Important legal rulings

Parental alienation rulings CASE OF PISICĂ v. THE REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA and Re S (Parental Alienation: Cult: Transfer of Primary Care)

Legal round-up

CASE OF PISICĂ v. THE REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA (Application no. 23641/17)

This case concerned a claim by a mother that, by failing to take effective measures to protect her relationship with her children, who had been alienated against her by their father, the Moldovan authorities had breached her right to protection of her family life, pursuant to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The ECHR agreed that there had been a violation of Article 8 stating ‘The Court considers that the alienation of the applicant’s children, of which the applicant complained much earlier than any judgment concerning their custody was adopted, was a major factor impeding the enforcement of the judgment of 24 June 2015. Therefore, the authorities’ failure to react to the applicant’s complaints about alienation and to examine the custody case in an urgent matter must be seen as having substantially contributed to the eventual difficulties in enforcing the judgment.’


Neutral Citation Number: [2020] EWHC 1940 (Fam) Case No: ZC19P00137 IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE FAMILY DIVISION ENGLAND & WALES Re S (Parental Alienation: Cult: Transfer of Primary Care)
This case followed an appeal to the by a father against the refusal of his application for a change of residence for his 9-year-old daughter to live with him. The original judge had found that a process of alienation of the girl from her father had begun in the context of the mother’s adherence to an organisation called Universal Medicine. The Court of Appeal ruled that, ‘in a situation of parental alienation the obligation on the court is to respond with exceptional diligence and take whatever effective measures are available’ and noted that, ‘the obligation on the court is to keep the child’s medium to long term welfare at the forefront of its mind and wherever possible to uphold the child and parent’s right to respect for family life before it is breached. In making its overall welfare decision the court must therefore be alert to early signs of alienation.’


Hearing the application for a change of residence, the High Court argued that, all the child's ‘views have to be assessed having regard to the fact that they are distorted by the prism of alienation. Her wishes and feelings are the subjective result of exposure to harmful beliefs and practices which have led to her alienation from her father and her enmeshment with her mother,’ adding ‘I accept that whilst there will be short-term harm and distress for the child as a result of moving to the father's care, underlying the current estrangement lie the foundations of a positive and beneficial relationship between the child and her father.’


A change of residence was ordered.