The word ethical derives from the Greek work ethos; meaning ‘moral character.’ Within the world that we live in most people, most members of society would agree that a moral character describes the characteristics of an individual whose overall behaviour is right in a moral sense; honest, fair and truthful.
In it’s simplest definition ethics are a system of moral principles. These moral principles influence how we make decisions and lead our lives.
Past philosophers have put forward the argument that ethics entirely influence the way people behave. They have argued that if an individual comes to the realisation that a potential behaviour or response is morally good, then it would irrational not to do so.
And then there is also the concept of moral ambiguity. Some individuals struggle with this concept as they may want there to be a simple and straightforward answer to ethical dilemmas or questions, but there may not be one. For those that struggle with moral ambiguity it may force these individuals to take ownership of their own behaviours and choices in the absence of simply falling back on conveniently placed customs or rules.
So this then brings me onto the topic of the institution that is the Family Court. This institution is defined as being a court of law that hears and makes legal decisions involving issues such as child custody and divorce.
As we know there are many services and institutions that ‘work’ alongside the family court. Services such are Cafcass here in the UK, CPS in the US and Children’s Social Services for example, to name just a few. These additional services are viewed by the Judge as their eyes and ears. These services should be gathering information, evidence from numerous sources and collating this ultimately into a portfolio of evidence from which the appointed Judge will be expected to make a legal decision on.
So moving onto a typical, genuine textbook case of severe parental alienation the following factors, dynamics will most probably be in place:
- One parent (in most cases the resident parent, known as the targeting parent) will be denying contact between the children and the non-resident parent (known as the targeted parent).
- The targeting parent will constantly denigrate the character of the targeted parent in the eyes of the children.
- This denigration of character will also be underpinned with a false narrative of events being fed to the children by the targeting parent. For example a skewed account of the circumstances of separation, false allegations against the targeted parent etc.
- In most severe cases the targeted parent’s family are also excluded from the lives of the children.
- All of the above actions normally result in the alienating children unjustifiably completely and utterly rejecting the targeted parent.
Now in returning to the concept of right or wrong, here in the UK Cafcass CEO Anthony Douglas publicly states that parental alienation is recognised by his organisation as a form of abuse. Furthermore Douglas goes on to state that this form of abuse should be treated with the same severity as any other form of abuse. So in terms of ethics, so far so good!
In addition to the above statement from Douglas it is worth noting that in the same interview it is stated that according to Cafcass, parental alienation is responsible for around 80 per cent of the most difficult cases that come before the family courts. In my opinion, that figure coming from an organisation as inept and ineffective as Cafcass is more likely to be much higher.
Due to the nature of our campaign/support group we are privy, almost on a daily basis to overwhelming evidence of the continuing nature of biased, misinformed, prejudicial and evidence omitting reports that are being written by Cafcass Family Court Advisors (FCAs).
Now, lets imagine if you will, that we live in a world where Cafcass FCAs do not write biased, misinformed, prejudicial and evidence omitting reports at all! I know it’s hard to imagine and that in the real world, such professional conduct from Cafcass FCAs is rare, but please bear with me.
So in this imaginary world we have fine upstanding Cafcass FCAs handing in well-balanced, well-informed and well-evidenced reports to the family judge in all cases of parental alienation.
Now at this point the judge will be informed by the FCAs that there is overwhelming evidence of alienating behaviours being exhibited by the targeted parent (as highlighted in bullet points above).
The judge will be informed that the children are being emotionally abused by the resident parent. The judge will also be informed that it is not in the children’s best interest to be denied a relationship with the targeted parent. There may well be a psychological assessment that informs the judge that there is little to no evidence of the abusive parent changing their approach.
Such scenarios have in most cases been returned to court numerous times already. This is due to the abusive parent having already breached numerous contact orders that would have lead to contact between the children and the targeted parent. So this is the evidence that the judge has before them.
At this incredibly pivotal point the judge is required to pass a judgement that will effect the future well-being, future mental health etc, of both the alienated children and the targeted parent.
Now lets return to the subject of human ethics. Lets imagine another scenario, we grab an honest, fair and truthful average person off the street and present them with the above moral dilemma.
Now would this average person see the above scenario for what it is? Would they see it as one parent emotionally abusing the effected children? Would they also see it as the targeting parent attempting to erase the targeted parent from the lives of the effected children? Would they see that there is no justifiable reason for these effected children to absolutely reject their other parent, who they had previously had had a loving and healthy relationship with? Would they see that a swift, robust, pro-active decision needed to be made in the best interests of the children. Would they see that the emotional abuse being inflicted on the children must stop. Would they see that these children need to be protected?
Perhaps you the readers could answer the above questions yourselves. Presented with the above ethical dilemma what would you do in the best interests of the children? Is it even a dilemma at all?
Or is the answer to all of the questions, obvious to any given person of ethical, moral character?
I myself am an alienated parent. I continue to battle to have a relationship with my children. I continue to navigate my way through a flawed judicial system. I get knocked down. But every single time I pick myself back up, I dust myself down and I carry on. I don’t carry on fighting for me. I carry on fighting on behalf of my children.