Poonam Bhari recently acted on behalf of the mother of two young children in a case where the children’s foster carer sought permission to appeal the decision to remove the children from her care and place them with a relative.
The Court of Appeal granted permission and allowed an appeal by a foster carer, Y, against the decision that two young children should move to live with their paternal aunt in Belgium under special guardianship orders.
The Appeal concerns B aged two and a half years and E aged one and a half years, who are full siblings. They were each placed with the foster carer, Y, at an early stage in their respective lives.
The court below was faced with the choice between a life that the children had firmly established with a carer who was not related to them, on the one hand, and future placement with a family member who had only met the children on one occasion and who lived in circumstances very different from those with which the children were familiar.
The Court of Appeal considered ‘the relative weight that is to be attached to the range of factors that conveniently travel under the shorthand labels of “status quo” and “family” when determining the welfare of two young children’.
The Court of appeal also considered the analysis undertaken in the court below in respect of the welfare checklists in the Children Act 1989 and the Adoption and Children Act 2002 and regarded that analysis to be flawed in a fundamental manner. Namely, failing to give regard to the effect on the children of removing them from the care of their primary attachment figure, and failing to attribute any value, from the children’s perspective, to the continuation of that relationship.
The case is to be remitted and re-heard before a different judge.
The full judgment can be found here.