A mother has won her legal battle to discharge a care order for her eight-year-old son.
The court heard that the son had been placed with foster parents in 2016. His mother was awarded contact in 2017, but the foster parents were uncooperative.
The local authority argued that the son’s strong attachment to his foster parents, coupled with the lack of hands-on parenting by his mother and her partner, meant that her discharge application should fail.
The authority also criticised the mother's ability to meet her son’s emotional needs and raised concerns about the dynamics of the partner’s relationship with the boy.
The Family Court ruled in favour of the mother. It held that Parliament had expressly granted a person with parental responsibility the unfettered right to seek the discharge of a care order. It must have intended that a parent who had lost a child to care had to be given the chance to turn his or her life around and reclaim the child.
The State had no right to deprive a natural parent of the right to bring up his or her child unless it could be shown that the exercise of that right would "endanger" the child's moral or physical health, and courts had to be on guard against subtle and insidious forms of social engineering in favour of new, "better" parents.
In determining the mother’s discharge application, her son’s welfare was the paramount consideration. It would be best served if he was raised by his natural parent unless it could be shown that his physical or moral health would thereby be endangered.
The judge said the local authority's criticisms of the mother were inconsequential, trivial and insubstantial, and that the evidence demonstrated that her parenting was improving.
The care order was therefore discharged and replaced with a one-year supervision order.
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Case Citations:  EWFC 36GM v (1) CARMARTHENSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL (2) LLM (BY HIS GUARDIAN) (2018)Fam Ct (Mostyn J)