The following is an anonymous contribution from an alienated parent. In the interests of professionalism and confidentiality the individuals’ names have been changed.
So I was in family court the other day for the umpteenth time. My name is John, I am an alienated parent. I am a father to three beautiful children that my ex has denied me access to for almost two years now. My ex has effectively brainwashed my children against me. To such an extent that they state they no longer want me in my life.
I now represent myself in all court hearings having already spent in-excess of £25,000 (approximately $33,500 USD) on legal fees. Due to the lack of legal counsel I ensure I am always accompanied by a trusted friend or family member at each court hearing.
So I arrived in court and I met my family member in the main foyer. As we were talking the Children’s Guardian walked round the corner, spotted me, walked over and politely said hello. I replied with the same level of courtesy.
Now, here in the UK, a Children’s Guardian is a role within Cafcass (The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service). They are appointed by the court to represent the rights and interests of children in family court proceedings.
In the interests of confidentiality I will refer to the Children’s Guardian as Dory. Any perceived link from readers between this chosen change of name and the Finding Nemo character of the same name that suffers from short term memory loss, is purely coincidental.
In the interests of bringing some context into the following dialogue I would like to inform the reader of the following information:
The day before this court hearing I received an email from Dory informing me that “there is no more that Cafcass can assist with.” Now, obviously I found this quite concerning, given that the hearing was the very next day.
So I emailed Dory asking her to explain to me why “there is no more that Cafcass can assist with?” I received a reply but not an answer to my question. So I then sent an additional email to Dory’s manager, who I shall refer to as Groucho Marx; I also copied in Dory. In the email I asked Groucho the following three questions:
- Why “there is no more that Cafcass can assist with?”
- Why is this case not being treated as a case of parental alienation, when Cafcass have identified it as being a case of parental alienation?
- Why Groucho, are you and Dory taking the opposing view of your very own CEO in such a complex case? [CEO, Anthony Douglas publicly states that parental alienation should be treated with the same severity as any other form of abuse.]
I received a reply from Groucho, but he was either unable to or unwilling to answer my above questions. He stated that such questions should be asked in a final hearing!
So in returning to my day in family court and my conversation with Dory the following dialogue between us took place:
Dory: “Sorry John for not replying to your email. I was busy writing a statement for today’s hearing, but my understanding is that Groucho Marx responded to your email.”
Me: “Well he did respond, but like you Dory, he chose not to answer my questions.”
Dory: “Well you do ask a lot of questions John.”
Me: “Well I may ask a lot of questions, but to be fair Dory, you don’t answer the majority of them. I was wondering why were you unwilling or unable to answer the very simple question that was why there is no more that Cafcass can assist with?”
Dory: “Well there are lots of factors involved, hence I asked Groucho to respond to your email.”
Me: “He responded, but he still didn’t answer my questions.”
Dory: “Well you need to take this up with Groucho.”
Me: “But Dory, you are the Children’s Guardian. You are the one that informed me that there is no more that Cafcass can assist with. So surely you have the answer. I simply don’t understand why you couldn’t answer this question yesterday.”
Dory: “As I have already answered you, I was being preparing for today’s hearing.”
Me: “Okay, I have a different question; the decision that there is no more that Cafcass can assist with, was this decision made prior to yesterday?”
Dory: “I don’t know what you mean?”
Me: “Let me rephrase the question. You know yesterday?”
Me: “Was this decision made before yesterday?”
Dory: “Yes it was.”
Me: “Okay, in which case, this begs my next question; why was it decided to only inform me of this yesterday. You and Groucho both know that I represent myself in court and that I need to prepare.”
At this point Dory was beginning to appear flustered. It is only speculation on my part, but I can only assume that she was beginning to feel frustrated with the constant bombardment of questions she was either unable or unwilling to answer for me.
Dory: “John, you are never satisfied!”
Me: “I’m sorry that you feel that way Dory. However I haven’t seen my three children for almost two years. I do not know if you have children, but if you were in my shoes and you were having to fight for an organisation such as Cafcass that is so obviously incompetent, just for it to do it’s job properly, would you be satisfied with the service that you received from such an organisation?”
Dory: [No answer].
Me: “So returning to my previous query about the decision to only inform me that Cafcass can do no more, only yesterday, can you not see it from my perspective? Such a decision smacks of an unknown ulterior motive or strategic decision to give me less time to respond such a decision that was clearly not arrived at yesterday.”
Dory: [No answer].
Me: “Okay, moving on, do Cafcass accept that this is a case of parental alienation?”
Dory: “Yes Cafcass do agree that this is a case of parental alienation. However you and I differ on the level of severity of the parental alienation.”
Me: “Okay, fair enough Dory. What factor’s would need to be identified by Cafcass for this to be viewed as a severe case of parental alienation?”
Dory: “There are far too many factors John.”
Me: “Okay Dory, I’m not asking you for a long definitive list of all the factors. If it makes it a bit easier to answer this very straightforward question, just give me one factor.”
Dory: “You would need to speak to Groucho about this.”
Me: “You are not really answering any of my questions are you Dory. What I don’t understand is that Cafcass’ very own CEO has clearly stated publicly on numerous occasions that all cases of parental alienation should be dealt with the same severity as any other kind of abuse. However the approach of staff such as yourself and Groucho to cases of parental alienation is the complete opposite of how your very own CEO states his staff should be managing such cases. Such a difference in theory and practice would not be acceptable in any other organisation, so why is it acceptable for Cafcass to conduct themselves in such a way? Particularly as they are an organisation whose job it is to protect the interests of children involved in family court proceedings?”
At this point Dory chose not to answer my last question. She simply stood up and walked off.