Queen's University

Alienation Cases Study

2010-03-19

Parental alienation cases have been receiving a great deal of public interest in the past few months in Canada. As with many issues in family law, there are two competing narratives being offered to explain these cases.  Men’s rights activists claim that mothers alienate children from their fathers as a way of seeking revenge for separation, and that courts are biased against fathers in these cases. Feminists dismiss alienation as a fabrication of fathers who are trying to force contact with children who are terrified of them and to control the lives of their abused former partners.  
“While there is some validity to both of these narratives, there are also significant mythical elements.  The reality of these cases is often highly complex, with both parents bearing some responsibility for the situation,” says Nick Bala, professor of Law at Queen’s University, and an expert in family law. Prof. Bala has undertaken a study of reported Canadian family law cases between 1989 and 2008 dealing with claims of parental alienation. This study reveals a sharp increase in the number of cases. While mothers are more likely to be found to be alienating parents, fathers are more likely to make unsubstantiated claims, and both of these trends reflect the fact that mothers are more likely to have custody rather than gender differences or judicial bias.
Prof. Bala is available to discuss his initial findings, recommended changes to handling alienation cases, and the cases that have captured public attention recently.
To arrange an interview with Nick Bala, please contact me at 613-533-6000 ext. 79173 or via email at stephanie.earp@queensu.ca or Jeff Drake at 613-533-2877 or via email at jeff.drake@queensu.ca

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