The Cafcass Assessment Framework Tackles Parental Alienation

Parental alienation, a form of psychological abuse against both the child and the rejected parent, is a concept which is becoming better understood in the UK. It is increasingly recognised as damaging and harmful for those involved and according to The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, (CAFCASS) occurs in a significant number of the 125,000 cases it deals with every year.

What is parental alienation?

CAFCASS describes 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’.  The general consensus amongst practitioners is the emphasis on ‘justified’.

There are varying degrees of parental alienation from mild to severe. Examples given by CAFCASS include: ‘a parent constantly badmouthing or belittling the other; forbidding discussion about them; limiting contact and creating the impression that the other parent dislikes or doesn’t love the child.’

A new framework to tackle parental alienation…

CAFCASS has introduced a new framework called the Child Impact Assessment Framework (CIAF) which gives specific guidance to CAFCASS officers who are responsible for reporting to the court on suspected parental alienation cases within family proceedings. It examines the underlying cause(s) for any rejection and identifies any risk to a child, including emotional harm, as a first step. See here more information.

Until now, parental alienation has been dealt with on a case by case basis. We welcome this new framework which provides a more defined approach to help to reduce the detrimental effects on the numbers of children who find themselves in this position.

In conclusion

As Resolution members and Family Law specialists, we focus on enlisting the right mix of legal and expert help for children and parents so they can move forward following parental relationship breakdown.  And we believe this new CIAF is useful and demonstrates a real commitment to tackle the problem.

If you have questions or concerns about any issues raised in this article please do get in touch with us.

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