Acting for a Mother in a complex contact issue involving parental alienation

Marie represented a Mother who had escaped to a refuge with her pre-teen child, leaving the family home because of controlling and coercive behaviour and verbal and emotional abuse. With very difficult conditions in the refuge, the Mother was struggling, so the child returned to the Father on a temporary basis until the Mother was re-housed.

However, the child soon refused to see or even speak to the Mother and it appeared that it was a case of parental alienation. Contact completely broke down, and the Mother made her application to the court after attempting to see the child for two months without any success.

At the first hearing in front of Magistrates the case was transferred to Tier 2 (District Judge level) on the grounds of complexity – both because of the potential parental alienation and also the possible need for a Guardian to be appointed for the child.

At the first hearing at the District Judge level an s.7 report was ordered with contact agreed, although it was unclear at that point whether it would actually take place. Cafcass reports were ordered, and the need for a fact-finding hearing and a Guardian will be considered at the next