An interim care order was extended in a District Court in a rural town, although the mother opposed the application. She had been made homeless, and the judge said: “In no circumstances can I allow the child also to be homeless.”
This was among seven interim care orders extended by the court that day, mainly by consent. In a second case an interim care order was extended by consent for three months. Neither parent was represented, but the CFA was asked to assist them in obtaining representation. No guardian ad litem was appointed, as in this court a GAL is not routinely appointed.
In the third application for an extension of an ICO the father was present, but not represented, and he was consenting to the extension. Asked by the judge if he was going to get a solicitor the father replied: “Maybe”. The mother was not present and had told the CFA she was consenting. There was no GAL in this case either.
In the fourth case a solicitor representing the mother said she had no instructions, but was present as a courtesy to the court. The father was not present. A GAL was present, and supported the extension of the ICO, which was extended for three weeks, as there was no consent.
In the fifth case the mother did not oppose the extension of the ICO but sought increased access. The social workers and the guardian ad litem agreed access was going better than previously, and the GAL said it should be extended slowly. The children were working on a letter to the judge.
In the sixth case there were different fathers for the three children, and one was not present in court. The ICO was extended for three weeks, with a further extension application to be made with all fathers present. There was no GAL.
In the seventh case the mother consented to the application. There was no GAL in the case.
One of the other cases was for mention to set a date for the full care order hearing. The father sought access, but this had been refused earlier in the light of evidence from psychologists who had examined the children. The judge said: “I have great sympathy for you. But the professionals say that the children are so traumatised that if they see you they go back and that they will lose their placement. So I have no alternative but to proceed to a full hearing without you seeing your children.”
The ninth case concerned guardianship, with the CFA as a notice party. The judge said he would take this up during the main family law hearings.