Newsroom: Family Court’s handling of violence under scrutiny

The use of parental alienation in New Zealand’s Family Court system is being examined by an international expert on violence against women. Teuila Fuatai reports. 

A visiting Canadian law professor says New Zealanders need to challenge the use of “parental alienation” – and subsequent minimisation of domestic violence – in the Family Court.

Professor Elizabeth Sheehy, from the University of Ottawa, spoke about her research on Canadian family court cases involving domestic violence accusations and parental alienation as part of a panel at the University of Auckland this week.

Alongside Auckland lawyer and women’s rights advocate Catriona MacLennan, Sheehy – an expert on violence against women – outlined how parental alienation had developed into a commonly accepted “legal principle” in the past 30 years, despite the lack of scientific evidence backing it.

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