Family Law Titles
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(Family Division, Theis J, 22 March 2013)
Following the murder of the mother by the father, the maternal grandmother had cared for the two children, now aged 9 and 3. The father pleaded guilty to the murder of the mother and the rape of the maternal aunt when she was 16. He received a prison sentence of 14 years but he could become eligible for home leave before then.
The grandmother had provided exemplary care for the children in very difficult circumstances and she now applied for an adoption order which was supported by the local authority and the children's guardian. The father agreed to a supervision order but not to an adoption order.
An important factor for consideration was how the family relationships would become skewed if an adoption order was granted with the consequence that the maternal grandmother would become the legal mother and the aunts and uncles the children also lived with would become their legal half siblings.
It was clear from the evidence that the father had not begun to accept responsibility for his crimes and had consistently put his own needs before those of the children. Concern was expressed by professionals that if the grandmother was forced to share parental responsibility with the father by operation of special guardianship order the father would use it to fulfil his own needs to the detriment of the children. The welfare needs of the children throughout their lives could only be met through an adoption order as opposed to a special guardianship order.
The father wished to have indirect contact provisions defined in an order but the grandmother was concerned that the father would see that as a green light for his future involvement in their lives. That course would be contrary to the children's future welfare and stability.
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