Family Law Hub

Parental Alienation

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  • The Court of Appeal had decided that the daughter must be distanced entirely from a cult with which the mother was involved. The mother had said she would renounce the cult, speak to a therapist and consult a dietician in respect of the child, but the Court of Appeal had found that her undertakings wholly failed to acknowledge the change in approach required were she to maintain care of the child. The case had been remitted to the Family Division for further consideration. At this hearing, Williams J found that the mother's witness statement did not paint a persuasive picture of a significant change in attitude. There was almost no engagement with the harm caused to the child, the process leading to that harm, or the damaging nature of the beliefs and practices of the cult. Were the child to remain in the mother's care, the process of estrangement would continue and the child's relationship with the father would be terminated. The child would live with her father and spend such time with her mother as the father might agree in consultation with the independent social worker involved in the case. Judgment, 20/07/2020, free
  • The father sought an order for the mother to pay one half of the costs of the expert witnesses instructed in the case. The child's care had been transferred from the mother to the father, and the mother had declined to engage in the therapy required by the court and thus contact had not yet been resumed. The mother opposed this application on the grounds that she could not afford to pay a one-half share, and that she did not appoint the parental alienation expert, nor the other professionals involved, nor agree to their instruction. Keehan J said that the latter argument was "totally misconceived": the court had considered their instruction to be necessary and had given permission for their instruction. Keehan J was not persuaded that the mother did not have the means to pay the costs sought by the father. She was ordered to pay £2,783.60 forthwith and the remaining balance in 16 instalments of £500 per month. Judgment, 05/06/2020, free
  • The five-year-old daughter had always lived with her mother, but had been the subject of legal proceedings between her parents for most of her life. All other avenues to engage and promote a good and loving relationship with the father having failed, he was now seeking an order that he should be the child's primary carer and that she should live with him. This application was supported by the child's Guardian. After hearing evidence regarding the consequences of the child being denied a relationship with the father, the mother ceased to actively oppose the father's application. Agreed findings were made that the daughter's relationship with the father had not been consistently promoted by the mother, that the mother was not in a position to promote a positive relationship between the daughter and the father, and that the mother had alienated the daughter from her father. HHJ Raeside (sitting as a judge of the High Court) made further findings including that the father would be better able to promote a relationship between the daughter and the mother. The child's welfare was best met by a transfer of care to her father, as well as an immediate change of school. Judgment, 17/03/2020, free
  • The father applied for a transfer of residence, stating that his relationship with the children, aged 10 and 11, would constantly be thwarted if they remained with their mother. The mother had covertly recorded various meetings, including one between the children and the Guardian. The creation and modification dates of documents did not align with the dates on which she claimed to have supplied the documents. HHJ Bedford was also satisfied that she had deliberately misled education professionals involved in the children's lives, perpetuating allegations which had been tried and dismissed by the judiciary. Her interference in their relationship with their father had caused them emotional harm and would continue to do so, as long as she parented them solely. During an interval at court, and being aware of HHJ Bedford's findings, the parents agreed to share the care of the children on alternating fortnights, and the Guardian endorsed this plan. HHJ Bedford thus made a suspended residence order: complete transfer of residence to the father would take place only if the mother defaulted from their agreement. Judgment, 02/12/2019, free
  • HHJ Wildblood QC decided that this heavily anonymised judgment should be released for publication, because it was in the public's interest to see badly wrong things could go in cases of parental alienation. There had been a failure here to identify the problem before the damage was done, and early intervention was essential. Indirect contact was of limited use in such cases. The extent of the children's alienation from the father had been underestimated, and now, following a failed transfer of residence, he had no contact with them at all, and had withdrawn proceedings to prevent further distress. In this hearing HHJ Wildblood QC gave the local authority permission to withdraw their public law proceedings. Judgment, 21/10/2019, free

Latest know-how

  • In a tweet: Mother’s (“M”) appeal allowed in respect of private law child proceedings in which she alleged she had been “stranded” by the father (“F”) in Pakistan. Case note, 13/09/2019, members only

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