain vigilant and are genuine cases of a parent correctly trying to protect a child) any time a parent (usually the father) is motivated sufficiently to make a court application seeking a judicial decision about the quantum and terms of contact, there will be a “controlling parent with care” (usually the mother) who bitterly resists ANY increase of contact with the other parent.
There are degrees of “alienation” but it starts with (coercive) control and that starts with limiting CONTACT in its primary stages.
There may be many reasons for this, hatred toward the former partner, an inability to share the childs life with the other parent rooted in some form of Borderline personality disorder trait, the fear of loss of control over the childs future or and far more fundamentally fear of giving equal parenting time thus loosing the ability to demand Cash from the other parent via Maintenance payments driven from the CMS.
Whilst the system is locked in equating maintenance payments with the time spent with the child the numbers of “intractable” disputes will remain at its level. Everything else is just a big smokescreen for not wanting the other parent more time because the maintenance payment will go down the longer the child spends (overnight) with the other parent
This is basic psychology rooted in basic greed and is not in the best interest of the child philosophy
The parent with care already gets the child benefit, already gets the child tax credit and then expects the other parent (who gets no help and still has to run a home fit to have a child stay overnight) to cough up some more cash via maintenance payments and the CMS
Now that’s unfair on the other parent and that in turn is not good for the child
We need a system that is fair for the child and does not favour one parent over the other which it what we currently have
Rant over!

Paul Massey - February 14, 2017 at 1:08pm

Great comment Russell. It is indeed basic psychology. I am willing to bet that PA has been going on since man first jumped out of a tree onto the Savannah! This is not complicated. It is not difficult. I used to think that CAFCASS and the courts just didn’t get it, you know. Then I figured – heh – this is easy peasy…why are all of these intelligent, degree-level-educated people not getting it…Of course the answer is not that they are stupid. It is that they are cowardly….

keith - February 14, 2017 at 8:24pm

what if its more about serving a very lucrative multi million pound industry known as fostering and Adoption.
this sector has expanded hugely over the past 10 yrs creating many multi millionaires.
so should we be smelling a Rat or are we just too dozy to see it ?

JamesB - February 13, 2017 at 5:36pm

Good to hear cafcass at last acknowledge that it exists. When I mentioned it to the head officer in my area, all he said was “I am aware of the term”. My thoughts are the same as the two above and every other man who has been faced with this, including myself. Best I stop there before I start getting emotional again and off on a load of messages on here, with evidence and history. I know it exists, I have seen it with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears. Hearing made up by ex anecdotes from my children on my supposed faults for not wanting to see them (the children) is one of many such bad examples.

JamesB - February 13, 2017 at 5:39pm

If you argue back you face the risk of losing the children and access, so I bite my tongue and it is very hard and can be a losing battle for many. Of whom you will see many examples of these alienated parents and grandparents on here, including me. That cafcass denied its existence for so long shows how bad and inefficient and not in the bests interests they are.

Paul Massey - February 14, 2017 at 1:20pm

Oh yes! the level of ignorance is astonishing! And it’s not just CAFCASS. I went to see a solicitor who was in charge of her family law department. I asked her what she understood by the term PA. She had no clue at all. I left.

But biting your tongue is of limited value. You are being shafted by the ‘system’ no matter what. Frankly, we have been put in a position (not seeing our kids) where we have nothing to lose by being ‘loose canons’. There comes a time when moderation is not the best option.

also we must be careful about genders and remember that many women are alienated from their kids too. And grandparents, uncles, aunties, family friends – cos it is not just the non-resident parent (usually the dad, i agree) that is affected – a recruited child rejects you and everyone associated with you. So instead of focusing on the individuals, perhaps we should focus on the crime – PA itself – a truly evil act or series of acts (or indeed omissions – note this CAFCASS) that must stop now.

Eddie - February 14, 2017 at 5:19pm

Paul Massey @ 1.20pm

I do not feel this particular point as keenly as you obviously do, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about it — just that I am not in that exact same position.

However, I couldn’t help agreeing with your words, “Biting your tongue is of limited value. You are being shafted by the ‘system’ no matter what. Frankly, we have been put in a position… where we have nothing to lose by being ‘loose canons’ [sic]. There comes a time when moderation is not the best option.”

It would be unfair to discuss exactly what I am referring to here, as it would be going “off topic”. My point is simply to point out that, sadly, this applies to many/most other injustices inherent in the heavily-flawed (read, “decidedly biased”) Family Laws we have to tolerate, as a “kind” of justice. Clearly, just from these examples, they aren’t. In fact, it is amazing that so many “victims” have been simply biting their tongues for so long. Many times many people ARE “being shafted by the ‘system’.”

The amazing thing is we put up with it — and put up with it for so long.

keith - February 14, 2017 at 9:11pm

Yes we do put up with these injustices but with a system that is constructed to keep the public down there seems no way to tackle the problem other than mass protests etc. Kellie Cottam has done a bit of this in london but has it had any impact. not really. it would need to be a seriously big push to make an impact.
this is a human rights issue, a child abuse issue and a corruption issue.
Most of these stone hearted SS and family judges probably dont even know the meaning of the words humanity and quality family life.
maybe the system should be taking a closer look into the background of these individuals who hold the future of family life in the palm of their hands.

Eddie - February 15, 2017 at 6:52am

Keith @ 9:11pm

This is rather demoralising — but while sad, it is also rather what I would have imagined. Because I Googled for “Kellie-Ann Cottam”, and although she may have a just cause, it seems not very clear-cut…. So no wonder she didn’t have much “impact”. Anyway, it was about adoption.

Still, it underlines an important point: If you are just fighting for yourSELF, who is really going to care? Who are you “going to carry with you”??

To my mind, it has to be something that can be viewed from the perspective of the larger population. Otherwise it is in danger of coming across as a “rant”. Mind you, it obviously helps if you are able to be fairly articulate… and sure of your facts.

But most of all, it has to show it is a question of JUSTICE. That, at least, is a universal concept. Since it has been shown that even young kids have a strong concept of “fairness”, suggesting it is “hard-wired” into all of us.

Eddie - February 13, 2017 at 6:08pm

So, one more really BAD family law….. We can clearly see just how bad it could be — and probably is, most of the time.

It IS shocking, particularly because it is such an obvious situation — daddy largely not getting a look in because mummy (mostly) doesn’t want to lose any sympathy, control, or allowances. Her point of view is (somewhat) understandable — but she is the one on top of the hill, defending every “attack”. She HAS control, and will not easily cede it. “The system” may or may not have created the situation, but it surely maintains it — very nicely thank you. Expect to find those who stand to lose (whether justifiably or not) to fight to stay on top….

And no, I have no answers, currently. Wish I did. Perhaps those who are most effected will come up with some measured responses that are at least worth trying. Let it not be limited to “fair-minded” men — but women too.

louise - February 13, 2017 at 7:36pm

I assumed that that 80 per cent was mainly women whos male ex partners are trying to take full custody out of spite of mum leaving them..making Up lies of abuse …which is happening to me ……hes making out Im the one trying to stop him hav i g the kids which is madness as hes gone from 3 days per Week to 1 his choice to now temp custody…..ves never paid maintenance…..the woman you talk about Sound as selfish as him..
.that will teach me for assuming Its Just men who do this

keith - February 13, 2017 at 8:04pm

And what about Social workers who alienate children from their parents after severing the ties when Adoption is on the agenda. arnt they committing a form of child abuse too ?

Nic T - February 13, 2017 at 9:56pm

I’m curious to know what other instances of child abuse would lead to the abusive parent being called the “badly behaved” parent.

CAFCASS & Children’s Services need to make up their mind whether this is a child protection issue or a private law matter and set a proper procedure for dealing with it as currently they just past parents back and forth with neither taking responsibility and judges not having the expertise to understand it fully, and parents not able to afford the £5-10k+ of an expert.

Andre - February 13, 2017 at 9:56pm

NO SH** SHERLOCK!

This has been going on for over 20 years, but Cafcass has only just realised?

Please would you now forward this GROUND BREAKING NEWS to organisations and charities like NYAS who all profit from the devastation caused to so many children?

I personal know of a case that has been in Guildford county court for almost 8 years. Prior to the breakup up of the relationship, there were no allegations of domestic abuse or violence.

Since the end of the relationship there have been over 1,200 false allegations and all coincide with the reintroduction of contact between the father and child or pauses in maintenance payments when the father walked away from his job due to stress.

Meanwhile the judges receive are all payed. NYAS has received over £100k in government funding and another child’s life is totally devastated.

Paul Massey - February 14, 2017 at 2:43pm

agreed. except pa has not just been going on for twenty years – more like since the dawn of time. it’s such an easy concept.

One of the problems is with euphemisms. Crap like ‘putting kids first’ simply cashes out as ‘doing what kids (say they) want’. The sooner we understand that ‘putting kids first’ does not mean some mealy-mouthed liberal BS (and I say this as a liberal – usually) about giving kids what they (say they) want but rather is about doing what’s best for them, the sooner we can make progress.

I note your example and wonder if it is your own case..in my case, the judge has just delayed, vacillated, and enabled the mother. All aided by CAFCASS. What a crock! CAFCASS really are completely useless.

keith - February 14, 2017 at 7:46pm

“charities like NYAS who all profit from the devastation caused to so many children?”

just wondering how NYAS profit from this. i thought they were there to make shure children have a voice.

keith - February 14, 2017 at 8:43pm

i would say from experience CAFCASS child guardians are hopeless at doing the right thing for children. in our particular case the guardian wrote a very troubling case file stating our 7 yr old son was very confused and in need of Urgent Counselling support yet the SS did nothing and the guardian failed to follow up on what she stated. unbelievably the family court judge defended her when she was roasted by the Barrister. the judge stated “why should she followe up on it, she’s a guardian not a social worker!”
what a total failure by all involved to protect the child who clearly needed Urgent help. this was back in early 2015. to this day he never got that help.
could this constitute child abuse and psychological harm by the Judge, the LA and child guardian i wonder.

Andre - February 14, 2017 at 10:33pm

Ahh NYAS – Where to start?

One of the cases we’ve been tracking for 6 years has a NYAS guardian report stating the mother encourages the child to keep a notebook. The same notebook is used as a prompt for the child when she meets the NYAS guardian on her own.
– Most people would say this is a blatant attempt to poisoning the child’s mind, especially when the child is prompted by the mother about what’s allowed to be record. There are no entries detailing positives, happiness or good times but the things that didn’t go to plan when she was with her father…

– NYAS reports back to the court that it is good for children to keep written records…

Same case… the father discovered his own father’s unexpected death the day before the first NYAS supported contact session. In the NYAS report, the guardian completely fails to mention the unexpected bereavement but repeatedly refers to how withdrawn the father was during contact.

Again the same case & NYAS guardian – the father requested a change in 1 NYAS supported contact session to allow him the opportunity to travel out of the country for his father’s funeral.
– The NYAS guardian completely fails to mention the funeral in her report, but suggests the father attempted to prioritise a holiday in the Caribbean over contact sessions with his child.
– When the NYAS guardian was notified that the father recorded the conversations where he requested the change of contact date for the attendance of his own father’s funeral. NYAS immediately labelled him “narcissistic, suffering from mental health problems” and recommended there to be no contact between him and the child.

Now 6 years later and over £100k of government funding, NYAS is still “helping”!
– This happens on a daily basis, but it may not be as apparent because this case alone has 6 different court references – therefore neither case reference exceeds a government spending threshold!

CHARITIES….! Who needs them?

keith - February 14, 2017 at 10:57pm

when you say NYAS guardian are you talking about a CAFCASS child guardian ? i have not heard of a NYAS guardian. only advocates who give children a voice etc.
our son has been working with a NYAS worker and she has been great so far and even helped him make a complaint against childrens services re things he’s not happy with.

Andre - February 15, 2017 at 8:20pm

You did read the trauma NYAS’s incompetence has caused the child, father… and yet your concern is about the job title I use to refer to NYAS individual speaking on behalf of children?

I’m sorry but I’ve never needed a happy pills prescription, nor have I been employed by NYAS or am I a pedant.

keith - February 15, 2017 at 11:27pm

you reply is confusing.
you dont seem to be clear as to whether you are talking about a Cafcass child guardian or a NYAS advocate.
very odd.

Andre - February 16, 2017 at 11:00pm

Keith,

Let me give you a clue to help clear your confusion.

I have mentioned NYAS more that 10 times.

Number of times I mentioned Cafcass 0

Do the maths.

Regarding Nyas profiting…

1 child has 6 different family court reference numbers. In total over £100k in government spending. Yet each case reference is well below the maximum.

Again goo the maths or use a calculator.

keith - February 17, 2017 at 1:43pm

Ok you dont mention Cafcass but you do mention “NYAS guardian”
and as i have not heard of a NYAS guardian thats why i asked if you were talking about a Cafcass child Guardian.
but then all you do is come back with an attitude and telling me to use a calculator. its just disrespectful and not the sort of thing people want on here.
if you cant be civil then dont bother replying.

Andre - February 22, 2017 at 7:44am

Keith,

After 7 years of this nonsense, remaining civil or splitting hairs has slipped down the ever increasing list of priorities.

Did I say Nyas has received over £100k of funding, but because there are strangely 6 different court reference it will never be flagged up as a case requiring review?

How many more cases like this do you think there are?

Jason Vendetti - February 13, 2017 at 10:31pm

This is indeed a great step in yhe right direction. I am in a catch 22 with this very issue. Both of my children parents have taken away my children for selfish reasons. I have court ordered restraining orders on me because i naturally got heated over it. ( This legally gave them the abilty to keep me from contact for a year. ) Which in my opinion any loving parent would do. My youngest child was begging his mother to let him come and live with me. In the end and hind sight is always 20/20 i feel as if i had no ground to stand on. Granted i should not have acted out, but we are speaking about sacred bonds here. Which put me into a great depressive state leaving me lost without my kids. I got to watch all my friends have there kids and i longed for just the opportunity to speak to my children. I had no chance to explain my side to them they only got the other parties bias opinion of what they thought.

keith - February 14, 2017 at 8:03pm

Sorry to hear your unfortunate position but its a story we hear all too often. no justice in the family courts and decisions being made on the strength of biased and even false paperwork.
the system is all wrong and its condoning mental cruelty.
the problem here is that the SS and family courts are handling parents in a military style and its doing more harm than good. its creating thousands of angry kids who will grow up wanting to know what happened to their irreplaceable family life that was taken away from them while they had no say in the matter. one thing we know is that the SS do not like children having a voice because thats bad for business.
i can see this becoming a Law suit tidal wave in the next 10 yrs and they deserve all whats coming to them.

John Smith - February 13, 2017 at 10:45pm

On the one hand this is good news for children, and dads but hopefully also for mothers as long as it is applied properly. Men and Women can both experience domestic abuse and fall victim to highly dangerous and manipulative people. The family court seem to flip flop between their support along a gender bias. In a male context, contact or residency for dads at all costs [even dangerous abusers] or exclude dads at all cost in case they are abusers. In a female context, victim with residency or mad, mental health, vindictive woman who looses residency. Correct me if Im wrong but it seems Military personel have the worst of both worlds. They can be accused of “masculine” type abuse as well as “femenine” type mental health [PTSD] issues and moreover they know how to use guns. Most abusive situations could be resolved with empathy, patience and kindness [by the professionals] and would benefit with a paper 50/50 residency [not necessarily where the children live or how they spend their time]. The exception is the abusive situation involving those with serious emapthy defects, and Im not talking about healthy narcisism which is necessary for well being. These charming covertish abusers pose a great danger to children yet most of us in our ignorance mistake them for common garden variety abusers/mutual fighters or worse still victims. I dont know why within a professional setting its so hard to spot these dangerous people when they are very very very predictable, if one stops listening to their charming stories and starts detecting the inconsistencies, hatred of the other spouse [in a different league from a parent raising genuine concerns/normal thoughtless “undermining”] and most telling their compulsive lying, co-ercive double binds and the sheer volume of ever shifting allegations against the other parent.

Andy Martin - February 13, 2017 at 11:31pm

Welsh Assembly – The Putting Children First Bill has been put forward by @neiljmcevoy to stop good parents being pushed out of their children’s lives pic.twitter.com/FFO9w5hGE5

Paul Massey - February 14, 2017 at 2:34pm

I am unclear about the need for legislation.

If you read (as I have) the Children Act, the Children and Adoption Act, and the Family Act, the law (combined with a number of solid Superior Court judgements – take a look here: thecustodyminefield.com/flapp/pacaselawmenu.html) is pretty straight-forward. The problem is that CAFCASS do/will not understand simple concepts like 1) What a child says he wants is not necessarily what he actually wants, 2) What a child says he wants is not necessarily what is best for him.

We do not need more civil law in my opinion.

What we really COULD do with is a law making PA a CRIMINAL OFFENCE. The narcissist (NPD or BPD) parents that do this should be punished. The punishment is simple – take their children away from them and give them to a kind, emotionally-available non-resident parent. How much better off the kids would be! The civil law (in theory) – ie superior court and legislation, is fine. The civil law in practice (magistrates and county courts, including CAFCASS) is NOT.

Paul Massey - February 14, 2017 at 2:23pm

After a bit of digging, I found that Mr Douglas has been CAFCASS king since 2004. Now, we see an article from him 13 years later about the evils of parental alienation….

I am willing to wager that if he had been the victim of PA, he might have reached his epiphany a bit sooner.

what really bugs me about PA is that it really is the most fantastically simple concept, and yet people seem so slow to grasp it. Note that such people will try to convince you that it is complicated, to excuse their inactivity/indolence.

Make PA a criminal offence now! It is a hate crime.

keith - February 14, 2017 at 8:29pm

i can only agree here.
not just a hate crime but also mental cruelty and a crime against humanity.

Jane Jackson - February 14, 2017 at 3:26pm

Not before time.
A whole generation of children have grown up experiencing this abuse. They have been let down over and over again by the very people who are supposed to be there to protect them. No doubt the cliche of ‘lessons have been learnt,’ will soon be seen in headlines.
In our throw away society, it appears for far too long families can also be just thrown away.
Children are suffering now, and every day from alienation.

keith - February 14, 2017 at 8:53pm

So true Jane.

Jill dawson - February 14, 2017 at 3:46pm

There is also Granparent alienation and we have to apply for leave to even get permission to have contact with our grandchildren. My cafcass report suggested fortnightly contact and weekly contact but the judge refused to make an order. What about the children’s right to have contact !!!

keith - February 14, 2017 at 8:59pm

“What about the children’s right to have contact !!!”

Absolutely Jill
but the stoney faced cold hearted so-called professionals playing God with entire families dont seem to give two hoots what the child thinks.
the SS never like the child to have a voice as its bad for business. thats why the SS dont like NYAS and usually send them packing when they try to get access to a child to hear their wishes. some might say this cant be right, but oh yes it is and we can prove it.

Paul Massey - February 14, 2017 at 7:02pm

One other thought…

Apparently…

“The absence of a law specifically outlawing alienation complicates matters, Mr Douglas continued.
“But we do have family law and through assessments and enforcement proceedings, we do have the ability to send parents to prison or give them community sentences.”
But such penalties are rarely applied, he added, “because ultimately the punishment on the parent will rebound on the child.”

this is where the system ALWAYS and perhaps deliberately misses the point. The point is NOT that sending a mother to prison causes problems for the child.

The point is that, when the criminal offence relates to a custody matter it is seen as MUCH LESS SERIOUS than another crime.

Perhaps we should never put any mother in jail for anything.

One other point from this extract is that Mr Douglas seems to bemoan the fact that we don’t have PA as a crime…Surely the quickest way to get access to our kids is to criminalise this behaviour. Think what news it would be when the first resident parent goes to jail!!! And think what effect this would have on other resident parents (alienators are usually narcissists who have no real emotions and understand only consequences). Giving out the message ‘do this and you go to jail’ will decimate PA.

This way we get a quick win. Waiting for lower courts to follow superior courts, waiting for civil law to develop, hoping for judicial consistency, waiting for CAFCASS to reform root and branch, waiting for alienators to wake up and see the harm they are doing (or more accurately to CARE) to their own children is a waste of time. Those things either wont happen or will take forever.

Make PA a crime right now!

ps Apologies for the caps but can’t italicise on this page

Mike Cox - February 15, 2017 at 6:23am

Excellent response from Karen Woodall to CAFCASS’ counsel of despair

karenwoodall.wordpress.com/2017/02/14/why-parental-alienation-is-child-abuse-and-why-punishing-such-abuse-can-never-rebound-on-a-child/

keith - February 15, 2017 at 10:59pm

what about foster carers and social workers who alienate the parents of a child/children.
are they abusing children too ?

Mike Cox - February 16, 2017 at 1:27pm

Of course, Keith, in fact child abuse of this nature is far more prevalent in public law (forced adoption) cases than in private law (divorce) cases.

keith - February 16, 2017 at 1:48pm

Absolutely. When Adoption is on the Agenda the SS will move to sever the ties and they are very good at using sly underhanded techniques to pull it off.
their best weapon is containment of the truth. the childs true wishes and feelings are kept under wraps. how LAs have not been held accountable for this systematic abuse and violation of human rights is a Scandal waiting to be uncovered.

John Denbigh - February 15, 2017 at 1:48pm

The increasing importance attached in recent years to ‘wishes and feelings’ and ‘the voice of the child’ have in my view been one of the most damaging developments in family law. It is an approach that has failed to attach proper weight to wider welfare interests, burdened a children with taking decisions that they are too young to take and understand the long term implications of and empowered and incentivised resident parents to alienate and harmfully divide a child’s loyalties.

keith - February 15, 2017 at 11:12pm

A very narrow minded view indeed.
the wishes of the child and the parents should always be of great importance. taking that away from the victims and left to the desensitized suits is a dangerous recipe for destruction.
this has no place in the evolution of family Law. it would be a significant step back.

John Smith - February 15, 2017 at 3:10pm

Karen Woodall is absolutely correct. I have a question for Karen Woodall. It seems the unitended consequences of the law [Marilyn said implementation] flip floping between an unconcious bias towards women or towards men bundles together those parents who are genuinely mutually fighting and the truly dangerous psychopaths, narcisists and sadists [including some new partners who are either also an abuser or a flying monkey or perhaps controlling the naive resident parent via a child – plenty of them around].

The law seems to only focus on the parents. Often in divorce there is a third party, who then gains not only control of the children but also gains financially becomes indispensible to the resident parent. This third party may be psychopath who has fun controlling both parents and the children. The good step parents shouldnt be ofended by this question.

Karen Woodall [before your new book is published] do you know if there is any academic research into the different tactics used by male alienators v female alienators or are they the same? Men are still seen as the domestic abusers and women as alienators/mental health. How do we identify these reversed situations?

Marilyn in your experience do most fathers including the common garden variety of [learnt beaviour] domestic abusers go for contact or 50/50 rather than residency? I think the statistics are most men irrepective of general abuse [not talking about psychopaths here] only want contact or 50/50 is that about right??? Same question about women, do most women who want to keep residency either without any abuse involved or who are dealing with non psychopathic abusers, eventually calm down naturally or with gentle support [not orders or draconian threats] and see the benefit of father being involved?

If most people do the above anyone who veers from the above, should have the case looked at by experts experienced in alieantaion, domestic abuse, psycopathy etc

John Smith - February 15, 2017 at 10:21pm

Apolgies. Karen Woodall has already written a blog on gender and alienation. My comments are:
Alienation
1. Can someone clarify what we mean by alienation. Does it apply to the act or to the consquences. Not all children reject the parent the perpetrotor is trying to cut out of the childs life. A resident parent may bad mouth, criticise, cut contact, threaten, but whatever is done to them the child/children continue to wish to live with the non-resident parent. Again resident doesnt mean mum and non resident dad. There are cases of mothers loosing residency to an abusive father who then attempts to isolate and alienate and frighten children into rejecting a mother. The children refuse to reject the mother and always want to live with mother. Is Karen suggesting that is enmenshment or is that a genuinely protective mother. this is important.

Enmeshment
2. Why is there no mention of enmeshment and dads? Some dads are primary care givers what about them, or grandparent? Can they be accused of enmenshment if the children refuse contact? Perhaps the working mum is a domestic abuser. What about other cultures that are more nuturing than us brits is that enmeshment?

Jail – red flags
3.No normal well adjusted parent would want to put the other parent in jail. Of course there are cases where the prepetrator is so dangerous to life there is no alternative, but however one may feel in moments of despair, surely one would not wish that on the parent of a child. Children may hate the other parents behaviour and may not wish to live with them but they will always love the other parent no matter what.

SOLUTION
a) where child is rejecting non-resident parent
I wouldnt remove residency from a primary care giving mum [occassionally dad] however they behaved. I would just increase the contact for the non-resident parent. As long as the non-resident parent has time with the child everything is possible. The non-resident parent would benefit from focusing on books like the whole brain child, strong bounderied but fun parenting and learn how to teach age appropriate resiliance via novels, films, religion, military, whatever works . Unconditional love is all about BEING not DOING. Be a solid rock. Tell your child they are a separate being and are entitled to their own feelings and opinions but however they feel or whatever they think, no matter you will ALWAYS love them and be there for them, but of course the normal good parenting boundaries must continue. Im sure life coaches or people like Karen Woodall have better suggestions.

b) where the alienation doesnt work on the child and child still wants to be with non-resident parent
immediately switch residency to non-resident parent. sometimes it takes a couple of residency switches to get it right. Clearly in this scenario the child is with the wrong parent for whatever reason.

JamesB - February 16, 2017 at 12:03pm

For those who don’t know who NYAS is. NYAS – National Youth Advocacy Service. Had to look it up. Not sure what they do or don’t do.

keith - February 16, 2017 at 12:59pm

from the website it states
“NYAS is a UK charity providing information, advice, advocacy and legal representation to children, young people and vulnerable adults.”

JamesB - February 16, 2017 at 12:07pm

I would think they are a good idea in that I think the children do need a voice, provided isn’t another feminist one and is a reasonable one and have found cafcass to be very bad, could do worse then church vicars or ministers, perhaps an idea rather than just criticism.

Caroline - February 16, 2017 at 4:08pm

My CAFCASS officer has clearly not hear this. I have seven hours a year with my child. Taken from school at age 8 with no evidence that I’ve done anything. Truely disgusting.

keith - February 16, 2017 at 7:18pm

Caroline
this is a very common story from thousands of parents all over the UK.
MP John Hemming has been highlighting this for years.
children being removed for what can only be described as trivial things but the SS make shure that by the time it goes to court the case files will make it look ever so serious.
why they are doing this is the subject of much debate and scepticism but clearly something is not right. the big question is why is it not being investigated when thousands of parents have been crying out about wrongdoing for many years. Sir James Munby has caused a few waves but not enough to spark any real interest from Govt officials. or do they know something we dont!

John Smith - February 16, 2017 at 8:45pm

NYAS they are not a charity the only client is the government. NYAS worse than CAFCASS but more devastating as they have a reputation for being voice of child. They also have a problem with complaints. Easier to complain about CAFCASS then the sly NYAS

keith - February 17, 2017 at 12:26am

from the website it states
“NYAS is a UK charity providing information, advice, advocacy and legal representation to children, young people and vulnerable adults.”

JamesB - February 17, 2017 at 12:46pm

It is certainly not easy to complain about Cafcass, I did so. Went as far as the parliamentary ombudsman, who upheld my complaint, then cafcass just ignored his letter. So much for complaints procedure. The only real mechanism for rectifying situations is the court and they are ridiculously bad and biased. Like how you can justify taking a child away because the father said something (assume disparaging) about always sterilising milk bottles.

Detail to the above paragraph. Parents and social workers can be obsessive and excessive about sterilising bottles. Telling them this you can end up in the dog house big time, I would not expect Judges to take your children away for it, exemplifies what is wrong with these courts (really bad). I was made to feel bad about asking children how went with Cafcass officer. Like that is a crime.

Further detail, the complaint was that they wouldn’t talk to me after I took apart their expert opinions piece by peace with evidence. The ombudsman said they should have gone through it with me or engaged with me or re-written the report. They would not as they said they found me aggressive and the ombudsman said that is an unacceptable answer, so they ignored him. The silly thing is I found them a lot more intimidating then they probably found me. I think their argument was I used a swear word in one of my emails, ombudsman said that should not have meant them disengaging, they to my knowledge haven’t changed their policy. You use a swearword in Cafcass presence you face a risk of automatically losing your case. Establishment bullshit that.

keith - February 17, 2017 at 2:16pm

“I was made to feel bad about asking children how ( ) went with Cafcass officer. Like that is a crime.”

Cafcass, LAs, Social workers they all have one very good weapon that helps them win against parents.
the containment of information and withholding evidence that could give the parents an advantage.
they dont like information passing from one person to another or people trying verify things that have been said. they like to have total control over everything. thats how they are so successful at beating parents and their Legal Aid Solicitors who just dont put the effort in to see that justice and truth prevail.

Yvie - February 17, 2017 at 10:04am

Ultimately the blame has to be laid on the alienating parent. Despite a shared care order which worked reasonably well for about six years, my eldest grandson is alienated from his dad and consequently, from us, his grandparents as well. He gives the reason as ‘my dad is a liar’ although he has not justified this comment. Sadly when our youngest grandson does not get his own way he also calls his dad a liar. I can only assume they have heard this remark from someone else.

keith - February 17, 2017 at 1:52pm

its very rare children in care have a voice with an independent person/body outside of a Local authority so its usually supposed information passed on by a foster carer or social worker. in many cases i suspect the childs true feelings and wishes are not being heard.

JamesB - February 17, 2017 at 12:57pm

Years ago I remember pulling my oldest boy from clinging to mother’s door frame at the FMH. 5 minutes later he was fine, completely acting out to try and make her think that he didn’t like me. To be fair cafcass did nothing about that when I told them what happened. Actually, now I think about it, they should have done something about it as was a symptom of parental alienation. Perhaps they did do something about it as it didn’t happen again. I do get the name calling. To such an extent that when I went to school or pickup the children I used to do movie drum rolls and dum dum dum and other farcical things and other mothers stop their children from coming within 10 feet of me, which they found difficult as children seem to like me. They pull them away from me though. Was on an undertaking that vast areas near where I live I couldn’t go near for a time as ex was in fear of me and was for the best etc. courts seem a bit powerless to do much about PA and should do more as I am hanging on by a thread and trying to do the cooperative parent thing. 50/50 assumption has to be the way to go as children otherwise can be torn from the NRP by nasty resident parent. They should but often don’t support the other parent and vice versa. I do but she doesn’t. I have hoped, that the children will make their own minds as they get older. I have seen they do the plague on both your houses thing and become withdrawn and that is sad.

I am not sure what I am supposed to have done wrong, perhaps I said we don’t really need a steriliser anymore also. Perhaps a bit of an overreaction for feminism by the establishment is the problem.

JamesB - February 17, 2017 at 1:02pm

It can be sad, and people and parents can and do give up or not be seen. I do think though that seeing children as a NRP can and is often great fun and worth doing for all involved and I am certainly do not regret trying so hard to see them and the time I have been able to get. I get very upset with the abuse I have had from the establishment in the process for no good reason though, but like I said at the beginning, I have found that if I say anything I see my children even less, so I bite my tongue.

keith - February 17, 2017 at 2:30pm

yes its a very controlled inhumane stet up and im shure all those so-called professionals enjoy every minute of their power over peoples lives.
this is not humanity its an abomination.

JamesB - February 17, 2017 at 1:08pm

To be fair, I get less running for the door by the mums and dads when I enter a room these days, not sure if it was me being too defensive or them being over protective or fed lies about me before or all of that probably all of that. I did find court like I was on trial for trying to see my children though and that was bad and should have been easier, I mean a barrister having a go at me for no good reason and Judges sitting there letting them go on until I walk out, BS that. Like the couple having their child taken away for the milk comment and keith’s comment above something is wrong with these places and institutions, perhaps they are overcautious given baby p and stuff against social workers in the past and that is, to a degree, understandable. I am with the ombudsman though that they need to engage more with the public and not regard us as an inconvenience.

JamesB - February 17, 2017 at 1:26pm

I get the liar and dishonest calls also Yvie. In court without evidence too (well nothing I would call evidence and I disregard as I feel is without substance and don’t engage) I do think the children fall for it and I see them less and less. The judges just seem to do nothing except sit there and ask ex to please let JamesB see the children sometimes which she does just enough to stop me taking her back to court. I don’t know how it will end. I have stuck at it for many years now and I have those years whatever else happens and I suppose that’s like being a parent. So, even if as I fear may happen they see me less, I have had some excellent times with them. Brian Blessed’s story about the last time he saw his daught years ago on an excellent climbing holiday up Kilimanjaro as a young adult springs to mind.

Glenn - February 17, 2017 at 1:58pm

It seems to me the issue is as much about resources as anything. Do CAFCASS have the manpower to delve deeper into every single case? I guess not, so as such every case has to be looked at in the same way regardless of circumstances, and from my own experience there are no additional resources/outside organisations that can help. My biggest fear is the regret my daughter will feel at the time she is missing out on (I’ve not seen her for 8 months and the rest of the family for 18) if she does indeed ever come to realize whats been happening. At 12, her wishes and feelings are deemed to be sufficient for her to make that decision not to come and see us but as Paul Massey says above, they are the wishes and feelings influenced by an alienating parent! I pleaded with CAFCASS for help in trying to have a more open discussion about this, to try and engage my daughter in some dialogue to try and help her make sense of the situation and to see that a complete cut off is not the answer, but there are no agencies that could facilitate this and it required the agreement of my ex-wife! The alienator in question! As with so many public services, the level of cuts they are subjected to these days are as much a cause of our problems as anything so I suspect CAFCASS still won’t act even if their “party line” is to accept that parental alienation exists.

keith - February 17, 2017 at 2:43pm

Glenn
have you tried referring your daughter to NYAS to give her a independent voice. they are helping my son right now.
Cafcass should be scrapped as they just dont do what the job title suggests. “Child Guardian”
Guardian means to protect. from my experience they dont do anything to safeguard a child and in fact can cause even more damage to a child.

G - February 17, 2017 at 4:27pm

I have positive and negative experiences of Cafcass, when my daughter was 4, they got involved after my ex insisted she did not want to come and see us to which they did their thing and reported no issues. My ex still disputed this and told them i’d fabricated the whole visit to create a false family situation (which Cafcass told her was nonesense!). That led to her instructing a Psychologists report that didn’t do her any favours either. Anyway after a further 8 years of visits and no real issues my daughter suddenly decides not to come and see us anymore which prompted further court action and involvement of Cafcass. Yet despite all the same reasons being cited from when she was 4, and the same Cafcass lady involved in the case, its my daughters wishes and feelings that matter! An advocacy service was suggested but the case was not deemed suitable and it still required my ex to agree and take the lead on it. She did not. I spoke to two mediation companies (both before court & after) who tried to contact her to get involved, she did not. We were instructed to go on a parental awareness course which i did and she did not. All she says is there is nothing she can do if my daughter doesn’t want to see us, i say she is the one who can do the most to encourage and let her know it will be fine but she does not! Its frustrating at the lack of help there is available and I’ve learned to great expense over the years that the court/solicitor route is a waste of both time and money

keith - February 17, 2017 at 6:12pm

i agree,
its just one big merry go round and a lot of people are making a lot of easy money from valuable tax payers money that could be put to far better use.
Advocacy is the most likely key to these problems. but whenever there is easy Govt money on offer it will bound to attract dishonest cold hearted individuals.
take a look at the reputation of LA social workers in this country.
it couldnt get any worse.

stuart - February 17, 2017 at 2:38pm

Glenn- read this!
H (Children) [2014] EWCA Civ 733
Lady Justice Parker’s judgment on this:
“I regard parental manipulation of children, of which I distressingly see an enormous amount, as exceptionally harmful. It distorts the relationship of the child not only with the parent but with the outside world. Children who are suborned into flouting court orders are given extremely damaging messages about the extent to which authority can be disregarded and given the impression that compliance with adult expectations is optional. Bearing in mind the documented history of this mother’s inability to control these children, their relationship with one another and wholly inappropriate empowerment, it strikes me as highly damaging in this case. I am disappointed that the professionals in this case are unable truly to understand this message. The recent decision of the Court of Appeal, Re M (Children) [2013] EWCA Civ 1147 requires to be read by all practitioners in this field. Lady Justice Macur gave firm and clear guidance about the importance of contact. Parents who obstruct a relationship with the other parent are inflicting untold damage on their children and it is, in my view, about time that professionals truly understood this”
Don’t give CAFCASS any excuses, for the sake of your child.

JamesB - February 17, 2017 at 3:57pm

Being a non resident parent is being a second class parent in the eyes of the law and that is wrong and needs changing as I have a thick skin and was all I could do to stomach the abusive court system when applying for contact and trying to get some time with the children, or in lawyer speak trying to ensure a beneficial involvement of their father in the children’s lives.

JamesB - February 17, 2017 at 4:08pm

They treat you as an abuser and control freak for applying to see your children or enforce contact orders, that sucks. You make one mistake you loose costs as they don’t want you there asking the difficult question “why doesn’t the court help the children see both parents in a beneficial way more?” I quite like the Australian family centres idea. The status quo argument encouraging supervised contact initially also sucks. That the statement of arrangements paragraph on the front page of the divorce petition was dropped as it was noted the respondents did not agree to them was also dropped. Like idiots like Ken Clarke claiming parents were ok with the time with their children because they didn’t bang their heads on the brick wall of family law courts we don’t hear as much of these days either. So, we have an impasse and the sharia and other courts and communities grown because we can’t and don’t wash our dirty linen in public or indeed sort or wash it enough these days.

JamesB - February 17, 2017 at 4:11pm

Brian Blessed’s first daughter, Catherine: dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2913359/The-day-daughter-cut-life-Brian-Blessed-tells-time-sadness-girl-hasn-t-seen-27-years.html .

JamesB - February 17, 2017 at 4:16pm

Not seeing them bloody hurts. Respect to people in that position, the memories help and doing things also but it does hurt and is strange as they are still about. The cafcass officer said enjoy the time you have with them and build a life away from them to be ok for them and that is and was good advice, but it isn’t right, the more the children see of me the better they do, that the stupid family court don’t see that makes them bad in my opinion and probably most on here. That the likes of John Bolch insult people who say this says more about them then the people who battle to remain involved and are called names for that.

John Smith - February 18, 2017 at 12:24am

NYAS – ring them up and find out if they have any other client bar the govt. No they dont. They are not indpendenent and they behave exactly the same as CAFCASS in private proceedings.

Ask parents who have had bad reports from NYAS or tried to complain about them

rob - February 22, 2017 at 2:23pm

So sad listening to this feel sorry for anyone who doesnt get to see there kids.im currently not seeing my daughter and it kills me not seeing her but i wont give up as my daughter is my world

keith - February 22, 2017 at 3:53pm

Same here Rob.
we have not seen our two younger sons. its over two yrs since we seen our 8yr old and its 10 mths since we seen our 3yr old.
so much lies and deception its sickening but when you try to get other depts involved its the same old story. nobody is willing to look into the affairs of a local authority. its like the Movie Hot Fuzz, you know whats going on but everyone you turn to makes you out to be over reacting or paranoid.
This organization “impact family services” supply contact workers to local authorities where we live. listen to what they say.
“Contact is very important in maintaining family links and promoting a positive self-image for the child. Contact ensures that children staying away from the family home still feel a part of their family and its important that Social Workers and Foster Carers do everything possible to ensure that regular contact is maintained.”

no such thing happening in this city. its the exact opposite.

rob - February 22, 2017 at 5:54pm

Keep strong keith and to any other fathers on here one day our children will grow up and learn the truth .while our children are at this age there mothers can tell them anything and twist things but deep down in our kids hearts there missing us and no matter how hard it gets for any fathers keep fighting as one day it will be worth it .i really understand how stressful heartbreaking it is for anyone not seeing there kids .

keith - February 22, 2017 at 8:00pm

yes its very hard but to all those single parents and couples out there struggling through this madness. at the end of the day we have to keep going for our kids because they need their parents. we are no good to them dead.

AndyQ - May 16, 2017 at 10:49am

I have not seen my children since 2013 due to the aspergic (“risk fear”) behaviour of Cafcass and the Family court whose only response is “No Access”. Coupled with an Aspergic ex, a winning combination for the children as you can imagine. Unfortunately I am not going to waste the childrens inheritance trying to correct this wrong. I will just have to wait until the children are 16 and keep notes to demonstrate to them how corrupt the whole process is once they are old enough to understand. When people with money and influence like Bob Geldoff and Alec Baldwin get nowhere you realise you have just got to take it on the chin.

TC - June 6, 2017 at 11:52pm

I would like to add to this as a mother who has withheld contact. A horrendous, abusive divorce which included an assault on me by my former husband, I tried my level best to facilitate contact with him and our son, who was 2 when his father left and is now 6. My son is autistic. I stopped contact last year after a build up of events that had a direct and negative impact on my son which culiminated in my ex-husband attempting to coerce our little boy into reporting to teachers or other adults that I was abusing him. I sought immediate help and advice from various professionals sources including our GP and I was warned that I was risking being viewed as a “non protective parent” if I allowed the emotional abuse of my son to continue by facilitating contact. I had hoped that my ex would apply to court and this would see intervention and help from appropropriate agencies. I saw an educational psychologist, I sought help from every avenue available to try and ensure that my ex was able to parent our son in a safe and consistent way while meeting his specific additional needs. He simply was not. He refused supervised contact, he refused to co-operate with a CAF that the EP suggested the school arranged, which I fully supported. I arranged mediation which he failed to attend. He then asked for mediation via a solicitor but then decided he didn’t want to do it. He finally emailed my son’s school at Christmas and told them that he didn’t want to see our son anymore and asked the school to inform me of this. We have not heard from him since. My ex husband is not contactable, his partner threatened me with a non-molestation order if I tried to contact him via her home, she has made clear that she prefers my ex husband to have no contact with me or indeed our son. This is not what I wanted for my little boy. I wanted a decent, supportive father who was able to co-parent with me. He simply could not and the damage he has caused will likely be lifelong. Of course, publicly, to their friends and the partner’s family, I am the alienator, the “mad, bitter ex-wife”. Nobody understands how horrific this has been or the consequences for my son, all ongoing. I would done anything to avoid this. I am an older mother, I had our son under extreme pressure from ex-husband and he has let us both down terribly. He has financially abused us, was happy for us to become homeless. How far was he supposed to go before I took that very difficult decision? I maintain it was the right one, as does everybody involved with my son. What on earth does anyone suggest I should have done other than everything I did? I feel very much for those who have written here and who are not seeing their children, but I know from my own experiences, it is not always as clear cut or transparent as is often suggested. My own experiences with CAFCASS have been positive and supportive, as far as I am aware, to both parties in my case, however, they cannot help if you have one totally intractable hostile parent who refuses to make any effort whatsoever for the sake of their child.

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