CAFCASS have declared war on the ever increasing number of families impacted by parental alienation, the so called process by which a parent attempts to turn a child against the other following separation, by proposing to trial a “High Conflict Pathway”. CAFCASS state that this High Conflict Pathway will provide “… guidance, research and tools to practitioners so they can approach high-conflict cases consistently with an effective, evidence-based approach.”. The new pathway addresses a variety of common features in high-conflict cases such as parental alienation, which is best seen as a broad spectrum of behaviours with varying impact.
The new pathway will be used when it is clear that concerns relating to domestic abuse are not a feature in a case, encouraging early identification of high-conflict cases and building on existing resources to help practitioners find an outcome which is truly in the best interests of the children involved.
From 1st November 2017, CAFCASS have been using the High Conflict Pathway for any cases which they assess to be suitable. This early use will not only assist assessment of the impact of parental conflict in these cases but will also help identify any improvements that can be made to the pathway. This initial review stage will last for three months before further developments are incorporated and the national launch in Spring 2018.
Speaking to The Guardian about the High Conflict Practice Pathway, CAFCASS Assistant Director Sarah Parsons explained “We want to reclaim the centre ground and develop a more nuanced, sophisticated understanding of what’s going on.”. CAFCASS said it had recently realised parental alienation occurred in significant numbers of the 125,000 cases it dealt with each year. although data is unclear, estimates suggest that examples of parental alienation occur in anywhere from 1 – 15% of separation families.
The new approach will initially give parents the chance to change their behaviour with the help of intense therapy. Alienating parents who do not respond will not be allowed to have their children live with them. In addition, contact between the parent and child could be restricted or refused for a number of months. In the most extreme cases, the alienating parent will be permanently banned from any contact with their child.
If you would like to discuss issues relating to your children following the breakdown of your relationship, contact one of our expert solicitors today on 01234 88977 or 0207 177 9777 for a free consultation. Serving Bedford and London, our lawyers can help you with your family law matters.