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A "groundbreaking" process now being trialled means divorcing parents could face tougher regulations if they try to turn their children against their former partner.
According to the Children And Family Court Advisory And Support Service (Cafcass), there is a significant amount of parental alienation in the 125,000 cases it deals with every year, the Guardian reports.
The assistant director of Cafcass, Sarah Parsons, said: "We are increasingly recognising that parental alienation is a feature in many of our cases and have realised that it's absolutely vital that we take the initiative. Our new approach is groundbreaking."
Parents who try and 'poison' their children against their other parent could lose custody. Credit: Creative Commons
From spring next year, all frontline Cafcass caseworkers will be issued with a new set of guidelines called the high conflict pathway. The pathway will itemize the steps social workers must take when they encounter suspected alienation.It will also point out exactly when children of a divorcing couple should be removed from the alienating parent and placed with what it terms the "target parent".
One father, who didn't wish to be named, told the Guardian: "I've lived through and witnessed the inexorable alienation of my older daughter over the past five years, which has culminated in complete loss of contact.
"I will not have seen or heard from her for three years this coming January," he continued. "We had a fantastic, loving relationship for the first 12 years of her life.
"This is a horrible form of child abuse that is struggling to get out from under the rock of prejudice and ignorance."
Responding to Cafcass's new approach, Jerry Karlin, the chair and managing trustee of Families Need Fathers, said it was "very welcome news".
Parents could face tough new rules for the benefit of their kids. Credit: Creative Commons
He said: "The demonising of a parent has long been recognised as damaging the child not only at the time of separation, but reaching into his or her adult life.
"Parental alienation is identified as the single biggest issue among those who come to FNF seeking help."Hopefully, the new measures will minimise stress for children caught up in the already very stressful and difficult experience of divorcing parents.
Source: The Guardian