Sandria represented a father who had made an application to have a child in his care, with limited contact with the mother. The mother had retained care of the child after some worrying concerns around the father’s behaviours in relation to an older half sibling to the child of the application.
This older child had herself already been removed from the care of him and her own mother and had, some years before, been in long term foster care and adoptive placements.
A Fact Finding hearing became necessary to establish the truth of allegations, and for investigations to be made around safeguarding issues concerning this older child who now appeared to be living with the father.
Despite Sandria’s best efforts, her client refused to comply with the orders for statements and disclosures or directions to inform about his home circumstances. Contact became sporadic, and ceased entirely when, following the instigation of a police investigation, bail conditions were imposed him in relation to no indirect or direct contact with a child under 18 years of age.
In those circumstances the Fact finding did not go ahead. Further, the court issued an order directing no contact, and the application was stayed.
This case demonstrated the importance of seeking full disclosure, not only from the Applicant but also other agencies, including a different Local Authority, to ensure that full investigations were carried out in relation to other activities of the father – which ultimately had a significant bearing on the current application.
It underlines the importance of ‘leaving no stone unturned’ in order to protect and safeguard a child, and ensuring their future stability and wellbeing.