What happens at a final hearing?

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Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2020 5:46 pm

What happens at a final hearing?

Post by Fluffycat333 » Mon Sep 21, 2020 12:52 pm

Hi, my first son is currently under an interim care order. The IRH and possibly final hearing are approaching and I'm terrified; I just want to know more about what is going to happen at the hearing.
The background is as follows - back in May I began suspecting I was pregnant. On referral to hospital and after a scan it turned out I was 39 weeks pregnant. I had no signs and genuinely had no idea. We were referred to social services due to the late presentation and the fact that myself and my partner are both on methadone. We had both been clean for a year before the pregnancy.
An interim care order was granted and the three of us (myself, my partner and our son) were placed in a family unit for a 12 week parenting assessment. The assessment was positive and we have passed all drug tests. Our son is healthy, happy and thriving and has shown no signs of withdrawal from the methadone. The Local authority case seems to be hinging on the possibility of the parents concealing the pregnancy (we didn't) and subsequent lack of antenatal care, historic drug use and my partners criminal history, including time in jail (largely linked to drug and alcohol abuse and homelessness). Our son is the first child for both of us so we have no previous involvement from social services but my partner was in care as a child himself.
I just want to know more about what is going to happen at the IRH and the final hearing. Do we have to speak? Are they going to make a decision based on historical factors, or our circumstances now? It feels like we are on trial and we're terrified of losing our boy. We have no prospective Foster parents as both our parents will be in their 80s by the time our son reaches adulthood and therefore cannot offer 'permanency'. We are facing our son being put up for adoption if the hearing doesn't go in our favour. The LA have been really unhelpful lately and did not file the positive parenting assessment to court on time and haven't yet filed their final statement despite the deadline passing.
Please can someone fill me in about the process and what is likely to happen? The uncertainty is killing me.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: What happens at a final hearing?

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Thu Sep 24, 2020 5:11 pm

Dear Fluffycat333

Welcome to the parents’ discussion forum and thank you for posting.

My name is Suzie, online adviser at Family Rights Group. I see from your post that you are very concerned about the likely outcome of the final hearing relating to your son.

As you are currently in care proceedings I hope that you have legal representation to which you are entitled. It is really important. Regard discuss with your solicitors your case and his or her view of how things are looking so far following your assessment as a family in the unit. You have said it was a positive assessment which is very good. It is very important to work with your solicitors and the social worker.

You mention that both sets of grandparents are elderly and not able to provide permanency. Do either of you not have any other friend or family who may be willing to offer permanency? It is late but you could still ask for that person to be assessed the judge would decide whether to delay for this to happen.

The purpose of the issues resolution hearing (IRH) is for the parties’ legal representative and the judge to decide what issues can be agreed or need to look into at the final hearing e.g if person need to come to court to give evidence and be crossed examined. To ensure that all evidence which will be part of the hearing is ready or will be on the date of the hearing.
At the final hearing the judge will have bundle of the written evidence, will hear persons who give evidence in the witness box. After this judge will decide the outcome of the case.

I think you may find it helpful to read our advice sheet Care (and related) proceedings which explains the court process. You may also find information on this website helpful

Regarding the circumstances of your pregnancy and the fact you did not know until very late into the pregnancy, it may be that children’s service do not believe this to be the case. I have looked this up and it appears that there are situations where this can be the case and it is referred to as a ‘cryptic pregnancy’. It is not common and often people find it difficult to believe but it can and does happen.

The added difficulty in your case is that there is a history of drug use. Also, the added worry that the pregnancy was deliberately hidden. There are also issues with your partner's past criminal history but if you have both been able to show cooperation and engagement with the process working with professionals, then you are likely to be given credit for turning things around but the final decision is for the judge to make.

You have successfully completed your assessment and have had negative tests. All of this will be taken into account and it will be for your legal team to present the best case on your behalf. They have all the information relevant to your case and therefore best placed to advise you.

It is not possible to say what the outcome will be as this is for the judge to decide. Do you have any idea of the views of the children’s guardian as this is likely to be an important in the case regarding your son’s welfare and what is in his best interests?

Should you wish to speak to an adviser, please telephone our advice line on 0808 801 0366. The advice line is open from 9.30am to 3pm Monday to Friday.

I hope this helps

Best wishes


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