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FAMILY PROCEEDINGS/RESIDENCE: A Local Authority v E [2007] EWHC 2396 (Fam)

Date:19 OCT 2007

(Family Division; Sir Mark Potter P; 19 October 2007)

The adult daughter had been taken into care as a child, and placed in foster care; she suffered from a severe learning disability. Since her removal the parents had had a negative and uncooperative attitude towards the local authority. For some years the daughter had no contact with the parents, because the parents refused to attend supervised contact sessions; contact had now resumed. The authority sought declarations that the adult daughter lacked the capacity to decide issues of residence and contact and that it would be in her best interests to remain in her current residential care facility until she was 19 (the maximum age catered for) and thereafter to transfer to a local residential unit. The authority favoured a shared care arrangement, with generous staying contact to the parents, primarily at the weekends. However, the parents threatened that unless the daughter resided with them, they would cease contact with her altogether. The adult daughter lacked capacity to make decisions about her future, and in particular about her residence, education and community care provision, and the nature and extent of the contact she should have with her family. The court was to balance all the relevant factors relating to the situation of an incapacitated person, and to decide what solution or order was required to promote the persons best interests, and, in evaluating those interests, to conduct a welfare appraisal in accordance with the balance sheet approach espoused by the authority. Given the parents opposition to the shared care model, it was in the adult daughters best interests to have a full-time placement at the residential unit, holding open and encouraging contact with the parents. The wholly parental model of care upon which the parents insisted was not in the daughters best interests in the short or medium term, and certainly not while she was still in education.