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Grandmother can apply to have grandson live with her

Posted: 10th November 2020   In: Family Law

A grandmother who failed to get permission to have her grandson live with her can now apply again because she’s moved to a bigger house.

The case involved a two-year-old who was referred to in court as J. He had three siblings.

The local authority became involved with the family before his birth due to concerns about domestic abuse between the mother and her partners. The eldest child was placed with his paternal grandfather under a special guardianship order and the middle two children were placed with the maternal grandmother under final care orders.

She was later approved as a kinship foster carer for them. They continued to have contact with the mother, older brother and J.

Several people were put forward as potential carers for J, but all assessments were negative. At that time, the maternal grandmother was living in a two-bedroom flat and was unable to accommodate J as well as his two brothers.

The local authority proposed that J be adopted, and the judge made care and placement orders.

The grandmother sought leave to apply to revoke the orders on the basis that her circumstances had changed: she had recently rented a three-bedroom house with a garden opposite the older boys' school and could therefore accommodate J alongside his brothers.

Her application was supported by the children's guardian. However, the judge rejected the application on the basis that her circumstances had not changed; it would involve further delay which would be detrimental to J's welfare. 

The Court of Appeal has overturned that decision. 

It held that the guardian's analysis was perceptive and persuasive. The content of her report addressed the key issues and the judge was wrong to disregard it.

Following the grandmother’s move to significantly larger and better accommodation, she was now able to offer J a home. That opened up the prospect of him being brought up within his family and forming a close relationship with his siblings and his grandmother, and a relationship with his mother and other family members.

The law required children, where possible, to be brought up in their natural families. Adoption was a measure of last resort, and the grandmother had been caring for the middle children very well. In those circumstances, it had to be in J's interests to at least explore the possibility of being placed in his grandmother's care.

The grandmother should be granted leave to apply to revoke the placement order and apply for a special guardianship order.

Please contact Sarah Ashby if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of family law.

[2020] EWCA Civ 1253
CA (Civ Div) (Underhill LJ, Baker LJ, Arnold LJ) 08/09/2020
Posted by: Sarah Ashby
Luton Office