This week the case we’re sharing is a complex one, filled with nuance and challenging conduct.

On the surface, it looks like a court awarding a father contact because of a mother’s alienating behaviour, but a closer look reveals two parents with limited insight into how their actions continue to harm their son.

There are a lot of twists and turns, but it is worth reading the whole judgment, including the expert’s views on the parents.

The judge also criticises the social worker’s Section 37 report looking at the welfare of the boy in the case, calling it woefully inadequate, for being critical of the father but not the mother. The social worker recommended that the child stay in the care of his mother.

Justice Keehan considered the report of limited help because the social worker had not had any direct experience with parental alienation cases.

The NYAS caseworker also concludes that the 12 year old boy should continue to live with his mother. Keehan says in his judgment:

“In her report, she only considered the negative issues about the father and set out the mother’s criticisms of him. There is no consideration at all of the adverse role of the mother in H’s life nor did she give any consideration as to the extent, if at all, to which the mother had alienated H against his father. She accepted H’s expressed wishes and feelings at face value and had no consideration to [the parental alienation expert’s] opinions.”

Keehan also calls out the caseworker for several shortcomings within her report.

The solution offered in the judgment – a complete and total uprooting of the child’s life, away from his school and friends, to distance him from his mother and re-establish his connection with his father by moving him to his father’s home, is another example of how the courts continue to get it wrong.

This kind of solution is deeply traumatic for a child, making it no solution at all.

While this site feels both parents contributed to their child’s distress, there is a far better way of dealing with cases like these, and it starts with the parents, not the child.

Wholesale repatriation is rarely the answer, and is a shoddy and careless way of dealing with these cases. It’s the kind of judgment we’ve come to expect from a court that doesn’t have the time or the inclination to offer sophisticated solutions to complex problems.

You can read the full judgment on BAILII.

Family Law Cases RR