Parental Alienation: Drastic Outcomes in Difficult Cases

The children of a mother who was ‘more like a friend than a parent’ were moved from living primarily with her to live with their father.  That is how The Times reported the case of RS v SS on 18 February 2014. The article focused on the children’s mother’s permissive parenting style; how she would head off to bed after school, leaving the children to watch television and play on their x-box.  The judge praised the children’s father for his insightfulness and persistence in seeking residence, and made a Residence Order in his favour.  On the face of it, the case could simply be interpreted as the triumph of middle-class parenting values.  If you are a divorced parent and your children spend the majority of their time with you then let them watch too much television at your peril!  But this superficial analysis belies a far more complex picture that is painted when one reads the case in detail.  The children in this case were apparently alienated from their father by a manipulative mother, who coached them to believe that their father had been neglecting them.  The judge described the mother as a ‘very and angry and willful woman’, who had ‘significantly failed these boys_’. Her hatred of the father was _‘almost pathological’.  Living with their mother was so detrimental to their welfare and their relationship with their father, that the Judge was satisfied that it would be better for them to move home, school, and town to live with their father. 

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