Supporting Special Guardians in a lengthy and complex care case

Michael acted for the Special Guardians under Direct Access in a complex case which ran for nearly five years and involved CAO, contact and an application to discharge SGO. Breach of PSO was made by the court of its own motion during course of the proceedings. Application for order under section 91(14) CA.

A Special Guardianship Order was made in 2014 following care proceedings, in which Michael also acted for the Special Guardians, one of whom is the maternal aunt, in respect of one child, now of school age. Initially some contact took place between the child and mother but relations quickly broke down. The parents were no longer in a relationship and the father was not originally pursuing contact.

The mother made an application at the end of 2016 for CAO (unsupervised contact) but also stated she wanted the child returned to her care, thereby discharging the SGO. Her application was opposed by the Special Guardians. The Father responded to the Mother’s application, supported her, and also applied to resume contact with the child.

An order was made for the Mother to have supervised contact at a contact centre and for the Father to have some limited indirect contact. However, the local contact centre declined to accept the Mother because of the risks she posed, and the Father did not commit fully to indirect contact. The local authority prepared a Child & Family Assessment, concluding that the child was at risk of emotional harm if there was any unsupervised contact with either parent. The Mother applied to enforce the initial CAO for supervised contact.

With Michael’s representation, the Special Guardians were granted a separate non molestation order, and subsequently issued an application for breach, also applying for an order under section 91(14) CA to prevent any further CAO applications.

A total of four section 7 reports were prepared, initially recommending supervised contact with the Mother and indirect contact with the Father, but subsequently recommending no direct contact with either parent, and indirect contact only for both parents which the Father accepted but the Mother opposed. The court made a PSO against the Mother during the course of the proceedings.

Following a contested hearing by the Mother, her application for CAO thereby discharging SGO was refused. The Special Guardians were granted an order under section 91(14) CA for a period of four years, with monthly indirect contact only for both parents and a non molestation order made against the Mother for three years. Michael’s clients are to provide both parents with an annual update on the child’s progress.