In a final hearing which took place last week, Mrs Justice Theis returned a child to her parents, after being in care we presume, for over a year and a half, since birth. The parents were exonerated of child abuse, relating to their first son who died tragically of a vitamin D deficiency when only a few months old.
The ruling highlights the need for medical practitioners to avoid presuming too much. It also highlights the importance of legal aid, which was a factor in the case, which allowed the family to have the evidence which was used to take their daughter away from them, tested.
The judgment also raises another very important cultural and political problem within family law – that of the entrenched policy of not returning children when wrongfully taken. We have only skimmed through the judgment this morning and found no mention of whether their daughter was placed in care or adopted, but we feel the principle should be the same: any child wrongfully taken from parents should be returned, notwithstanding any extraordinary circumstances. At the moment, it seems to us at least, that the law is quite back to front on this point.
We hope this case will impact on other cases where medical evidence has been poor and families have been wrongfully torn apart. We also noted that the use of modern technology was a feature of the case, with electronic documents flying around, making life much easier for everyone. Welcome to the 21st Century, Family Courts and…… a hearty happy smile from us all here at Researching Reform to Mrs Justice Theis who is our Judge of the Week, for her courage and her foresight to make things right.