PLEASE NOTE: Information in this article is correct at the time of publication, please contact DFA Law for current advice on older articles.
Local authorities are not always as thorough as they should be when obtaining and evaluating information on which their decisions on child welfare are based, as a recent case shows.
It involved a couple who went to court after their local council sought to take their daughter into care. The court rejected the council’s application, noting that the mere repetition of unsubstantiated allegations made by one professional to another did not enhance their veracity.
The daughter was born with breathing difficulties and had spent the first year of her life in hospital on a ventilator. The couple had undertaken considerable specialist training in how to look after her before being allowed to take her home.
Eight months later, the council sought a care order in respect of the girl, alleging that the couple had ‘escalated the clinical presentation’ of their daughter, failed to understand her medical needs and had committed acts which endangered her.
When a fact-finding hearing was convened, the court found that the allegations were without foundation and repetition of them over time had led to their being exaggerated. There was not a single substantiated example of the behaviour claimed to have occurred. The court expressed concern at the way the decision had been made by the council and the fact that the parents had not been advised to seek legal representation.
The procedure had been fundamentally flawed and was unfair.
If your council makes false allegations against you in child care or other proceedings, we can help you to challenge them and achieve a fair outcome.