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(Court of Appeal; Thorpe and Wall LJJ and Coleridge J; 22 October 2009)
In a case involving 5 children it was accepted that the local authority assessments of the parents had been inadequate. The mother, although still using cannabis, had been free of cocaine and heroin for about 6 months; the father was in prison and was currently drug free. Nonetheless, the judge refused the parents' application for a further residential assessment of their parenting.
The judge had been particularly influenced by: the long and serious drug involvement by both parents, with the associated history of domestic neglect; the lack of insight by both parents; the impossibility of making any decision favourable to the parents quickly, given that any assessment would need to involve long-term abstinence by both parents during a period when they were actually caring for the children; and the risk of delay to the children. The factor of delay was indeed a decisive factor, weighing the overall chances of success in the balance together with the effect of the disruption to the children's lives in carrying out the assessment.
Formerly entitled the Ancillary Relief Handbook this is the first resort for thousands of...