By Susan Alexander, Consultant Solicitor, Family and Mediation

Parental alienation occurs when one parent attempts to turn their children against the other parent.

Sometimes, in the emotional turmoil of separating, an aggrieved parent channels their anger at the other parent by alienating them from their children.

When this behaviour develops and persists, it is very damaging to the children's long-term health and emotional well-being and can have a negative impact on the children for the whole of their lives. For both the alienated parent and the children, the removal and denial of contact (in the absence of neglect or abuse), is classed as cruel and unusual treatment.

The courts have expressed disapproval of this behaviour. In a recent case reported in the Guardian, the judge ordered that an 8-year-old boy had to leave his mother’s care to go and live with his father, as the mother's alienation was exposing him to significant emotional harm. The judge decided that the child had a much better chance of having a relationship with both his parents, if he lived with his father.

It is worth remembering that a child has the right to have a relationship with both parents and providing this is safe, the courts will enforce the rights of the child.

If you are faced with any issues relating to your children including access, or for more information about our Family Law services, please contact a member of the Family Law team on 01244 356 789 or email

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.


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