I was invited to present on parental alienation and family law at a local chapter of the Family Law Pathway’s Network (FLPN).
You may see this presentation below:
Family law professionals, ranging from legal counsel, Independent Children’s Lawyers (ICL) and family consultants struggle with parental alienation as a form of family violence against the targeted parent and a form of abuse against the child. It was also apparent that not everyone was familiar with Section 4AB of the Family Law Act, 1975 that provides a reasonably accurate functional description of parental alienation as an example of family violence
Here it is:
“Section 4AB Family Law Act, 1975: Definition of family violence etc. (1) For the purposes of this Act, family violence means violent, threatening or other behaviour by a person that coerces or controls a member of the person’s family (the family member ), or causes the family member to be fearful.
•(2) Examples of
behaviourthat may constitute family violence include (but are not limited to): •(i) preventing the family member from making or keeping connections with his or her family, friends or culture”
It was also apparent that some ICL’s and indeed the family court itself is being blackmailed if not actually run by favored-alienating parents through their alienated children as their proxies.
One ICL gave an example of how a
And yet, we live in a society where adults do not have a choice about which rules they subscribe to. Parents assert appropriate authority to get their children to see a dentist, for example, whether they want to or not. Except when it comes to choosing a parent! Unwarranted, irrational rejection is one facet of parental alienation as a form of family violence and child psychological abuse and maltreatment.
That this ICL expressed helplessness in the face of this alienated teenager’s blatant abuse of power in a context where there was no valid reason for refusal speaks to the manner in which the family law system may be controlled by abusive parents and their child proxies.
The airbags should have deployed by now! Changes to family law should consider how valid claims of parental alienation chould trigger the rebuttal of shared parenting and a notice of risk in the same way as a valid claim of child abuse and/or other forms of family violence.
The alternative narrative in a case like this may have looked something like:
“We’ve listened to what you have said and have taken your views appropriately into account. The judge
in this casewill make a decision about what they consider to be in your best interests, noting your views and those of expert professionals concerned about your ongoing welfare.
The judge and the expert professionals upon whom the judge relies will also take into account that you do not as yet have the full maturity to decide something as monumental as rejecting a parent. This is a choice that will have life-long consequences for you, especially, if you make the wrong choice.
You will be advised of that decision, the reasons for it will be discussed with you. Whether or not you like the judge’s decision, you will be expected to do your best to comply with it, just as you and adults do with any other lawful requirement, such as going to school and obeying the law.”