CAFCASS Assessments: Parental Alienation

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If you’re being assessed by CAFCASS, we’d love to hear what it’s like for you. Is parental alienation being taken seriously? What evidence of this is being accepted by CAFCASS. Is the assessment going well or badly? Is it helpful and how has it helped? Are you finding it hard and if so why? What do you make of what you’re going through? Have you had false allegations made about you? We want to hear about cases like this and the impact it’s having on you and the children.

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We are keen to help you through the process and with our years of experience working in the family court (Jill as a solicitor and George as an expert witness) we may be able to give useful advice.

We will soon be launching a new podcast which will focus on real life cases based on what people tell us. Of course, as professionals, we will respect the key issues of privacy and confidentiality but we want to help you and others by sharing real life experiences.

How CAFCASS assess parental alienation

As part of their Child Impact Assessment Framework (CIAF), CAFCASS have guidance on how to assess families where there is thought to be parental alienation and how they should work with children in such cases.

The links in this blog will show you exactly what the Family Court Adviser (FCA) will use to assess or analyse your family and you can see exactly what CAFCASS thinks is useful. FCAs are expected to follow these processes although they do have discretion in how they conduct their assessments.

Assessing child refusal/resistance

When a child is resisting or refusing to spend time with a parent/carer, there may be a number of causes. The CAFCASS guide describes the range of potential causes and how they should explore the impact on the child of adult behaviours. It also provides guidance on assessing children’s wishes and feelings and on making recommendations to court.

Link to the CAFCASS guide to ‘Assessing children’s resistance and refusal to spend time with a parent’

CAFCASS Resource How it’s used  
Assessing children’s and young people’s wishes and feelings This guidance describes how FCAs should listen to and analyse what children say about their wishes and feelings.  
Typical behaviours exhibited where alienation may be a factor This helps FCAs in their analysis of the information from their interviews with parents and children and from others such as school, police or Local Authority.  
Recommendations for the child when alienation is a factor This is advice about what FCAs should recommend in cases where the child is being harmed by alienating behaviour.  
Children’s beliefs about parental divorce This is used to help FCAs understand children’s beliefs about their parents’ divorce.

How CAFCASS work with children when there is parental alienation

Listed below, with links, are all the forms used by CAFCASS when they work with children to assess the impact of parental alienation. Use these links to see exactly what your child will be asked and how they will be assessed.

Assessment of older children

Assessment of younger children

Child impact tool

CAFCASS use what they call the ‘child impact tool’ to help FCAs gradually build up to talking with children about potentially more distressing aspects of the child’s life. It can be disclosed to the court as a record of what the child has said. The practitioner guidance provides information about how this tool should be used.

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