Parental alienation has become a growing issue in Maltese society, and some activists in the field believe that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated things.
It might also be leading to some children becoming even more estranged from a parent.
Just three days before Parental Alienation Awareness Day on the 25th April, Lovin Malta spoke to Happy Parenting Malta For Happier Children founder Anthony Cauchi about the ramifications the virus has had on those suffering from parental alienation.
“Parental alienation has been aggravated as a result of the coronavirus,” Cauchi told Lovin Malta. “A lot of people have been calling us daily saying that their cases have worsened… and we’ve also had some new cases too.”
Cauchi, himself a victim of parental alienation, is a contact person for many fathers and mothers who say they are being kept away from their own children for no valid reason.
“I received a phone call about one incident where a mother dropped off her child at the father’s house after hearing about the coronavirus… and she didn’t bother to phone or check-in for three weeks,” Cauchi said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put undue pressure on society, and once again, topics such as domestic violence and parental alienation have come to the fore of national discourse.
“There are some parents out there who are being told that they aren’t allowed to see their child because the other parent is using COVID-19 as an excuse. But then they are allowed to go shopping…”
One viral video posted by a Maltese father suffering from parental alienation raised the issue of having to pay monthly child maintenance during this pandemic – a problem for parents who have lost their jobs as a result of the economic consequences of the virus.
“People have lost their jobs and don’t have an income but still have to pay maintenance, it’s an unbalanced and archaic system,” Anthony continued.
“A parent will take power and control and cut the other parent out completely but expect them to pay maintenance.”
“The solution should be that the child spends one week or month at each parent’s place (a 50/50 split) so that they wouldn’t have to pay maintenance.”
Although the general trend seems to be that the coronavirus has created more of a rift between parents, Cauchi remarks that in some cases it has gone the other way too.
“There are some cases where parents have been sympathetic and reasonable and have put the interest of the child first and have let them stay at the other parent’s place several days or weeks, which is great,” he ended.
With courts yet to re-open to hear these cases and the pandemic’s end not yet in sight, parents who have not seen their children in months are left wondering who else they can turn to.