Re GB (Parental Alienation: Welfare) [2024] EWFC 168 (B) (24 May 2024), Re GB (Parental Alienation: Factual Findings) [2024] EWFC 75 (B) (28 March 2024), Re GB (Part 25 Application: Parental Alienation) [2023] EWFC 150


Dr Charlotte Proudman represented a mother, a victim of rape and domestic abuse, in case in which three judgments were handed down. In the first appeal against a ‘psychological assessment’ to assess parental alienation, where Cafcass had applied for the assessment (supported by the father), the judge outlined that ‘parental alienation’ is not a psychological condition capable of diagnosis but a question of fact for the court to determine. The appeal was granted. 

Later, she represented the mother at a fact-finding where it was found that she was a victim of rape, and she and the children were victims of domestic abuse at the hands of the father. He had further used allegations of ‘parental alienation’ to distress, confuse and frighten the mother, and he had obstructed the children’s relationship with her. He had raped, gaslit and abused her, persistently video recorded the family, which created an atmosphere of control and intimidation, and he used family court proceedings to torment the mother and the children. He had to pay her over £50,000 in costs. 

In this final case, the court ordered no direct contact, a s91(14) order (to prevent the father from making additional applications to the court until the youngest child (9) reaches 16), allowing the children to change their surnames, and restricting his parental responsibility. 


Re GB (Part 25 Application: Parental Alienation) [2023] EWFC 150: In an appeal hearing, Dr Charlotte Proudman successfully represented a mother accused of ‘parental alienation.’ The lower court had previously allowed a psychological assessment to determine if ‘parental alienation’ was present. His Honour Judge Middleton-Roy concluded that assessing parental alienation is a factual matter for the judge, not a diagnosis by a psychologist. Parental alienation cannot be clinically diagnosed and should be evaluated based on the totality of evidence. The appeal contended that the previous judge erred in ordering the assessment without considering its necessity under Family Procedure Rules and failed to provide reasons for the decision. The appeal was upheld on all grounds. Consequently, the order for the psychological assessment was set aside, and the matter was remitted for further hearing to address the factual issues surrounding the alleged alienating behavior.

Read the full appeal here.

Read coverage by Hannah Summers in the Guardian here

Re GB (Parental Alienation: Factual Findings) [2024] EWFC 75 (B) (28 March 2024):  The court found that the father used ‘parental alienation’ to distress, confuse, and frighten the mother while obstructing her relationship with their children. The father engaged in abusive behaviors, including raping the mother, gaslighting, and coercive control over her and the children, and misused family court proceedings to torment the mother. The judgment highlighted that the father used coercive and controlling behavior towards the family, including force, threats, derogatory remarks, and intimidation. He persistently video-recorded the mother and children, creating an atmosphere of control and intimidation, and attempted to manipulate professionals to damage the mother’s reputation. The court found credible evidence that the father raped the mother twice and took non-consensual sexual photographs and videos of her. Additionally, the father made major decisions about the children without the mother’s consent. Notably, this case is the first published judgment to refer to DARVO (Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender), recognising the father’s manipulative tactics. The court dismissed the father’s accusations of parental alienation, finding no reliable evidence that the mother influenced the children negatively. Instead, the children’s rejection of the father was deemed a justifiable response to his abusive behavior. Throughout the proceedings, the father exhibited sarcastic and combative behaviour, lacking empathy and insight into his actions’ impact on the children. The court concluded that the father’s systematic manipulation to portray himself as a victim was clear, and his actions led to the justified rejection by his children. Consequently, the father was ordered to pay the mother over £50,000 in costs.

Read the full fact-find here.

Read coverage by Hannah Summers in the Guardian here

Re GB (Parental Alienation: Welfare) [2024] EWFC 168 (B) (24 May 2024): Dr Proudman represented the mother in a final hearing where the judge ruled against direct contact between the father and the children, approved changing the children’s surnames, and reduced the father’s parental responsibility to the greatest degree possible. The court found that the father engaged in coercive control, neglected a child’s medical needs, exerted financial control over the mother, made decisions without her consent, provided misleading information to the court, and used court proceedings to torment the family emotionally. Notably, the court found that the father raped the mother. His allegations against the mother of emotional abuse and influencing the children were unproven. The court ordered the father to pay the mother’s legal costs.

The final orders included that the children live with their mother, no direct contact with the father, and limited indirect contact through letters and cards. Additionally, the court permitted the change of the children’s surnames, limited the father’s involvement in their education and medical issues, and allowed the mother to make welfare decisions without his consent. A significant order under Section 91(14) of the Children Act 1989 was made, preventing the father from making further applications to the court without permission until the youngest child (9 years old at the time of the judgment) turns 16. This decision was driven by the need to protect the children and the mother from ongoing distress and the damaging impact of prolonged litigation

Read the full judgment here

Long summary of the welfare decision:

Re GB (Parental Alienation: Welfare) [2024] EWFC 168 (B) (24 May 2024).

Dr Proudman represented the mother once more at this final hearing. The judge ordered no direct contact with the children, the surnames may be changed, and an order preventing the father from making further applications to court and restricting the father’s parental responsibility. Long summary of the welfare decision:

Final Judgment Background

“In short, the Court made findings of fact in respect of the father’s use of coercive controlling behaviour towards the children and towards the mother, neglect of ‘B’s medical needs, financial control over the mother, making major decisions about the children’s lives without the mother’s consent, providing misleading information to the Court and using Court proceedings to emotionally torment the children and the mother. 

Further, and significantly, the Court made findings that the father raped the mother. 

The father made a series of allegations against the mother, including allegations that she had emotionally abused the children and that she had alienated or negatively influenced the children against him. 

The Court found none of the father’s allegations to be proved. 

At the conclusion of the Fact Finding Hearing, the Court made an Order that the father pay the mother’s costs assessed at £50,445.40.” [5]

Final Orders Sought

“(a)    a Child Arrangements Order (a “live with” Order) recording that the children live shall live their mother;

(b)    a Child Arrangements Order (a “spend time with” Order) that there be no direct contact between the father and the children;

(c)    a Child Arrangements Order for indirect contact between the children and their father, whereby the mother would make the children available to receive letters or cards from their father at Christmas and on each child’s birthdays, for the children to reciprocate if they so choose;

(d)    a Specific Issue Order permitting a change to the children’s surnames, removing their father’s surname;

(e)    a Prohibited Steps Order, limiting or restricting the father’s parental responsibility, for the safety of the children, in circumstances where the Court has found that serious domestic abuse has been perpetrated by the father towards the mother, namely that:

(i)        the father’s contact with their school is restricted only to receipt of formal school reports sent directly to him by the school;

(ii)      medical issues relating to the children are reported to the father only where such issues are severe and require ongoing medical intervention; and

(iii)    welfare issues are reported to the father only when significant and the child wishes that information to be shared with him

(f)   an Order under s.91(14) Children Act 1989, preventing the father from making any further application to the Court in respect of the children without first seeking the permission of the Court, to continue until ‘B’, the youngest child, attains the age of 16.” [9]

No Direct Contact and Children’s Surname Change

“The mother’s preference is to establish a dedicated email address for the purpose of indirect contact for the children from their father…The father may email Christmas cards and birthday cards to the children.” [12]

“The mother seeks a Specific Issue Order permitting her to change the surname of both children, removing their father’s surname and substituting the mother’s surname or a derivative of it. 

Having regard to this Court’s earlier findings of fact, this Court reaches the conclusion that it is in the best interests of both children individually to permit the change of surname proposed.” [13]

Parental Responsibility

“The mother applies for an Order to limit the father from exercising his Parental Responsibility for the children. The mother cannot apply to terminate the father’s Parental Responsibility, as the mother and father were married at the time of the birth of each child respectively.

Accordingly, the father was granted Parental Responsibility for the children automatically in law…For the reasons articulated by Children’s Guardian, this Court is satisfied that the welfare of both children individually demands the making of a Prohibited Steps Order as sought, limiting the father from exercising his Parental Responsibility. 

For the avoidance of doubt, the mother will be required to inform the father through an identified third party if the children experience any life-threatening health issues or experience significant illness, notwithstanding the fact that the father’s consent for any medical decisions for the children is not required.

The mother is permitted to make all welfare decisions concerning the children in respect of their education, health and welfare without the consent or knowledge of their father.” [14]

Preventing Further Court Applications: s.91(14)

“The mother seeks an Order pursuant to s.91(14) Children Act 1989 prohibiting the father from making any application for Child Arrangements Orders or any other Orders under s.8 Children Act 1989 or from making any application for variation to the existing Orders or any application under s.13 Children Act 1989 in respect of either or both children, without the leave of the Court until the child ‘B’ attains the age of 16.  

The mother makes that application on the basis that time is needed for the children to recover from the litigation and to recover from professional involvement, particularly in light of the serious findings made.” [15]

“This long-standing, bitter litigation has been deeply distressing for the mother, the parent who has been the subject of abuse, as found by the Court, the mother being the primary carer of the children. 

The litigation has been highly debilitating to each of the parties and to the children. The distress and anxiety caused to the mother, and to the children who are at the centre of this raging dispute, cannot be overstated, nor can the damaging consequences of the litigation.” [16]

“An Order under s.91(14) limits a party’s ability to make an application to the Court. The Court’s jurisdiction to make such an Order is not limited to those cases where a party has made excessive applications. In suitable circumstances and on clear evidence, a Court may impose the leave restriction under s.91(14) in cases where the welfare of the child requires it.” [17]

Read the full judgment here

Related barristers: Dr Charlotte Proudman

Related practice areas: Family


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