Dr Foster and Parental Alienation

The second series of Dr Foster has come to a dramatic end, and we are left asking what we can take from this tale. Certainly, that the two main characters, Simon and Gemma, have allowed their hatred for each other to consume their lives, and ultimately drive their young son to run away.

The scriptwriter has highlighted an issue which is all too often present in the Family Courts; a parent who goes out of their way (both directly and indirectly) to sabotage or minimise the chances of their children having a meaningful relationship with the other. To put it simply, parents put their dislike for each other above the needs and emotional welfare of their children.

 What can be done about it?

First, ask yourself: is your child suffering from parental alienation? Has your relationship with your child deteriorated without any reasonable justification? Is the other parent making excuses as to why contact cannot proceed or breaching Court Orders (if there is an Order already in place)?

If you believe that your child is at risk of parental alienation, then you need to act fast. The first step would be to issue an urgent Child Arrangements Application in Form C100. As with all Child Arrangements Applications, your matter will be assisted by an advisor from Cafcass (The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service). They will represent your child’s wishes and feelings during Court proceedings.

What if your child says that they do not want to see you?

Should their wishes be taken as face value or is this a product of their alienation? If so, then it is likely that your matter will require the assistance of an appropriately qualified professional; either a psychologist or a psychiatrist to determine the root of the problem and how best it can be fixed. A recent Court Judgement concluded that “contact between parent and child is a fundamental element of family life and is almost always in the interest of the child.”

Cases of parental alienation are complex and usually require the assistance of an expert. If you are worried about your own situation or would like to discuss the matter further with one of our experts, please contact a member of our family team on 01273 604 123.