Family Pays Price for Ignoring Contact Order

When a care plan for children is agreed and there are conditions that apply, it is essential to make sure that these are complied with, as a recent decision shows.

When grandparents allowed ‘sneaky visits’ to their grandchildren by the children’s parents, contrary to the guardianship orders made by the court, the local council applied for the children to be removed from the grandparents’ care.

The children had been placed with their grandparents because the parents had been ‘reckless and incompetent’ in their management of their daughter’s asthma and she had suffered significant physical and emotional harm as a result.

Because of their extreme behaviour, the parents were seeking psychotherapy with a view to recovering custody of their children.

The court had permitted contact with the parents to take place three times per week at a contact centre and once on the weekend at the grandparents’ home.

However, when it became evident that additional unsupervised contact was taking place, the council proposed that the two children be placed with foster carers.

The court was clear that the children could not be returned to their parents’ care, so the question was whether the grandparents had the capacity to meet the children’s needs ‘now and for the foreseeable future’.

The judge concluded that, based on the evidence before the court, a continued long-term placement of the children with the grandparents would not be a ‘sustainable way of meeting their emotional needs’. The parents did not accept that they should not have care of their children and nor, crucially, did the grandparents. In the judge’s opinion, their failure to accept that the parents’ care would be a danger to the asthmatic daughter would, over time, ‘allow the parents to take over’.

The council’s care plan was therefore approved.

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Chris Taylor
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