Parental Alienation: British Courts To Punish Parents Who Use Kids As ‘Weapons’ In Cases Of Divorce?

By Charlize Walters, Parent Herald March 22, 11:31 am

It is really not surprising to learn that parental alienation has gained a lot of mainstream media attention, especially when the children are often caught in between the traumatic feud of the parents involved. Since the children are often the victims, Setfords Solicitors' head of Family Law Joanna Abrahams considers possible approaches to overcome the prevalence of parental alienation issues.

According to Abrahams, she sought experts who specialize in parental alienation to learn more about this phenomenon. In the Family Law Week article, Abrahams learned that other jurisdictions include "criminalization when a resident parent has been 'found' to have alienated a child against the other parent."

Aside from learning from other jurisdictions and other disciplines, Abrahams stressed that parental alienation is a "cluster of behaviors" often predominant to a "greater or lesser extent in intractable contact cases." But she added that tackling this phenomenon needs time and resources in order to assist the court.

Speaking of criminalization or punishment, Rochdale's independent Member of Parliament (MP) Simon Danczuk reportedly urged the government to recognize parental alienation as a form of emotional abuse in the United Kingdom. According to Breaking News, Danczuk warned that kids are often "maliciously used as a weapon" as divorcing parents seek to retaliate after a high conflict separation.

"I believe that government and the courts need to recognise parental alienation as a form of emotional abuse and as such they need to step up efforts to prevent it occurring and in some circumstances punish the perpetrators," Danczuk said. Even though he may not be an expert, Danczuk stressed he experience the tragic reality of parental alienation firsthand, saying his mother could be accused of such phenomenon.

Moreover, Danczuk highlighted the fact that "manipulation of children" in such cases can turn "nasty" as some parents "poison" the kid's mind with biased thoughts, explanations or details of the failed marriage or divorce. Danczuk said the effect of parental alienation for the target parent can be "unimaginable" but innocent children can suffer long term and usually deal with the negative effects of it.

Fortunately, Justice Minister Sir Oliver Heald spoke in behalf of the British government, saying the law takes parental alienation "seriously." In fact, there were measures in place to strongly address the issue during child custody cases in the family court.

Heald added the government still follows the current law, which prioritizes the welfare of children. He also emphasized that they "are giving consideration to what further changes may be needed to the family justice system and we'll be seeking views on our proposals in due course later this year."

Meanwhile, parental alienation does not only cause negative effects on the children alone. As per The Jewish News, the controversial phenomenon is also a "damaging dynamic" for everyone involved, especially the target parent.

Herts Schram law firm family law attorney Richard Victor explained that parental alienation is the "unfortunate result" of the insecurities of parents who care about themselves. These parents seek their child to "love them more" and Victor admitted it's one of the worst things a parent can do to the children.

Dr. Dahlia Berkovitz also added parents with alienating behavior usually "have attachment issues that are triggered by the divorce." They most likely have "personality disorders" like narcissism and/or borderline personality disorder.

Aside from the children and the parents, grandparents are also affected by parental alienation due to the estrangement part when filing of the divorce begins. Fortunately, a new bill in Florida has finally recognized parental alienation or the use of manipulation as a form of psychological abuse.

Despite the fact that parental alienation is a clear example of emotional abuse, experts admitted the court system is often hesitant to get involved. They also believed that the best way to address the issue is through the children, citing the fact that the alienating parent is usually unreasonable.

What are your thoughts on parental alienation? Feel free to write your comments below.

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