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Family Courts: Domestic Abuse

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 71485, tabled on 8 November 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to the implementation of the recommendations made by his Department's expert panel on reforming the family court response to domestic abuse, what steps he plans to take to help ensure that accurate data is collected on the (a) number of allegations made of parental alienation and (b) outcome of child contact in cases where those allegations are made.

Answered on

19 November 2021

Incidences of alleged parental alienation by either parent in relation to family proceedings about child arrangements are not recorded centrally. Such information can only be obtained from individual case files at disproportionate cost.

In assessing the child’s best interests, the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) assess and report any concerns about alienating behaviours to the court, focusing on the impact on the child’s safety and welfare and in the context of wider family dynamics. Parents are also able to inform the court of any concerns they may have about the other parent. Cafcass’ Child Impact Assessment Framework includes various tools and guidance that further support social work practitioners in identifying where a child expresses reluctance to have an ongoing relationship with a parent, including domestic abuse, persistent and harmful conflict and alienating behaviours.