Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

Parental Alienation Under Scrutiny


Call for consideration of New Zealand Law reform dealing with Parental Alienation

Tuesday 11 July 2018

A University of Otago study calling for consideration of law reform in the complex field of parental alienation has been published this week in the New Zealand Family Law Journal.

The author of the postgraduate thesis, Nelson solicitor and law firm director Lee James, has a practising career extending back to 1996. She completed the research while attaining her Master of Laws from the University of Otago. The thesis was finalised in April this year.

Ms James says New Zealand is lacking a suitable legal framework to deal with parental alienation issues, which can have widespread and serious negative impacts on children.

“This research has identified significant detrimental impacts to children who have been alienated by a parent. The thesis identifies that there are certain limitations within both the current New Zealand legislation and the facilities available for dealing with alienation,” Ms James says.

Alienation from a parent can often stem from a difficult or broken relationship between parents, and can include alienating behaviour such as a parent making negative comments about the other parent, limiting contact, being upset if a child was affectionate with the other parent, said or implied the other parent did not love the child or was unsafe, expected the child to choose between the parents, making communication difficult, asking a child to spy or making the child feel bad about spending time with the other parent[1].

Ms James says examples of some of the negative effects on children can include depression, insecurity, reduced self-esteem, attachment issues, gender identity problems and aggression and mistrust towards others, to name a few.

In her thesis Ms James explains that to maximise the Court’s ability to consistently identify alienation and improve outcomes for children where alienation is present, the legislative framework should include:

· The ability to assess a parent’s psychopathology such as the presence of mental or personality disorders to consider the intent behind the behaviour and whether their behaviour is obstructive

· Requiring parents to subscribe to, and complete all relevant steps, in the online family-wellbeing website; Our Family Wizard

· Appointing a Parenting Co-ordinator to work with parents and monitor compliance and, where alienation is present, to direct therapeutic intervention for the alienating parent and the family to encourage reunification (and the implementation of specific programmes to address this).

Ms James believes there is little doubt that there will be cases where the alienation is so severe that early Court intervention will be necessary, and the recommended reforms would pave the way forward for New Zealand courts to identify alienation more quickly and effectively and to impose adequate determinations. She says there are challenges for the courts in determining the presence of alienation as there are some situations where a child becomes “justifiably estranged” from a parent for reasons such as violence, abuse or neglect.

“These cases are known as “hybrid” or “crossover” cases and are known to consume significant resources to determine. The reforms suggested would assist the courts in determining such cases and in turn, would improve outcomes for children who are the subject of disputes involving alienation,” Ms James adds.

University of Otago Family Law expert, Professor Mark Henaghan, who supervised Ms James during her research, says parental alienation cases provide the biggest headache and challenge for the Family Court and can be drawn out for years.

“Lee’s thesis provides very well-researched, improved methods that can be used in the Family Court to put processes in place – such as counselling – to support families and prevent alienation cases from damaging children,” Professor Henaghan says.


“Counselling for families was weakened by the 2014 Family Law reforms. The thesis also shows that early identification of alienation is crucial to nip it in the bud before too much damage is done. This requires appropriate assessment by experienced experts at an early stage. Other jurisdictions have specific systems in place to deal with alienation. We do not have the resources for such processes in New Zealand at present,” says Professor Henaghan

Professor Henaghan believes these early interventions could allow reunification processes to be put in place, and he notes the thesis makes a clear distinction between alienation and justified estrangement such as when a parent has been abusive to a child.

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Crowdsale And Crowdfunding Campaign: Help Create The Future Of Independent News

Two weeks to go! The Scoop 3.0 plan aims to create NZ’s first community-owned, distributed news and media intelligence ecosystem in 2019. We believe this ScoopPro media monetisation approach can be scaled and spread globally to support local and independent news efforts in regional New Zealand and around the world.

Scoop is an ecosystem, it would not exist without those who contribute to it, read it and rely on it for professional media purposes. Generous past support from this ecosystem has enabled us to come this far in developing our business model. Support our PledgeMe Campaign>>

 

14/11: Two Years’ Progress Since The Kaikoura Earthquake

Mayor John Leggett said it was a day for reflection, but also a time to recognise the work by many people to support progress towards recovery made across Marlborough since November 2016. More>>

ALSO:

Pike River: Mine Drift Re-Entry Plan To Proceed

“I’ve decided the Te Kāhui Whakamana Rua Tekau Mā Iwa - Pike River Recovery Agency, recommended course of action to enter the drift, using the existing access tunnel, is by far the safest option,” said Andrew Little. More>>

ALSO:

Appointments: New High Commissioner To Australia Announced

“Dame Annette King needs no introduction given her long running career as a parliamentarian where she has previously held a number senior Cabinet portfolios, including Justice, Police and Health. She also was Parliament’s longest serving female MP with 30 years’ service,” said Mr Peters. More>>

ALSO:

Two Years Since Kaikoura: Silvia Cartwright To Lead Inquiry Into EQC

“The inquiry will be the first of its kind under the Public Inquiries Act 2013 and will have all the powers of a Royal Commission, be independent of Government and make its report directly to the Governor-General. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Royal Commission Into Child Abuse

Obviously, it is good news that the coalition government has broadened the scope of its Royal Commission into the abuse of children, beyond its previous focus on children in state care. More>>

ALSO:

Cases Delayed: Court Staff Refuse To Handle Sentencing Papers

Dozens of court cases have reportedly been delayed, as court staff escalate industrial action at two Auckland courts by enforcing a ban on handling sentencing papers. More>>

ALSO:

Education: Primary Teachers Rolling Strikes

RNZ Report: More than 100,000 primary school students in Auckland will be home from school today as teachers and principals walk off the job for the second time this year. It's the start of a week of rolling one-day strikes around the country, after the collapse of contract negotiations last Thursday. More>>

ALSO:

"Process Was Sound": Inquiry Into Haumaha Appointment Released

The Inquiry’s purpose was to examine, identify, and report on the adequacy of the process that led to the appointment. It found the process was sound and no available relevant information was omitted. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels