A mother has successfully challenged a decision to place her baby up for adoption, because the judge dealing with the case didn’t take the necessary time and care.
The case involved a mother who gave birth to her baby at the age of 16. The local authority accommodated them in a mother and baby placement and monitored their progress.
Questions were raised over the mother’s ability to care for her baby. A psychologist assessed her IQ as borderline and it was decided the baby should be put up for adoption.
An issues resolution hearing took place, and despite the mother’s objections, and the fact that the baby’s father and guardian were not present, the judge ruled that the baby should be put up for adoption. The hearing took just 55 minutes.
The mother appealed, claiming that given her objection to the adoption order, the judge had a duty to provide adequate reasons for his decision.
She claimed the judge had clearly decided she was not able to provide adequate parenting to her son but failed to allow her time to prove otherwise. The judge had stated that she had opportunity to prove her parenting capabilities in the four months prior to the hearing.
The Court of Appeal granted the appeal. It ruled that the judge had placed too much weight on the mother’s young age and cognitive ability.
Although a robust approach was necessary when considering such issues, it was manifestly obvious that he should not have made the placement order.
The court ruled that the authority’s applications for care and placement orders should be reheard by a different judge.
Please contact Sheetal Patel or Paul Owen if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of family law.