Access with father adjourned for forensic risk assessment after two-year delay – 2018vol2#22

The judge in a rural town adjourned the matter of access for a child with her father until a forensic risk assessment of the father took place.

The court heard that the father, who lived abroad, had a criminal conviction. He had visited the child with his extended family last year. The father and child had not met in a number of years but had Skype contact and he was in contact with the CFA social workers.

The court heard from the CFA solicitor that the father’s visit impacted on the child. Initially she had wanted to live with her father, wife and two half siblings. This situation had now changed, the solicitor said, and she wanted to stay with her foster carers, but visit her father and family abroad. The child had three half siblings in this country, with whom she had access. Two of these siblings lived with their father, her step-father, and a baby infant sibling lived with her mother.

The child’s mother had mental health difficulties. The court heard that the CFA application for an emergency care order for the infant was unsuccessful, but a supervision order was granted in relation to the baby. The mother was not present in court. She was aware of the court date but had given no instructions, her solicitor said.

The GAL’s solicitor told the court that the child was happy in her foster placement. She was finishing primary school and had secured a place in the secondary school of her choice. The court heard that a number of issues impacted on the child such as her father’s visit, the birth of a baby brother and health issues. The child wanted to continue with access with her mother and baby sibling.

A referral had been made to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS). The GAL recommended that psychotherapeutic input did not commence until 2019 as the child needed time before another therapeutic input. The GAL also recommended that the child receive a psycho-social assessment in the second quarter of 2019 regarding a review of her supports and to progress issues.

The judge said he “was surprised” the matter regarding the father’s forensic assessment had been ongoing for two years. The matter was now receiving priority from International Social Services and the father would be interviewed on his next visit here, the CFA solicitor said. The GAL’s solicitor said it was “imperative” for the child’s access that there was a time frame with regard to the father’s assessment.