Courts won’t wait in care proceedings

A mother has lost her appeal against a care order and adoption order in respect of one of her two children and a decision not to re-instate contact with her other child.

In the case of  S (A Child) the mother argued that the Judge hearing the case at first instance had not given sufficient weight to her childcare abilities. She asked the appeal court to take into account the case of Re BS which requires courts only to make care and adoption orders when “nothing else will do.” This requires courts and local authorities to carefully consider all options for a child before deciding to place that child outside of its birth family on a permanent basis.

In this case the appeal judge found that no realistic alternative was being presented to the court save for a wait for the mother to undertake therapy. The judge concluded that to await therapy without any guarantee of success would not be in the best interests of the child.

We are familiar with a situation whereby a parent can be confronted with a therapeutic plan that would be needed for them to seek the return of their child from foster care. However, it is very often the case that the duration of therapy is deemed “outside of the timescales of the child” and therefore even if a parent is willing and able to complete therapy they are still faced with the reality of their child being placed for adoption.

For us this underlines the need for parents to engage with local authorities and seek expert legal advice at the earliest opportunity. Legal aid is still available in cases where the local authority have issued court proceedings but it is also often available prior to the issue of court proceedings. Early expert advice can help a parent to work “within the timescales of their child” and to ensure that they access the help that they need at the earliest possible opportunity.

If social services are involved with your family contact us for advice.

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February 12, 2014

Social Services

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