While for most, Christmas is a time of magic and happiness, for some it's a period of pain and despair.
First off, I loathe to talk about subjects like this because of how sad and upsetting it is and I know there will be comments questioning why I'm doing it, as there usually is.
I understand it's painful to reflect and it's painful for me also to think back to when I was in a similar situation. I know I'm no longer in a position where I'm alienated, and I may no longer be able to directly relate but the scars never fully heal. My heart breaks for everyone I try to help through this tough time of year.
It's my view that despite how painful it can be to reflect, it's more important to write about it and raise awareness to the suffering of millions of parents and children worldwide. For us to suffer in silence, to me makes us complicit.
Some of you reading this may be confused by the title, seeing your children at Christmas is a given, right? Wrong!
Worldwide there are millions of children and parents who will be separated this Christmas through no choice of their own. I know of many parents who would do anything to see their children but are sadly prevented by the other parent and/or the family court system, which is not fit for purpose.
Christmas is traditionally a time for family and there's simply no filling the void left by an absent parent or child. It's emotionally damaging for all involved and suffering at the hands of parental alienation.
If you are reading this and have no experience of parental alienation, just imagine someone kidnapping your child. That's essentially what it is in a lot of cases. "Legal" kidnapping.
For alienated parents, the festive season is more a period of mourning than a period of celebration.
The current financial climate further exacerbates issues with a lot of people out there struggling to pay their bills so where does the extra money come from to even begin the family court process?
A big problem is the family court system is set up to make profit above all else. The family law industry is growing year on year in the UK and this trend is similar throughout the world where parental alienation is prevalent.
There are over 5,000 law firms in the UK working in family law, which gives an idea on the money that is to be made for solicitors.
This is why I've been doing this for 6 years and counting, because implementing better frameworks for parents and children and enforcing equal parenting as a prerequisite would affect the profits of 5,000 of law firms. This is without even considering the money made by the courts.
It will always be too much to ask for some morality from solicitors, right? But what about the courts? The same courts contributed to by UK taxpayers so shouldn't they be serving us better? The short answer is yes.
How? You may ask. Well, first I'd suggest a token gesture from HMCTS, like slashing their prices in half to help in these harsh times. I bet something simple like that would cause a huge increase in court cases.
Another suggestion would be training the judges to make decisions based on logic and reason and to be consistent, or again, is that asking too much?
Abuse victims in the UK often receive free counselling and legal aid (as they should), so we need parental alienation to be recognised as abuse. This alone would help so many lower income families get the help and support they so desperately need.
It may seem like it would take a Christmas miracle to reunite children with their parents, but the truth is there are things that can be done to make it easier and more realistic. We can't expect changes overnight, however we can keep pushing for more and more.
Collectively we can and should stop using solicitors (unless the case is complex ie. criminal) by pooling our resources and self-representing as well as continuing to put pressure on the government to create better frameworks that help to encourage equal parenting and punish alienating behaviours.
Ultimately, we need shun anyone and everyone who seeks to exploit the pain and suffering of parental alienation for monetary gain.
For anyone who is finding it difficult and/or needs some help and support, please make sure to join our community here at PAPA.
Everything is completely free and always will be, including our upcoming family court resources and information packs.
We also operate a free to use online forum here on our website and our facebook support group of over 22k members is a great place to get impartial advice and support.
We are here to help.