Parental Alienation: CULT

  1. This is a father’s appeal from the refusal of his application for a child arrangements order to be varied to provide for his 9-year-old daughter to live with him. The existing order provided for the child Lara (not her real name) to share her time equally between her parents’ homes, but that has not reliably happened for some time. The trial judge, HHJ Meston QC accepted the entirety of the father’s case about the cause of the difficulties in this family. He found that a process of alienation of Lara from her father had begun in the context of the mother’s adherence to Universal Medicine, an organisation founded in Australia in 1999 by Serge Benhayon and held by the judge to be a cult. Nonetheless, the judge left the previous order in place. The father now appeals on the basis that the decision does not address the growing harm the child is suffering. For her part, the mother does not accept the judge’s findings concerning Universal Medicine and seeks a reduction in the time that Lara spends with her father. During the hearing she applied for permission to cross-appeal.
  2. The appeal was heard using communication technology. We thank the parties and their representatives and the court staff for making this possible.
  3. We will address the issues that arise under the following headings:
    • The law concerning freedom of belief
    • The law concerning parental alienation
    • The facts
    • The hearing before the judge
    • The appeal
    • Our decision

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