Considering parental alienation under the aegis of the criminal law

Authors Charnelle van der Bijl

ISSN: 1996-2118
Affiliations: Professor in the Department of Criminal and Procedural Law, University of South Africa
Source: South African Journal of Criminal Justice, Volume 29 Issue 2, p. 140 – 157


Parental alienation conduct forms the focus of this article. It is distinguished from the parental alienation syndrome which identifies specific behavioural symptoms in children exposed to parental alienation. The harms caused by parental alienation conduct are investigated. The manner in which family courts deal with parental alienation is examined as well by the best interests of a child standard. Parental alienation conduct is identified as a form of emotional and psychological abuse and as a form of domestic violence. The lacunae evident in the approaches adopted by the family courts are examined and highlighted. Legislation regulating and proscribing parental alienation abroad are considered. The field of criminal law is examined in order to establish solutions to the gaps that are evident in the family law. A cross-dimensional approach between family law and criminal law is also suggested.