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Advice Please - Mother Trying to Get Children Back

Posted: Mon Mar 18, 2019 9:52 pm
by km2115
Hi everyone,

Both my children were taken off their mother as she was neglecting them. In December 2018, the courts granted full care orders to the LA for both children. My daughter came to live with me under a full care order to the LA and my son is currently with a foster carer under a full care order to the LA. The plan is a staggered return to me as he has some needs. The children's mother is saying she is going to go to court to get the children back but has made no attempt to change her lifestyle or address social services concerns. I have been told by one agency she can apply to the court after two years to try to get them back but that she would have to pay for this herself as she would not get legal aid and she would have to go to the High Court. Social Services say she can apply to the courts after 1 year of the order being made they were unsure if she would be able to have legal aid and they did not confirm which court she could apply to.

My questions are please:
1. Is it one year or two years after the care order has been made, she can go back to court to try to have the children returned to her.
2. Will she have to fund this herself or would she be able to get legal aid.
3. Can she apply to any court or would she have to go to the High Court as the LA have full care orders granted by the family court for both children.
4. If I have to fight her in court, would I be able to get legal aid.

I would really appreciate any help here, i fought for nearly a year to have my children and as their mother has not changed at all, any advise on the points above would really help me. Thanks

Re: Advice Please - Mother Trying to Get Children Back

Posted: Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:50 pm
by Suzie, FRG Adviser
Dear km2115,

Welcome to the Parents Forum.

I can see that there are care orders in respect of both your children. Your daughter lives with you and the plan is for your son to be rehabilitated home with you. Do you have a timescale for this plan?

In answer to your questions.
1. Mum can apply to discharge the care order 6 months after the final order was made.

2. Legal aid may be available, but she would have to pass both a means and merits test to get legal aid. To successfully discharge the care order she would have to show that there has been a change in circumstances since the care order was made and that it is in the best interests of the children for the care order to be discharged. For legal aid to be granted, there would have to be a reasonable chance of success. From what you say in your post this does not seem likely.

3. She should go back to the court where the care order was made-not a higher court. Or she could go back to the family court in the area that the children live if that is different.
4. If she does issue an application to discharge the care order, then your solicitor can also apply for legal aid. It will be the same legal aid test as for mum.

Are children services thinking of discharging the care order at some point after your son has been settled back with you? If so, do you have an idea of timescales for this?

You might find our advice sheets 11- about duties to children in the care system and 17- Re unification of children home from care helpful.

If you have any questions, please post again.
Best wishes,


Re: Advice Please - Mother Trying to Get Children Back

Posted: Tue Apr 02, 2019 8:03 pm
by km2115
Thank you for the reply.

My daughter is 9 years old and my son is 6 years old and mother and I split about 3/4 years ago. Mother was neglecting all the children and social services removed them and placed them with family members and a foster carer. Mothers parent assessment was very negative and I had a really positive parent assessment. I moved to the area the children's mothers moved to with the children and I have been attending parent classes which I enrolled onto myself, as I wanted to show SS and the courts that I was willing to do anything to have my children.

I have secured a suitable home for the children and me and my daughter will be moving into the property in a couple of weeks time. The plan at the moment is for social services to monitor me and my daughter and once they are happy I can parent as a single parent, they are looking to return my son to me around August/September time. My daughter is with me full time and I currently have my son for one overnight a fortnight and the alternate week for 3 hours contact at my mothers home. I take my son to or attend all medical appointments both on our own or with the carer, I attend all school appointments for both children and have been attending the SEN meetings for my son's needs. SS have indicated that they will not discharge the care orders until they are satisfied I can parent both children as a single parent, give my daughter the attention she needs and not be forgotten due to my sons needs and they want to ensure my sons complex needs are being met, he has physical and Special Needs. I do have the support of family close by and they have been involved in the entire process. Even when it gets to a stage SS are happy to discharge the care orders, they say they will still be monitoring me at least for a while because of the needs of my son, I assume they mean under a supervision order?

Mother is not attending LAC meetings, she has missed some contact sessions (currently 1 hour a fortnight), she doesn't attend medical appointments or has any idea how to attend to our sons physical needs, she doesn't ask how the children are doing in school, she has not made any attempt to change her lifestyle or address the many concerns SS has with her and she continues to fall into one unsuitable relationship to another. My worry is that even though she has done nothing to change and the children are settled and happy with me, the courts may let her have the children back. She says she doesn't care how many times she has to appeal, she will keep going until she gets the children back. SS have indicated they would object to the children returning to their mother because she has made no attempt to change. Does she have any chance of getting the children back? I would be devastated, I don't believe the children want to go back to her and she would continue to neglect them and cause them more emotional and phycological harm. How many times can she go to court and put the children through this if she does actually go through with what she says.

Again any advice would be appreciated.

Re: Advice Please - Mother Trying to Get Children Back

Posted: Wed May 01, 2019 2:40 pm
by Suzie, FRG Adviser
Dear Km2115,

Thank you for posting again. I am sorry for the delay in responding.

I can see that you have been very busy settling your daughter with you while you are monitored by children services who hold full care orders. You certainly seem to have a handle of what needs to be done in meeting your daughters needs and you are conscious about continuing to do this, even as you take over more of the care of your son, who has complex needs.

Children services say they will remain involved, monitoring you after they have discharged the care orders. You ask whether this would be by supervision orders.
Supervision orders are very unlikely.
Instead, I think the social worker means that your children could be supported under “child in need plans” , if you agree.
(Your son, due to his disabilities is automatically a child in need). Both children, having suffered neglect while living with mum, may still be considered to be children in need.
I am not sure if, and for how long, child in need plans would remain in place. Ask the social worker this question.

However, you as dad may also decide to apply to discharge the care orders, as I advised in my earlier post.

Your main worry is the court returning the children to mum. On the information you have given that seems very unlikely.
Mum seems to be struggling to go to all the contact sessions with the children or attend the many meetings that deal with the children’s needs. You say her she is still living a chaotic lifestyle.
The court has supported a plan for your daughter to live with you and she now seems settled. The court approved plan is for your son to move to live with you as well. So it seems very unlikely that they will move your children back to mum when and if the court order is discharged. A move like that could also be traumatic because it means unsettling your children again.

Have a look at the welfare checklist which will be used by the courts when making decisions about your children.

You could look at the Contact website who advise parents looking after children with disabilities.

I hope this advice helps but if you have any questions, please post again.

Best wishes,