After working for several years assisting litigants in person in UK family courts I have decided to start this website to help do what the courts don’t: promote shared parenting, reduce parental alienation and suggest new ways of solving the problems associated with separated families.
Firstly, let me outline my relevant qualifications and experience. I graduated as a mature student in psychology but by then, I had already been in the family courts myself for eleven years, in what seems to have become the longest, currently running parental alienation case. I have assisted other litigants in person for the last ten years. Mostly, I have had the good fortune of being well received by judges at all levels, and a couple have expressly commented on how helpful I have been to them, and outcomes for children have, on the whole, been very positive.
It’s been natural transition for me to focus on cases of parental alienation for several reasons. Firstly, my own experience. Secondly, my studies provided access to psychological and medical literature outlining how severe the clinical disorders associated with parental disorder really are, leading me to have done this work on behalf of children. Thirdly, most parents and family law professionals, including judges at all levels, have not the slightest clue as to just how severe an issue parental alienation is. They need informing, even if only by public criticism. Fourthly, I see more parental alienation cases because they are on the increase. Fifthly, the increase in parental alienation cases is not being responded to with a more informed approach generally by family professionals or the courts, so cases get stuck in the system for longer.
In my new book, Parental Alienation, Attachment and Corrupt Law, I outline how clinical and child psychology view attachment, and how the scientific principles of these disciplines link into parental alienation. Within the dynamics of the awful situation we have come to term as ‘parental alienation,’ there are complex interactions between several, simultaneous sets of adverse circumstances with the potential to cause an explosive mix. They are the vulnerabilities and events related to child and adult attachment neurology, the intense psychological disruption of family separation, the delicate stages of a child’s development, pathological parenting, adult / parental personality disorder, the contributing perversities of social policies and the abject lack of knowledge and earnest within support services, especially court professionals, and those who exercise the court’s authority.
Instead of having a system of prediction, prevention, assessment, diagnosis and treatment, these specific family issues, when they are expressed within the scenario of a separated family, are hijacked by the legal profession and dealt with by unqualified personnel in secret, private law courts. In my opinion, it is just as insane to let social workers, lawyers and judges loose on parental alienation as it would be to task them to defuse explosive devices. Their mindset, training and the environment they work in are all designed for something else. Like fools, they give it a go anyway, but it is not their lives that get blown apart when they get it all wrong.
Handling cases of parental alienation requires polished skills in  neurological and behavioural attachment science  clinical psychology  forensic psychology  child brain development. That all comes before a competent appraisal of any case. Otherwise, no assessor or judge will ever know who’s who or what’s what. Upon competent appraisal, an assessor or judge may be able to make positive contributions if they have skill number , which requires a robust adherence to the psychological principles of decision-making. Then,  a deep appreciation of the purpose of child law is needed before a reliable and just legal solution can be applied to the circumstances identified. In my experience,  –  are all severely lacking. The consequences are that my work has often more related to attempts at damage limitation as anything else.
Compounding the problem is that, ironically, the law is sound enough to deal with these issues, but doesn’t. It’s not the law that’s at fault but the professionals entrusted with its application. Most of the professionals I have met are not even competent at what they actually are trained in. In my experience, most lawyers and judges either don’t know child law in terms of statute, authorities or court rules, or don’t care for them. The adversarial and secret court system enables the placement of corporate interests of lawyers and social workers before those of children, especially children vulnerable to alienation, or already alienated. Lawyers go for the money; social workers misuse their platform to inflict corporate ideals and do not follow their professional obligations. Whilst judges may be competent in the areas of law their roles are designed for, in child law they are largely clueless. Furthermore, family law professionals work in the dark, are effectively unaccountable, and so are often unwilling to review their own performances, even if their assessments are derisory and the potential or actual effect of their recommendations obviously leads to child harm. They blind themselves to the significant harm of parental alienation because they are not trained in the skills to identify and adequately consider it.
In my opinion, the judiciary and CAFCASS have utterly failed in their duty to provide a service that promotes public health. When viewed in isolation, parental alienation cases are a distinct category of case that shows how inept, incompetent, ruinous and arrogant the family court and its professionals can be. Rather than evolving good, standard practice, there seems a growing list of judicial office holders and professionals currently sitting in key positions that parental alienation cases would cross in lower courts, and at every higher level of appeal, who are not merely inadequately schooled in the skills required to competently do their job, but they cover up their lack of sincerity with excuses, pretences and assertions within reports and judgments that miss out or devalue any contradictory evidence. I’d even go so far as to say that the inference of His Justice Mostyn in JM vs CZ, when dealing with that case and quoting previous High Court judges Charles J and Theis J in B Borough Council v S and B v A  EWHC 3127 (Fam) i.e. that the lower family courts are corrupt, can be more widely applied than even they accepted in their respective judgments.
Every now again, there is an isolated case where the judge makes the right decision early in the case timeline, but it’s rare. And it’s getting worse.
The coming articles in this blog will address the shortcomings of the family courts. Cases, judgments and policy documents will be compared to the best practice literature of psychological and medical experts, to identify the gaps between ‘normal’ practice and best practice. Some judges and professionals may be named and criticised. The aim is to help bring about policy changes to ensure vulnerable and alienated children are better served at-end 2018 than they are now.
It is easily demonstrated that these are very dark days for alienated children. The current, damaging incompetence and, it has to be said, indifference of key personnel in the family law system has to change. Or they have to go. This site will help provide that argument.
For now, I wish you all a better New Year.
For now, I wish you all a better New Year.
Stuart Hontree, Author of Parental Alienation, Attachment and Corrupt Law
Epub available at www.paacl.com
Paperback available here on Amazon.co.uk & here on Amazon.com