Thursday, May 14, 2009

More on Parental Alienation

Globe and Mail Justice Reporter, Kirk Makin, continues to follow the parental alienation controversy.

Today he reports on an interview with Queen's University law professor Nicholas Bala, who has completed a study on the "syndrome:"

An escalation in parental alienation allegations is draining valuable courtroom resources, a major study of 145 alienation cases between 1989-2008 concludes.

"Access problems and alienation cases - especially those which are more severe - take up a disproportionate amount of judicial time and energy," said the study, conducted by Queen's University law professor Nicholas Bala, a respected family law expert.

"One can ask whether the courts should even be trying to deal with these very challenging cases.

Prof. Bala said that the notion of parental alienation syndrome, coined in 1987 by U.S. psychiatrist Richard Gardner, is falling steadily into disrepute.

Professor Bala's study also addresses broader issues of gender equality before Ontario's family courts:
The study also urged the justice system to enforce access orders more rigorously for the sake of its own credibility.

It said that the relatively lax enforcement of access - an issue that primarily affects fathers - contrasts sharply with zero tolerance policies in domestic abuse cases and enhanced enforcement of child and spousal support orders.

The juxtaposition can convince fathers that the system is biased against them, Prof. Bala said.

"Just as feminists have some very important and valid criticisms of the family justice system, so do fathers' rights advocates," he said.

See: Parental alienation cases draining court resources

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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