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Family Courts

Volume 472: debated on Wednesday 27 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what research her Department has evaluated on parental alienation syndrome; what conclusions she has drawn; whether steps are being introduced to take into account research into parental alienation syndrome in family court proceedings; and if she will make a statement. (183530)

I have been asked to reply.

We have not undertaken or evaluated research on this subject and have no plans to do so. Many difficulties can emerge following divorce or parental separation and children can be affected in a variety of ways. The Government believe that, where possible, parents should work together to agree contact and residence arrangements themselves and in the best interests of their children. The Children's Plan contains a commitment to improve support during and after family breakdown, including helping children to maintain contact with both parents. Where contact cases come to court, the child's welfare must be the court's paramount consideration. The Children and Adoption Act 2006 has extended the maximum duration of Family Assistance Orders from six to 12 months. This will expand the potential support that CAFCAS8 can provide in assisting families to respect agreements over contact The other provisions in the 2006 Act, when implemented, will give the courts more flexible powers in contact cases, including introducing contact activities, monitoring court-ordered contact, and new enforcement powers.