Mother loses care of her son after alienating him against father

A mother has had to forfeit the residential care of her son after she tried to alienate him from his father.

The case involved a boy who lived with his mother but had regular contact with his father and his paternal family.

However, from March 2018, there had been no direct contact between father and son, and communications from the boy toward the father had become inexplicably hostile.

The father applied for a child arrangements order, seeking a transfer of his son’s residence to him on the basis that the mother had alienated the boy against him.

An expert in the field of parental alienation produced a report which concluded that the mother had alienated the boy from the father; that he was likely to continue suffering significant social harm with the current arrangements; and that it was very likely that, if he remained with the mother, he would not enjoy a relationship with his father.

A transfer of residence was therefore found to be the only feasible route to re-unification with the father, and the only means by which the boy could have relationships with both parents.

The High Court ruled in favour of the father. It held that the mother had plainly alienated him against his father. There was no other cogent explanation for the breakdown in contact. As a direct consequence, he was suffering emotional and social harm, and if the situation was allowed to continue, he would suffer adverse consequences throughout his life.

The only means by which he could have a full relationship with both parents was to make a child arrangement order for residence with the father.

There was a risk that the boy would suffer trauma and emotional harm as a consequence, and a risk that he would not settle or that he might abscond from the father's home. However, when those potential adverse consequences were balanced against the short and long-term benefits of having a loving and beneficial relationship with both parents, the balance fell decisively in favour of ordering him to live with his father.

During the transition period, it would be contrary to his welfare to have any direct contact with the mother for three months.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of family law.

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