A judge in a provincial city granted a six-month supervision order for two children of primary school ages, Child A and Child B. The children had poor school attendance records and A was displaying behaviour problems.
The case was adjourned on the first date for two days to allow the children’s mother to avail of legal representation. The judge explained to the mother that it was very important that her opinion was listened to and it was vital that she avail of legal representation to help her understand the procedures of the family court in order to participate fully. The children’s mother gave an undertaking that she would do her best to work to make the necessary improvements highlighted by the court.
The judge welcomed the children’s mother to court and clearly explained what a supervision order meant. The mother had brought a support worker with her to court as she said she would not know what to do herself. The judge noted that the mother did not have any legal representation in court and said she was uncomfortable with this.
Judge: “You need supports. I would really like you to have a solicitor”.
The lawyer for the Child and Family Agency (CFA) said that the mother had already been assessed for legal aid and qualified for the assistance. The judge said she really wanted the mother in this case to have the additional layer of assistance of having legal representation. She added that it was very important that the mother should have the best advice available to her.
The judge decided to adjourn the matter for two days for the mother to avail of legal aid. She addressed the mother and told her that this was a family court where it was important to explain things clearly.
Judge: “You are the most important person here. In here Mums get listened to”.
The mother acquired legal representation and her lawyer described the concerns regarding the care and welfare of the two children. A had behaviour problems and B had a very poor school attendance record. B had problems with his feet and the home was cold, untidy, unhygienic and cluttered.
The lawyer for the CFA told the court that the mother had lost her own mother and was not doing well since the death. She had been put on a waiting list for a bereavement service but had failed to turn up for her appointments there. The judge addressed the mother directly and told her to open the windows in the house, get rid of junk and clutter and get the children to school. She advised her not to disengage from the services which were there to help her. The mother agreed she would do her best.
Mother: “I don’t want the help, but I need the help.”
The CFA lawyer listed additional actions that would be necessary for the children’s health and welfare. They need to visit the GP and dentist regularly and also to attend school on a regular basis. The judge advised the mother to start with having a clean, uncluttered bedroom and clean bedlinen and to “make sure it happens”. The mother agreed she would abide by the court’s recommendations. The judge then made the supervision order for six months with a review to be carried out after three months.