(Family Division, Peter Jackson J, 27 July 2012)
Following the father's unsuccessful appeal against findings of fact that he had been responsible for the child's death (Re A (Fact-Finding Hearing: Appeal)  EWCA Civ 1278), the local authority sought care orders in relation to the three surviving children, now aged 6, 18 months and 7 months.
The local authority case was that the children would be at risk of serious and possibly fatal physical harm if they were in the unsupervised care of their father. They would also be at risk of emotional harm if they were raised with a belief, instilled by their father, that one of the siblings was responsible for the child's death.
The mother and father had separated but there were concerns over her ability to keep the children safe taking into account her belief that the father was the victim of a miscarriage of justice. If she were to engage in psychotherapy to address this concern then proceedings would be delayed for an uncertain amount of time but it was realistically possible that within 3 months it could be determined whether there had been a reduction in risk.
The judge narrowly concluded that it was in the children's interests for the mother to be given a final chance to parent the children and protect them from their father. The prize for the children of being cared for by their mother was so valuable that they should only be denied it if the disadvantages of waiting were too great or the chances of success too small.