The Court of Appeal has rejected a woman’s bid to keep her two children.
The woman lived with her children at her mother’s house. The father of the seven year-old girl and 11 year-old boy did not live with them but did have regular contact. Both parents reportedly had “a very significant learning disability”, although the recently published judgment did not go into further detail on that point. Additionally, the father had previously been convicted of “sexual offences against young girls” but was “thought to be at low risk of re-offending” the Court heard.
Social services at Devon County Council had been concerned about the wellbeing of the children for a number of years. They believed the two youngsters were being neglected and were “failing to thrive”.
At an initial Family Court hearing in Plymouth, the Judge declared that the two children were being “dragged and held back” by their parents’ “significant difficulties” and were “likely to suffer significant harm” as a result. Specifically he said this would come from “lack of basic care, risk of sexual harm and a lack of emotional attunement”. He therefore ruled that they should be placed into foster care.
The mother challenged this ruling in the Court of Appeal. Her legal team argued that the Family Court Judge’s analysis of the case had not been sufficient as he had not properly examined the question of whether the removal of her children was necessary and proportionate.
However, Lord Justice McFarlane and President of the Family Division Sir James Munby were not convinced. The former explained it was “not possible to understand how the children could have been protected from future harm if they were to continue to reside in their mother’s home” so “there could be only one outcome” to the case: the one that the Family Court Judge had arrived at in Plymouth. Sir James agreed with this view and the two senior Judges dismissed the mother’s appeal.
The full judgment is available here.
Photo of the Royal Courts of Justice by Tony Hisgett via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.