Barring order against mother as interim care order extended – 2019vol2#39

An Interim Care Order was extended by the District Court for a child whose single mother had anger and substance abuse issues. The child is in the care of a foster carer who is a family member. The judge granted a barring order against the mother, barring her from the foster carer’s home.

The solicitor for the mother objected to any witnesses remaining in court who had not yet given evidence or who were finished giving evidence. The judge directed that witnesses remain outside the courtroom unless they were giving evidence.

The solicitor for the Child and Family Agency told the court that the interim care report was being contested. The social worker gave evidence that the mother had anger and alcohol issues and had been violent in the past. The child had suffered emotional distress and disruption to his routines particularly when his mother was drinking. Prior to going into care the child had lived with his mother and her partner.

The social worker gave evidence that this was a happy time for the child and that the mother’s issues began when the relationship abruptly ended. Both child and mother had to move in with the child’s maternal grandmother and it was from that point that matters deteriorated. The child became aggressive after the breakup and started breaking things which caused friction between the mother and grandmother as the grandmother would intervene. The social worker said the child often got angry and had exhibited violent and destructive behaviour when upset, particularly when his mother missed access visits.

The social worker told the court that the mother had missed access several times and that this had had a negative impact on the child. The court heard the mother had addiction issues, health issues and financial difficulties and lived in a different county to the child.

The mother gave evidence that often she did not have the money to travel for access and there were times when her health issues prevented her from travelling on public transport so that she would need money for a taxi. The court also heard that the mother had the assistance of Child and Family Agency (CFA) in attending access visits, however she continued to occasionally miss access.  The mother gave evidence that she felt the child got bored at access. She said it took place in a small room that was more suited to very young children. She [the mother] said: “There is nothing around. Can’t do much in an hour. We always had a strong bond but we can’t do things we used to do together in an hour.”

The court also heard that a social work assessment and a psychological assessment were being prepared.

The social worker was asked by the solicitor for the CFA if the mother had attended or engaged with services for her addiction. The social worker replied that there was no verification that she had attended counselling or was making any inroads with her addictions. The court that the solicitor for the guardian ad litem had requested confirmation that the mother had attended addiction services and had written several times requesting the information, but it had not been provided.

The court heard that the mother had a letter from addiction services regarding her engagement but refused to provide it. After questioning by the judge and the solicitor for the GAL the mother agreed to provide the letter. The mother told the court she was not an alcoholic. The judge told the mother’s solicitor that it was not the first time her client’s drinking had become an issue and that she should verify her client’s therapy more forcefully by her own inquiry.

The judge stated: “You [the mother] will not get your child back if you don’t engage.”

The court heard that the mother was currently housed with her former partner. The judge asked the social worker if the child had a connection with this person.  The social worker replied that the child had had a good relationship with the man previously.  The child had been very upset at the relationship ending between him and his mother as he had regarded him as his father.

The court heard there were concerns surrounding the ex-partner being abruptly re-introduced to the child’s life. The solicitor for the CFA asked the social worker if there were any barriers to the child being reunified with his mother. The social worker said: “Yes, there are barriers, the same barriers that were there before.”

It was put to the mother that she had breached a bail condition, in that she was to not to attend a particular area. The mother denied that she was on bail. Details of the alleged charge for which she was on bail were not disclosed to the court.

The court heard that the child has benefited from not witnessing violence and arguments between the mother and grandmother. The grandmother gave evidence there had been many violent outbursts and that she was in fear and she did not feel safe in her home.

The court found the violence and threatening behaviour towards the grandmother needed to be addressed and the alcohol addiction required treatment. The ICO was extended and a barring order was granted for one year.