Acting for young children at risk from drug use and domestic violence

Mike acted for two young children in a case where the Mother had already had several older children removed from her care due to substance misuse and domestic violence issues in her relationships with the children’s fathers (neither of whom took any part in the proceedings).

The proceedings were conducted within the Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC). Initially, the Mother’s engagement with the FDAC process was extremely positive, and she completed a successful detoxification programme and remained abstinent from both drugs and alcohol for many months.

The proceedings were extended beyond the 26 weeks to allow her more time, resulting in a plan for reunification back home for both children to her care. Sadly, the Mother had a relapse and started drinking, as well as using heroin again, resulting in an attempted suicide and accidental overdoses.

At the final hearing, the Mother accepted she was still drinking and using heroin on a daily basis, and was unable to care for the children, but sought a further adjournment to attend another residential centre to ‘effect a recovery within 12 weeks’.

The District Judge, who, having seen the Mother regularly as part of the FDAC process, was very familiar with the case, and complimented her on the progress she had made. However, since she had sadly not been able to sustain progress, with much regret he had no alternative but to refuse her application to adjourn for further assessment, and to make care and placement orders dispensing with the Mother’s consent.