Newsroom: Family Court’s handling of violence under scrutiny

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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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