Building on existing guidance, the Cafcass Child Impact Assessment Framework has been developed to help our Family CourtAdvisers (FCAs) identify how children are experiencing parental separation and to assess the impact of different case factors on them, including parental alienation.
All of our assessments focus on what is happening for each child. In our work, we try to help parents and the court understand the impact of the separation and adult behaviours on individual children and what they need to recover. This requires the support of both parents, who are encouraged to exercise their parental responsibility wherever safe and beneficial for the child.
The starting point of assessment is always the identification of risk, which includes risk of emotional harm, which may amount to a child protection issue. We recognise that exposure to alienating behaviours can be emotionally harmful to children.
Where alienating behaviours feature in a case we are involved with, our practitioners will use their professional judgement to assess whether it is safe and in the best interests of the child to have contact with one or both parents, taking into account risk factors, evidence-based assessments, diversity issues, and the child’s resilience and vulnerabilities. We then report our recommendations to the court for the judge to consider before they make their final decision about what contact the child will have with either parent.