About the Family Law Week blog

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.

The Blog is edited by Jacqui Gilliatt, of 4 Brick Court and Lucy Reed, of St Johns Chambers.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Interim Removal Hearings - Pauffley J in Re NL Post 1 of 3

Pauffley J made some important points in Re NL (A Child) (Appeal: Interim Care Order: Facts and Reasons) [2014] EWHC 270 (Fam) about the manner in which interim hearings should be dealt with and evidence which will suffice to justify interim removal.

She reminds us of the:

three well known propositions derived from the Court of Appeal's decision in Re LA (Care; Chronic Neglect) [2010] 1 FLR 80 applicable to interim care orders. Firstly, that the decision taken by the court must necessarily be limited to issues that cannot await the substantive hearing and must not extend to issues that are being prepared for determination at that fixture. Secondly, that separation is only to be ordered if the child's safety demands immediate separation (my emphasis). And thirdly, that a local authority in seeking to justify the removal of a child from home necessarily must meet a very high standard – reiterating what had been said in Re K and H [2007] 1 FLR 2043 namely that "…at an interim stage the removal of children from their parents is not to be sanctioned unless the child's safety requires interim protection."

In a similar vein to Black LJ in yesterday's post she did not consider that the disruption to the foster placement argument should carry the day:

NL's move to a foster home on 2nd November is identified as a reason against reuniting him with to his mother. The Justices decided that such a change in his circumstances "may have an effect upon him. NL is very young and needs to form an attachment to his primary carers."

54. I found that evaluation both startling and disturbing. The fundamental principle is that wherever possible, consistent with their welfare needs, children deserve an upbringing by their natural parent(s). It seems to me wholly unwarranted to deploy the status quo argument as part of the reason for continuing an interim foster placement for a week old infant.

55. This case provides a good example of how once separation has occurred there can be a certain inevitability that it will be perpetuated. It is often and rightly said that the decisions taken about placement at the outset of public law proceedings are amongst the most significant. They can be and often are the most difficult. All the more reason, I would say, for immense trouble to be taken so as to ensure those decisions are based upon good evidence and fully justified. Anything less would be to ignore that a child, as the result of what occurs at the beginning of proceedings, may be denied the opportunity, ultimately, of remaining within his natural family.

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