GAL appointed to hear voice of child with special needs whose mother refused to accept directions in earlier supervision order – 2024vol1#49

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In a long-running case involving a child with special needs whose mother did not want him to go to school, a judge in a rural town by her own motion appointed another guardian ad litem (GAL) for the child and adjourned the matter to hear the voice of the child.

This matter concerned the implementation of a supervision order which had been made in the summer of 2022 for a primary school aged boy who had significant needs. The mother had wanted to home school the boy but various professional had stated that it was in the boy’s best interests that he attend school. A supervision order had been made with specific directions and the judge had stated that she would case-manage these proceedings because of her concerns that the directions would not be complied with.

The solicitor for the Child and Family Agency (CFA) informed the court the parties were in the process of mediation but there was no agreement between the parties. He said: “There is a gulf between the parties and the social workers have bent over backwards to accommodate this mother.” He said that there had been many assessments and the mother had wanted a further assessment from a specified external expert to assess the boy’s educational needs.

The CFA had agreed to this further and final assessment, but no joint letter of instruction had been agreed. He said a guardian ad litem (GAL) had been appointed but there had been objections to this from the mother. The boy had never had a GAL. He said this was the fourth supervision order the boy had had. The boy had had a National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) assessment and CFA assessment and he needed to go to school.

The judge said she had been aware of this matter and was glad the parties had agreed mediation as that was better than court orders. She said by her own motion she appointed another GAL as it was in the boy’s welfare and his interests that his voice be heard. She said that she hoped that the mother would embrace the newly-appointed GAL.

The judge adjourned the matter for two months for an updated report, to permit the further assessment from the external expert, the mediation to take place and for the GAL’s report on the voice of the boy to be made.