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Head of Family helps represent UK solicitors at international conference on parental alienation

Parental Alienation is the subject of intense debate in family courts across the world. Joanna Abrahams, Head of Family Law at Setfords was recently invited to two important conferences on the phenomenon, which sees one parent mentally manipulate a child to make them fear, disrespect or even hate the other.

A leading voice on the subject in the UK, Joanna has been calling for the syndrome to be recognised and remedied under the Children Act.

In October, Joanna attended the PASG (Parental Alienation Study Group) international conference, held in Washington DC. Bringing together leading international experts in the area, Joanna discussed the UK’s approach, while learning how other countries have responded to parental alienation in their courts.

“This is an issue affecting families globally. It’s extremely useful to bring experts together to see how international jurisdictions are responding, and heartening to see that the UK experience is informing that debate,” said Joanna. “However, what’s clear is that we have work to do. In Canada, for example the courts are ahead of the UK in recognising parental alienation. Professionals are much more aware and accepting of the syndrome and the courts have a robust approach in dealing with it. The UK can  learn from the global experience in order to support families to move forward for the benefit of children.”

Families need Fathers, a charity that seeks to seeks to enable separated families to successfully co-parent also invited Joanna to speak at  its conference as part of an expert panel chaired by Francesca Wiley QC with other speakers including Anthony Douglas, CEO of CAFCASS and His Honour Judge Wildblood.

Joanna spoke about the need for the legal professionals to better understand and recognise the behaviour and to offer greater support and information to parents and families.

As a result of Joanna’s campaigning work, the profile of parental alienation and its devastating effects has gained greater attention. She has been approached by the judiciary to address the issue on its signs, impact and legal status, while continuing to represent families dealing with this complex issue.

You can read more about Joanna’s experience of parental alienation in her piece for the Law Society Gazette, or watch her discuss the issue on BBC 2’s Victoria Derbyshire show.