Hong Kong, 24 September 2018: Boase Cohen & Collins Partner Usha Casewell has attended a landmark conference in London on the increasingly topical and complex issue of parental alienation.

The two-day event, entitled “Moving Upstream: Addressing the Problem of Parental Alienation in Europe”, brought together Judges, lawyers, mental health practitioners and parent bodies as well as world leading experts to consider the legal and mental health concerns that arise from such behaviour.

Parental alienation has been identified as the deliberate manipulation of a child by one parent against the other and most often arises in high-conflict Family Law cases. 

Mrs Casewell, head of BC&C’s Matrimonial Team, was a guest speaker on the topic at a conference in Laos last June. She hailed the London gathering as another step forward in raising awareness of parental alienation and the difficulties it presents to lawyers, judges, social workers and mental health professionals.

“Parental alienation was initially identified in the late 1970s and brought to light in the 1980s by the late American child psychiatrist Richard Gardener,” said Mrs Casewell, who is also Deputy Chairman of the Hong Kong Family Law Association, having previously served as Chairman from 2013-16.

“There has been much controversy about whether there is such a thing as parental alienation. Given the clinical experience and the increasing number of cases coming before the court, parental alienation is a phenomena which needs to be taken seriously and addressed. As a troubling family dynamic, it has been described as ‘a veritable epidemic’.

“There is no doubt that family lawyers who have both ‘alienating’ and ‘alienated’ parents as clients are struggling to advise and assist them in dealing with this behaviour and to find practical solutions which protect children who are caught in the middle.

“It is only in the last 20 years or so that parental alienation has come to be more widely discussed and, importantly, the exceptional harm caused by the manipulation of children is now being recognised. The London conference addressed an array of legal and mental health issues and highlighted that early intervention is essential and the requisite therapy is counter intuitive. The conference offered well researched and fascinating presentations and panel discussions.”

The London event, held at the Cavendish Conference Centre, was co-hosted by the European Association of Parental Alienation Practitioners (established in 2017) and the Family Separation Clinic. The conference was chaired on its first day by Sir Paul Coleridge, a former High Court Judge and President of the Family Division, and on its second day by Dr Janine Braier, a Consultant Clinical Psychologist with more than 30 years’ experience as trainer and expert witness.