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Grandparents loose appeal against care orders

The maternal grandparents of four children have failed in a bid to prevent them from being taken into care.

In the Matter of K and KT concerned “long running” care proceedings in relation to three boys and their little sister. The eldest boy was approaching his sixth birthday, while his younger brothers were four and three. The girl was just 17 months old.

In July 2012, one of the boys was taken to hospital, and doctors discovered that he had suffered two bone fractures. Sitting in the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice McFarlane explained:

“Predictable steps therefore followed in terms of investigation and arrangements to protect the children.”

At a subsequent court hearing, a judge ruled that the fractures had occurred by “non accidental means” and had been inflicted by the mother or her partner.

He therefore made care and placement orders for all four children, authorising the local authority to take the children in care and place them for adoption.

The children’s grandparents had been closely involved in the children’s upbringing and the eldest boy had been living with them when all four had been taken into care. The grandparents were made a party in the care proceedings, putting themselves forward as candidates to look after the children – either all four or “as many as the court felt were able to be placed with them.”

They were unsuccessful and appealed the care and placement orders, arguing that their suitability as carers for the children had not been fairly considered. The children’s legal guardian had improperly expressed an opinion on the potential impact of medication taken by the grandmother and the depression suffered by both parents. In addition, the mother and her sister had made unproved allegations of abusive behaviour by the grandparents and these had been emphasised by the guardian and a consulting psychologist.

But the Court of Appeal rejected their claims. The hearing had been properly conducted and the judge had not been unduly influenced by the expert evidence presented. Lord Justice McFarlane said:

“At the end it is the judge’s view that matters and that the judge comes to his own conclusion about all these issues and does so in a conspicuously clear and well reasoned judgment.”

He added:

“Although…findings of physical abuse are not made, again, to my eyes, the emotional climate in the [grandparents’] house over the course of this lengthy period is of at least equal concern, if not greater concern, than the physical allegations themselves.”

Read the full judgement here.

Last month, parents successfully appealed against care and placement orders for their three children after a judge failed to properly explain the reasons for his judgement.

Image: ‘The Favorite – Grandfather and Grandson’ by Georgios_Iakovidis via Wikipedia

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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