Fighting Parental alienation in Australian courts

As I have had no exposure to any other countries family law system these comments are offered only in relation to the Australian family law courts.

It is very important that you and your legal team properly differentiate between PAS and the practice of Parental Alienation as there are distinct differences and from observation Australian courts are not yet acceptance of, for example, Gardner's concept of Parental Alienation Syndrome or even of the term "syndrome" but are open to the concept of the act of Parental Alienation and the effect it has on the children.

In some countries PAS is more readily recognised and accepted by the courts but there still remains the all important difference.

Parental Alienation is simply the act of a parent in trying to alienate the other parent where as PAS describes the negative effects that PA has had on the children as a syndrome, and it is only then that they are suffering from Parental Alienation Syndrome.

It is possible that in the early stages of PA or in some cases of "passive" PA that the children are not exhibiting the tell tales of nor suffering under PAS, should this be the case and at that point in time PAS does NOT exist and no court is going to see it any other way.

Australian courts are interested in PA (alienation) and rely on credible witnesses, professionals such as family report writers and councillors etc to either identify or deny the existence of Alienation being practiced and secondly should PA be shown to exist what effect it is having on the children, I have not yet heard the courts refer to this as PAS and have the opinion that if you or your team were to do so it would simply be dismissed as a an unproven syndrome.

It has been suggested many times that PAS is a dramatisation of the facts and is not a recognised syndrome and us colonials being naturally reserved when it comes to revelations, so too are our courts.

It has even been suggested that our courts do not even like the term "parental alienation" but are accepting of the fact that one parent or both could be trying to alienate the other, they have used the term "alienate" or "alignment" but I can't remember them using the term "parental alienation" other than to quote what a parent has said.

That is not to say that Australian courts are not interested in the effects of PA (they are) and that they won't take steps to protect the children if it can be shown that they are suffering, they most likely will, they just don't recognise the term PAS.

So we have two distinct and recognisable "possibilities" in the courts eyes;

  • The existence of one or both of the parents trying to alienate the other
  • Wether or not the children are suffering as a result of that practice

It is important to remember when fighting PA in Australian courts that you focus on PA and the effect that it is having on the children and not "PAS" as a syndrome for this reason, do whatever you can do to get the facts and present them so the courts can see the negative effect PA is having on the children, they after all are the adjudicators.

It has long been the opinion of myself and others I speak to that PA vs PAS has been largely misunderstood and at times even misused or misrepresented and that being so may have had a negative effect on any outcome in the best interests of the children.

It is imperative to seek out and present the facts in your case as they are, do not overstate or misrepresent those facts or you could be seen as wanting to "dramatise" the situation, keep an open mind at all times as you should anyway, and let the professionals do their stuff, given a chance they will in most cases get to the truth and the courts mostly do rely on those professionals for direction.

The importance of reports from professionals should not be underestimated, as the courts in most cases will call for various reports to be handed up and this will usually involve you being interviewed by those professionals, they are the "experts" so stick to explaining the facts, do not label events or offer any diagnostic opinion, whilst it is acceptable for you to say that you feel the the children are being alienated against you, you will not be seen as an expert so do not use terms such as PAS or PA, stick to answering the questions and explaining the facts and let the "expert" make the conclusions.

Should you not agree with what the "expert" seems to be saying or presenting, do not react negativity to them, they are just doing their job as best they can (?) and may have reasons for their conduct that you are not aware of, assist them, even politely disagree with them but do not fight them.

Should you disagree with any of the reporters, the time to challenge them is in court, not in the interview.

As always in any thing you do or say, ask yourself ... is it in the best interests of the children.

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