A recent case involving a dispute between separated parents about child arrangements has demonstrated how seriously the Court views the issue of parental alienation and the fact that the Court will not be afraid to make major decisions altering where a child lives if they have been subject to parental alienation.
In this case, initially the child was living with his mother in the Midlands and regularly spent time with his father on the south coast of England. This direct contact between father and son stopped in March 2018, resulting in the father making a court application. In the meantime, the child continued to have indirect contact with his father but the child’s attitude towards his father suddenly deteriorated after a couple of months.
Within the court proceedings, a detailed report was prepared by an expert in the field of parental alienation, who found that following an admittedly inappropriate email sent from the father to the mother in May 2018, which had clearly been shown to or discussed with the child, the child had become stuck in the middle of his parents’ conflictual relationship and had ended up prioritising his mother’s needs over his own, rejecting his father as a result. The child’s mother allowed and encouraged this to happen, failing to promote a positive relationship between her son and his father.
This was a clear case of parental alienation, where the mother’s negative opinions of the father had been transferring to the child over time. The expert took the view that it would be near impossible to try and re-establish the child’s relationship with his father whilst he remained living with his mother.
The court followed the expert’s opinion, despite this differing from that of the Local Authority involved, and ordered the child to move to live with his father, with an initial period of 3 months without any direct contact with his mother, in order to allow time for the child to rebuild the relationship with his paternal family. The judge believed this to be in the best interests of the child in the long term, as the expert noted that the parental alienation could be very damaging towards the child and cause future emotional and social difficulties within his own relationships as he matures.
If you are facing difficulties with agreeing child arrangements following the breakdown of a relationship, contact any of our offices to speak to a member of our experienced Family Team, who will be able to advise on your options and assist you to reach a suitable arrangement.