In an interview yesterday, Prof. Bala said that parental alienation cases should be streamlined out of the court system as rapidly as possible and given to individual judges to "case-manage," a system in which a single judge handles a case all the way through the courts.
He said this would allow the judges to learn their cases' nuances and press for resolution.
"The increase in court cases is dramatic, and they do take up a lot of court time," he said. "A family may appear in front of 10 different judges before they get to a trial, and each judge starts afresh. If you are dealing with people who are manipulative, they can drag it out."
"It is important for the justice system to take an early and firm response to alienation cases," his study concluded.
"Alienation cases can change over time from mild to more severe. Early intervention is more likely to be successful."
The study also urged the justice system to enforce access orders more rigorously for the sake of its own credibility.
It said that the relatively lax enforcement of access - an issue that primarily affects fathers - contrasts sharply with zero tolerance policies in domestic abuse cases and enhanced enforcement of child and spousal support orders.
The juxtaposition can convince fathers that the system is biased against them, Prof. Bala said.
"Just as feminists have some very important and valid criticisms of the family justice system, so do fathers' rights advocates," he said.
The study also took issue with the much-publicized concept of Parental Alienation Syndrome, arguing that it is neither a recognized syndrome nor a useful description of what is actually a complicated set of behaviours.
Justice Brownstone on parental alienation
"In my view, the term 'parental alienation' incorrectly identifies the target parent as the victim.
"The true victims are the children, who are innocent in parental break-ups. Every child has a right to enjoy a loving relationship with both parents. Since it is the child's right that is being violated by a parent's alienating behaviour, it is the child who is being alienated from the other parent.
A Sober Thought
The Honorable Judge Gomery of Canada stated, “Hatred is not an emotion that comes naturally to a child. It has to be taught. A parent who would teach a child to hate the other parent represents a grave and persistent danger to the mental and emotional health of that child.”
Bereavement Without End-A Plea From Alienated Parents Everywhere
The death of a child is indisputably one of the most incredibly horrible tragedies one can imagine. Whether by sudden accidental circumstance, or by a more lengthy cause as in illness, the loss of a child is undeniably painful to experience.Painful to the parents, parents to the family, and painful to anyone related to the child. Never knowing the laughter of that child again or the tears, the joys and the accomplishements is a pain no parent should ever have to endure, and yet it happens. No one is to blame. It just happens. Imagine the same pain and the same sense of loss, with one exception-the parent is very much aware that the child is alive. The effects of Parental Alienation Syndrome are very similar to the loss of a child due to accident or illness. For the parent who has been alienated from their child, the bereavement does not end. How do we know? Each alienated parent separately, and all of us collectively have lived with both the cause and the effect of Parental Alienation for countless years. Like a terminally fatal childhood disease, Parental Alienation rips the innocent child from your arms slowly. You witness the suffering. You witness the effects. You can feel the impending doom is inevitable, but you are powerless to do anything about it. You try remedy after remedy hoping that one will finally rid your child of the "disease". You work like a person possessed in order to finance the efforts, and when the final blow comes, it is emotionally devastating. You question yourself. You blame yourself for the loss. You tell yourself you should have done more. The very sad part of the story, is it is not unique. There are hundreds of thousands of children and parents affected by PAS. We beg of those with the power to make people aware of this devastatingly horrible phenomena, to please do all they can to educate people on its effects, and to change the laws to protect the innocence of the children involved. Only then can we truly hope to keep children safe from the harmful side effects that are inherent with Parental Alienation itself. It's killing the spirit of family everywhere.