Family Law Titles
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(Family Division, Peter Jackson J, 15 February 2013)
Care proceedings were initiated in relation to three children, aged 6, 2 and one, following the violent death of their sibling. The local authority, supported by the guardian, sought care orders and placement orders in relation to the younger two children. The oldest child would remain in long-term foster care. The parents opposed the orders and sought a return of the children to the mother's care on the basis that the father would play no part in their upbringing.
A fact-finding hearing found the father had caused the child's death and exonerated the mother and the oldest child who had been found by the coroner to have been responsible. The father's appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeal.
Since the fact-finding hearing the mother had engaged well with contact and therapy and had remained separated from the father but remained unconvinced that he had caused the child's death.
Taking into account the welfare checklist and the unanimous professional evidence the children would not be returned to the mother's care. The nature of the risk posed to the children was of the utmost gravity and there were no effective measures that would guarantee the children's safety over time. The mother would not reliably be able to exclude the father from her life and she would come under increasing pressure to let him back into their lives once the intensity of the current professional interest was in the past. The local authority care plan was approved, care orders were made in relation to all three children and placement orders in respect of the youngest two children.
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