January 31, 2023
The case of Warwickshire County Council v The Mother & Ors  EWHC 2146 concerned care proceedings before Mrs Justice Lieven in respect of two girls, X who was 10 and Z who was 12. The judgement dealt with the consequences of parental alienation and whether an Interim Care Order in respect of Z should be continued.
The case had an interesting and lengthy background. The proceedings initially started as private children proceedings. The Mother and the Father of the two girls separated in 2016. Following this, Father’s contact with both girls became inconsistent and completely ceased by 2019. The Mother and Father both applied for Child Arrangements Orders and Prohibited Steps Orders. During these proceedings, Father raised allegations of parental alienation against the Mother. All of Father’s allegations of parental alienation were found by the court. As a result of this, a Child Arrangements Order was made which ordered the implementation of the 90-day Therapeutic Residential Reunification Plan with both girls to live with the Father.
On the same day as the above judgement, a social media post was made stating ‘Help save X and Z’ with a picture of the Father along with his work details and a photograph of the Independent Social Worker. The Local Authority then made a C2 application seeking immediate removal of the girls from the Mother. This was granted by the court. An Interim Care Order was subsequently made. X was able to integrate with the Father. However, Z was unable to and was placed with a foster carer.
When this matter of whether an Interim Care Order in respect of Z should be continued was before court, the Father, the Local Authority, and the Guardian argued that the Interim Care Order should continue for Z. Interestingly, Z was found to be Gilick competent, so she was separately represented. Her counsel argued that the Interim Care Order should be discharged.
Z was clear that she was unhappy with her foster carer. She had also run away from her placement several times. She essentially had no family life as she was not allowed a phone in fear, she would contact the Mother and she had no contact with any family members.
The court decided that Z’s strong expressed wishes and the risk of serious harm to her was a greater and more immediate risk than the risks set out in the Local Authority’s threshold. The court felt it was in Z’s best interests to return to her Mother’s care until a final order was made. The court ordered the Local Authority to amend their care plan for Z to return home to the Mother.
If you need help with a case such as this, please contact Mavis on 020 8885 7986 for an appointment with a member of the family team.
If you have a family case where you require some advice or representation, please contact Mavis for an appointment with a family solicitor on 020 8885 7986.