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Judge personally explained care plan to seven year-old

A High Court judge met with a seven year-old boy caught up in care proceedings to explain plans for him to stay with his great uncle and aunt.

In Re MM, the boy and his five brother and sisters were placed in care, following a fact finding hearing regarding their mother. The boy had been “traumatised” by the move into foster care, but had since settled down. Meanwhile, the local authority decided that the boy’s great uncle and aunt would make good long-term carers.

However, the boy’s legal guardian was against the move. They discussed the plan with with him, and argued that he would be better off staying with his foster carers.

At a family division hearing, Mrs Justice Pauffley concluded that the guardian had not properly taken into account positive assessments of the uncle and aunt. The child had  experienced abuse and distressing situations and both the local authority and his relatives understood these. She approved the child’s placement with his great uncle and aunt.

The judge also expressed disapproval of the guardian’s discussion with the boy, saying they had placed too much weight on the views of a child who was then only six. At that age, the child lacked the capacity to understand and interpret a discussion about the local authority’s plans and would, said the judge, have been very confused and “emotionally harmed”.

Mrs Justice Pauffley said she would therefore, meet with the boy herself in order to try and explain the move to live with his great uncle and aunt and answer any questions he might have.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Tulsa Divorce Lawyer Matt Ingham says:

    Wow! The High Court Judge must be big hearted individual.

  2. Dana says:

    Judges should meet up with all the children that pass through the court, who are normally faceless and merely a court number! They should ask the children how they have been treated and what they hope for. Wishes and feelings should be direct to the Judge not through a third persons interpretation.

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