250+ Feminist Organizations Call for Legal Reform to Ban Parental Alienation Accusations

23 January 2024
January 23, 2024

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau,  

The Honourable Arif Virani, 

The Honourable Pierre Poilievre,  

Jagmeet Singh,  

Yves-François Blanchet, 

We write to you as feminist and equality-seeking organizations to urge you to take action to address a crisis of dramatic proportions in our family justice system: the use of parental alienation accusations against victims of domestic violence 

The controversial theory of “parental alienation” is used to silence parents and children who report family violence. Too often, courts and custody evaluators consider that reporting family violence or asking for reduced contact between the father and the child are signs of “alienation”, that is, brainwashing by the mother to make the child reject the father. This concept is leading courts across the country to separate children from their mother and force minors, against their will, to live with their father – even when there is a documented history of family violence. In some cases where the father is found unable to care for the child, courts and child protection will go as far as to place the child in a group home or foster home to avoid the mother’s so-called alienation, even though the child could have stayed with their mother or be taken care of by maternal grandparents. These problems also affect members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community who experience domestic violence.  

Canadian research has revealed that: 

  • “Parental alienation” accusations are primarily made against women, with victims of intimate partner violence being particularly at risk.
  • In 2015, more than half of workers in women’s shelters in Quebec described “parental alienation” accusations as either a priority for their shelter or one of their primary concerns.
  • The situation has only worsened in recent years as “parental alienation” accusations have become increasingly normalized. 
  • In cases where “parental alienation” is alleged, family violence allegations are rarely treated seriously; judges properly consider intimate partner violence as relevant to the child’s best interests in only 10% of cases where both intimate partner violence by the father and “parental alienation” by the mother are alleged.
  • Accusations of “parental alienation” are highly correlated with situations of domestic violence, even though this is not always apparent due to the disappearance or silencing of domestic violence concerns from legal cases where “parental alienation” is alleged.
  • “Parental alienation” does not have a consistent definition in legal terms: it is a vague concept that can be used in a broad range of circumstances, including cases where the child does not reject a parent and cases where the mother has not denigrated the father and has not obstructed contact with him.
  • Due to the prevalence of “parental alienation” accusations against victims of domestic violence, some mothers are advised by their own lawyers not to tell the courts about the father’s violence.
  • Considering “parental alienation” leads courts to lose sight of the child’s best interests, and to focus on parental rights instead.

Additionally, while Canadian data is limited, research from other countries suggest that parental alienation accusations have a disproportionate impact on women from minority groups, including racialized, migrant, and disabled women. 

In 2019, the Divorce Act was amended to give more importance to family violence and to direct courts to prioritize children’s safety and wellbeing. As women’s rights organizations, service providers, legal organizations, and research centres, we see that the problem of parental alienation accusations persists. Further reform is needed to explicitly ban the use of parental alienation accusations in family disputes, through an amendment to the Divorce Act. Change is particularly urgent given the rise of gender-based violence since the COVID-19 pandemic, leading the Mass Casualty Commission to declare gender-based violence an epidemic.  

Last summer, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women and Girls, its Causes and Consequences, Reem Alsalem, presented a report on “Custody, violence against women and violence against children”. She raised the alarm on the “ways in which family courts in different regions refer to ‘parental alienation’ or similar pseudo-concepts in custody cases, ignoring histories of domestic violence, which may lead to the double victimization of victims of such violence.” Her first recommendation is that States must “legislate to prohibit the use of parental alienation or related pseudo-concepts in family law cases”.

We ask that you commit to following this recommendation and adopt a bill amending the Divorce Act as quickly as possible. We also ask that you commit to consulting with expert women’s rights organizations, such as the National Association of Women and the Law, in drafting the bill.  

Over 250 number of feminist organizations from across Canada have signed this open letter and endorsed the National Association of Women and the Law’s campaign to ban parental alienation accusations. 

If you want to support women, children, and victims of family violence, we hope that you will see that this issue is a priority.  

Our family justice system is in crisis, and the time to act is now.  


Tiffany Butler, Executive Director

Suzanne Zaccour, Director of Legal Affairs  

National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL)

Download the PDF version of the letter



National organizations 

Women’s Shelters Canada | Hébergement femmes Canada 

Canadian Women’s Foundation 

Ending Violence Association of Canada | L’Association canadienne pour mettre fin à la violence 

DisAbled Women’s Network of Canada | Réseau d’action des femmes handicapées du Canada (DAWN-RAFH) 

The Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies l L’Association canadienne des Sociétés Elizabeth Fry 

Grupo de Apoio a Mulheres Brasileiras no Exterior (GAMBE) 

Centre for the Study of Social and Legal Responses to Violence 

The Alliance of Canadian Research Centres on Gender-Based Violence 

Feminist Alliance for International Action 

Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime (CRCVC) | Centre canadien de ressources pour les victimes de crimes 

In Their Best Interest Canada | Dans Leur Intérêt Supérieur Canada  

Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak | Women of the Métis Nation 

Women’s Centre for Social Justice (WomenatthecentrE) 

YWCA Canada 

Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (CRIAW) | L’Institut canadien de recherches sur les femmes (ICREF) 


Informed Opinions | Femmes Expertes 

Aura Freedom 

Canadian Center for Women’s Empowerment (CCFWE) 

Women’s Economic Council | Le Conseil économique des femmes  

Centre de documentation sur l’éducation des adultes et la condition féminine (CDÉACF) | Prochainement Co-Savoir  

Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada | Coalition pour le droit à l’avortement au Canada 

Alliance against Violence and Adversity (AVA) 



Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victimes de violence conjugale 

Fédération des maisons d’hébergement pour femmes (FMHF) 

Table de concertation du mouvement des femmes de la Mauricie (TCMFM) 

Réseau des Tables régionales de groupes de femmes du Québec (RTRGFQ) 

Regroupement québécois des centres d’aide et de lutte contre les violences à caractère sexuel (RQCALACS) 

Groupe des Treize 

Fédération des associations de familles monoparentales et recomposées du Québec 

L’R des centres de femmes du Québec 

Association féministe d’éducation et d’action sociale (Afeas) 

Fédération du Québec pour le planning des naissances 

Service d’Entraide Passerelle (SEP) 

Maison d’Hébergement Pour Elles Des Deux Vallées 

Regroupement des femmes de la région de Matane 

Femmes en Mouvement 

Pavillon Marguerite de Champlain 

Regroupement des femmes La Sentin’Elle 

Le Gîte Ami 

Maison La Virevolte 

Alliance des communautés culturelles pour l’égalité dans la santé et les services sociaux (ACCÉSSS) 

Centre de femmes l’Étincelle 

Réseau québécois d’action pour la santé des femmes (RQASF) 

Centre des Femmes de Montréal-Est/Pointe-aux-Trembles 

Centre de prévention des agressions de Montréal CPAM 

Observatoire Famille Immigration  

ESPACE Mauricie 

Halte-Femmes Montréal-Nord 

Action Travail des Femmes (ATF) 

Quartier des Femmes 

Face a Face Listening and Intervention Center | Le centre d’écoute et d’intervention Face à Face 

Jeunesse au Soleil | Sun Youth Organization 

Centre social d’aide aux immigrants (CSAI) 

Réseau d’action des femmes en santé et services sociaux (RAFSSS) 

Centre d’éducation et d’action des femmes de Montréal (CEAF) 

CALACS Trêve pour Elles 

Multi-Femmes Inc. 

Alternative pour Elles maison d’aide et d’hébergement pour femmes victimes de violence conjugale et leurs enfants 

Horizon pour elle 

Maison le Prélude 

La Clé sur la Porte 

Maison de Lina 

La Maison La Nacelle 

Maison d’Hébergement l’Équinoxe 

La Bouée Régionale 

Centre de solidarité lesbienne (CSL) 

La Gîtée 

Regroupement des organismes ESPACE du Québec (ROEQ) 

La Méridienne 1990 

Havre l’Éclaircie 

Maison Halte-Secours 

Viol-Secours, CALACS de Québec 

South Asian Women’s Community Centre (SAWCC), Montreal I Centre communautaire des femmes sud-asiatiques (CCFSA) 

Centre des femmes Le point d’ancrage 

Fédération des femmes du Québec 

ESPACE Suroît 

Table des groupes de femmes de Montréal (TGFM) 

Conseil des Montréalaises 

L’Autre-Toit du KRTB 

Auberge de l’Amitié Roberval inc. 

L’Escale de l’Estrie 


CALACS L’Ancrage 

Carrefour d’éducation populaire de Pointe-Saint-Charles 

Maison des femmes des Bois-Francs 

L’Écho des femmes de la Petite Patrie 

Association des familles monoparentales et recomposées La Source 

Centre des Femmes du Témiscouata (CFT) 

Regroupement des auberges du cœur du Québec (RACQ ) 

Bureau de consultation jeunesse (BCJ) 

La Débrouille Inc. 

Femmes du monde à Côte-des-Neiges 

Centre des femmes RDP 

Centre Actu-Elle 

Centre-Femmes La Passerelle 

La Collective des femmes de Nicolet et Régions 

CALACS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île 

Le Centre Louise-Amélie 

La Maison des Femmes Sourdes de Montréal (MFSM) 

Le Centre féminin du Saguenay 

Centre Femmes aux 4 Vents 

Centre Femmes Entre-Elles 

Transit 24 

Conseil d’intervention pour l’accès des femmes au travail (CIAFT) 

Éditions du remue-ménage 

Le Centre de femmes l’Érige 

Centre des femmes de Longueuil 

La Marie Debout, centre d’éducation des femmes 

Centre ressources pour femmes de Beauport  

Centre de femmes La Moisson 

Regroupement Naissances Respectées (RNR) 

Le Regroupement des Femmes de la Côte-de-Gaspé 

Y des femmes de Montréal | YWCA Montreal 

Centre de femmes Uni-Vers-Elles 

Centre de femmes l’Éclaircie 

Afrique au Féminin 

Centre de femmes Arc-en-ci-Elle  

Centre des femmes de Longueuil 

Centre de femmes l’Autonomie en soiE 

Centre femmes de La Mitis  

Centre femmes d’aujourd’hui 

Centre-femmes Catherine-Leblond 

Centre de femmes Mieux-Être de Jonquière 

Centre de Femmes l’Essentielle  

Centre des femmes de Forestville 

L’Alliance des femmes 

Centre-femmes du Grand-Portage 

Le Centre des femmes de Laval (CFL) 

Mouvement pour l’autonomie dans l’enfantement 

Centre-Femmes La Jardilec  

Centre de femmes les Unes et les Autres 

Centre Entre-Femmes 

Centre Au Cœur des Femmes 

Fédération régionale des OSBL d’habitation de la Mauricie-Centre-du-Québec (FROHMCQ) 

Centre des femmes l’Héritage 

Centre des Femmes du Ô Pays 

Centre des femmes d’ici et d’ailleurs 

Conseil Central Cœur du Québec CSN 

Centre-Femmes de Bellechasse



Action ontarienne contre la violence faite aux femmes 

Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic  

Ontario Association of Interval & Transition Houses (OAITH) 

Hope 24/7 

Centre Victoria pour femmes 

YWCA Hamilton 

Interval House of Ottawa | Maison Interval d’Ottawa 

Northwestern Ontario Women’s Centre 

Elizabeth Fry Society of Northeastern Ontario 

YW Kitchener-Waterloo 

YWCA St. Thomas-Elgin  

Hiatus House 

YWCA Durham 

Rexdale Women’s Centre 

Gillian’s Place 

Welcome Centre Shelter for Women and Families 

YWCA Muskoka 

North York Women’s Centre  


YWCA Hamilton 

YWCA Toronto 

Muskoka Parry Sound Sexual Assault Services 

Huronia Transition Homes 

Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) 

Elliot Lake Women’s Group Inc. 

Armagh House 

Lennox and Addington Interval House 

Manitoulin Family Resources 

Birchway Niagara 

Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre 

YWCA Cambridge 

YWCA Ontario Coalition  

Alternatives for Women 

Herizon House 

Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region 

Women’s Habitat of Etobicoke 

YWCA Sudbury 

Counselling and Family Service Ottawa | Service familial et counseling Ottawa  

YWCA Niagara Region 

Kenora Sexual Assault Centre 

YWCA Peterborough Haliburton 

Red Door Family Shelter 

The 482 Collective 

York Region Centre for Community Safety 

North Bay Indigenous Hub  

Conseil Scolaire Public du Nord-Est de l’Ontario (CSPNE) 

Embrave: Agency to End Violence 

Amelia Rising Sexual Violence Support Centre 

Elspeth Heyworth Centre for Women 

Planned Parenthood Toronto (PPT) 

The Niagara Chapter of Native Women Inc.  

Community Counselling Centre of Nipissing 



Calgary Legal Guidance Society 

WINGS of Providence 

Rowan House Society 

RESOLVE Alberta 

Fairview & District Women’s Centre Association OAS Crossroads Resource Centre & Women’s Shelter 

Mountain Rose Women’s Shelter Association  

Alberta Abortion Access Network  

Neepinise Family Healing Centre 

Women’s Centre of Calgary 

Peace River Regional Women’s Shelter 

YWCA Edmonton  

Sagesse Domestic Violence Prevention Society 


British Columbia 

Justice for Girls 

West Coast LEAF Association 

FREDA Centre on Gender-based Violence against Women and Children 

Sooke Transition House Society 

Omineca Safe Home Society 

BC Poverty Reduction Coalition  

BC Society of Transition Houses (BCSTH) 

Cowichan Women Against Violence 

The Cridge Centre for the Family 

North Island Community Services Society 




Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan (PATHS) 

Yorkton Women In Need Inc.  

Regina Transition House 

Choose to Change – SIGN (Society for the Involvement of Good Neighbours) 

Saskatoon Interval House 

Amakon Women Empowerment Inc (AWE) 

Sexual Assault Services of Saskatchewan 

YWCA Saskatoon 

YWCA Regina Inc 

YWCA Prince Albert 

Regina and Area Sexual Assault Centre


Nova Scotia 

The Court Said Canada 

Women Centres Connect 

Be the Peace Institute 

Naomi Society 

Tri-County Women’s Centre 

The Marguerite Centre Society of Nova Scotia 

YWCA Halifax 

Avalon Sexual Assault Centre  

The Women’s Place Resource Centre (WPRC) 



Manitoba Association of Women’s Shelters (MAWS) 

RESOLVE Manitoba 

Willow Place  

S.H.A.D.E. (Safe Housing And Directed Empowerment) Inc. (SHADE Inc.) 

Swan Valley Crisis Centre 


New Brunswick  

Elizabeth Fry New Brunswick (EFryNB) 

Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research | Centre Muriel McQueen Fergusson pour la recherche sur la violence familiale 

Valley Outreach 

YWCA Moncton 



Yukon Status of Women Council 

Dawson Women’s Shelter / Dawson Shelter Society 

Yukon Women’s Coalition 

The Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre 


Newfoundland and Labrador 

Newfoundland Aboriginal Women’s Network (NAWN) 

Nain Transition House Inc. 

YWCA St. John’s 


Prince Edward Island 

Women’s Network PEI  

PEI Family Violence Prevention Services Inc. 

Blooming House Women’s Shelter Inc. 


Northwest Territories  


about NAWL
The National Association of Women and the Law is a not-for-profit feminist organization that promotes the equality rights of women through legal education, research and law reform advocacy.
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