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When one considers the depth and thoroughness of the judgement in the recent case of D (A child: parental alienation) [2018] EWFC B64, comentary does seem to have been somewhat thin on the ground. Nonetheless, barrister June Venters QC, who represented the father in this case, appears to have addressed the silence with a well wrtten article in the Law Gazette.

The article is required reading for anyone anywhere near the court process at the present time. Given the widespread antipathy towards pa in the system it is highly likely that your case may well chime with some of the issues raised in this case. Disappointingly, ‘D’ raises the same old chestnuts. Theses have all appeared in other cases recently: so much so that it sometimes looks like Cafcass and the courts have their fingers in their ears. It does seem that there is a significant body of determined practitioners in our midst who are determined that children should not be safeguarded from the emotional abuse and the harmful effects of parental alienation

  • Failure of social workers (and others) to acquaint themselves with the historical evidence of the case;
  • A lack of significant experience, expertise or training in the field of parental alienation;
  • A failure to be “open minded” when receiving a child’s disclosures;
  • Faiilure to ASCERTAIN a childs’ wishes and feelings;
  • A failure to see the child with each parent;
  • Straying outside field of expertise;.
  • Forming views despite a lack of evidence.

To conclude her article, June Venters called for a culture change amonst those working in the sphere of family law. Clearly, training, understanding and awareness is not up to scratch and the long term affects of pa are poorly understood.

She said, ‘My experience of cases involving parental alienation, highlighted by this case is that there needs to be a culture change among all those who work in the field of family law. There needs to be a greater understanding of what it involves and how it manifests itself. Currently it would seem there is little or no training on the subject and thus it is hardly surprising there is such little understanding. There also needs to be an awareness of how this is likely to adversely impact on a child and their adult life and in particular their own relationships and mental health, if unresolved and untreated.’

What is clear is that practitioners are more keen to conceal years of inactivity and antipathy instead of safeguarding children. It is important to put things right NOW. Even if pa is rarer than we think

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