Family Law Titles
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(Court of Appeal; Thorpe, Arden and Lawrence Collins LJJ; 23 November 2007)
When a decision had to be made about the long-term care of a child whose adoption was sought by the mother, there was no duty to make enquiries that it was not in the interests of the child to make. Enquiries were not in the interests of the child simply because they would provide more information about the child's background: enquiries must genuinely further the prospect of finding a long-term carer for the child without delay. Because the focus of making further enquiries must be the objective of finding long-term care, the court had to evaluate evidence about the prospects of doing so. There was no requirement that the court give preference, as a matter of policy, to the natural family of a child; rather the interests of the child had to be considered. In a case in which the child had never lived with the birth family and was too young to understand what was going on the importance of the birth tie was, absent a successful application by a member of the family, overtaken by the need to find the child a permanent home as soon as that could be done. This interpretation did not violate the right to family life.
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