The most common form of parental alienation is when, without good reason one parent tries to prevent their child or children from having contact with the other parent.

This can occur during the separation or divorce of two parents and often involves the act of one parent seeking to ruin a child’s relationship with the other parent, the potential for this can increase as contact arrangements for the child comes into debate.

If you think your child or children are a victim of parental alienation and that you are being targeted unfairly it is important you seek legal advice as soon as possible. Paul Crowley & Co Solicitors team of experienced family lawyers will listen to your side of the case and advise you on what is in the best interests of both yourself and your child.

What is Parental Alienation?

Cafcass, the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service defines the term parental alienation as ‘The unjustified resistance or hostility from a child towards one parent as a result of psychological manipulation by the other parent’.

What are alienating behaviours?

Whilst there is no single definition, the motivation for a parents alienating behaviour can be fuelled by a feeling of unfairness, anger or sadness.

Cafcass describe alienating behaviour as circumstances where there is an ongoing pattern of negative attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of one parent, that have the potential or expressed intent to undermine or obstruct a child’s relationship with the other parent.

‘If you as a parent feel that you are being unfairly targeted and your children are a victim of parental alienation, our experienced Family Law team at Paul Crowley & Co are here to listen and will provide you with expert legal advice and representation to ensure you receive the best possible outcome. 

Ashleigh Shellshear | Family Law Solicitor
Paul Crowley & Co solicitors

Signs of Parental Alienation

The truth is that most alienating behaviour occurs behind closed doors and in a setting where you have very little evidence that it is ongoing.

Common signs of alienating behaviours include:

  • The child and/or parent speaking negatively or telling lies about the other parent
  • The parent encouraging the child to be discourteous or defiant towards the other parent
  • The child and/or parent blaming the other parent for the breakdown of the relationship
  • The parent manipulating a child to make them believe the other parent is untrustworthy or dangerous
  • A parent telling the child that the other parent does not love them

Rather than acting on the basis of their true feelings, often a child will adapt their own feelings and behaviours to ensure that their attachment needs to the parent instigating the alienation are met, causing a previously close relationship with the other parent to deteriorate.

Parental Alienation Law

In the UK, there is no law for dealing with parental alienation, however family courts can and will step in when a child’s welfare suffers as a result.

There is a premise that it’s in a child’s best interest to have a positive relationship with both their parents and that stopping contact should only be considered when it is clear that it is not in the child’s best interests to continue it.

Judges view on Parental Alienation

Following a recent case in the family courts, one of Britain’s most senior judges namely Sir Andrew McFarlane is to examine issues relating to the regulation of court-appointed experts who provide evidence about child welfare in private children matters and where parental alienation is a feature.

The facts of this case is that the Mother subject to private law proceedings was found that she had ‘alienated’ her children from their father following a court appointed expert report. Subsequently, the mother had her children permanently removed from her care and against their wishes.

Judge Lindsay Davies, previously accepted the psychological assessment of the family dynamics. However, the mother sought to appeal the findings on the basis that the court-appointed expert was ‘not an appropriately qualified expert’ and not regulated by any professional body.

However, Sir Andrew McFarlane stated in his speech at the Jersey International Family Law Conference 2021. ‘Where the issue of parental alienation is raised and it is suggested to the court that an expert should be instructed, the court must be careful only to authorise such instruction where the individual expert has relevant expertise’. He goes further in his memorandum in respect of experts in the Family Court concluding that “pseudo-science, which is not based on any established body of knowledge, will be inadmissible in the Family Court”

It is important to note that experts who do not qualify for registration with The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and/or do not have qualifications can still be appointed at the discretion of the courts and therefore it will be interesting to see how the legitimacy of court-appointed experts come under review after this appeal case. Keep checking our website to see the updated blog following this review.

What can Paul Crowley & Co Solicitors do to help?

Where child arrangements are not agreed, there are several legal routes Paul Crowley & Co’s specialised family law department can develop to lessen or eliminate the potential negative impact of parental alienation on yourself and your children:

Child Arrangement Order

A child arrangement order is a court order that will stipulate the details of contact arrangements for a child, including where and whom the child will live and how they will spend time with each parent.

Prohibited Steps Order

A prohibited steps order is a court order that stops a parent who has parental responsibility from exercising that right such as:

  • Stopping the child from being removed from a particular parent’s case
  • Preventing a child from being removed from the jurisdiction
  • Preventing the child from being removed from their school
  • Preventing the child’s surname from being changed

In child custody cases the final order will feature warnings and prohibitions against alienating language from families, in the case of parental alienation, it may on occasion order that the child go to live with the alienated parent.


If you think your child or children are a victim of parental alienation and that you are being unfairly targeted, contact our specialist Family Law team on 0151 264 7363 or email us

Paul Crowley & Co… on your side

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