Children who survived murder of family placed with uncle and aunt
Two girls orphaned following the murder of their family while on holiday have been placed with their maternal uncle and aunt.
Zainab and Zeena Al-Hilli, aged eight and five, were the only survivors of a mass shooting in France in which both their parents, their grandmother, and a passing cyclist were all killed.
When they returned to the UK, they were placed with foster carers as the police investigation continued, but later moved to stay with the uncle and aunt.
The local authority applied to the courts to establish the legal basis of the girl’s placement. Both the authority and the girls’ uncle and aunt favoured a special guardianship order.
Such orders appoint one or more individuals to be a child’s “special guardian”. Special guardians have exclusive power to exercise parental responsibility for the child. A special guardianship order provides a degree of permanence and security and are particularly suitable for children who require a greater degree of permanence and stability than is provided by an ordinary residence order, but for whom adoption is not suitable.
At the High Court, Mr Justice Baker considered all the alternatives and the children’s best interests, before reaching the conclusion that special guardianship was indeed the best option for the orphans. It would allow them to retain their family identity whilst providing them with a secure home.
Photo by Vintage19Something 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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