It has definitely been a week of doom and gloom in the field of family law with the implementation of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 and I am afraid that I don’t have an awful lot to provide the much needed light relief!
Having said that, a cautionary judgment has been issued by Cobb J in the case of Re L-M (Transfer of Irish Proceedings)  EWHC 646 (Fam),  FLR forthcoming. This case concerned a mother’s attempt to evade care proceedings, which had already taken place in England regarding her older three children, who were no longer in her care, in respect of her unborn child by escaping to Ireland. Her plan failed and proceedings were initiated upon the child's birth. The parents returned to England and now sought a transfer of proceedings to this jurisdiction. The decision was more straight forward as all parties were in agreement that England was the most appropriate jurisdiction to hear the substantive welfare matters and that it was in the best interests of the child to take that course. The judge sought to highlight the fruitlessness of attempts by parents such as these to avoid State intervention where there was real and ongoing concern for the welfare of the children.
In another care case Re N (Placement Order: Alternative Option to Adoption)  FLR forthcoming, the Court of Appeal was concerned with one child out of a sibling group of four, the three oldest children were already made subject to final care orders, but a case was put forward for the maternal grandmother to be considered as a long-term carer of the youngest child. The judge noted that the possibility had been raised but proceeded to make final care and placement orders due to the fact that the local authority would need to conduct further investigations of her capacity. The mother succeeded on appeal in setting aside the placement order on the basis that there was an alternative to adoption and, therefore, it was not possible to satisfy the requirement of s 52(1)(b) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002.
In a judgment of Theis J, LA v DG and Others  EWHC 734 (Fam),  FLR forthcoming, care proceedings took place in relation to six young Slovakian children due to chronic neglect. They had suffered from malnutrition and rickets in circumstances of severe poverty and social deprivation. While the judge expressed her sympathy for the situation the family had found themselves in, Theis J found that the parents had nevertheless failed to meet the children’s needs by for example attending medical appointments. The child were now thriving in foster care and the oldest three children were clear in their wishes not to return home. The parents had been unable to attend the final hearing due to returning to Slovakia without warning and they had remained there for 5 months as they were unable to fund a return trip. The judge was satisfied that the threshold criteria had been met in relation to both past and future significant harm and the order which met the paramount needs of the children was a final care order.
This hasn’t been the light-hearted, laugh-a-minute piece I had intended. Where is the proverbial ferret-farming, flamenco-dancing ex-husband when you need him? Until next week...
The content of this article should not be considered as legal advice.