8 September 2023

Jo Edwards quoted in The Times on the Parental Alienation debate

In The Times’ article entitled “Parental alienation triggers debate”, Head of Family, Jo Edwards shares her views on some of the challenges facing the courts in complex private law children cases.

Recent research published by academics at the University of Manchester highlighted the use of “parental alienation” as a concept used in some family cases to counter claims of domestic abuse. The researchers have renewed the debate over the use of parental alienation as a legal argument, particularly against the backdrop of concern about the Family Court’s ability properly and sensitively to deal with allegations of domestic abuse; an increase in both cases involving so-called alienating behaviour, and those where accused perpetrators of domestic abuse wrongly raise alienation in response to those allegations; and growing pressure on the family courts to deal with a rising number of applications for child arrangement orders.

Jo highlighted that where allegations of alienating behaviour are raised in response to claims of domestic abuse “the court is left in the invidious position of trying to decide what the true position is and what are the interim and long-term arrangements for the child that would be in their welfare interests and safe”.

In relation to the report published this week, Jo said that “the sad reality is that while the cases highlighted are worrying, shocking and inexcusable, there are countless children across the country who no longer see one of their parents because of alienating behaviours by the other parent and which the family courts have been powerless to fix”.

The debate highlights the need for an accepted legal definition of parental alienation and the challenges the court faces in getting decisions right for children.

The full article can be read here behind a paywall.

Forsters’ Family team have extensive experience of complex children work, as well as cases where the issues are more straightforward. We help parents with these cases in a variety of ways, be it through solicitor negotiation, mediation, early neutral evaluation, children arbitration or court.

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