The legal situation in cases of child alienation - a comparison of different European countries
Kurt Ebert

As a sign of a social political "fixation on the women' s emancipatory element", family law and the Children' s Refonn Act have been profoundly remodelIed in Europe since the seventies. Here, children have been, as it were, poured out with the emancipation bath, have been instrumentalised to become the defenceless objects of so-calIed "single parentage" in the course of more or less dramatically increasing divorce figures and consequently have been in many ways de facto robbed oftheir basic natural claim and human right to both their parents. Serving as the legal instrument to this abortive development was, above all, mandatory sole custody, which, for example, in Gennany while being declared as being incompatible with parents' rights in accordance with Article 6 ofthe Constitution by the Federal Constitutional Court as early as in 1982 , was only abolished in the positive legal sense 16 years later with the Amendment to the Children' s Refonn Act coming into force. The most important legal impulses for thinking back to the child's priority ofwell-being and the child's interests in life in the future were triggered, on agIobaIlevel, by the Children's Rights Convention ofthe United Nations of 1989 and, on the European scene, by progressive refonn laws, above all, in Scandinavia and France.

In this connection, the European Commission for Human Rights acting in Strassburg until the end of October 1998 must be blamed for a great deal of passivity and accordingly for regrettable failure. What must be very positively underscored here is that progress in the pertinent scientific research has been reflected in several national amendments to the Children' s Refonn Act in the last few years and the phenomenon of parental alienation (P AS) has also been able to gain secui-e status in Federal Gennan dispensation ofjustice. However, what will probably turn out to be of even greater significance is the fact that, in two very recent cases leading to condemnation of Gennany by the European Court for Human Rights, specific reference has been made to the Parental Alienation Syndrome (P AS) by the appealing party , which means that this has at least been placed on record once for the time being on the highest European level of judicature, even if the Court has clad itself in silence with regard to this argument hitherto.