Kids Come Last


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Parental alienation, in which one parent denigrates the other in order to turn their children against that parent, is a well-documented but poorly-recognized form of child abuse. Children without access to both parents are more likely to engage in at-risk, antisocial behaviours. Though Maintenance Enforcement programs in western Canada address the issue of noncompliant debtors (i.e., payors of Child Maintenance), there is no organization that addresses the issue of noncompliant creditors (i.e., receivers of Child Maintenance) in providing child access. This study identifies factors that exacerbate or mitigate parental alienation when Family Law is invoked by the alienated parent as a potential remedy. The primary investigator recruited twenty-eight participants living in Alberta and British Columbia, all alienated parents or grandparents, via public internet invitation, followed by a telephone screening to confirm eligibility. Using the semi-structured interview method, each participant was voice-recorded face-to-face by the primary investigator. Each interview was subsequently transcribed for analysis which identified six core themes suggesting factors that affect the alienated parent-child relationship once Family Law is invoked. Discussion includes suggestions for further research into parental alienation including directions for resolution of its devastating impact on children and parents.