Parental Alienation – Public Consultation Welcomed

Parental Alienation is becoming a prominent issue in the family courts. It raises significant concerns for the emotional welfare of children and has been identified as an emotional abuse issue.   Such is the gravity of concern that the Department of Justice has set up a public consultation on the matter. This article written by Karen Tobin, Family Law Solicitor and Cliona O’Brien, Trainee Solicitor, CKT gives an overview of parental alienation and the public consultation.

What is Parental alienation?

As of now, there is no definition of Parental alienation in Irish Law. The concept is broadly understood to mean the process by which one parent negatively influences a child, so that the child’s relationship with their other parent is drastically impacted. The end result of parental alienation often accumulates in the rejection of the alienated parent and ultimately can lead to the termination of their relationship. Furthermore, parental alienation may even extend to sever the relationship between the child and the extended family of the alienated parent.

Parental alienation has been viewed by experts to be akin to a form of abuse, raising grave child protection concerns.  It may have serious adverse mental health implications for both children and parents.

Parental alienation can occur in many forms. For example;

  • Denial of access between the alienated parent and children.
  • Where the child is told negative false statements about the alienated parent.

This is a very damaging process for both the child and the parent to undergo. It can cause lifelong trauma and can significantly impact a child’s future relationships.

Parental alienation can stem from the actions of either parent and usually occurs where a relationship has broken down.

Public Consultation

Public Consultation has now been established by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee. The public consultation is open to both the public and stakeholders to contribute to. This will allow citizens and experts to express their views and experiences.

In particular, the Department of Justice has sought:

  • Views of and/or experiences of parental alienation
  • Its impact
  • How it might be responded to in the future.


The outcome of the public consultation process will help inform how future laws and policies on Parental alienation are drafted. Additionally, it will enhance the understanding and awareness of Parental alienation in Ireland.

It is hoped that the result of the public consultation will establish guidelines for the courts, practitioners and court appointed experts, as to how such serious and sensitive cases are managed in the court system.

If you have a family law query, you can contact Karen TobinFamily Law Solicitor on 021 4626900.