In a recently published case, a judge at the Family Division of the High Court has adjourned care proceedings in order to give a mother a final chance to protect her children.
In A London Borough v A, a local authority had launched care proceedings in relation to three children, aged six, 18 months and seven months. The move followed a separate case in which the children’s father was declared to have caused the death of one of their siblings. He had claimed that the fatal injuries had in fact been caused by one the surviving children, but Mr Justice Peter Jackson described this possibility as “”vanishly improbable”.
The authority claimed that the children were at risk of serious harm if left in the unsupervised care of their father. He was also likely, they claimed, to instil in them a belief that one of their siblings had caused the death, causing them emotional harm.
Although the parents had separated a month after the earlier finding, the mother reportedly believed the father had been the victim of a miscarriage of justice and there were doubts, therefore, that she would protect the children from their father.
Mr Justice Peter Jackson adjourned the care proceedings for six months, in order to allow the mother to attend therapy and come to terms with his earlier ruling that the father was the likeliest perpetrator of the fatal injuries. It was in the children’s best interests to remain with their mother if they possibly could and they should not denied this opportunity unless it was absolutely necessary.
At the end of the six months, the mother would reassessed to re-evaluate the effectiveness of the therapy and the mother’s ability to care for her children.