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Training & Conferences

'Parental Alienation' - Debates and Controversies’

4 March 2024

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The Nagalro Spring 2024 conference will be held on Monday, 4 March 2024.

Following on from some of the themes raised in Nagalro’s excellent conference in October 2022 on domestic abuse and coercive and controlling behaviours (CCB), this conference will examine the ‘parental alienation’ (PA) ‘model’ and myths, and it's history within the UK Family Courts. Our aim is to expose the lens of interpretation through which allegations of PA reframe the issues before the Court, and how easy it is to lose focus so that the child becomes the object rather than the subject.  We also aim to create learning points about PA for attendees from other jurisdictions and professions.

It is imperative that social workers working in private law within the Family Courts keep the focus on the Section 1 Children Act 1989, that the child’s welfare is always the paramount consideration throughout, and on the essential assessment of significant harm that is required under S37 where any allegation of abuse of a child is made.

A high number of Family Court cases where allegations of domestic abuse (DA) go on to have counter claims of PA.  We will address some of the facts and figures, and flag up where there is no reliable research base for claims of PA.

The landmark Domestic Abuse Act 2021 brought changes which crucially recognised children as victims of domestic abuse in their own right for the very first time. To ensure procedural fairness, all social workers have a duty to uphold adherence to PD 12J: ' Child Arrangements and Contact Orders : Domestic Abuse and Harm', PD 3AA: 'Vulnerable Persons : Participation in proceedings and giving evidence', and Part 25: 'Experts and Assessors', and a good understanding of dynamics of domestic abuse throughout the family justice system.  From this base we will look at the evidence around DA, child abuse (CA) and PA and we will examine:

  • Key judgements, legislation and statutory guidance  – the legal framework
  • Is there any reliable evidence base for PA?
  • The crucial importance of early Fact Finding Hearings (all Court levels)
  • The role of the expert in allegations of DA, CA and PA – Part 25 Experts and Assessors
  • If a child is resistant to spending time with, or hostile towards, one parent post separation – have you established there is no legitimate reason or cause for this before accepting it as unjustifiable?
  • What are ‘alienating behaviours’ of one parent towards the other, and how to assess the significance of the impact of these behaviours on the child?
  • Whar further training is needed on DA, CCB and PA?


More details coming soon!

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