1 Parental Alienation is sometimes referred to as a ‘syndrome’. English courts and the English psychological profession do not recognise ‘Parental Alienation Syndrome’. So…
2 Do not use the words “Parental Alienation” or “Parental Alienation Syndrome” in court or in any paperwork. Do not uses phrases like ‘Alienating Parent’, ‘Targeted Parent’. Judges are not fond of these kinds of labels, and, although the higher courts have apparently (we remain to be convinced) recognised PA as “mainstream”, that message has not filtered down to lower courts. Don’t mention the war!
3 Try to stay child-focussed. Rather than saying ‘I haven’t seen my son for xxx months’ say ‘my son hasn’t seen me…’.
4 Stress the fact that you used to have a perfectly good relationship with your child.
5 Stress that you are genuinely confounded as to why your child now fears or hates you – all of the evidence suggests that children never reject parents without help. This is true even in cases where the parent (unlike you) is abusive, and part of the problem for social workers in ‘public law’ cases (physical and sexual abuse cases) is that children still feel affection for abusive parents – it is that affection that puts the child in danger;
6 It is invariably the case that the reason your child has rejected you is ‘weak or frivolous’ – this is the criterion used in CAFCASS’s ‘Parental Conflict Tool’;
8 Resist the Court’s knee-jerk reaction to get a ‘wishes and feelings’ report from CAFCASS – your child will merely be using the words of the alienating parent, and CAFCASS tend not to be able or motivated enough to spot this – this inability is what the Parental Conflict Tool is designed to address;
9 Try to persuade the judge early on that a fact-finding hearing would be useful. In the early stages of the case, your ex may not yet have worked out that courts don’t enforce their own orders, so he/she might actually attend – they can then be cross-examined on the ‘tension’ in their position – ie – they are saying that they are trying to encourage contact (but the child resists), but that you are a monster of some kind – why are they encouraging their child to have contact with a monster?
10 Resist any suggestion from your child to meet with the judge – this suggestion will certainly have come from your ex or CAFCASS, and your child will have been fully ‘primed’. But a child telling a judge that he hates and is frightened of you is a powerful persuader… Also in these meetings, judges can get evidence from your child – something they are not supposed to do.
11 (yes, one more)…Be very careful choosing lawyers and expert witnesses – see our survey results