Jake Richards, 9 Gough ChambersThis article argues that the suspension on prison visits during this period and the deficiency of measures to mitigate the impact of this on family life and to protect...
(Court of Appeal, Moses, Black, Gloster LJJ, 21 November 2013)
The mother was just 16 when the child was born and lived in a series of foster placements. The majority of placements had to be terminated due to the mother's behaviour and her apparent inability to cope with boundaries. During the week before the final hearing the mother moved to live independently but at the final hearing the magistrates viewed that her ability to live independently hadn't been tested and she had not demonstrated that she could provide a stable home for the child. Care and placement orders were granted and contact between the mother and child ended.
The child was placed with prospective adopters and the mother applied for leave to oppose the making of an adoption order claiming her circumstances had changed. The judge set out the two-stage process and while he accepted the some of the mother's evidence he also noted that she had not yet taken up counselling and she had assaulted a police office while drunk. Although her position had changed it would be improbably that the change had been sufficient to enable the mother to succeed in opposing the adoption application. However, the child was no settled and attached with the prospective adopters and further delay was not in the interests of the child. The mother's application was refused. The mother appealed.
The appeal was dismissed. The judge had weighed the changes in the mother's circumstances against the context of the mother's previous immaturity and events which had happened since the placement order. He was entitled to conclude that her position had not sufficiently changed to persuade a court that it was in the child's best interests to be placed with her.