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Jul 2018

The welfare of children is best served within their natural families

The law presumes that, unless proved otherwise, the welfare of children is best served by being brought up in the bosom of their natural families. The High Court resoundingly made that point in finding that a local authority’s objections to a mother being reunited with her eight-year-old son were inconsequential and trivial.


The boy had been taken into care and placed with foster parents due to his mother’s inability to provide good enough parenting. However, more than two years had passed since then, during which the mother had taken great strides in improving her lifestyle. In the circumstances, she applied under Section 39 of the Children Act 1989 to discharge the care order and have her son returned to her care.


The local authority contested the application on the basis that the mother’s ability to meet the boy’s emotional needs was questionable. There were also concerns about the dynamics of her relationship with her partner and that between the boy and his siblings. The boy had formed a close bond with his foster carers and the mother was said to have failed to cooperate fully with social workers.


In upholding the application, however, the Court found that that the boy’s moral and physical health would be best promoted by him being brought up within his blood family. He had said that he would be happy to move back in with his mother and the local authority’s criticisms of her – including that she had failed to arrange the haircut he liked - were, on analysis, utterly insubstantial. The Court directed the boy’s return to his mother’s care, subject to a one-year supervision order.


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