Supporting a troubled Father through the court process

Mike acted for a Father in a case where the Local Authority, with the support of the Guardian, sought care and placement orders for a baby.

 

In this sensitive and taxing case, both parents had had a difficult past with experience of the care system, and Mike’s client had a criminal history including offences for violence and a history of using cannabis. The Local Authority had become involved with the parents before the child was born, due to concerns about their domestic violence, mental health, substance misuse, criminal activity and levels of aggression towards professionals and members of the public.

 

An Interim Care Order was granted at commencement of the proceedings and the Mother moved to a mother and baby foster placement whilst a parenting assessment was undertaken. She was assessed by an expert psychologist and assessed as having symptoms of PTSD, depression and anxiety. The Father was allowed regular supervised contact, and was assessed by an expert psychiatrist as having a potential personality disorder with possible issues regarding adult ADHD. Both experts recommended the need for further therapeutic interventions for each parent.

After an initial positive start the mother and baby placement broke down and the parents separated but remained friends. Prior to the final hearing, the Father was homeless and both parents were missing some contact. The Mother applied to be further assessed at a residential placement to be dealt with as part of the final hearing, which was supported by Mike’s client.

The final hearing was listed for four days and demanded Mike’s ability to deal patiently but firmly with a troubled client who found it extremely difficult to engage with the Court process.

By the outset of the hearing Mike’s client had filed no evidence, although he had filed sufficient instructions to enable preparation of a Position Statement. Both parents had difficulties attending Court, the Mother attending late on day one, and Mike’s client failing to attend at all on days one and two. The proceedings therefore started in his absence. Although he did attend on day three he declined to talk to anyone, including his Counsel.

As the case proceeded, through patience and perseverance, Mike was able to take some instructions from the Father, whilst also endeavouring to encourage him not to eat, interrupt or swear during proceedings.

Evidence was heard from two social workers, two foster carers, both parents and the Guardian.

Both parents gave evidence well, but the Mother’s application for an adjournment for a residential assessment was refused, and a care order and placement order were made with both parents’ consent dispensed with.