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Entries in Parental Alienation (22)


Scottish Parliament marks Parental Alienation Awareness Day

A motion tabled by John Mason MSP has already been signed by 18 other MSPs as noted below. 

The day has also been marked by a press release issued across Europe by the Platform for European Fathers, and a Good Parenting ‘quiz’ issued by FNF to help raise the awareness of this terrible problem and the types of unacceptable behaviour that lead to children being alienated against formerly much loved parents.  

"International Parental Alienation Awareness Day  

That the Parliament notes that 25 April marks International Parental Alienation Awareness Day; notes that, in over 30 countries, the day aims to highlight the damaging impact that such alienation, when one parent influences a child to reject the other parent following separation, can have on families; believes that, as this can sometimes happen unintentionally, highlighting the signs of alienation are key; understands that the side effects of such alienation can include an increased risk to the mental health of the children and family members who lose access; considers that, where possible, allowing both parents to be involved in the life of a child following separation leads to the best outcome, and hopes that the awareness day will help increase awareness of the benefits that healthy relationships between separated parents can bring."

Supported by: James Dornan, Gillian Martin, Ivan McKee, David Torrance, Sandra White, Ash Denham, Colin Beattie, Bill Kidd, Jeremy Balfour, Fulton MacGregor, Ben Macpherson, Clare Haughey, Jenny Gilruth, Kate Forbes, Maree Todd, Gil Paterson, David Stewart, Tom Arthur


Launch of Parental Alienation funding appeal

Families Need Fathers Scotland is launching a funding appeal to mark International Parental Alienation Awareness day on 25th April 2017.

Parental alienation, where a child rejects a previously loved father or mother due to undue influence from or loyalty to the other parent, is being increasingly recognised in Scotland.  Some sheriffs are making orders for family therapy to help rebuild the relationship between children and their alienated parent. Child welfare reporters should soon be receiving specific training on parental alienation as part of their preparation for carrying out reports for family courts.

But this awareness is only just beginning to spread. Family solicitors and advocates often acknowledge that there is deliberate or unconscious alienation in some of their cases but can’t see a way forward.

There are very few family therapists and child psychiatrists in Scotland with knowledge and understanding of parental alienation. Even when sheriffs would like to order some sort of intervention to undo the damage that alienation is doing to a child they encounter the shortage of professionals able to work with the family members involved.

Families Need Fathers Scotland has been helping fathers and mothers who are affected by parental alienation. We provide information and support and have organised training sessions conducted by leading specialists in this area such as Karen Woodall, Dr Kirk Weir and Dr Sue Whitcombe.  We have also supported individual parents with their court case, such as the father in AH v CH, and we have followed instances where alienated children have been successfully reintroduced to their parent.

This funding appeal is being made so that we can establish a separate fund to support family intervention where significant progress has been made but funding has run out before the work is complete.  Many of the cases we know about have taken far too long to proceed through the legal system before a suitable professional is identified and work can begin. The longer the gap in contact between parent and alienated child the harder it becomes for a therapist to intervene. Getting a court decision in your favour is no use if the case has taken so long that restoring a relationship with the child is almost impossible.

We are also very keen to be able to keep a record of alienation cases in the Scottish courts that will help build knowledge and awareness of successful interventions but also learn from the unsuccessful ones, including those in which a potentially successful intervention stopped short through lack of funding.

Why are we launching this appeal. The rules around publicity that might identify an individual child make it very hard for any affected individual to embark on crowdfunding on their own behalf.  

Families Need Fathers is a recognised Scottish charity with a solid reputation.  We are asking you to trust us to use the money raised in an appropriate way.  We will seek guidance from various experts in deciding which cases are worthy of support, and we will use a proportion of the funds to support our training events and other work to publicise the ways in which parental alienation can be treated and overcome.

By supporting the Make it a FAIR Fight appeal you will help ensure that Scottish children aren’t needlessly excluded from the love and affection of one of their parents, and that intervention in cases of parental alienation will become widely available.

You will help us to confront the shoulder-shrugging lawyers who say "There’s nothing can be done. Ask the court to allow you to send Christmas and Birthday cards" or the therapists who say  "respect the voice of the child" without investigating what lies behind a child rejecting a parent they previously loved and who hasn't ever harmed them.


International Parental Alienation Awareness Day

Parent support organisations from 30 countries worldwide from Australia to Zanzibar are marking Tuesday April 25th and International Parental Awareness Day.

"Parental Alienation" describes the situation in which one parent influences a child to reject the other parent after separation. Sometimes the alienation is deliberate and intentional. It can also develop unintentionally where the alienating parent creates unbearable emotional pressure forcing the child to take sides. Either form can result in significantly increased risks of both mental and physical illness for children in both the short and long term when they realise half of their prospective emotional support is missing.

Families Need Fathers Scotland and the other national organisations are using Parental Alienation Awareness Day to highlight the issue to politicians, judges, lawyers and the various professionals who work with children and families.

This issue affects large numbers of fathers and mothers worldwide as well as grandparents and other extended family members who find themselves cut out of the life of a child who previously loved them and enjoyed their company but now, without explanation or reason says s/he no longer wants any relationship at all.

Understanding of Parental Alienation is growing slowly in Scotland. There has been recent acknowledgement of the prevalence of parental alienation in England and Wales by Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, and by CAFCASS (The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) the public body in England and Wales set up to promote the welfare of children and families involved in family court.

Ian Maxwell, National Manager of FNF Scotland, says, "As awareness grows of parental alienation and the damage that it does to all the parties concerned - even the alienating parent - we hope that ways of working with affected families to counteract and undo alienation can be developed and improved in Scotland. The family courts also need to develop an understanding of how best to handle such cases.

Families Need Fathers Scotland is marking Parental Alienation Awareness Day to launch a funding campaign to raise funds to support innovative work to counter alienation. We also are seeking to raise the topic in the Scottish Parliament on the Awareness Day."

The organisations supporting the Day are:

  • Alabama Family Rights Association (USA)
  • ANASAP (Costa Rica)
  • Asociacija prieš tėvų Atstūmimą (Lithuania)
  • Asociación Custodia Compartida Alicante (Spain)
  • Asociacion Padres por la Justicia (Guatemala)
  • Associação Brasileira Criança Feliz (Brazil)
  • Associação Portuguesa para a Igualdade Parental e Direitos dos Filhos (Portugal)
  • Association "J'aime mes 2 Parents" (France)
  • Association of Equal Parenting (Iceland)
  • Associazione Genitori Separati e Figli Onlus (Italy)
  • Australian Brotherhood of Fathers (Australia)
  • Centro Antiviolenza Bigenitoriale Onlus (Italy)
  • Colibri Italy (Italy)
  • Families Need Fathers Scotland (UK)
  • Fathers without Rights (Austria)
  • Figlipersempre Nazionale (Italy)
  • Foreningen Far (Denmark)
  • Isät lasten asialla ry (Finland)
  • Kids Need Both, Inc (USA)
  • Männerpartei (Austria)
  • Mesa de Trabajo Nacional por los Derechos del Niño al Vinculo Familiar (Argentina)
  • Movimento Femminile Pari Genitorialità (Italy)
  • New Zealand Brotherhood of Fathers (New Zealand)
  • Padres por Siempre Paraguay (Paraguay)
  • Pais em Camisa de Força (Brazil)
  • Papa gibt Gas  (Austria)
  • Papà Separati Lombardia (Italy)
  • People for Co-parenting (South Africa)
  • Romanian Association for Joint Custody (Romania)
  • S.O.S. PAPA (Belgium)
  • Save the Children (Iceland)
  • SOS Parents (Luxembourg)
  • SYGAPA (ΣΥΓΑΠΑ) (Greece)
  • U.D.i.RE – Uomini e Donne in Rete (Italy)
  • United States Brotherhood of Fathers (USA)
  • Vader Kennis Centrum (Netherlands)
  • Zanzibar Social Workers Association (Zanzibar)



Parent Survival Guide magazine

PSG, a new online magazine covering various aspects of parental alienation is being published by Simply Parent organisation.  Contributors include Jennifer Harman, co-author of the Parents Acting Badly book.

The first issue includes articles about the psychological classification of parental alienation in the DSM system, personal stories such as Ginger Gentile's experience of growing up and forgiving her father, personal support and self help tips and news of how parental alienation is being countered acrodd the world.  This issue is mainly North American in content, but they aspire to international coverage.

The first 500 people to join Simply Parent will automatically be deemed Patrons, in appreciation of their support right out of the gate, and receive the inaugural issue of PSG Magazine to enjoy over the holidays.  The non-profit organisation will be then be supported through donations.


Court of Session takes long-term view in contact decision

A child contact case that had been in a succession of courts for 7 years - almost all of the life of the child involved - appears to have reached a conclusion in a judgment by Lord Brailsford.

Scotland's senior family judge ordered that direct contact by a father with his son should be re-established over a period of three months and he urged both parents to put the past conflict behind them in the greater interest of the child's welfare.

Lord Brailsford took into account statements by the child in the past that he did not want to see his father.  However he also took into account the expert evidence of child psychologist, Professor Tommy MacKay, who told the court he considered the boy’s views about contact with his father to be genuine, “but that they are not independently formed views”. The boy’s mother holds “... an unflinching view that [the father’s] intentions are not arising from a genuine interest in contact [with his son] but rather from an aspiration to abduct him.”

He stated: “The child had clear knowledge of his mother’s negative views towards his father.”

As a result the child had formed negative views towards contact based upon what was said and done by his mother, whether intentionally or not. The Professor believed that the child would be extremely concerned that any acceptance of his father by him would cause upset to his mother and this was something he would be anxious to avoid doing.

Professor MacKay, who produced seven reports during the seven years this case has been in court,  cited evidence that children who do not have contact with both parents have, as a group, a greater propensity to experience difficulties academically, psychologically, emotionally and in future relationships in later life.
The court also heard evidence from a social worker who had supervised a contact centre session that the father is a “… caring and loving father who got on well with his son and who had his son’s best interests at heart.”

Lord Brailsford states in his judgement that these are very significant considerations which the court cannot ignore, going on to note that: “I have to weigh the potential for adverse effects in later life against a child’s currently expressed opinion against contact, always bearing in mind that that expression of view has been engendered by his mother’s attitude and that when he actually experiences contact he enjoys meeting his father.”

In connection with the mother’s fears, Lord Brailsford concludes: “… [the mother’s] expression of fear of abduction of her son is genuinely held. I do however go further and express the view that even if that belief is genuinely held there is no objective or rational basis for it at the present time.”  He then set out the various protective measures such as passport surrender and Port Alert Orders which could prevent any such abduction.

The father in this case is from Tunisia, but has lived in Scotland for more than ten years and is settled here with a steady job. The mother, who is Scottish, met him in Edinburgh in 2004 and they married in Tunisia in 2006, their son being born in 2007. They separated in 2008 and divorced in 2013. Contact was regulated by court orders from 2009, but the father hasn’t seen his son since an unsuccessful contact centre session in 2013.

Families Need Fathers Scotland has been helping the father during the last 18 months of this court action. National Manager Ian Maxwell commented:

“This Court of Session judgement emphasises the importance of a court taking expert opinion on what is in the best interests of a child, rather than just trying to work out what the child is saying.  Although the term 'parental alienation' is not used in the judgement, the evidence provided by Professor MacKay indicates signs of some of the characteristics of that condition.  Sometimes the courts have to take the weight of 'choosing' one parent at the expense of the other off the shoulders of a young child.

While we welcome the judgment and hope that both parents will now manage to make this contact work, we are extremely concerned that the case has taken so long in court.  Seven years of uncertainty in the life of a nine-year old is intolerable.

The Supreme Court judgement in 2012 on NJDB v JEG commented on the glacial pace of proceedings in another child contact case which had the effect of 'overshadowed the life of this young child, perpetuating and deepening the conflict between his parents'.

Although this case was more firmly managed, at least during its final stages in the Court of Session, and contact is being restored, it shouldn’t have taken nearly so long in court.”

Two recent European Court of Human Rights judgements have ruled that a father’s Article 8 rights have been breached by the excessive length of contact proceedings,  with damages  awarded against Germany and Poland respectively.

FNF Scotland is currently preparing proposals in connection with the promised review of Scottish family law, including imposing timescales for decision-making in such highly conflicted cases, more awareness training for legal professionals on parental alienation and more support for judges in identifying interventions that can assist the whole family move on from entrenched conflicts.