Is parental alienation the same as implacable hostility?

Is parental alienation the same as implacable hostility? Sadly, they are both frequently heard terms in the Family Courts.  Ruth Hetherington, Partner and Head of the Private Law, Children Division with the Group’s specialist family law firm, McAlister Family Law, explains.

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In my view there are subtle differences between the two, although they can both be present in a family case.

Parental alienation

This is a form of manipulation and/or psychological harm that is caused to a child by a parent, or other adults surrounding the child.  It can be direct or indirect. but either way, it involves the child.  The child may not realise it, and may not want to accept it, but it may make that child feeling very loyal to the parent with whom they spend more time.  In some cases, a parent will present as promoting the children to spend time with the other parent, but then alienate the children by their own actions, words or deeds.

Implacable hostility

This does not necessarily involve the child directly.  It is something that a parent may feel, for whatever reason.  There can be entirely legitimate reasons why a parent feels the way they feel, and no two cases are the same. A parent who is implacably hostile does not necessarily mean to manipulate their children to make them feel the same way as they do, but this does not mean that the children are not affected. Children easily pick up on how a parent is feeling and then react in a way which makes them resistant to any contact.

Causing harm

Both parental alienation and implacable hostility can be harmful to children and the relationships they have with their parents and members of extended families.  Both can cause long term and lasting effects for children.

The Courts start from the premise that children should have a relationship with both parents. where it is safe to do so. Whilst adult conflict is likely to be present when parents separate, you need to do everything possible to protect your children from this.

If you are affected by any of the issues outlined here, please get in touch today. We are here to help you.