Joanne Porter, Barrister, Stour Chambers:
Following the controversy at the end of 2012 regarding the perceived "forced adoption" of Slovak Roma children in the UK, guidance has been provided by the higher courts dealing with care proceedings involving children and families from other jurisdictions. Eastern European families' involvement within the UK care system raises some very clear issues. In the event that the children and families have experienced significant deprivation in their country of origin or a very different cultural background to the norm in the UK, applying the threshold criteria on the object test of the "reasonable parent" can raise some interesting questions. Similarly, looking at the long term plans for the children raises additional dilemmas.
Cultural considerations are acknowledged within the welfare checklist as something that must be considered by the court when looking at the long term plans for children. So where does this fit in when children and families have come from a very different socio-economic and cultural background? This article considers the growing number of care proceedings involving Eastern European families, the jurisdiction of the UK courts and the issues of threshold and welfare determination.
The full version of this article appears in the February 2014 issue of Family Law.