Adoption appeal success
Re E  EWCA Civ 1614
Miles & Partners represented a mother of three in her appeal against an adoption order for her youngest child. The appeal was successful, the adoption order set aside and replaced with an interim care order for child S.
After following her husband to the UK with their two older children, the mother formed a relationship with Mr U who is the father of S. Spending time together during the days while her husband was at work, the mother would occasionally leave her children in the sole care of Mr U.
When S was admitted to hospital at seven months old with brain injuries, the local authority commenced care proceedings and S was placed into foster care following her discharge from hospital. The husband was granted residence in respect of his two children when he made an application after learning of his wife’s relationship and the paternity of S.
Although both adult and child psychiatrists supported returning S to her mother and while she made no adverse findings against her, HHJ Cushing in the Principal Registry of the Family Division, found that Mr U had caused S’s injuries and was concerned about her mother’s ongoing relationship with him. She granted the adoption order and dispensed with the mother’s consent to adoption.
Supported by our family law team, the mother appealed. She argued that adoption was not proportionate to the factual circumstances of the case; that the local authority had not fulfilled its duty to offer support, counselling or basic assistance to help her to separate from Mr U; and that HHJ Cushing had not referenced welfare checklists in the relevant legislation.
Allowing the appeal, McFarlane LJ concluded removing a young child from the care of an otherwise loving and capable mother with whom she had a secure attachment was not a proportionate outcome. The placement for adoption was set aside and the care order was replaced with an interim care order.
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