A couple who lived in ‘filthy’ conditions has failed in their bid get their children back from foster care.
In F v SCC, the parents applied to the Family Court in Surrey for a care order to be discharged after the courts had taken their children away for “very serious and wide ranging neglect”.
Prior to the intervention of the local authority, the children had been living in “indescribably filthy” conditions which were “not fit for human, let alone a child’s habitation”.
Nineteen dogs were also kept in the family home in squalid conditions, which resulted in successful prosecutions by the RSPCA and a four year ban on owning dogs.
Despite the parents making an effort to keep their house cleaner, the judge in the initial case said there was “no reason to believe” that would remain the case. He said the father was “oblivious” to the mess and that the mother was not “equipped” to prevent the conditions to deteriorate as she was dominated by the father.
The parents were described as “serially untruthful”, having put up witnesses to give false accounts of their living conditions, and neither accepted any responsibility for the harm caused to the children.
In the parents’ application to get their children back, the mother argued that they had made all the necessary steps set out by social services.
They claimed their relationship was much better having attended relationship counselling and their house was “cleanly and neatly decorated”.
An independent social worker on the case was not convinced.
In a report, she argued that the parents had not significantly changed, that their relationship was only better because they felt they were united against a “common enemy” (the police and social services), and she was not confident they would be able to work constructively with social services.
His Honour Judge Nathan agreed with the social worker’s prognosis of the parents’ ability to work with professionals to be very poor, noting that the father had talked of a list of professionals who he would “destroy”.
He added that the children were both well settled in their new foster placement and, in contrast to the times spent with their biological parents, had “a very happy home environment”.
The judge ruled that there had been no change in the father and while there had been change in the mother, it was not sufficient to merit the care order being discharged, so he dismissed their application.