An application for a supervision order was adjourned for a month in a rural town to allow the mother obtain legal representation. The father was represented, however the mother was not and told the court that the legal aid centre could not get her a solicitor before Christmas due to the heavy workload. The mother then asked for an adjournment.
The solicitor for the Child and Family Agency said that the matter was adjourned on the last date because neither party was represented. The solicitor said that he had spoken to the parties and expressed the importance of seeking legal representation.
The judge said that on the last day, the father only was in court. He said: “Any citizen has the legal and constitutional right to legal representation under our domestic law and I feel the court would be unwise, unless you are telling me there is a balance in another direction, to refuse the application for an adjournment”.
The solicitor for the Child and Family Agency said that on the last occasion the father told the court that that mother was minding the children in the car and he represented both parties. The solicitor informed the court that they were quite concerned about the two children. However, he said that he could consent to the adjournment, if the parties were willing to give some assurance regarding visitation by the social work department between now and the next date.
The parties left the court to discuss the possibility of providing undertakings and when they returned the parents said that they would allow access to the children if and when required and that one of the children would attend with his general practitioner.
The Judge said to the solicitor for the Child and Family Agency: “I assume that’s access with reasonable notice?” and the Child and Family Agency agreed that reasonable notice would be provided.
The judge directed that both parents be sworn in before they agreed to the undertakings. The judge then explained the purpose of the undertakings and told the parents that the Child and Family Agency had reasonable access following the giving to them of reasonable notice. The judge said that there should be no obstruction and both parties agreed. The judge asked if both parties undertook to ensure that their son attended with his general practitioner in early January and both parties agreed that he would attend his doctor.
The application for the supervision order was adjourned for one month. The Child and Family Agency were given liberty to re-enter the matter with 24 hours’ notice if any issues arose.
In a second case the foster carers of a young girl, who was in their care until she reached 18, sought increased autonomy in signing off on medical and other documentation in respect of the girl.
Neither the father or mother were in attendance, however both were aware of the proceedings. There was no guardian ad litem present or appointed.
The social worker gave evidence and told the judge that the Child and Family Agency supported the application being made by the foster parents.
The judge noted that both parents were aware of the application and neither of the parties were present or represented. On the evidence of the social worker and noting the consent of the CFA, the Judge made an order pursuant to Order 43(a) in respect of the child and her current carer.