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Title: UK Court Opinion on the Term “Parental Alienation”

Title: UK Court Opinion on the Term “Parental Alienation”

Ken Pope forwarded the following from the United Kingdom: The UK Guardian includes an article: “Tighter regulation of psychologists in family law cases up to MPs, says senior judge”.

Along with admonitions about the unregulated nature of the term “psychologist” in England (Judge Sir Andrew McFarlane claims it is a matter for the psychological profession, and ultimately parliament, whether a “tighter regime should be imposed” on what he has described as a “confusing system”) England’s most senior family court judge turned to the use of the term “parental alienation”:

Turning in his opinion to the use of the label ‘parental alienation’, MacFarlane said he strongly urged that ACP-UK’s (The Association of Clinical Psychologists – United Kingdom) view – that the term is not a syndrome capable of being diagnosed – be accepted.

It is the ACP-UK’s position that the process of the manipulation of children – perpetrated by one parent against the other through, what are termed, as ‘alienating behaviours’ – is “fundamentally a question of fact”.

McFarlane wrote: 

Most family judges have, for some time, regarded the label of ‘parental alienation’ and the suggestion there may be a diagnosable syndrome of that name, as being unhelpful”.

What is important, as with domestic abuse, is the particular behaviour found to have taken place…and the impact that behaviour may have had on the relationship of a child with either or both of his/her parents”.

In this regard, the identification of ‘alienating behaviour’ should be the court’s focus, rather than any quest to determine whether the label ‘parental alienation’ can be applied.” 

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