A couple seeks to challenge the adoption of their child after they were acquitted at a criminal trial.
In a case that President of the Family Division Sir James Munby described as “exceedingly unhappy” and “most unusual” the child, ‘X’, was removed from the couple’s care shortly after being born. The initial care proceedings were launched after X was found to have several injuries. These led the local authority to believe that the parents had abused X. The child was then placed with a new family.
In the meantime, the biological parents faced criminal abuse charges. However, they were acquitted after expert evidence caused the prosecution to abandon their case.
Unfortunately for the parents, their child had been adopted by the time they were cleared of the charges against them. As Sir James Munby explained in his judgment, the effect of this was “as a matter of law, to terminate the birth parents’ rights and to make the adoptive parents X’s parents for all purposes”.
The parents believe they are “the victims of a miscarriage of justice”. They want their names to be cleared in the family courts as well “both so that they may be vindicated and also so that there is no risk of the judge’s findings being held against them in future”.
X’s court-appointed guardian supported the idea of a re-hearing but for a different reason, arguing that “X should know the truth about the birth parents and about what did or did not happen”.
Sir James ordered the court to reconsider if the care orders were correctly made. If that is found to be the case, the parents will only then be able to formally challenge the adoption. Such a dispute is likely to be one of the biggest the family courts have seen in a long time.
Read Re X (A Child) in full here.
Photo by Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.