A care order hearing in respect of one child was adjourned to allow mediation to be completed where the mother suffered from an intellectual difficulty and had a GAL herself. Access was taking place five days a week. The foster carers and the GAL for the child were seeking to have access reduced. The parents were represented.
The solicitor for the mother sought an adjournment. She said the mother had been diagnosed with an intellectual disability and access was a contentious issue. Mediation was taking place but had not concluded. The father had yet to meet the mediator. The solicitor said if there were an agreement in relation to access, the section 18 application would go in a particular direction. The GAL for the mother was supporting the adjournment application and agreed that mediation ought to be finalised before the section 18 application.
Counsel for the CFA said the care order application would not conclude that day but the CFA was eager to make progress. He said: “There has been no finding that the mother lacks capacity and her best interests are represented by the GAL.”
The solicitor on behalf of the GAL for the child said: “This child is in care for two years and we have been waiting for a care order for two years. We thought mediation would be completed by today. The GAL feels that the case needs to proceed. We had an access application [before the court] since November 2018 and the child is being prejudiced by delay.”
The judge asked: “Can the access [application] go ahead independently?”
The solicitor on behalf of the GAL for the child said there was no time to hear the access application in the ordinary [court] list.
The judge said there was no reason why the access application and section 18 application could not be disentangled.
The solicitor for the foster carers said the child was in a family foster placement and the foster carers were supportive of the access but the amount of access was having an impact on the child attending her therapies. The solicitor for the mother disputed the position of the foster carers.
The judge said the application could not go ahead and extended the interim care order for one month.