Cafcass? Independent social worker? Psychologist?

“It is worth reminding the court (on occasion) and your fellow practitioners of the words of Ward LJ (as he then was) in M (Children) (contact: Long term Best interests) [2005] EWCA Civ 1090 when it comes to the instruction of an expert to assist in restarting contact:

“Where as in this case the court has the picture that a parent is seeking without good reason, to eliminate the other parent from the child, or children’s lives, the court should not stand by and take no positive action. Justice to the children and the deprived parent in this case the mother, require the court to leave no stone unturned that might resolve the situation and prevent long term harm to the children””

Parental Alienation

The court is often tempted to rely on Cafcass via a 16.4 Guardian or an independent social worker to assist and can wholeheartedly resist applications for expert assessment. The author is regularly informed that Cafcass or an ISW are able to evaluate parental alienation or recruitment of children. However, experience has highlighted that Guardians and social workers are unlikely to be able to offer remedies which see past the children’s expressed wishes and feelings and are not trained in the psychology of this type of case and, of course, cannot provide any psychological assessment of the parent who may be at fault.

A comprehensive assessment by an appropriately qualified professional (psychological or psychiatric) is essential as soon as possible (straight after fact finding if there were allegations) or at the first hearing if no allegations have been made.  A very real difficulty is the need for the parties to fund…

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