Lord Justice McFarlane speaks out for change to adoption contact system
Lord Justice Andrew McFarlane has delivered a speech on present practices surrounding contact and adoption. In his keynote address at the NAGALRO Annual Conference 2018 he looked at how factors such as social media and the changing wishes of a child should impact the way contact is managed and instigate a review of the current model.
McFarlane identified adoption, contact in adoption and intractable private law disputes as key areas of interest, and raised questions such as:
Should the law take a change in circumstances into account to review a determination that a child cannot be safely returned to their parents?
Should the ‘closed’ approach to post-adoption contact be revised to be more flexible and case-specific, especially in the age of social media where it is harder to monitor who a child or teenager is in contact with?
What ways can the justice system avoid a contact case becoming intractable, which can result in a complete cut-off of contact?
Should the judiciary publicly describe ‘what normal looks like’ in a contact case?
With regard to changing the current contact system, McFarlane suggested ‘a more flexible and open arrangement, developed with confidence and over time, may provide more beneficial’ as it takes into account a child’s development and case complexity.