Parents consent to two-year care order for young child while they work on addictions – 2023vol2#22

A two-year care order was granted by the Dublin District Court in respect of a child where the mother was in prison and there were concerns in relation to the father’s substance misuse. The parents were consenting to the order.

The solicitor for the Child and Family Agency (CFA) confirmed the parties consented to the two-year order. The mother was incarcerated and was due for release in 2025, but it was noted that she could be eligible for early release in circumstances where she was doing very well in prison.

The guardian ad litem (GAL) was supporting the application, but raised a concern that a number of therapeutic interventions had yet to be put in place for the child. The GAL’s view was that the boy required a neuro-psychological assessment so a review date was necessary prior to the cessation of the two-year order, in order to track progress.

The mother’s solicitor said her client was doing “extremely well” in prison and was utilising her time there effectively. She had completed a course and had been working within the prison for the past two months. A meeting was planned in two months’ time to discuss the possibility of early release, so her solicitor agreed a review date would be beneficial. She said, “she is very keen to continue her path to sobriety.”

The court was told access was taking place pursuant to section 37 of the Child Care Act, 1991, whereby the CFA were facilitating reasonable access. The judge asked whether the child had any half-siblings with whom he had contact.

CFA solicitor: “There are a number of half-siblings, both maternal and paternal, and there is ongoing work to secure contact between them, but it is a complex situation and we are working on an integration plan.”

Judge: “I would imagine it would be in the child’s interests to know that he has half-siblings as he may want to get to know them, but I accept the situation is under review and the child is still very young.”

The father’s barrister said his client was undergoing regular urine analysis tests and was engaging well with the services offered to him. The vast majority of tests had been negative over the previous 10 months, and he was “well on his way to sobriety,” despite this not being reflected in the social work reports.

Judge: “I’m not interested in his addiction, that’s really a matter for him, but what I want to know is whether access has been made available to him?”

Father’s barrister: “Yes it has, but he hasn’t taken it up.”

Having heard the evidence and noting the consent of all parties, the court granted the care order for the agreed period of two years, with a review date fixed for 2024.