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Parental alienation, coaching and the best interests of the child : allegations of child sexual abuse in the Family Court of Australia Jodi Death, Claire Ferguson and Kylie Burgess

By: Death, Jodi.
Contributor(s): Ferguson, Claire | Burgess, Kylie.
Material type: materialTypeLabelArticleSeries: Child Abuse & Neglect.Publisher: Elsevier, 2019Subject(s): CHILD CUSTODY | CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE | FAMILY COURT | JUSTICE | MOTHERS | AUSTRALIAOnline resources: Read abstract In: Child Abuse & Neglect, 2019, Advance online publication, 15 July 2019Summary: Background: Allegations of child sexual abuse provide complex challenges to family court systems. Objectives: Despite being highly criticised in the academic research, this analysis examined whether and how the gendered concepts of parental alienation syndrome or parental alienation more broadly are still being used to rebut allegations of child sexual abuse in family court cases in Australia. Parental Alienation is broadly understood as the deliberate actions of one parent to disrupt and prevent children’s ongoing relationships with their other parent, in this case through allegations of abuse. Methods: We examined 357 publicly available judgements of the Family Court of Australia between 2010 and 2015. Judgements were analysed qualitatively for key themes using N-VIVO software. Results: Five themes emerged in the data, including use of the concept of parental alienation, coaching, mothers as manipulative, mothers as mentally ill, and impact of the best interest of the child. Conclusions: Results indicate that judgements made in the Family Court of Australia are both similar and divergent from those made in other jurisdictions internationally. The complexity of responding to allegations of child sexual abuse for parents is discussed. (Authors' abstract). Record #6324
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Child Abuse & Neglect, 2019, Advance online publication, 15 July 2019


Background: Allegations of child sexual abuse provide complex challenges to family court systems.

Objectives: Despite being highly criticised in the academic research, this analysis examined whether and how the gendered concepts of parental alienation syndrome or parental alienation more broadly are still being used to rebut allegations of child sexual abuse in family court cases in Australia. Parental Alienation is broadly understood as the deliberate actions of one parent to disrupt and prevent children’s ongoing relationships with their other parent, in this case through allegations of abuse.

Methods: We examined 357 publicly available judgements of the Family Court of Australia between 2010 and 2015. Judgements were analysed qualitatively for key themes using N-VIVO software.

Results: Five themes emerged in the data, including use of the concept of parental alienation, coaching, mothers as manipulative, mothers as mentally ill, and impact of the best interest of the child.

Conclusions:
Results indicate that judgements made in the Family Court of Australia are both similar and divergent from those made in other jurisdictions internationally. The complexity of responding to allegations of child sexual abuse for parents is discussed. (Authors' abstract). Record #6324