Protecting Child-Parent Contact After Separation – Preventing Parental Alienation

The separation and divorce of a child’s parents is a sad event for the child. Even if the parents act as best they can to take account of the needs of the child, his home is no longer a stable base in and from which he can develop, and his faith in relationships may be seriously damaged.

The effects of separation can be mitigated so long as the child has continuing contact with both parents, and they and their respective families (and especially grandparents) continue to play a major role in his life, and so long as each parent understands and respects the important role of the other in the child’s healthy development. These factors enable the child to cope with the disruption of having to move from one parent to the other and the disappointment of his hopes for a harmonious home life.

However, in many cases, the events leading up to separation are far from easy for the couple, especially when one of them comes to the conclusion that divorce is the solution while the other may be unaware that anything is wrong with the relationship. The breakdown of the marriage often occurs because the relationship itself was based on unsound foundations – on physical attraction and/or on unjustified expectations – without exploration of basic compatibility, especially of communication skills and or approaches to the resolution of problems.

In such cases, the needs of the children of the marriage may be disregarded in the lead up to separation, or one or both of the parents may be unaware of the effects of separation for the children. In other cases, a parent may try to enlist the child in what is perceived as a battle against the other parent, especially in a system where the legal rules appear to require that one parent be superior to the other in terms of caring for the child, and be the custodial parent. The financial ramifications of divorce may influence decisions about the child. The parent or both of them may enter new relationships, short or long term, which add to the confusion of roles suffered by the child.

Underlying the lack of understanding of the needs of the child is the concept of rights and entitlements, rather than of responsibilities. Each parent has the responsibility to see to all the needs of the child, and many of these needs can only be supplied if both parents act together in making decisions, even if they are separated. Alongside the responsibility both of them bear to provide a roof over the child’s head when he is with that parent, and to provide him with food and drink, footwear and clothing, healthcare when needed, education, and to protect him from harm, each parent is under a duty to ensure the emotional and psychological health of the child. Unless the other parent has acted in a way which is entirely inconsistent with a continued relationship of any kind between the child and the parent (which requires incontrovertible proof and expert opinion) this requires each of them to promote a healthy relationship with the other parent, including physical and other contact with frequency appropriate to the needs of the individual child. It also requires that each of them presents the other parent as being a positive person in the life of the child, and to separate any dissatisfaction with the former partner from their joint role and responsibilities to the child.

If either parent fails in these responsibilities, the relationship of the child with the other parent may be irrevocably damaged, and contact may fail. The psychological and emotional injury to the alienated child is deep and continues into adulthood. The alienating parent has committed child abuse.

Philip Marcus has written and lectured widely on prevention of contact failure and parental alienation. His programme includes the following:

  • raising public awareness of the existence of parental alienation,
  • alerting those professionals in the teaching, social work, medical and legal professions and those who advise families to identify the first signs that a child is vulnerable and liable to be, or is already alienated, the parental behaviours which can lead to alienation, and providing for immediate therapeutic and educational interventions.
  • immediate, effective court action where alienation is alleged, so as to ensure prompt interventions for the child and to reestablish contact, with the application of sanctions for non-compliance by a parent.

Fees by arrangement.

For more information and to arrange a consultation, please contact: philipmarcusjurist@philip-marcus.com

PUBLICATIONS AND PAPERS (PARTIAL LIST)

Memorandum: Israeli Law compliance with Articles 9, 12, 21, 23 of the Draft Convention on the Rights of the Child

Avi – Defence for Children International – Israel Branch, 1989

Book Chapter: Abuse in Israel: Legislation and Court Practice

In Child and Domestic Abuse, Daniel Eidensohn & Baruch Shulem:

Emunah Press, Jerusalem – New York, 2010, 233-236

Paper: Why Appeal Courts and International Courts Get It Wrong in Hague Convention and Relocation Cases

July 2013

Position Paper:  on the Proposal for a Law of Parents and Children 5772-2012; delivered to the Minister of Justice

September 2013

Paper: Adapting the Hague Conventions to the Paradigm of Parental Responsibilities

January 2014

Article: Fathers’ Protest is Misguided

Jerusalem Post,

3 March 2014

Position Paper:  on Report of the Committee to Review the Policy of the Ministry on Removal of Children to Residential Care and on Visitation (The Silman Report)

Delivered to the Minister and the Director General, Ministry of Welfare and Social Services

July 2014

Position Paper: on the Arrangements for Settlement of Family Disputes Bill, 5774-2014

Delivered to the Minister of Justice and the Chairman of the Constitution, Law and Legislation Committee of the Knesset

August 2014

Article: Parental Responsibilities: Formulating the New Paradigm for Parent-Child Relationships

Published (in Hebrew) Journal of the Israeli Society for Medicine and Law, Issue 48, 121-136

October 2015

Article: Children’s Dispute Resolution: The Israeli Experience

Published in: Katherine Lynch and Anne Scully-Hill (eds) International Perspectives on Disputes About Children and Child Protection: Collected Essays on Parental Responsibility and Children’s Dispute Resolution, 167-183

The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2016

Article: Effective Child Protection – The Israeli Approach to Protecting Vulnerable Children: Integrating Judicial and Social Work Perspectives

Published in: Katherine Lynch and Anne Scully-Hill (eds) International Perspectives on Disputes About Children and Child Protection: Collected Essays on Preventing Abuse, Parental Responsibilities and Empowering Children 137-173

The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2016,

Article:

Parental Responsibilities: Reformulating the Paradigm for Parent-Child Relationships

Part 1: What is wrong with the ways in which we deal with the children of separated parents, and how to put them right.

Part 2: Who has responsibilities to children and what are these responsibilities?

Published in Journal of Child Custody , 83-105 and 106-133

The Israel Family Court – Therapeutic Jurisprudence and Jurisprudential Therapy from the Start

Published in The International Journal of Law & Psychiatry, Special Issue: Therapeutic Jurisprudence Today and Tomorrow, Vol. 63, 68-75

March-April 2019

Parental Alienation and Contact Refusal: How to Prevent Contact Failure between a Child and a Parent (Hebrew)

Published (in Hebrew) in Journal of the Israeli Society for Medicine and Law, Issue 51, 154-174

July 2019.

Parental Alienation, Contact Refusal and Maladaptive Gatekeeping: a Multidisciplinary Approach to Prevention of Contact Failure   in Family Law and Family Realities, 16th ISFL World Conference Book,  C. Rogerson, M. Antokolskaia, J. Miles, P. Parkinson, M. Vonk (eds.) The Hague, Eleven International Publishing) 349-366

2019

Innovative Programs in Israel for Prevention & Responding to Parental Alienation: Education, Early Identification and Timely, Effective Intervention  Family Court Review, Volume 58 Issue 2, 545-599

April 2020,

Economic Implications of Prevention and Early Intervention for Parental Alienation in chapter on Public Policy Initiatives Related to Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation: Science and Law , D. Lorandos and W Bernet  (2020 Charles C. Thomas Publisher)

Parental Alienation: Legal Responses International Family Law, Policy and Practice (in press)

The PASG Prevention Project: A Preliminary Report (with Dr. Nick Child) in PAI, Parental Alienation Newsletter, (PASG Parental Alienation Study Group) May 2020

Books:

WHY RIGHTS ARE WRONG, AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT THEM

In progress

RESPONSIBILITIES: FAMILY TIES, FAMILY LAW, FAMILY COURTS

In progress