Fogging the Issue: CAFCASS and The High Conflict Pathway

This week CAFCASS have released their High Conflict Pathway, which is guidance for practitioners which includes what to do when children reject a parent.  Originally entitled the High Conflict Pathway, it is now the Child Impact Assessment Framework or something akin to that – if I am honest, the name matters little, the intention within is just the same – make it all about parental conflict, hide the reality of the existing evidence and maintain the control invested in practitioners with disproportionate power to their skill set.

This piece of guidance is everything I expected to be and nothing more.  It is a classic CAFCASS obfuscation of the issue of parental alienation, using all the tactics this organisation have deployed over the years I have been doing this work.  As such it is a simple piece of fogging in an effort to take control of the issue of parental alienation so that business can be continued as usual.

I could take it apart paragraph by paragraph but if I am honest, I neither have the time, interest or inclination.  What I will do however, is flag for you, those things which in time (and not too much time in my opinion), will provide for those children whose future lives have been absolutely scarred by the ineptitude of CAFCASS, the evidence they need that this government body, which is charged with upholding the safety and wellbeing of children, took deliberate action in 2018 to avoid the duties they are charged with.

Let’s begin with the analysis section –

Here is the little trap which is set for parents in the instructions and analysis.

  • When alienation is a feature, because of the polarised nature of the debate about matters as fundamental as its definition and identification, allegations tend to increase in an adversarial court system. This can lead to high levels of blaming and mistrust, which in themselves contribute to the harmful impact on the child. 

Is there a polarised debate about matters as fundamental as the definition of and identification of parental alienation?  No there is not. But CAFCASS want you and others to believe there is because that enables them to claim the control and continue their position as decision makers between two parents who they believe are in conflict with each other.  Parental alienation is not about high conflict.  By relying on this myth CAFCASS enable alienation to continue and harm to children be accepted.

Notes for Children of the future:  The reality is that in 2018, 18 world leading authorities met in London and discussed the definition and identification of parental alienation.  They discussed the reality that parental alienation is not about conflict between parents and they discussed the treatment routes to resolve the pathological splitting which is at the heart of what you have suffered.  These experts demonstrated to the world that what you have suffered can be treated in a systematic and replicable way.  They also demonstrated that the treatment routes have been available since 2002 but have been ignored.  In 2018 CAFCASS, who are charged with assisting you, did not attend this conference and ignored and misrepresented the existing evidence in order to continue to not help you as you should have been helped.

Moving on to the outcomes section

  • Where a child has been taught by a parent that contact with their other parent would be unsafe or undesirable, this can be very difficult to change.  
  • A parent not addressing this potentially involves a collusion with an emotionally abusive situation and a distorted world view. It reinforces avoidant behaviour and may disproportionately empower a child in a negative way. In any other circumstances a parent would be expected to help the child overcome something they were avoiding, for example if a child was unjustifiably resistant to attending school, the parent or carer would be expected to make every effort to understand the resistance and help the child overcome it.   
  • Despite these risks to the emotional wellbeing of the child, the risk of forcing them into time with the other parent may be higher. This assessment of competing risks needs to be carried out on a case-by-case basis, based on the individual needs of each child and the family situation. 
  • It can, very understandably, feel wholly unjust to a rejected parent. However, regardless of how they were formed, a child’s wishes and feelings may be so entrenched against time spent with the other parent (and a change of where they live is also not viable), that time with that parent is not possible. 

Is there any evidence in the world in 2018 that moving an abused child from the abuser to the healthy parent is more harmful to them than leaving them with the abuser?  No there is not.

The idea that a child who is being abused may have to be left with the abusive parent because the child’s wishes and feelings may be so entrenched is nonsensical and utterly appalling.

Let’s apply the same logic to a sexually abused child, or a physically abused child shall we. Would we allow a child’s ‘entrenched’ wishes and feelings to prevail if the abusive parent had been sexually molesting them or breaking their arms and legs?  No we would not.  So why, when the child is being emotionally and psychologically abused, do CAFCASS believe that the entrenchment of the child’s wishes and feelings should take precedence in some situations?  Because CAFCASS do not understand the reality of what parental alienation is and they have chosen to ignore the harm that it does.

Children of the future:  Your decision to reject your mother or father is due to a psychological defence called pathological splitting.  CAFCASS were told about the impact on a child of pathological splitting in 2018 and chose to ignore the level of harm it does to a child.  Instead CAFCASS cherry picked the research evidence, once again ignoring the world leading authorities on the matter and decided that leaving some of you with the parent who was inducing the psychologically split state of mind, was the best outcome for you.  That left you with the lifetime legacy you now face.  If you had been sexually or physically abused you would not have been left to suffer, your emotional and psychological suffering however, was not regarded by the body charged with safeguarding you, as being sufficiently serious to take the proper action.

The guidance ends with information about therapeutic interventions, which in reality is simply another shifting about of cherry picked evidence in order to maintain the CAFCASS position.

Children of the future:  In 2018 it was clearly and unequivocally demonstrated that therapy in any of its generic forms, is contraindicated in treatment of parental alienation.  The following standards were launched  to guide practitioners and a new governing body was established to protect children and families.

Screen Shot 2018-08-31 at 07.54.28

CAFCASS did not attend this conference and ignored the evidence presented from world leading authorities, choosing instead to rely upon their own in house research and cherry picking thoughts from people who they are using to maintain the status quo.

And that, is pretty much that. Some call it a wasted opportunity, some think it may have merit, some even think that they know better than the existing research evidence from world leading authorities – little do they know how much of a patsy that makes them….

None of it really matters in my view other than those things which the children of the future can use to demonstrate that their long term suffering is caused by the failure of a body which should have protected them, from using the knowledge and research evidence which was freely available to them.

This is the next child abuse scandal in Britain in my view and finally,  I think I may well live long enough to see it uncovered.

Working with a young woman whose ‘decision’ to reject her mother was upheld by CAFCASS ten years ago, who is reunited with her mother now but still suffering the impact of psychological splitting, I hear her ask the same questions over and over again.

I thought they would help me, all they did was ask me what I wanted and then behaved as if my mother was a monster.  I couldn’t understand why they could not see that I was in a place where I couldn’t say anything other than what my father wanted me to say.  They were adults, they had the power to help me, even though I was saying I didn’t want to see my mum, I was desperate for someone to see what the problem was.  And they didn’t. I still remember that woman (CAFCASS officer) telling me that she would protect me from my mother, which made me feel as if I were a monster myself. I still do feel like a monster.  I don’t know how they could have left me to rot in that way.

Parental alienation is not about contact, it is not about high conflict, it is not about the child’s wishes and feelings other than how the expression of those give evidence of the abuse the child is suffering.  Parental alienation is not controversial, research evidence and practice standards exist and are demonstrated to provide replicable outcomes for abused children.   Inducing and maintaining the psychologically split state of mind in a child is abuse.  There is no evidence in the world that therapy in any of its generic forms can help.

The evidence of what works is known and shown to work.

in 2018, this government body chose to ignore it all.

 

16 Comments

  1. Well… I’ve been waiting for a quiet stress free moment to have a read through the CIAF, not that there are many of those when you have controlling/self interested people on your life. To be honest I haven’t been looking forward to reading it in case it contained something like what this blog describes which would make me loose all faith in Cafcass, all faith in justice, all faith in government to do what is right to protect victims. Can’t say I’m looking forward to read anymore but I will because it is my duty to the children in my family.

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    1. Angela, do not put your faith or trust in CAFCASS…..you can put it in the high court judges in this country and you can put it in people who are fighting to ensure that the recognised practices with families are brought into being but we are up against one hell of an opposition and a bunch of practitioners who will happily sell parents down the river by enabling CAFCASS to keep on doing the same thing. The right way will prevail, I can really feel it now, we are not far away but it will require those like me to stand firm and keep speaking the truth so that the enablers who offer CAFCASS the power and authority to keep on ignoring the evidence are exposed. One of them has exposed themselves in their collaboration with CAFCASS, what this person doesn’t realise is that there are no excuses when the children of the future who come looking for the perpetrators of this child abuse. The notion that there are no proven methods of intervention in the UK is a simple lie and CAFCASS’s use of that lie will eventually be at the end of the untangling children of the future will do. I would not like to be in that position and if my name were attached to the recommendations for therapy in this document, I would be feeling deeply uncomfortable. Stick with us, we will prevail because the truth of child abuse always does eventually.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Angela I believe we members of same groups on social media.
      CAFCASS are not fit for purpose, I cannot imagine any parent having much faith in them and those involved in our case corrupt to the core sadly, destroying lives because I had the cheek to complain about her childish antics and unproffessionalism.

      Covering her ears and eyes like a 7 year old child to prevent herself viewing or listening to evidence. X

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    1. yes I know some HC Judges don’t get it but many do and more do than don’t in my experience and they are the people who will bring change – when we educate them they get it straight away – when the evidence is presented, they get it. The task therefore is to build EAPAP education processes as fast as we can – we are working overtime to get it done.

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  2. With Cafcass actively removing ‘parental alienation’ (as understood by experts) from it’s tool kit, it fails it’s duty to protect children.

    Every parent who enters Family Courts is demonstrating intransigence the resolution of this is exactly what courts do, to define the cause and resolve on behalf of children. Today’s framing of parental alienation into the simple concept of intransigent parents inevitably leaves children damaged by P.A.

    Cafcass unable to sound alarm bells as every parent is one of the bulk standard ‘intransigent parents’. Parental Alienation needs to be defined and separated from the ‘parents in conflict’ dump. Other forms of child abuse are defined and safeguards placed. Yet Cafcass state they will go along with P.A. child abuse when the going gets tough (see Outcomes section). What distinguishes within the Cafcass culture the physical abuse of children when the going gets tough?

    These decisions are made by Cafcass on our societies behalf. It’s time for society to see the background evidence that informed their decision. Cafcass given the opportunity to demonstrate it’s competency at the same time.

    Below is a list of questions that Cafcass can reasonably be expected to have researched before drawing up it’s strategy on P.A. Without putting Cafcass to any trouble, hopefully these are readily available:-

    1) Cafcass’s definition of Parental Alienation and the evidence used to support this definition?

    2) The average negative impact on children and on into later adult life and how frequently children are left exposed to this abuse after passing through the present day Family Courts intervention.

    3) What reduction in children exposed to this form of abuse are Cafcass hoping to achieve with the new measures and why will society expect this new strategy to work?

    4) Any other considerations?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes indeed Nick –

      4) What research have CAFCASS relied upon to draw the conclusion that there are no evidence based interventions available in the UK?

      5) Which experts did CAFCASS consult with in coming to the conclusions they reached in this guidance?

      6) Why did CAFCASS not attend a conference of experts in London in August 2018 when they were invited to do so?

      7) Why have CAFCASS misrepresented the research evidence into practice with families, stating that the evidence from people like Professor William Bernet and Dr Amy Baker cannot be relied upon because they draw from their own practice with families – a complete lie which was promulgated in their webinar released in early September.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So sad that is exactly what I’m going through in the US. They just listen to the children and what they want but they don’t understand why. A forensic evaluation was done to determine that Parental alienation was taking place and my children are still not back with me and we are still going through the court process. It is sad and very discouraging living without my children.

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    1. “They just listen to the children and what they want…”

      So true Kim, and my experience also here in the US. Putting the onus on children to determine the direction of their lives, how cruel to foist such responsibility on those too young to vote, drink, drive, serve, etc. And then, the children unfairly “own” their eventual situation. They chose, even if they really didn’t, and couldn’t. And this is why I believe it is so hard to recover from PA. Because in their hearts, their souls, they do “own” it. It was their choice and to regain their authenticity they must confront themselves.

      What a cruel, cruel sentence to give to a child.

      “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,
      it would be better for him if a great millstone
      were put around his neck
      and he were thrown into the sea”

      How perverse a world, where I hoped for my children to suffer visible abuse, a black eye, whip mark, broken bones, etc. Something that would scream “abuse” to those who did nothing but nod their heads and clutch their pearls as I plead for help.

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  4. Karen,
    I don’t know where to begin to thank you for this work, nor do I have many words left for this abusive and corrupt “company”.
    I’m so grateful you continue to highlight this. You may remember my wince when I heard a couple of people from Cafcass were joining your excellent workshop five years ago. On that occasion one was leaving them (good move) and the other had paid themself the cost to attend.
    My view has not and will not change and I would string them all up for child abuse without hesitation and not even considering the abuse and depression handed to some innocent loving parents .
    For you and the work you do all I can say on my behalf and my three innocent children ….thank you.

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  5. This is a good move, preparing the ground for Legal Claims for Compensation against CAFCASS.
    Money and it’s potential loss is the only thing over controlling government will react to.
    It’s a shame though, that the Legal Profession, the other vested interest profiting from 40 years of Family Law Injustice, will benefit financially from any compensation claims brought by children damaged by the lack of protection from Parental Alienation.
    Perhaps the electronic distribution to the Legal Firms of all the latest research on PA will give them the opportunity to protect client children or include them in some future legal liability.
    Thanks again Karen for your intelligent resistance to this massive arms industry.

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    1. That great idea about the latest research evidence being circulated digitally is exactly what we will do Paul. I really believe that laying the evidence trail for the children of the future and the parents fighting now, is what will stop this and make change happen – EAPAP will be providing the standards of practice when those claims start to be made. Those who argued with the existing evidence and collaborated with CAFCASS will be the ones who will face the damaged children in time to come.

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  6. Thanks for this well written piece Karen. In your view does this appalling report expose CAFCASS as simply its own little ignorant empire, or is it that CAFCASS is a cover organization steered by other political interest group(s)?

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  7. I have battled for 7 years. My son has been torn from me, my daughter in turmoil. Cafcass have done nothing but make an awful situation infinitely worse for my children. I have formerly complained about them to no avail. One report even states that ‘the children appear to align there wishes and feelings with those of their father in order for love and acceptance’ and yet it has been deemed that the children stay away from me as the change would be too unsettling.
    The Law… Cafcass… is indeed ‘An Ass’
    I despair 😩

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  8. Oh Karen, I don’t know where to turn! Cafcass told me I can complain on my daughters behalf Or on my own half as I wasn’t party to proceedings. My daughter could prove every lie her ex told in court,yrt cafcass, the magistrates were not interested. There was more than enough evidence to suggest handing my grandson to his father would be detrimental to his emotional well-being, all professional reports from other professionals were ignored by cafcass. We have video evidence that carcass said we can’t use in court. The cafcass officer altered what my daughter said in her statement and did the same to the report the headmistress wrote. Tried to complain to royal courts of justice after cafcass ignored my daughters complaints. All emails from my daughter to cafcass have suddenly been deleted so evidence that could prove my daughter followed their instructions for court has been removed . my grandsons voice was ignored even though the school wrote about how distressed grandson was after his father told him about the court proceedings. There is souch more tothis than meets he eye!! Feel my hands are tied as we can’t afford a solicitor and I have to each my daughter go through this pain after being grandsons sole carer for 6yrs. Boys father lied in court and basically has been allowed to get away with it. Also lost appeal as judge had to go on previous cafcass report and couldn’t allow new evidence. Daughtes ex told court he has e’en with partner for 5yrs web we can prove he has only been with her for 2. Seems not e wants the truth and a little boy now has to pay he price along with his mother. What do we do now????

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