Hong Kong, 21 June 2018: Boase Cohen & Collins Partner Usha Casewell addressed the complex issue of parental alienation when she appeared as a guest speaker at the recent LAWASIA Family Law & Children’s Rights Conference in Vientiane, Laos.
Mrs Casewell helped explain how parental alienation – described in a UK Parliamentary debate as “the deliberate manipulation of a child by one parent against the other” – was becoming an increasingly crucial topic for Family Lawyers, Judges, Social Workers and Mental Health Professionals. “This has been and continues to be a difficult area as lawyers have neither the expertise nor the training to diagnose the mental health issues involved,” she commented.
“Whilst parental alienation is not recognised as a diagnosable disorder it does have features of mental illness. Family Courts have limited options in the orders they can make to deal with children allegedly affected by parental alienation or manipulation.”
Mrs Casewell, who heads BC&C’s Matrimonial Team, and Hong Kong Solicitor Linda Heathfield co-presented a paper which outlined research into what is considered parental alienation and the different labels used for such manipulative behaviour. Mrs Casewell talked through three case scenarios ranging from mild alienation which was quickly resolved to extreme alienation which was unlikely to ever be resolved.
The two solicitors also took part in a panel discussion entitled “Is this Really Happening: Estrangement and Alienation” together with Toon Han Chiam, Deputy Director of Counselling and Psychological Services at the Family Justice Courts in Singapore, and Dr Jennifer Neoh, a Clinical Psychologist from Australia.
In her practice, Mrs Casewell is an advocate of listening to the child and also believes the child has the right to have a relationship with both parents even if that relationship is not perfect. She usually encourages her clients not to make children the subject of contentious issues.
The conference brought together more than 80 speakers and delegates from 18 jurisdictions throughout Asia and Europe plus Australia and the United States. The attendees includes Lawyers, Judges, Academics and Mental Health Professionals. The keynote speech was presented by the Honourable John Pascoe, Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia, on the topic of “Have We Lost the Battle on Children’s Rights?”
“It was a vibrant conference covering a huge range of issues relating to children and Family Law in general,” added Mrs Casewell, who is also Deputy Chairman of the Hong Kong Family Law Association, having previously served as Chairman from 2013-16.