Parental 'poison' of kids on rise
MORE warring parents in Family Court disputes are claiming former partners have poisoned their children against them, a new study shows.
Nicholas Bala, professor of law at Queens University in Canada and an expert in parental alienation, will present his findings of Australian data at a seminar in Melbourne this month at the Australian Institute of Family Studies.
He said there were genuine cases of parental alienation - where children were brainwashed and manipulated into an unfounded fear and rejection of the other parent.
''But there are other cases where the child has legitimate reasons to be afraid of a parent,'' he said, ''and it's important for the court to unpack the real reasons.''
The study found that where a parent was found to have alienated the child from the other parent, judges ordered the child live with the ''rejected'' parent in half the cases.
''It's controversial and dramatic to order a change of residence but in more severe cases children will not respond to counselling if they continue to live with the alienating parent,'' Professor Bala said.
It was preferable for judges in appropriate cases to cajole, pressure and persuade parents to change their behaviour, and to recognise both were often at fault.
The data, based on a search in cases before the Family Court of Australia and the Family Court of Western Australia found about 230 cases since 1997.