Foster parent wins injunction against local authority’s planned removal of child
The case – RCW v A Local Authority – concerned a child who was abandoned shortly after birth. She was taken into local authority care and then placed with the woman, referred to as ‘RCW’ in court documents.
The child quickly bonded with her new foster carer. In the words of Mr Justice Cobb:
“The placement appears on all accounts to have been an extremely successful one.”
Unfortunately RCW was diagnosed with a brain tumour early last month. Ten weeks after the initial placement, RCW became eligible to make a formal application for adoption, under the Adoption and Children Act 2002, but on the very same day she was admitted to hospital for emergency surgery.
As a result of the surgery, the woman lost her sight although it has not yet known whether or not the loss will be permanent. On the day that she was discharged from hospital, RCW was assessed by a social worker and shortly afterwards told that the child would be removed from her care.
RCW then applied for the injunction, doing so under section 7 of the Human Rights Act 1998. This allows proceedings to be brought against public authorities that have acted, or plan to act, in ways defined as unlawful by the act.
RCW claimed, amongst other things, that she had not been involved in any of the decisions made by the local authority; that she had made proper arrangement for the child’s care; and that taking the child from her care would breach her – and the child’s – rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which requires respect for “private and family life”.
Describing the case as “unusual and troubling”, Mr Justice Cobb said the local authority had not given RCW a fair opportunity to address its concerns and said it had shown “shown a worrying lack of enquiry into the condition or the potential for good care offered by a visually impaired parent”.
Photo by USCPSC via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence
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Marilyn Stowe is the senior partner in Stowe Family Law, which has offices in Yorkshire, Cheshire and London. With more than 30 years’ experience handling divorce cases and family law proceedings she is regarded as one of the most formidable and sought after divorce lawyers in the UK. In 2012, Marilyn became one of the first solicitors to qualify as a family law arbitrator.
All persons mentioned in the scenarios are fictitious: details have been deliberately changed in order to protect identities and other confidential circumstances of my clients. All advice and information on this blog including posts written by guest authors, is given only as a general guide to the operation of the law on the date of publication. Readers must place no reliance whatsoever on the content of this blog and must always obtain their own legal advice. Marilyn Stowe, Stowe Family Law LLP and guest authors accept no liability whatsoever arising as a result of reliance upon its content.
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