Battling for Total Reform

Where is the Justice?

A couple of days ago I went for a mediation session. I am what is known as an alienated parent. Following our separation in the summer of 2016, my ex has continuously denied me contact with my three young children. She has brainwashed them against me; to the point of them no longer calling me daddy. On the odd occasion I come up in conversation, my children now all refer to me by my first name. They have been exposed to such a negative perception of me by their mother, they now ‘claim’ they no longer want anything to do with me ever again. I have not had any meaningful contact with them for 18 months. The above set of abusive behaviours is collectively known as parental alienation. For a more detailed description of parental alienation, please see our What is PAS/PA? page.

“Front line staff are untrained, misinformed and completely out of their depth when it comes to assessing, managing and effectively case-working situations of parental alienation.”

Both Cafcass and Children’s Social Services are heavily involved in this case. Cafcass’ Chief Executive, Anthony Douglas publicly states that as an organisation, Cafcass acknowledge parental alienation as a form of abuse that should be dealt with the same severity as any other form of child abuse. However as an organisation, Cafcass clearly have an organisational-wide issue when it comes to disseminating such an acknowledgement down to their front line staff. Their front line staff are untrained, misinformed and completely out of their depth when it comes to assessing, managing and effectively case-working situations of parental alienation.

On the other  hand, the other organisation heavily involved in my case, Children’s Social Services, explicitly state that they do not recognise or acknowledge parental alienation as a form of abuse.

My ex and I have attended mediation, co-parenting courses and attended numerous court hearings over the last 18 months. My ex continues to breach numerous court orders that instruct or promote contact between my children and I with no legal penalties or consequences for her.

A recent psychological assessment states that my ex presents with a number of personality traits that are indicative of a Cluster A personality disorder. The same assessment states that the children are being emotionally abused and living in a toxic environment that is damaging to both their current and long term mental health. The assessment also states that due to the Cluster A personality traits, there is little to no evidence to suggest that my ex will change her current abusive and contact denying behaviours.

So what was the latest futile response from Cafcass and Children’s Social Services I hear you ask? Well… Wait for it… They have suggested my ex and I return to mediation. What an absolutely groundbreaking proposal!

So earlier on this week I attended a mediation session. In the interests of confidentiality and professionalism I have changed the name of the mediator.

I was shown into a small room and introduced to the mediator who I will refer to as Harry Ball-Sax. We greeted one another, shook hands and we both sat down.

Harry Ball-Sax then asked me “what has happened since I saw you last time in 2016?”

I replied “nothing has happened, I still haven’t seen my kids, my ex is still refusing to allow my parents and I any contact with the children and the services involved haven’t got a clue what they are doing!”

“So it sounds like due to the acrimonious separation you are both still in the middle of an ongoing high conflict issue where neither of you can compromise.”

“First of all can you please not use the term acrimonious separation. I left an unhealthy relationship, my ex is punishing me for it. The word acrimonious is defined as involving anger and bitterness. I am not angry or bitter. Furthermore in terms of compromise, my ex is demanding I leave her and our children alone so they can all grieve for me! Now obviously I’m not dead. I am very much alive. So in terms of you labelling it an issue of high conflict, the conflict is not on my part. Should my ex suddenly wake up tomorrow having had an epiphany and agree to co-parent, I would happily do so with no anger, bitterness or animosity.”

With no response to my above comment and no verbal or non-verbal expression of empathy or compassion, Harry Ball-Sax then asked me “what are the current plans in place from services?” 

“They have requested my ex and I separately write an evidence based parenting plan and submit it to the Judge at the next hearing next week.”

“So what is your proposal?”

“I propose therapeutic input for the children, a structured and supported period of graded exposure and reconciliation with me that would gradually increase in frequency. With the long term aim being 50/50 shared parenting.”

Harry Ball-Sax then made the rather astonishing comment “If I were you I certainly wouldn’t mention the terms 50/50 or shared parenting.”

I unsurprisingly asked “why is that?”

“Judges will perceive this as the father trying to take possession and ownership of the children away from the mother.”

“I’m sorry, can you just say that again please!” I requested in disbelief at what he had just said.

“Judges will perceive this as the father trying to take possession and ownership of the children away from the mother.”

“But my evidence based proposal would explicitly state that that would not be my intention! And furthermore, I have been asked to put forward a long term plan.”

In response to this he rather dismissively and with a clear and visible non-verbal attempt at avoidance, he moved his head to the side and shrugged his shoulders.

“Can you please explain why you believe Judges would perceive this as the father trying to take possession and ownership of the children away from the mother?”

Harry Ball-Sax then stated “this conversation is beyond the remit of this mediation session.”

“Be that as it may, you have just made a statement and I am asking for clarification so as to be as well informed as possible when writing my proposal.”

“You should seek legal advice on this matter.”

“But I represent myself. I just want you to elaborate on what you said about Judges and what appears to be you stating that Judges have a somewhat gender biased approach to fathers when the term 50/50 or shared parenting is used; despite there being a huge amount of evidence that informs us that shared parenting is in the short and long term best interests of the children.”

“Like I said, this conversation is beyond the scope of this mediation session.”

And so the session ended. My ex will be invited for an initial session such as the one I attended. She may or may not attend, who knows!

The above mediation session took less than twenty minutes and cost me £110 (that is $155 for any readers from the US). I left frustrated at the injustice of ‘the system’ and £110 poorer.

I have since reflected on this further. I work for the National Health Service (NHS) as a psychiatric nurse. I absolutely love my job and I truly believe that my colleagues and I make a positive difference to our patients’ lives. I earn less than £14 per hour (just under $20). Harry Ball-Sax charged me £110 of my hard earned money for twenty minutes of his time. However the service he provided made no discernible difference to my ongoing problem of being denied contact with my children. Where is the justice?

Eli Wiesel the Romanian-born American novelist, political activist, and Holocaust survivor once said “there may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

btg dad


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10 replies »

  1. I feel so sorry for you and for your kids. I do not want you to think that this is somehow an inadequate characteristic of British bureaucracy alone. Here in Japan there is exactly the same attitude that you are not necessary and would it not be better if you just left the kids to happiness with their mother? As if we were the cause of their distress! We know better but our knowledge is undermined by superficial thinking and blatant sexism. For us it is so immediate and so terrible, but the feeble misapprehension of the complexity of the problem is almost universal. Take care.

  2. Yet again a damming reason why the two groups of “professionals”,(and i use that term very loosely) should be prevented from working in an area they know nothing about.
    Mediation! What a load of twaddle . Legalised court appointed gender bashing, which if this was any other setting would be condemned for the abusive thing it is.

      • Yes years from now, historians will look back at this dark period and will treat PA the same way as all the other forms of abuse. They will shake their heads and wonder why it was allowed to carry on for so long.

  3. How is it as a psych nurse you aren’t immediately taken seriously against a crazy hostile ex??? Ugh such backward “justice”! My husband is a teacher, clearanced by FBI and the rest, yet after several stellar psych evals and mountains of proof, my stepdaughters become further alienated and my own are now dealing with the sorrow and loss. Nobody NOBIDY bats an eye. Certainly not the court. Such a sick and sad world these days. This is such an evil sin I’d never wish against my worst enemy.

    • Alicia, its called professional tribalism, when one profession doesn’t like being challenged by the arguments from another profession, ultimately the professional being challenged feels threatened. We see this a lot in cases of parental alienation. If you happen to be an alienated parent and also professional of some kind, and that profession may aid you in being more informed in battling parental alienation, it ultimately gets you nowhere because the so called professionals that supposedly manage the case, they just close rank. In my situation, I was told by the manager of the lead childrens social worker “you need to stop bringing in the subject of mental health into this case.” Bonkers, absolutely bonkers!