What happens when the very same system designed to protect children fails?
That’s exactly what is happening right now in the UK family courts in cases of Parental Alienation, a form of post-divorce abuse.
Cafcass define Parental Alienation as ‘when a child’s resistance or hostility towards one parent is not justified and is the result of psychological manipulation by the other parent’; yet experts, therapists and social workers are not trained to assess or deal with cases involving Parental Alienation. I spent years making my case to judges, experts and lawyers, all of whom failed to agree on what was actually happening between my ex-wife, my kids and myself. At the time it seemed like I was constantly trying to prove a negative, to find a new direction to reach my kids, and while all were promising, all ended in expensive dead ends as my ex-wife pursued her agenda.
If I had to sum up the experience of trying to prove Parental Alienation in the courts, I would describe it as being trapped in the backseat of a car while it crashes in slow motion.
The system is not fit for purpose. The family courts are slow and busy, burdened by the backlog of cases. Once you do get a hearing, they are often set months away and even then, traditional safeguarding assessments fail to detect Parental Alienation. The longer the child is away from a parent, the harder it is to stop the alienation, and the longer the issue remains unaddressed, the risk of the children suffering mental health and behavioural problems increases. Alienated parents also often display signs of post-traumatic stress: paranoia, anxiety and in some cases are suicidal.
It is my hope that this book will not only draw attention to the potential injustice in cases of Parental Alienation and the need for meaningful reform to prevent further irreparable damage, but that it will help a parent going through a family separation spot signs before it’s too late.
The author is a successful businessman, loving father and victim of parental alienation. The author has used a ghost writer to validate his story. The characters have been anonymised to both protect their privacy and lift the veil on the inner workings of the family court, which the author believes is in the public interest of protecting children from harm.