Urgent Advice Please - Son Might Not be Mine

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km2115
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Joined: Sat Jan 26, 2019 1:38 pm

Urgent Advice Please - Son Might Not be Mine

Post by km2115 » Tue May 18, 2021 4:39 pm

Hi Suzie,

I know I have another post live with you but I really need urgent advice. As you may recall both children were taken from mum due to neglect, my daughter has been with me since December 19 under a care order and next week the care order for my daughter is in court to be revoked, all are in favour for this and it was SS that wanted it to be revoked, the court case is 26th May 2021. My son was placed with a carer and he has Cerebral Palsy and Learning difficulties and I found out today that my son might not be mine biologically and the social worker wants to do a test.
I have just finished my parent assessment for him to be considered to be coming back to my care only to have this now come to light. The social worker said she is just finishing my assessment, court documents say the assessment is likely to be positive and the SW has hinted at a shared custody arrangement with his current foster carer but where does this now leave me and my son?
The social worker said this does not make any difference to the parent assessment as far as she is concerned and that my son has only known me as his father since birth and he is now 8 years old. It makes no difference to me what the outcome or the paternity test is, he is and always will be my son and I still want him back home with me and his sister. BUT where does that leave me if he is not biologically my son? The SW said the assessment would not change but the order on which they were looking at would change, she mentioned a special guardianship order and I think adoption was mentioned but I was so shocked I didn't take it all in.
Would I still be able to have shared care of my son or will SS look at this differently if he is not my son. Will they say he cant return to my care if he is not my child. I am concerned how this may change things, I am all he has ever known. Please I really need some help.

Thanks

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Re: Urgent Advice Please - Son Might Not be Mine

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon May 24, 2021 3:34 pm

Dear km2115,

Welcome back to the Parent’s Forum. I can see that you are seeking urgent advice as you are back in court on the 26th May.
You have just received the news that you may not be the biological father of your son and the social worker would like you to do a paternity test. I am sorry to hear this and I can see how unsettling this may be, and you could ask for paternity counselling to help you deal with the different outcomes.

Here is some information about paternity testing in family proceedings that you might find helpful. There is also information about paternity on the Families Need fathers website.

The court can order that a paternity test takes place, and this may take some weeks for it to be returned to children services. This will give you more time to think about the future court order that would best meet your son’s situation.

The social worker says that it will make little difference to the outcome of the court proceedings, as you have been the father to your son for 8 years but that it could mean you have a different legal order such as a special guardianship order or adoption.

As a biological father, the order you would be granted is a child arrangements order (CAO).

As a “connected person” (if you were not the biological father), you could have a CAO or a special guardianship order (SGO). An adoption order is very unlikely in these circumstances.

The social worker has hinted that you and the foster carer may have shared care of your son. Is she thinking that your son will go to respite care or short breaks with the foster carer on a regular basis- but she does not get a court order?
Or is she thinking you and the foster carer will both have a shared court order such as a child arrangements order or special guardianship order?

If you are not the biological father of your son, then the better order would be the special guardianship order as there is the chance of a lot more support such a SGO allowance and help with your legal fees. You would also get enhanced parental responsibility. If this is the order you decide to apply for, ask for an assessment for SGO support before the court order is made, if you can.

I hope the court case goes well on Wednesday. I hope this advice helps but please post again if you have more questions or call our advice line for further advice.

Best wishes,
Suzie

km2115
Posts: 19
Joined: Sat Jan 26, 2019 1:38 pm

Re: Urgent Advice Please - Son Might Not be Mine

Post by km2115 » Fri May 28, 2021 11:19 am

Thank you for getting back to me Suzie.

No, the social worker is not looking at respite but a 50/50 shared care arrangement with the current carer, my son currently comes to me on a Thursday after school for dinner until 6.30pm and comes to me midday on a Sunday and sleeps over and I take him to school on the Monday morning and we have a skype call on a Tuesday evening. I don't think this will be a court lead arrangement but a way of a possible transition of a return to me full time. SS said this would be monitored to see how it is going and if there are no concerns then looking to increase his time with me until back in my care fully. SS is currently writing up the assessment and will inform me of the outcome at the end of June, although she has hinted it is going to be positive and then she said we will sit down and make a plan. This is my second parent assessment with the first one being done via an ISW appointed by the court back in April 2018, which was also positive. At the last but one LAC review, the Barnardo's manager said that they would have to give the current carer a new child if my son was returned to me full time and that if anything went wrong he would then have to go to a new carer, the IRO jumped in and said but there are no indications that this would go wrong. I think this may have planted a seed in SS minds because my son has Cerebral Palsy, Learning Disabilities (not severe) and can have Challenging Behaviour on occasion, although this is improving and he can struggle with change in the beginning, so I think Barnardo's was playing on the "what if" scenario and saying he is used to this carer as he has been with them since May 2018. I naively may have added to this as when the SW was talking about my parent assessment, over a year ago now, I did ask that if he couldn't come back to me full time would there be a possibility of me having him some of the time but this was only something I wanted to look into if they said he couldn't come back to me full time.

Testing for paternity has not been mentioned again so I don't know if my SW just wanted to get Wednesdays court case out of the way first ( this was for discharging my daughters care order which is in another thread) and finish the parent assessment before we move on the testing or not. I know she said this will have to be done now it has been brought up and that it would be better to know so they can put in protection for me and my son from his mother further down the line and also this would change things in respects to the type of order needed and that I would have to be assessed again but this time under a viability assessment. I have looked in the SGO suggested and I feel this would be the better option for us if the paternity test finds I am not the biological father, thank you for that advice and all the help on my other threads over the last year or so :)

km2115
Posts: 19
Joined: Sat Jan 26, 2019 1:38 pm

Re: Urgent Advice Please - Son Might Not be Mine

Post by km2115 » Fri Oct 15, 2021 1:40 pm

Hi Suzie,
It has been a while since my last post with lots of things happening. The current situation is my daughter is now with me and the care order for her has been discharged. Trying to get my son back is still ongoing, the current situation is as follows

He is currently with me 3 nights a week and 4 nights with the carer.
The plan is to review this in December and if all good to move to a transition of him returning to me fully.
I take him to all medical appointments.
I now take both my daughter and son to contact with mother and supervise contact.

The paternity test came back on Monday and it was negative, I am not my son's biological father. As you can appreciate it was devastating to hear that but he loves me and I love him as if he were my own. The social worker asked me if I still wanted to carry on trying to get him back in my care and I told her yes I do want to carry on and continue to be his father. The SW explained she will need to try to contact the biological father and that of course can bring up all sorts of scenarios but ultimately she said no judge in the land would take my son and give him to someone he does not know and who may not be a suitable person for him. SW advised mother will not be able to have him back as she is an unsuitable parent. She explained after the avenues have been explored and we can continue to move forward, that he would have to come to me either under a CAO or SGO. The advise I am looking for is below please.

I would very much like to look at adoption, would social services be willing to consider this
Can mother object my son coming to me as I am not his biological parent
If mother does not know who the father is, can I look at adoption as we would not be able to get fathers consent
Can mother try to stop me adopting my son and if so would this then be something a judge would decide in court

Social services have said they will finance any legal challenge for me if mother tries to object my son being with me at the moment as he is not my child. SW says her plan has not changed and she is still looking for him to come to me but she needs to try to find the biological father and see what his intentions are. Please any advise on this would be really appreciated. I have fought to have my son returned to me for the last 3 years, I dont want to lose him now.

Thanks

km2115
Posts: 19
Joined: Sat Jan 26, 2019 1:38 pm

Re: Urgent Advice Please - Son Might Not be Mine

Post by km2115 » Fri Oct 15, 2021 2:45 pm

Sorry also wanted to add should I look to get some legal advice and as he is not my biological son, would I be entitled to legal aid.
Thanks

km2115
Posts: 19
Joined: Sat Jan 26, 2019 1:38 pm

Re: Urgent Advice Please - Son Might Not be Mine

Post by km2115 » Tue Oct 19, 2021 7:57 am

Hi Suzie,
Further update. The social worker contacted my son's biological father and he knew nothing about the pregnancy or that he had a child, says he does not want anything to do with him, doesn't want to take a paternity test and says he was not in a relationship with the mother but just had a fling with her and that he did not know anything about me mother never mentioned me. Not sure if this will be a better position for me to get my son back?
Thanks

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Re: Urgent Advice Please - Son Might Not be Mine

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Wed Oct 20, 2021 3:44 pm

Dear km2115,

Thank you for your post and the update about your situation. I am very sorry to hear of the outcome of the paternity test and hope that you are getting support regarding this from your family and friends' network. You may also want to consider some counselling either now or in future.

It has been confirmed that you are not the biological father of your son, however the person who is thought to be the biological father has said that they will not take a paternity test and that they have no wish to be a part of your son’s life. Your wish to care for your son remains unchanged and children’s services remain supportive of you being a long-term carer.

You would like to know whether adoption would be considered by the local authority and whether your son’s mother could oppose this. Before being able to apply for an adoption order a child has to have lived with the prospective adopter for a certain period of time:

Step-parent: 6 months
Unrelated foster carer: 1 year
Other family member or friend: 3 years, out of the last 5 years

If you were married or in a civil partnership with your son’s mother then you would be considered a step-parent, however if this is not the case then you would be an ‘other family member or friend’. As such you would not be able to apply for the order until your son had lived with you for 3 years.

Furthermore, it is unlikely that adoption would be seen as the best option for your son as it would cut all legal ties between him and his mother. As your son has an ongoing relationship with his mother and has regular contact with her along with his sister, it would be difficult to argue that adoption would be in his best interests.

The local authority are most likely to suggest a Child Arrangements Order or a Special Guardianship Order.
As you are not your son’s biological parent you are now known as a connected person and as such would be able to be considered for one of these orders. As previously advised the better order would be the Special Guardianship Order as there is the potential for more support such a SGO allowance, a SGO support plan and help with your legal fees. You would also get enhanced parental responsibility which would give you the final say on decisions about your son. As previously advised, if this is the order you decide to apply for, make sure that you ask for an assessment for SGO support before the court order is made, as it will be harder for you to get the local authority to agree to any financial support after the order is made. You can find lots of information about SGOs on our website under the kinship care pages kinship care pages, and I suggest that you read Advice Sheet 2c.

You ask whether your son’s mother can object to you being the long-term carer for your son as you are not his biological father. She can object to any plan made by the local authority regarding her son’s care; however, the judge will primarily consider the recommendations made by the local authority and the child’s guardian. As you say, that the local authority are supportive of you being the long-term carer for your son, and this has not changed despite the fact that you are not his biological father.

Regarding the biological father; he does not have parental responsibility, and he has no intention to get this. He also has no previous relationship with the child and is essentially a stranger to him; as such the local authority would not consider him as a possible carer.

You would like to know if you should get some legal advice and if you would be entitled to legal aid for this. Children’s services may offer financial support towards legal costs if they have asked someone to care for a child from their family and friends network. Typically, if a person has been positively assessed then children’s services will pay for them to meet with a solicitor for some initial advice. However this is not mandatory so it would be worth speaking with the social worker about this and asking what your local authority’s policy is. You can read here for more information about legal aid.

I hope that this is helpful. Should you wish to speak to an adviser, please telephone our free confidential advice line on 0808 801 0366. The advice line is open from 9.30am to 3pm Monday to Friday. You are also welcome to post again in this forum.

Best wishes,
Suzie

km2115
Posts: 19
Joined: Sat Jan 26, 2019 1:38 pm

Re: Urgent Advice Please - Son Might Not be Mine

Post by km2115 » Thu Oct 28, 2021 6:54 pm

Thank you for all the advise Suzie.

I have an appointment with my solicitor Monday to discuss the two orders CAO and SGO but I am pretty sure I want to apply for an SGO thanks to all the advice I have had so far. My solicitor has emailed the LA legal team this afternoon to let them know we are intending to apply for an order for my son. Please could I just have a little more information on the SGO. My daughter is with me on a CAO and the judge also awarded a S91 (14) so mother has to ask the permission of the court first before she could then go ahead and submit an application to change the CAO. My question is with an SGO would I also need to ask for the S91 (14) or does a SGO already have something built in that would require mother to have to ask permission of the court first to be able to then submit anything to change the SGO first/

Thank you again

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Re: Urgent Advice Please - Son Might Not be Mine

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Nov 01, 2021 1:09 pm

Dear km2115

Thank you for your further post. I see you are planning to apply for a special guardianship order (SGO) for your son.
I am sure your solicitor will advice you fully about having a SGO but the short answer to your question of whether the SGO has something built in that would require your son’s mother to ask permission of the court before making an application to discharge a SGO is YES.

Once a SGO is made it is necessary for a parent to seek permission of the court to apply to discharge the order. A parent can make an application for a child arrangement order for contact (CAO) without seeking permission to do so.

Please see information relating to SGO here

Hope you find this helpful.

Best wishes

Suzie

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