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Entries in cafcass (1)

Saturday
Nov182017

Comment by FNF Scotland on press coverage of Cafcass in England and Wales overhauling its approach to 'parental alienation'

There has been coverage in several newspapers today (including the The Guardian and Sun) that Cafcass (Children and Family Court and Advisory Service) in England and Wales is overhauling its approach to parental alienation - when children are put under pressure by one parent after separation to reject the other parent with whom they had a close and loving relationship. Cafcass is now acknowledging that parental alienation is a factor in a significant proportion of its cases. Cafcass is revising its training for its case workers in how to recognise and deal with parental alienation and what to recommend to the judge in the reports it makes to court. In extreme cases Cafcass officers may recommend that children may be removed from the care of an alienating parent.

 

FNF Scotland National Manager, Ian Maxwell, says, "FNF Scotland hears examples of parental alienation and the holding and withholding of child contact as a method of controlling the non-resident parent at all its monthly group meetings across Scotland. Nevertheless there is still widespread denial here that parental alienation exists among many involved in the family court process, including lawyers, social workers and some sheriffs.

The headlines in this morning's coverage lead on the nuclear option of taking children away from an alienating parent. We are explicit in our approach that 'Both Parents Matter' as set out in all our literature. We welcome Cafcass's public acknowledgement that parental alienation is seriously damaging for the children involved, blighting not only their wellbeing in childhood but also affecting their self esteem and ability to form relationships into adulthood. However, we would rather the penny drops for separated parents that they should put the interests of their children ahead of demolishing their relationship with the alienated parent so the extreme option doesn't have to be triggered.

We don't have Cafcass in Scotland. The role it has in making independent reports about the best interests of the child is performed by Child Welfare Reporters in Scotland. We have raised as a matter of concern that when the role of Child Welfare Reporters was redefined in October 2015 it was explicit that they should be required to have training in parental alienation. This training has never taken place - caught in a disagreement between the Lord President and Scottish Government. It is not acceptable that nothing should continue to happen on this important matter."