Cafcass reissues position on parental alienation

Cafcass’ position on parental alienation remains as set out in our child impact assessment framework. We define parental alienation as the unjustified resistance or hostility from a child towards one parent as a result of psychological manipulation by the other parent. We understand that cases where parental alienation features are complex, requiring finely balanced assessment and decision-making, and that the impact of any final decision made by the courts can be life-changing for the parent and child subjected to alienating behaviour. Our role is to establish the impact of alienating behaviours on the child concerned, where these are present, and to recommend to the courts what referrals, intervention or support is needed to end or lessen any harmful impact.

It has come to our attention that there have recently been some false statements on social media about Dr Adrienne Barnett’s views about parental alienation. These give the impression that the quotes attributed to Dr Barnett were made in her capacity as a member of the Cafcass Research Advisory Committee. These statements falsely suggested that the views of Dr Adrienne Barnett about parental alienation were the views of Cafcass.

Dr Barnett is a member of our recently established Research Advisory Committee. All our Research Advisory Committee members provide a highly valued service to Cafcass. However, they act independently in their own professional capacity, they are not employees of Cafcass and do not represent the views of the organisation. Dr Barnett has always appropriately maintained this distinction and the suggestion that she speaks on our behalf has not come from her or from us.

The purposes of the Research Advisory Committee are to: provide independent advice to and scrutiny of the decisions we make about access to our case data for research purposes; and to share research intelligence and help us consider the implications for our social work practice. We are pleased to have a committee that is highly experienced in family justice research, the Family Justice Young People’s Board also sit on the committee and play a key role, ensuring that children and young people remain at the heart of all the decisions made.




11 Comments

Parental Alienation will always remain what it is.. Child Abuse..

In 2011, family court australia expanded the definition of family violence in the family law act to incorporate notions of coercion and control. (which are not always accompanied by physical violence or threats). The definition of child abuse was amended to include serious psychological harm arising from the child being subjected to or exposed to family violence. Examples of family violence include : preventing the family member from making or keeping connections with his or her family, friends or culture

I find it very concerning that you should have someone on the advisory board who does not work at the coalface and as far as I can see never has. Working as a legal professional within these very complex cases often gives a truncated view, the chances of actually meeting children in these cases often remote and their presentation totally misunderstood. Polarised views based on ideology are frankly dangerous for the children who are being harmed in sometimes the most subtle and cruel ways and at other times totally unconsciously. The reasons are are always very very complicated and unless understood the wrong decisions are made. Absolute viewpoints are not helpful and spread ignorance.

Parental Alienation, whether done for revenge, control or to secure maximum maintenance from the NRP is child abuse. It ruins children’s lives. Even with folders of appalling evidence you are warned never to even mention PA to CAFCASS because it will be used against you in CAO proceedings. Who else is meant to help these abused children if their own parents aren’t allowed to raise a concern? PA exists. Ot is happening widely. It’s become so toxic a topic because of people like Dr Barnett that a generation of children are losing their fathers (and mothers) while everyone in power turns the other way. I’m glad CAFCASS are clarifying their position. Maybe they should consider who is on their RAC and their wholly inappropriate and damaging views.

I feel that the manipulation by the alienating parent, is extremely manipulative and because of their ability to cover themselves and bury their abuse, Cafcass and all social workers involved need to be trained about this psychological disturbance in such parents. I have had to work through this minefield alone, and because of this l have lost vital years of my sons life from four till eleven and am still having to be extremely careful how l handle my ex partner.l have had to do courses concerning this abuse and take advice from books and videos, when l could have benefited enormously from legal insight and protection, which could have meant my son and l would not have suffered as we have.

What exactly is your stance on parental alienation? I told the cafcass worker assigned to my case my ex was alienating my children against me. It took 2 years for her to listen and get a forensic psychologist involved who confirmed alienation- everything I said was true. But 2 years down the line the damage to my children was so devastating that they could not be returned to me, yet had the psychologist been involved at the start – when I asked for one – she would have removed them from my ex’s care.
CAFCASS is not fit for purpose in this instance and effectively facilitated the alienation of my children. You could have stopped this and prevented the harm done to my children in your capacity as experts but you let them and myself down tremendously.

If Cafcass would share the views of Dr Barnett and act in a way that would protect our children, children would be able to grow up safely.
Another missed chance for Cafcass!

This is all a little to late for me. As a result of Cafcass and the courts I DO NOT see my three children anymore. My children said that they’d still wish for contact to remain 50/50 in the 1st report. Then in the 2nd report it was almost the same. Then my narcissistic ex wife requested another. Even though it was highlighted by the (expert who admitted she was just a social worker) from Cafcass the probability of Alienation. Your social worker suggested 3 hours every two weeks. I have not seen my children since. So thank you. If you would wish to discuss with me further then please get in touch. I’d love the opportunity to help you in these failures to me and countless others.
Kind regards
Ian O’Kane

Cafcass in our family court case didnt recognise PA despite clear signs being present. I rang back the officer after having my interview with her as she wrote down hardly anything of the information i gave to her. Some of the information she wrote down incorrectly. When i asked her why she wrote that she said it was her interpretation of what i meant. Her views simply echoed the views of the social worker it was clear to me she had made her decision before even interviewing everyone which surely is an unfair judgement.
In my opinion cafcass require more in depth training in recognising this form of child abuse and domestic abuse to prevent further harm of our children.

Maybe Cafcass should change their position?
How can anyone but a trained psychologist judge whether or not a child has been manipulated in such a way?
It is about time that domestic violence and it’s victims were taken seriously in the court room. The judges are not experts in this area and to simply sweep it under the carpet because they lack the knowledge, expertise and often plain empathy to deal with such situations is no excuse! People’s lives are often altered forever based on these decisions.
Cafcass officers are not without their biases and are often manipulated by perpetrators of domestic violence and other abuse.
For an officer to make a decision that potentially affects several people’s lives based off a 10 minute meeting with a child and a phone call with a parent is utterly ridiculous.
How is this justifiable?

Dr Barnett is a very clever and highly esteemed professional and I am very pleased CAFCAS is taking her views more seriously than fake-experts appointed through shocking think-tanks and profiteering rackets such as Mindful Policy Group and its directors. Sadly this comes too little too late for many of us whose CAFCAS officers were belligerent and totally incapable of what was justified resistance and UNjustified resistance and made sweeping judgements and opinions based on what can only be a dearth of susbstantial or even adequate training. If Dr Barnett had been on board sooner and not charlatans peddling now debunked theories then things would be very different for many children and they wouldn’t have been subjected to horrendous CAFCAS reports that were woefully inadequate, inaccurate, baseless and untrue.

We are pleased to see the reissue of Cafcass position on parental alienation – an issue which seriously psychologically harms countless children in contested court hearings.
There is nothing false about the social media post. These are the views of a person with huge influence who sits on your advisory group – yet believes PA ‘is a con’.
The quote we use is taken from a public blog for Womens Aid ( SAFE) and describes what is effectively alienating behaviours as a ‘strategy of domestic abuse’ which it undoubtedly is. The crucial issue here is it is gender biased when there is no difference between the devastating experiences of thousands of victim parents we work alongside.
1 PA is a strategy of domestic abuse – evidenced by Dr Barnetts own writing
2 She sits on your advisory group with a conflict of interest
3 If we do not raise awareness of this conflict and also evidence how her work has been deconstructed to show much of it is flawed – tens of thousands of children will be adversely impacted.
We believe child protection supersedes all other considerations.



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