A father has been given permission to appeal care and placement orders after a six month delay in the original judgment.
The man was the father of nine of the mother’s 15 children. Last year, the ten youngest were the subject of care proceedings. However, the eldest five were not included as they were all over the age of 18.
Proceedings were launched by the local authority because the mother had a “longstanding diagnosis of generalised anxiety disorder” and depression. This led to “neglect, physical harm and emotional harm” of the children. Six of the children were removed from their parents care before the final hearing took place.
The parents opposed the local authority’s plan to place the remaining four children in new adoptive homes. Although the hearing concluded in September, the initial judge did not make a decision until March, when he granted the local authority’s application.
Shortly afterwards, the four remaining children were taken into care. However, the father applied for a short ‘stay’ in order to mount an appeal. This was granted, meaning that the children would be returned to their parents’ care until the appeal process had been completed.
The father’s first move was to apply for permission to appeal. His argument was based on the extended delay between the end of the hearing and the judge’s decision. He argued that the judge should have taken the fact that so long had passed into consideration. The father claimed that during the six months in question, the children had remained in the parents’ care and were now doing very well, but the judge had no way of knowing that without ordering a further assessment.
Sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Lord Justice McFarlane said that in the original judgment, “at no stage does [the judge] acknowledge that a very significant period of time has passed since the close of evidence”. He added that as the parents’ ability to care for their children was at the core of the case, the original judge should have taken more recent behaviour into account. Therefore, he granted the father permission to appeal the decision.
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