A young mother cannot appeal an order granting care of her two children to their father’s parents, a court has ruled.
B (Children) concerned a three year-old girl, referred to as ‘A’, and her 18 month old brother, ‘M’. Their mother was born in 1994, so was still a teenager at the time of both births.
Social services had already become concerned about the mother’s lifestyle before A’s birth. She had a “volatile” and occasionally violent relationship with the children’s father, and she had moved between her parents’ home, local authority “supported environments”, and his home following A’s birth. At one point, she also went to stay with the father’s parents for five months.
Care proceedings began at the end of January 2013, when the mother’s own father announced that he could no longer provide a home for his daughter and grandchildren.
An earlier social services assessment of the mother had identified a number of significant concerns about her parenting, including her youth and “immaturity”, her unresolved relationship with the children’s father, his use of cannabis, and her difficult relationship with her own parents.
At a hearing in Coventry last October, the mother said she wanted to continue looking after the children, with help from her grandmother (the children’s great-grandmother), but the judge instead ruled that they should be cared for by the father’s parents under a special guardianship order.
The children were already staying with their grandparents three days a week, and the judge noted that:
“A move into their care is therefore not a change in circumstances, but a continuum.”
Although such orders do maintain a legal link between the children and their guardians, the mother sought permission to appeal.
At the Court of Appeal in London, Lord Justice McFarlane said
“To my mind, the [original] judge does engage with all of the key factors in the case. She gives priority to the need now to find a stable and secure home for these children.”
“…part of the real case that the judge had to assess was to consider the amount of time that had already gone by. That time was the entirety of A’s life. The judge was hearing the case in October 2013. A was born in February 2011. The judge considered that there was no further time that could be given. The mother had had a great deal of advice and professional input throughout that period of time. Sadly, she had not felt able to engage in it until comparatively recently.”
Read the full judgement here.