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What the courts are doing with parental alienation cases

A LSUC Paper

Parental alienation cases are not going away. Having reared its ugly head for the first time in or around 1985 when the term parental alienation syndrome was coined by Dr. Richard Gardiner, sadly, this pathology is here to stay.

That being the case, how are our courts dealing with these most extreme of high conflict cases? How are judges handling this behaviour, which some have gone so far as to label as child abuse?

In this paper written for the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Six Minute Family Lawyer Program, held December 3, 2013, Jennifer Samara Shuber summarizes the case law and judicial responses to alienation in decisions from across the province in the past 12 months.

It is questionable whether any trial outcome could actually repair these damaged relationships, that is, accomplish what the parents with so much professional assistance have been unable to accomplish. A court order provides a decision. Solutions lie elsewhere. In its search for the order that is in the best interests of these children at this point in time, realistically, the court may only aspire to minimize the ongoing damage to the children.

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