One year Care Order to allow mother to stabilise – 2015vol3#11

A Care Order was granted for one year in a provincial city to allow a mother time to stabilise her own position. The mother was not present in court or represented and the father was in prison but was present in court. He did not have legal representation. The court heard that the mother had not put the father’s name on the birth certificate at the time of the child’s birth and did not wish to do so now, although the mother acknowledged that the man was the father of the child.

A social worker gave evidence of attempts she had made to engage the mother. She said that the mother had missed access meetings with the child as well as assessment meetings. She had engaged in advocacy on behalf of the mother in order to try to secure accommodation for her. The mother had told the social worker that the reason she had missed access with her child was that she had been involved in an altercation and had to go to hospital. She also said that she had been feeling very low. The social worker said that the mother was homeless despite the social worker’s attempts to help her find accommodation. She also said that she believed that the mother had been in a number of relationships, some of which were aggressive, and she had recently been living in a tent with a man.

The CFA solicitor asked the social worker whether the mother was engaging on any level. The social worker said the mother was becoming increasingly difficult to contact and that she had three different telephones over the last number of months. The social worker said that she was following the mother on social media and that it appeared that the mother was misusing substances as she had said that she had passed out one night and had to be taken away by ambulance.

The social worker said that the mother and her own mother (the child’s grandmother) had a tumultuous relationship and that the grandmother had said that the child’s mother would not be able to come home.

The social worker said that the Care Order was being sought in order to give the mother a bit of stability and to give a timeframe for the mother to engage in access and to stabilise her life. She said: “She can’t engage in care plans, there are a lot of concerns in relation to her life and (the child) is thriving in her placement and is meeting all her developmental milestones.”

The father cross-examined the social worker and asked her whether it was correct to say that a child has to be six weeks old before he or she can be taken into care. The judge interjected and asked the father had he sought legal representation and the father answered that he did not need a solicitor.

The father then asked could he make an application for his name to be registered on the child’s birth certificate. The judge said that he could submit an application but that it would not be dealt with immediately as the application would have to be made through the District Court office.

The father asked whether it was true that, before a child is placed for adoption, an explanation of adoption must be given to the child’s parent. The judge stated that there was no mention of adoption in this case. The father also asked whether he could make an application to discharge any order made in respect of the child. The judge replied that the father could apply to the District Court for any order in respect of the child. The judge asked the father whether he was in a position to look after his child and the father replied that he was not as he was facing a couple of years in prison but he said that he would like to see his daughter. The judge said that the father could write to the CFA in relation to any concerns he had in respect of his daughter. The man said he would like to get to know his daughter more.