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Parents at war risk losing children

(78 Posts)
DrBlackbird Sun 19-Nov-17 10:11:37

Anyone else alarmed by the new 'initiative' being rolled out by Cafcass - the government organisation deemed 'not fit for purpose' in the past by Chair of Chair of the UK Commons Public Accounts Committee - that includes the possibility of it stopping contact between child and parent due to parent alienation?!

First of all, this organisation has created a threat that ultimately harms the very people they are supposed to protect. Secondly, the article in The Guardian yesterday carefully avoids using gender pronouns, but concluded with a quote by the Chair of Families Need Fathers saying that this new approach was 'welcome news'. Strikes me that this initiative is at risk of being used (abused) more by malicious fathers than mothers. This concern is based on two observations.

One, witnessing the vindictive and extremely manipulative actions of the ex's of my SiL's as well as several friends. In each case they were incredibly vicious to their ex-wives and went to huge lengths to ruin them financially ('welcome to a life on benefits' / 'I'm going to make you spend every penny you have and your parents') as well as emotionally (telling Cafcass workers that they these women were unbalanced etc). Strangely, in each of the cases it was the ex having an affair that split the marriage up.

Two, in each case the Cafcass reps were poorly trained, often young, and not well trained in collecting and analysing evidence relying instead on subjective impressions. This is not just my impressions either as Ofsted has criticised Cafcass in the past for "no evidence of a consistent assessment model used by staff" and "•case records often did not show how Cafcass had come to its conclusions about children".

And this is the organisation that has developed this 'ground-breaking process' that can ultimately end in severing contact between a child and one parent?

Farahilda Sun 19-Nov-17 10:15:37

www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/divorce-laws-child-custody-parental-alienation-cafcass-mother-father-a8062941.html

I think that it is right that parental alienation carries consequences.

Getting consistent, high quality assessments is a different issue, which needs attention (irrespective of the factors which will be deemed relevant)

NeverTwerkNaked Sun 19-Nov-17 10:17:35

Yanbu. I understand (kind of) the sentiment but think it would need highly skilled people to implement it. I have only had brief contact with Cafcass (fortunately) but was appalled at their arrogance and lack of knowledge about child developlemt etc. They are unfit for purpose.

NeverTwerkNaked Sun 19-Nov-17 10:19:39

I agree, parental alienation should carry consequences. But do we have people who are sufficiently skilled to really get to the bottom of this. My ex regularly says nasty things about me to the children. But they also really enjoy his company. It’s not clear at all what the “right” solution is. These things aren’t always black and white.

mustbemad17 Sun 19-Nov-17 10:22:18

Training is the key here. Or currently, the lack of it. Have always been astounded by CAFCASS & SS tbh, have seen many examples of them cocking up even basic details on reports. They need trained, experienced child advocates & the system should be geared around the needs of the child not of either parent.

Mynametodaywillbe Sun 19-Nov-17 10:24:58

It feels like the onus will be on someone to prove their innocence rather than the other party to prove their guilt which doesn't feel right to me.

I agree it could leave men or women in a frightening situation if a vindictive ex tries to use this to their advantage.

On the other hand I have experienced my ex saying very manipulative things to DC designed to damage my relationship with them but no one, including cafcass and the courts, cared and I'm not certain things could change significantly.

abbsisspartacus Sun 19-Nov-17 10:30:31

I think it means more parents will keep there kids in a piss poor situation so they get to keep there kids

My ex is fucking toxic to his son's they love him so if I step in I will be the bad guy

DrBlackbird Sun 19-Nov-17 10:40:20

Agree Farhilda and Nevertwerk that it would be good if parental alienation did carry consequences. I just don't have confidence that the right parent will end up having the right consequence based on the evidence to date, both professional and anecdotal.

NeverTwerkNaked Sun 19-Nov-17 10:45:15

I agree mustbemad the system currently pays lip service to the needs of the child. All I heard the whole time in court was “dad wants” . Occasionally our older child and what they thought he would want was mentioned, but I could get anyone to ever remember or pay any interest in the needs of my (then 20 months old) daughter. I wasn’t trying to block contact or even limit it, just to do it in chunks of time she could cope with. But there didn’t seem to be anyone advocating for her, or any interest in what a little toddler would want or need.

NeverTwerkNaked Sun 19-Nov-17 10:46:19

I totally agree DrBlackbird my (admittedly) experience of the family system leads me to be quite concerned at how this would be misused with disastrous consequences

GinwithCucumber Sun 19-Nov-17 10:49:46

Wow. This very bad news for x partners of abusive men.

Thank goodness for my children's sake that i fought so hard.

prh47bridge Sun 19-Nov-17 21:52:31

CAFCASS cannot make decisions. They only make recommendations to the courts. The judge decides.

It has long been the case that the courts can take the children away from a parent who is actively alienating them from the absent parent. They very rarely do so. When they do, they take far too long over it.

The courts don't always get it right. They are imperfect. But they are the only thing we've got. Helping to deal with parental alienation is a good thing. That is good news for the children involved.

mustbemad17 Mon 20-Nov-17 11:49:43

CAFCASS don't make the decisions, but they can heavily influence them. Which is scary given that sometimes CAFCASS officers can't even get basic details correct on reports!

DrBlackbird Mon 20-Nov-17 16:55:49

Sorry prh but I don't agree that this is good news for children involved. Nothing I've seen, admittedly one step away, provides much confidence in the understanding and skills of many of the pseudo/semi/full professionals involved in such cases. And on what basis does a judge make a decision but on the reports presented? Guess it will be a case of watching this space to see how it unfolds, but spidey senses say it's not good for children or their mothers...

Atenco Tue 21-Nov-17 21:56:08

I was reading the article and remembered how my then twelve-year-old dd told her dad about all the times he had let her down. When she told me about it, I couldn't help thinking that he'd believe that I had filled her head with all that stuff.

Are there really so many cases of parental alienation?

prh47bridge Tue 21-Nov-17 22:39:47

Yes, there are, unfortunately. It is clearly different from a child turning against a parent on the basis of things that have actually happened, as in your case. There is a lot of evidence that this can cause serious psychological issues for the child which continue into adulthood. The evidence available suggests that parental alienation is a factor in around 80% of the most intransigent cases coming before the family courts.

Far too many parents use their children as weapons when the relationship breaks down. Many parents, unfortunately, will criticise their ex-partner when talking to their children. However, parental alienation goes beyond this. It is systematic vilification of one parent by the other in an attempt to alienate the child from the other parent.

Unfortunately the courts won't always get it right. They don't today and, as judges are human, they never will. However, at the moment the scales are weighed very heavily against the parent who is the subject of parental alienation. I accept that redressing that may result in some children being removed from parents who are not guilty of parental alienation at all. But in my view the problem right now is that far too many parents who engage in parental alienation are allowed to get away with it, causing long term damage to the children involved.

Toffeelatteplease Tue 21-Nov-17 22:51:41

It's terrifying

I worry about that 80% statics bandied around too. According to cafcass I was abusing my kids by getting them to make up that their dad had physically abused them and stopping access, I would have come into the parental alienation category. I was told if they refused to go one more time there was a good chance residency would be swopped.

They never would have corrected that statistic as he didn't bother taking it back to court after he left one with hospital level injuries.

There's going to be an awful lot of kids left with abusive fathers

fuzzywuzzy Tue 21-Nov-17 23:05:24

Ex tried to use parental alienation against me when we were going thro court over child contact. Despite me sticking to contact regardless of the mental anguish it was causing my D.C. and the abuse physical and emotional abuse he continued to commit against my D.C. during contact.

I was very very lucky I got a judge who specialised in D.V after years of being dragged through court by ex.

TheFormidableMrsC Wed 22-Nov-17 00:17:49

Please read this, it gives a different perspective :

www.marilynstowe.co.uk/2017/11/21/a-few-thoughts-on-cafcasss-new-approach-to-parental-alienation/

I am currently going through court with my ex-h regarding contact. An application he made out of the blue, having not seen our son for nearly a year. I had stopped direct contact after a series of incidents that negatively impacted on our DS, culminating with ex-h attempting to coerce DS into telling a teacher that I was abusing him (on top of various accusations of physical abuse). However, I immediately offered supervised contact but ex refused. He had supervised contact via the school in terms of weekly reading sessions but stopped that of his own accord and indeed asked the school to tell me he didn't want further contact with DS. This is a very short version of a very long story and the very many attempts I made to ensure my DS continued a relationship with his father and that his father was able to positively and safely parent our son. He simply would not co-operate, communicate or do anything. Am I a parental alienator? I think not. However, I can see how this conclusion could potentially be reached and indeed I am currently unsure of how Cafcass will view our situation until I receive their S.7 report. In my view, anybody who goes out of their way, for no reason, to stop the other parent having a relationship with their child should face consequences for doing so. My worry in this situation is the amount of children that are potentially placed in unsafe situations because of the "contact at all cost" tone of this latest trial. Yet only a few weeks ago, new guidance was issued to Judges where contact at all cost was absolutely not appropriate in certain situations. Both reports are at odds with eachother and some clarification is required. I do, however, think that some of the reporting on this is sensationalist.

prh47bridge Wed 22-Nov-17 00:53:19

No, you are not a parental alienator. In general, those who engage in parental alienation are opposed to all contact and will not even agree to supervised contact. Your ex-h trying to coerce your son into telling a teacher you were abusing him is the closest thing to parental alienation in your post.

The courts have to strike a balance. There has been a presumption in favour of contact as that is generally in the child's interests, but it should not be contact at all costs. On the other side of the coin, the courts are still sometimes too slow to enforce contact and reluctant to deal with parental alienation.

Aeroflotgirl Wed 22-Nov-17 07:43:47

Parental Aleination syndrome, or (Pas), was thought out by Gardener. It is a discredited and debunked the rosy, which carries no scientific evidence or peer review. This is often used in family court proceedings, to remove children from protective parents, and place them in the hands of tge abusuve pRents, mostly the father. Very dangerous theory.

Aeroflotgirl Wed 22-Nov-17 07:44:57

Theory, not rosy silly autocorrect. This is exactly what Gardener indended with this theory.

Aeroflotgirl Wed 22-Nov-17 07:47:07

This theory should be approached with a mountain of salt, not a pinch, and with extreme caution.

Toffeelatteplease Wed 22-Nov-17 08:32:28

No, you are not a parental alienator. In general, those who engage in parental alienation are opposed to all contact and will not even agree to supervised contact.

You do realise how wrong that theory is right?

The kids weren't safe with their dad. I didn't want supervised contact because that would have led to unsupervised which wouldnt have been safe. Oh and cafcass wanted exPiL to supervise, i already knew theyd lied over the first incident.

Ex could and did emotionallly abuse me in a crowded courtroom, i knew what he was doing to the kids in private emotionally. No contact was safe.

I wanted them to have the space to to make the break while young and the relationship wasn't strong in the eldest's case and no existent and bullying in the youngest's.

As it was it lasted another 6-7years whilst reports and concerns including further physical abuse allegations rolled into (and was ignored by) social services. The contact did so much damage to everyone. When he finally couldn't say it was the kids/me making up the allegations he dropped the kids just like that. He couldn't risk his new family if he ended up with a conviction or major concern over domestic violence. And frankly he couldn't care two hoots about them, which is what I'd said all along.

The irony was by then I wouldn't have blocked contact if it was done at the eldest pace cos she'd formed some strong bonds that weren't there when she was younger.

It is just so damaging. There are so many abusive fathers who will use the parental alienation to bash their poor excuse and damage the children further.

prh47bridge Wed 22-Nov-17 08:56:45

It is a discredited and debunked theory

No it is not. Parental alienation syndrome is still being discussed by mental health professionals with dispute not over whether it happens - there is plenty of evidence that it does - but whether it should be recognised as a distinct syndrome. But the fact that parental alienation takes place is now widely accepted.

You do realise how wrong that theory is right

You are inferring a two way relationship in my comment. That relationship does not exist. My statement was a statement of fact, not a theory. Where parental alienation is taking place the parent involved will usually resist all contact. However, many parents who are not engaging in parental alienation will resist all contact.

To put it another way, if a parent is supporting some contact it is unlikely they are engaging in parental alienation. However, whilst a parent resisting all contact may be engaging in alienation, it is not by any means guaranteed that they are. There are many other reasons why they might be resisting contact.

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