Judge praises teenage girl’s mother for positive steps taken to improve her life in order to form a bond with her daughter – 2024vol1#40

A judge in a provincial city advised the mother of a teenage girl (Child A) to obtain the assistance of a solicitor to assist her to make an application to court for increased access to her daughter. The mother was representing herself in court. She read out a letter describing the positive steps she had taken since A was taken into care eight years previously. The judge praised the mother for the positive progress she had made and adjourned the case for two months to allow the mother to engage with legal aid.

The mother was present in court and told the judge that she did not have legal representation and was representing herself. The judge explained the procedures very clearly to her. The social worker gave an update on A’s placement with her grandmother and said the child had a very good relationship with her. A was reported to be progressing well in her education and planned to progress to transition year.

The social worker reported that access with the mother was going well and taking place in the grandmother’s home. The access arrangements were guided by A’s views. The child suffered from epilepsy and an earlier attempt to wean her off the medication had not been successful. The social worker said that, taking A’s age into consideration, she intended to refer her for aftercare planning in the coming months.

The judge asked the mother if she had questions or intended to give evidence. The mother replied that she had written a letter to the court and had it with her. The judge invited her to the witness box to read the letter for the parties in attendance. The mother read her letter, which described the many steps she had taken over the previous eight years in an effort to help her form a good bond with her daughter. She listed the many courses she had attended and her plans for related work in the future. She reported that she had abstained from alcohol and substance abuse for eight years. She stated that she was living independently and intended to continue to receive mental health supports into the future. She said her child was progressing in school to transition year and that she hoped to be able to spend more time with her.

The judge thanked the mother for coming to court and praised the positive progress she had made. She reminded the mother that she had not been in a good place in the past and that a care order had been put in place for her daughter to the age of 18 years. She asked the mother if she was seeking increased access time with her daughter and the mother said that everything she had achieved over the previous eight years was done with the aim of increasing her access with her daughter and building a bond with her.

The judge advised A’s mother that she would need assistance with the forms to apply to court for increased access. She praised the mother for her efforts so far and advised her to obtain legal aid so that a solicitor could assist with the application and attend court and explain the procedures to her. The judge listed the matter for a date two months later to allow the mother to engage with legal aid.