FNF Press Release - Monday | 25 | April 2022
International Parental Alienation Awareness Day
With the cost of Family Breakdown to the UK economy estimated to be in excess of £51bn1
The Family Court system is not fit for its primary purpose of protecting the long term welfare of children when families separate
Parents are increasingly being forced to rely on courts to make the simplest of court arrangements due to intractable disputes
– our newly published survey highlights the most common poor post-separation parental behaviours
Our members are reporting increasing cases of alienating behaviours, which we believe is encouraged by a failing system which sees children as little more than chattels of a broken marriage
Case duration has doubled in four years and is close to a year (on average) to reach conclusion -almost 2 years in cases involving a Cafcass guardian2
such delays simply add to family conflict and enable cases to become intractable
On this another tragic anniversary of ‘Parental Alienation Day’ we call all agencies, and parents in the family court system to:
1. place the children first, and know that a safe loving relationship with both parents post separation should be the minimum children should expect.
2. accept that parental alienation exists and enshrine into law that perpetrating alienating behaviour is domestic abuse
and damaging to the long term welfare of children
3. recognise the large-scale public health damage to children of separated families
4. put an end to the adversarial justice system and develop a coherent strategy for the benefit of children from separated families
with education and early intervention at its core
25th April, is designated International Parental Alienation Awareness Day. FNF carried out a survey of our service users asking them to identify the key alienating behaviours that they have experienced.
Our report identifies examples of harmful post-separation behaviours and suggests alternatives and ways forward. Download the report here:
The top five where frequent features of two-thirds or more of respondents:
1. Preventing, discouraging or interfering with ex partners’ parenting time
2. Removing photographs of parents
3. Expressing negative emotions to child about a parent
4. Discouraging child from marking special days - Father’s/Mother’s Day, Birthday, etc
5. Over-emphasising with any negative comment about other parent
The detailed examples provide insights in themselves as to the lengths many parents go to in order to exclude their ex partners to their and their children’s lives and how oblivious they can be to the harm it can cause.
Chair of FNF, Paul O’Callaghan says: “Parental alienation’ is a catch-all term, but behind it are specific examples of damaging alienating and bad parenting as the FNF survey reveals. With 84,0003 children a year being subject to private family court proceedings, the harm being done amounts to a public health crisis. Family courts need to grasp the nettle, address difficulties as soon as they arise, before conflict escalates. The failure of family justice to address such abusive behaviour in weeks rather than years is a national scandal. A full review of support for separated families is also essential, starting with education and support rather than an adversarial system of family justice. Tens of thousands of children are losing out on the love of good parents and half of their extended families, at great cost to their future mental health."
Case Law, Childcare Professionals, and CAFCASS all recognised that Parental Alienation has a real detrimental impact on children, and as our membership and those seeking our support is showing that is now extending to grandparents and wider family members.
Enforcement of ‘contact orders’ made in children’s best interest remains around just 1% making them little more than ‘contact suggestions’, leading to the making of repeat court applications the norm and adding to delay and conflict.
FNF believe that there is an urgent need for a wholesale review of family justice to focus on education and Early Intervention as identified in our paper ‘A Strategy for Separated Families’.
For further information, quotations from our service users or infographics please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a message on 0300 0300 110.
1 Centre for Social Justice - https://www.centreforsocialjustice.org.uk/about/the-five-pathways/family
2 FNF Family Court Delays - Latest MoJ Data - Press Release - 31st March 2022
3 Family Court Tables: October to December 2021 - https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/family-court-statistics-quarterly-october-to-december-2021
Notes for editors:
Families Need Fathers - because both parents matter
FNF is the leading registered UK charity providing information and support on shared parenting issues arising from family breakdown, and support to divorced and separated parents, irrespective of gender or marital status. FNF is NOT a fathers' rights group - we support the best interests of children - namely mature and collaborative parenting by both parents - an objective which is inadequately promoted in the family court system and associated services.
FNF receive over 20,000 calls for help a year and thousands more rely on our local branch network and online support.
Our primary concern is the maintenance of the child’s meaningful relationship with both parents. Founded in 1974, FNF helps thousands of parents every year.
25th April 2022
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