The Family Law Week Blog is a companion site to Family Law Week. It complements the news, cases and articles published on Family Law Week with additional comment and coverage of the wider aspects of family law.
Timetable for asking about the timetable for the child
I have just been to court for a case management conference. For the very first time in my experience since the PLO was introduced in April 2008 a Judge actually asked the advocates about the timetable for the child. Is this a record? The child is now less than a month old. We could think of no special features which might drive any timetabling considerations and ended up with a view that ideally the child should be placed with permanent carers, be they family or otherwise, by the time it is a year old. This meant heading towards a final hearing by the time the child is 9 months old, based on an assumption that it is likely to take 3 months or less should the child need to be placed outside the family (not an issue at all if the child stays with the parents). What I was left wondering was what was the point of the enquiry? The case will not be listed for final hearing for a goodly while yet (PRFD is mainly not listing final hearings though it does sometimes and it also sometimes gives a window listing ie a target month - gives my clerks a right headache putting that in the diary. Does anyone have experience of the timetable for the child actually being properly considered and making a difference to case management or is it just a consideration which is being trotted out as if it actually means something when it does not seem to like 'the welfare of the child is paramount'?