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Family Law

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09 JAN 2014

CARE PROCEEDINGS: A Local Authority v C [2013] EWHC 4036 (Fam)

(Family Division, Parker J, 16 September 2013)

The mother suffered from paranoia and psychosis and she battled drug abuse. Her two older children had been removed from her care at an early age. The elder child was removed at 3 weeks old due to the mother inflicting twisting injuries to his arms and bruising to the chest. When the local authority learned that she was now pregnant once again care proceedings were initiated.

Professionals involved with the mother were concerned for her mental health and found her to become hostile very quickly whenever an emotional topic of conversation arose. They felt that her mental health was deteriorating. The consultant psychiatrist anticipated that if attempts were made to remove the child at birth a struggle would ensue and it was likely that the mother would inadvertently harm the child.

The local authority sought declarations that: the mother lacked capacity to make decisions relating to the future care of the child; that it was lawful and in the best interests of the child to be separated from the mother following birth; if necessary for minimum force to be used to effect separation; it was lawful for the police to assist in carrying out the order; it was lawful for the local authority to withhold from the mother its intention to remove the child from her care and to not involve the mother in its planning processes for the baby.

The judge came to the conclusion that in line with the reasoning in Re D (Unborn Baby) [2009] EWCA 446 Fam [2009] 2FLR 393, this was a highly exceptional and unusual case and that the history of the mother's mental health problems, her mistreatment of her other children, the mother's increasing volatility, irritability and inability to accept the concerns of others and her deteriorating mental health, gave rise to an imminent, serious and present danger to the child when it was born, in particular of an inadvertent injury to the child if the child was sought to be wrested from her. The only way of avoiding possible injury was to remove the child following delivery. The mother would have an opportunity to be heard on an application for an emergency protection order or interim care order at the earliest possible date. 


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