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Legislation needed to tackle parental alienation, says Bradshaw

Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has called for legislation to tackle parental alienation on World Parental Alienation Day.

The South Belfast MLA will be attending a vigil outside the Royal Court of Justice in Belfast today (Thursday) in support of parents affected by the issue.

"World Parental Alienation Day this year falls at a time when there is increasing recognition of parental alienation in the courts globally, including within the UK," she said.

"Only last week, we had a case of one parent speaking against another parent being judged as psychological abuse of their child in an English court. This is in line with global human rights standards which, with the exception of cases of justifiable estrangement, say children have a right to a relationship with both parents.

"Parent and child alienation is astonishingly common. Legislation recognises the child's expressed preferences in case of parental separation, but does not yet recognise clearly the right of children to maintain a relationship with both parents - that has been left to interpretation of the courts.

"Some jurisdictions around the world are now openly legislating to protect children from unjustifiable alienation from or by either parent. We now need to consider what we can do to legislate, perhaps in the context of protection from psychological abuse, to ensure this is not left to interpretation of the courts and guidance on rights and responsibilities is clearer to everyone involved."