Loretta Frederick, Peter Jaffe, Joan Meier, Simon Lapierre.
Alienation is found in the dictionary as a noun that means withdrawing or separation of a person or a person's affections from an object or position of former attachment. It is also found in family courts every day as an allegation against survivors of domestic violence who may be trying to protect themselves and their children. While there is no doubt that separating parents need to support their children’s relationships with the other parent, this outcome may not be possible in cases in which there are serious concerns about child abuse and/or domestic violence. Judges, lawyers and court-related professionals are faced with the challenge of properly assessing these allegations and their implications for future parenting plans.
This workshop will present the current evolution of alienation to refuse-resist or gatekeeping dynamics and how these terms are used in the social science literature and the court through custody assessments and expert testimony. The workshop will outline this problem in Canadian and US Courts as well as practical guides to support family court practitioners in addressing abuse in a custody case, including its full nature and context, in order to ensure that the practitioner’s actions in the case are directly responsive to the actual implications of the abuse for the task at hand for this particular family.