Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How do the courts deal with Parental Alienation?

A recent case has shown how impossible it is to change a child who has decided he wants nothing to do with one of his parents. The Independent reports in the case of Re S that a heartbroken father has given up and has agreed by Consent that the child, who is 12, should live with his mother.

The judge had ordered a transfer of Residence and, given the child's refusal and extreme hostility towards his father, he was placed in foster care. There was then concern that the child was becoming depressed - was anyone surprised? The child also refused to communicate with his father and his extended family and was uncooperative on scheduled visits.

The Court was of the view that the hostility towards his father had been created by the child's mother, and the child would suffer less harm if he was made to live with the father. However, it was too late, the child was suffering significantly in care and he was allowed to go back to live with his mother. No doubt she was overjoyed!! The father now only has indirect contact.

The above case has been to the Court of Appeal, has taken up a lot of Court time and money and has been an experiment in social engineering. The parents did not live near to each other, so the boy was to lose touch with his whole peer group as well, just as he was approaching teenage years. The distance of two hours, from everyone he held dear at the age of 12 was predictably too much to bear. Perhaps, in future, a parent seeking a transfer of residence should be ordered to move to the child's locality?

There is a small ray of hope. The boy's Guardian in her email to the judge added that the boy stated " this is not the end" and that he would consider seeing his father after his GCSE's. A lot of pain, time and effort expended by a large group of professionals resulting in some small progress then.

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