Troubled mother wins care appeal

Children | 25 Nov 2015 5

The mother of a two year old has won her appeal against care and placement orders.

Re D (Child) concerned a boy born in October 2013. His mother was still a teenager and subject to a care order granted to her local authority back in 2003. Despite a “troubled and sad” childhood, she had managed to look after the baby, referred to in the judgement as ‘J’, for most of the time since his birth, right through until last December when a Judge ruled that the toddler should be taken into care and placed for adoption. At the time, the mother was still just 17 and living with her mother.

But this was only the latest in a succession of homes. In the Court of Appeal, Lady Justice Black said social workers had been concerned by these frequent “changes of accommodation”, which they blamed on the mother’s “anger and her inability to manage relationships”.

She had failed to provide J with “stable and consistent accommodation”, they claimed, and she led a “chaotic lifestyle”, which could lead to the baby coming into contact with “inappropriate persons”.

When care proceedings were launched, the mother disputed the social workers’ claims, insisting that her previous moves had been unavoidable and saying that her current stay with J’s grandmother was stable and would continue for the foreseeable future.

Nevertheless a judge ruled that the mother had not provided a consistent and stable home life for J.

“He has had numerous changes of accommodation in his life, and I am not at all certain that the current placement with [the grandmother] in the light of all that I know about the mother and the co-dependency of that relationship will be sustainable. So I make the finding that the mother has not provided stable and consistent accommodation for J.”

The mother was prone to aggressive behaviour and this meant J was likely to suffer emotional abuse in her care, the Judge concluded. She struggled with her finances and had not taken the baby to “as many [parenting] groups as she could have done”.

She appealed the ruling, receiving some low key support from J’s legal guardian, who declined to express support for the local authority’s plan.

The mother’s counsel argued that the earlier judge had not properly taken into account a number of significant factors, including her strong bond with the boy and her good parenting skills. She had shown insight into her difficulties and matured as the legal proceedings progressed. The mother had also spent eight weeks in a mother and baby placement arranged by the local authority and had “done very well” there, but this had also not been taken into account in the Judge’s ruling.

Lady Justice Black said these arguments had “force”. She found fault with the earlier judgement, saying:

“The judgment did not lay the ground sufficiently for the judge’s conclusion that adoption was required and that conclusion was insufficiently reasoned.”

However, Her Ladyship was at pains to point out that she did not blame the judge personally for the failings of his judgement, declaring:

“I should conclude by expressing my understanding of the pressures that there are on the hard pressed and very hard working judges of the Family Court… who are doing their best to process the many cases which come before them with care and expedition. Their task is a very difficult one and it is important that we do not expect too much of the judgments that they have to produce at speed, often extempore [on the spot]. They have to pick their way through large quantities of evidence and make delicate evaluations about risk and about likely future events, and then explain their decisions in a way that withstands the attentions of those who would subject them to detailed critical analysis.”

The full judgement can be read here.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. Guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

Get in touch

    Request Free Call Back

    We remain open for business during the COVID-19 outbreak. Submit your details below, and we’ll arrange a free, no-obligation call back at a time to suit you. To ensure we are the right fit, we need to make you aware that we cannot offer Legal aid.


    1. KK says:

      Can you please give me some advise on how to appeal a judge’s decision in the family court.
      My boys, aged 7 and 12, are living with my sister under a special guardianship in Scotland and she lied about me having a mystery mental illness after my partner committed suicide in January this year.
      The social workers and police were looking for my ex partner and when he killed himself before being questioned, social workers carried on with my sister’s complaint.
      I did nothing wrong and neither did my boys and I want them to come back home and live with me.
      Thank you

      • Marilyn Stowe says:

        Dear KK
        You do need legal advice. You need advice from family solicitors in the country where the case was heard, I’m not sure if it was England or Scotland, but who specialise in public law cases.

    2. Andrew says:

      KK – I beg of you – don’t rely on sites like this for anything so difficult and emotional. You need legal advice, not more-or-less well-meaning people – even well-meaning professionals like me – on the net.

    3. natasha says:

      Hi I was wondering please I need your help get my children home

    4. Name Witheld says:

      My son has been in an open adoption for a year and a half. The adopted parents are no longer letting me have my regular visits. They say it’s because I was talking to him about sleepovers and phoning too much. After having had regular visits and being able to communicate by phone with him too just cut that out of our lives is not a healthy choice. He and I have both looked forward to our monthly visits and it has been a very big part of our lives. I deeply regret the fact that I was coerced into giving my son up for adoption. Since the time of the adoption I have completely changed my lifestyle and hope to be reunited with my son in the future. At this time I am looking for some help to be able to continue monthly visits and communication wth my son on a regular basis. I know that what has happened in the past cannot be changed but the future holds the key as to how he and I can become a family again. However until that time has come, I need to try and keep an established relationship in place with him and I hope everyone else understands.

    Leave a Reply


    Newsletter Sign Up

    For all the latest news from Stowe Family law
    please sign up for instant access today.

      Privacy Policy