Elisabeth Wickham, instructed by OLG Ltd, represented the children in Re D F G and H (care proceedings) [2024] EWFC 30 (B)

1st Mar 2024 | Cases

Elisabeth Wickham, instructed by Victoria Smith of OLG Ltd, represented the four children in Re D F G and H (care proceedings) [2024] EWFC 30 (B).

This was a final hearing in care proceedings concerning four young siblings. Local Authority involvement with the family spanned several years and the care proceedings had been ongoing for some two years when the matter came before the court for final determination.

The parents, who had separated during the course of the proceedings, had had an arranged marriage which according to the mother had featured very serious domestic and sexual abuse of her to which the children had been exposed. Beyond that, the children had experienced physical abuse, emotional harm and significant neglect in the care of their parents. Local Authority involvement began after one of the children made allegations of sexual abuse against an extended family member. During the course of proceedings, the eldest two children had to be placed in separate foster placements whilst the youngest two remained placed together.

It was the mother’s position that she had engaged with all assessments and professionals in the best interests of her children and that the two youngest siblings should return to her sole care immediately with the elder two to follow in 6 to 12 months. The father supported the mother’s position. He did not put himself forward as a carer in the alternative, but sought regular contact.

During the course of the final hearing, the court heard oral evidence from a primary school teacher, a school counsellor, an independent social worker, the allocated social worker, both parents and the Guardian. The Guardian’s view was that all the children had experienced significant trauma and harm in the care of their parents and that the children now had a high level of need which required a level of therapeutic parenting. All professionals agreed that the parents each continued to lack insight into the deficiencies in their own parenting and their children’s lived experiences. The children missed their parents but had settled and thrived in foster care.

The judge accepted that both parents love their children and that the mother had worked hard to fully engage with these lengthy proceedings but ultimately the court agreed with the Guardian that the return of any of the children to the mother’s care would be unsafe and was an unviable option in terms of the children’s timescales. There would be ongoing contact between the children and each of their parents separately as well as regular contact between the siblings.

To read the full published judgment click here: Re D F G and H (care proceedings) – Find case law – The National Archives

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