Family Judge Grasps Nettle in Sending Baby Boy to Live With His Father

Family judges are always absolutely focused on the welfare of children and will not shrink from grasping nettles to give them the best chance of leading fulfilled and happy lives. That was certainly so in one case in which a judge ordered that a baby boy be taken from his troubled mother's care and sent to live with his father.

The mother had been diagnosed as suffering from traits of a personality disorder and her two older children had already been taken into care and placed for adoption. Her history was characterised by poor relationship choices, resulting in domestic violence, together with verbal and physical abuse of her older children.

Despite this, however, she dearly loved her youngest boy, aged one, and had made much progress in caring for him in a therapeutic environment. She wished to make a permanent home for him, but social workers and the boy's guardian were unanimous in recommending that his father take over as his primary carer.

In ruling on the matter, the judge had no doubt as to the mother's commitment to and deep affection for her son. The picture was not entirely bleak, but evidence revealed her sometimes erratic behaviour and her difficulty in managing her emotions and moods. In those circumstances, there was a risk that the boy would be exposed to significant harm if cared for by his mother outside a therapeutic context.

Emphasising the boy's pressing need for stable and predictable parenting, the judge found that his welfare demanded that he live with his father, whose commitment to his son was not in doubt and who would receive support from the local authority in performing his parenting role. The judge directed that the boy should continue to have regular contact with his mother.

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