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CARE PROCEEDINGS: Re N (Placement Order: Alternative Option to Adoption)

Date:2 APR 2013
Law Reporter

(Court of Appeal, Laws, McFarlane LJJ, Mann J, 25 March 2013)

Care proceedings were initiated in respect of four children due to the mother's violent relationships with the fathers of her children, her failure to provide an honest account of matters and her benefit fraud.

The court found the threshold had been met and orders were made in relation to the three older children including those in favour of extended family members. In relation to the youngest child the local authority sought care and placement orders pursuant to s 52 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002. The judge ruled out the mother as a potential carer due to her inability to provide a safe home for him. The judge noted that a case had been put forward for the maternal grandmother to care for the child but the local authority would need to carry out a number of further investigations before she could be considered appropriate. A placement order was made. The mother appealed.

The appeal was allowed and the placement order set aside. For the purposes of s 52(1)(b) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 the court had to consider whether the welfare throughout the child's life required adoption rather than any other alternative. In circumstances where the judge had been aware that the maternal grandmother was a potential carer but further investigations were needed it was difficult to reconcile the decision that adoption was required as opposed to something short of adoption.