Here is the template, the ‘standard’ PA case (TP denotes Target Parent, AP is Alienating Parent, C child). My assertion is that all PA cases are very similar, which is why a high degree of consistency from the courts is possible and desirable. See if you agree…Cases like V vs V run along precisely these lines.
TP and AP live together, are married, or have a relationship of some kind. It doesn’t much matter for present purposes. A child is born. All are happy. AP may well love TP and visa versa, and both love the child. Both parents look after and care for the child, probably taking in turns to babysit for the other parent. At some point TP and AP fall out. Maybe one of them is unfaithful. Maybe TP does nothing wrong at all…Anyway, TP leaves or is given his/her marching orders.
AP is unhappy and resentful. He/she may try everything to get TP back. Nothing works. All (s)he can do now is to hurt TP as much as (s)he has hurt AP. And the best way to do that is to use C as a tool, a weapon. So begins stage one, the Brainwashing Stage. Contact is stopped or severely curtailed.
AP makes sure that the child knows everything about the break-up. The child gets all the information. AP alienates TP from C.
AP may do this in a very obvious way (“TP just doesn’t love you any more”), or just ensure that the child overhears unflattering conversations about TP. Or AP deliberately takes C to the wrong meeting point for contact and tells the child that TP just doesn’t care or isn’t bothered when TP, unsurprisingly, doesn’t turn up.
Allegations are usually made against TP, typically that TP has sexually abused C and/or AP, is violent, or some such. These are invariably untrue, and unsupported by any evidence whatsoever, but contact is denied – which has the effect of deepening the alienation, and PA is allowed to do its deadly work, in league with its greatest ally – time. AP makes sure that the child sides with him/her and feels sorry for him/her. The child is ‘recruited’. The child becomes AP’s protector. The child is punished if he gives a good account of contact with TP and rewarded if he complains about TP. Pretty soon, the child sees the lie of the land. Kids are clever like this! A child work out very quickly the behaviours that will earn it the wrath of the toxic parent, and the behaviours that will be smiled upon. Good behaviours will earn treats, affection, food, and so on. ‘Bad’ behaviours will earn ‘the silent treatment’, a screaming fit or whatever. Pavlov would have been proud!
So, to earn his treats, and avoid his punishments, the child rejects TP. He goes along with stories about TP being abusive, or will just say silly stuff like “dad wears stupid shoes”. The conditioning is complete.
Now comes stage two (the Cowardly stage). AP now protests, to anyone who will listen, that he/she is trying to promote contact with TP (notwithstanding his/her previous hideous allegations against him/her, and all the evidence that AP is frustrating contact). But, AP says, the child will not go to see TP. So now AP hides behind the brainwashed child she/he has created and recruited. All of this is swallowed wholesale by CAFCASS, who fail to ask any of the perceptive questions or use their own PA tool properly or at all.
AP continually frustrates contact, disobeys court orders, lies, and encourages C’s rejection of TP, or simply forbids discussion of TP in AP’s home. This behaviour is overlooked by the courts, exhibiting what Munby LJ refers to as a ‘flabby judicial response’. The case drags on as TP continues, often fruitlessly, to pursue contact or transfer of residence applications.
Time has passed. Now it is too late, and the situation becomes irremediable. The abuser wins. TP’s relationship with C is wrecked, permanently. The Court of Appeal accepts that C should live with TP or at least see him/her, but C is so utterly alienated by now that C refuses and the court will not force the issue, sitting idly by as TP leaves the court just another ‘tearful and wholly-deserving father’, a phrase that has been seen, shamefully, more than once.
Not very complicated is it? And this happens over and over and over and over again, up and down the land. Every day.