When parents separate, it is always hoped that an amicable agreement can be reached for the ongoing arrangements of the children. Unfortunately this is not always the case and the court’s input is required to help reach a resolution.
The court will always put the child’s best interests first, whilst taking into consideration factors such as the child’s feelings, if they are old enough to express them. In these cases it is common for CAFCASS (the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) to become involved to assess the true situation and report back to the court.
CAFCASS have always been aware of the various forms of harm that a child could be suffering; this may extend beyond physical issues to emotional, psychological or financial harm. It is, however, becoming apparent that parental alienation of one parent towards the other is an increasing issue that can have a significant impact on the child. This can be difficult to identify because the alienation can be subtle and a child is less likely to speak badly of a parent.
Mindful of the harm alienation can cause, CAFCASS have created an initiative called the High Conflict Pathway to help practitioners better identify relevant factors to get to the route of the problem as quickly as possible and limit any harm caused to the child. This new initiative is widely welcomed by all those involved in family cases as it is another step in ensuring that a child’s welfare is being protected. However, caution will need to be taken during the roll out to ensure that the principles are not abused by a person making a false claim to strengthen their own case.
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