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16 NOV 2007

CARE/SUPERVISION ORDER: Hertfordshire County Council v FM and GEM [2007] EWHC 2660 (Fam)

(Family Division; Macur J; 16 November 2007)

The father had behaved inappropriately with the children, possibly because of his schizophrenia. The mother had a history of acting contrary to expert advice in leaving the children with the father, and of failing to co-operate with the local authority, although the mother's approach was thought to be attributable in part to the attitude and behaviour of some of the social workers involved. The father had subsequently been sectioned, but was about to be released into the community. The authority sought a care order; the mother and the father argued that supervision orders would be sufficient. The children, who had done well in the mother's care, were fiercely loyal to her, and openly hostile and strongly opposed to the role of social worker in their lives.

The court granted a supervision order, rather than a care order, placing particular significance on the attitude of the children; the children were more likely to be compliant with the mother's preferred order. In the event of the mother permitting the father's return to the home before adequate assessment, or of any obstruction of social workers, the court expected the local authority to seek removal of the children. There had to be appropriate involvement and consulation between the mental health team and the children, schools and families team; the father must be managed with due consideration for the court's judgment as to the risk that the father presented to the children.

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