House of Commons Library

Children: parental alienation (England)

Published Monday, February 10, 2020

This House of Commons Library briefing considers parental alienation, which can affect contact and residence cases before the courts. In particular, it highlights that those involved, including Cafcass officers, have long been aware of this issue. New Cafcass guidance was issued in October 2018 to help identify when parental alienation has occurred. A link to the full report in pdf format can be found at the bottom of this page.

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Parental alienation is where a parent tries to alienate a child from their other parent, in effect subverting the wishes and feelings of the child and trying to supplant their own feelings with that of the parent, who may feel aggrieved or angry towards the other parent.

When a court is considering whether to make, vary or discharge an order relating to contact or residence (called a child arrangements order), one factor it may take into account is the wishes and feelings of the child concerned. It is therefore important that those views are the child’s alone, and have been not influenced by a parent for example.

While the courts and those involved with proceedings, in particular Cafcass officers whose role it is to talk to the children involved and to convey to the court their wishes and feeling, have long been aware of the issue of parental alienation, the issue has gained an increased level of interest recently, including through a marked increased in the parliamentary activity on the topic.

In October 2018, Cafcass launched its new Child Impact Assessment Framework (CIAF) which built on existing guidance to its staff in regard to parental alienation (and also other topics such as domestic abuse).

This note applies to England only.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-8763

Author: Tim Jarrett

Topics: Children and families, Family law

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