Children's Proceedings ServicesChildren’s Proceedings

Now recognised as a leading choice in the area of care work, we at Brendan Fleming are proud of our expertise; but we know that the most important thing in nearly all cases is the sensitivity, tact and thoughtfulness we show to the people looking to us for help and guidance.

Our principal, Brendan Fleming, has won a reputation for his innovative approach, spearheading many new ways of securing justice for victims of domestic abuse and violence.

Brendan is currently representing both children and parents caught up in the care work process. He is a member of a select children’s panel and, along with Rachel Porter and Michael Green, recognised and approved by the Law Society. We are contracted to the Legal Services Commission for this type of work and are considered to be one of the leading national firms for publicly funded services.

 

 

We provide one of the most comprehensive resources on Child Care Proceedings:

Care Orders

Care Proceedings

Child Care Law

Here is an exemplary case study of the excellent actions carried out by Brendan Fleming Solicitors:

We represented the mum of a little girl who had just turned 6 at the start of the case and turned 7 by the end of the proceedings.

This was the father’s second application in a year, the first one started in September 2009 and finished with an order for direct contact only in July 2011.

In the first application, we took over the case from another firm who had not followed the client’s instructions and not acted in her best interests.  The father represented himself and used to attend court brandishing pictures of the child in Court and he would sit across our client in the waiting areas and stare at her, leaving her feeling frightened and intimidated.

The previous solicitors sent one different barrister after another to represent the client and she had no continuity or representation and had no idea who was going to representing her at each hearing until she got to Court.  Our client would see them sitting with the father and having a laugh and a joke with him.  Just before the client left her previous firm to instruct us, the barrister who had been instructed to represent the client at a two day fact finding override our client’s instructions and decided to agree things with the father that he was prepared to concede, which meant that the most serious allegations of domestic violence and abuse – all of which had independent evidence to support them – were discarded.  The hearing finished in the morning, so the barrister got paid as though the hearing had taken place and got an extra payment for ‘settling’ the case without the need for a contested hearing.

As a result, the case was in a mess because the major welfare concerns to the father having direct contact could no longer be relied upon by our client.  At the time we had taken over, the Court had directed a psychological assessment of the child – which our client’s previous solicitors had agreed to against her instructions.    Although we could not rely on the previous allegations, our client was reporting that the child was exhibiting behavioural problems as a result of witnessing domestic violence and distress at the prospect of seeing her father.  CAFCASS did a report and tried to intimate that our client’s mother was influencing the child against the father, which was not the case, adding further pressure on our client to facilitate direct contact.  At this point, we were having hearing after hearing, on an almost fortnightly basis and therefore had to resist considerable pressure from the father, CAFCASS and even the Court at times, to facilitate direct contact.  We represented her at every hearing, never sent a barrister, giving her that continuity of representation which allowed her to build a client-solicitor relationship with us.

Eventually, we got CAFCASS to pay for six sessions of supervised contact.  During those sessions, the father criticised our client to the child, made snide remarks about our client in front the child, talk about court and argue with the supervisors.  A couple of the sessions had to be brought to a premature end because the child became very upset as a result of the father’s behaviour.  He was repeatedly spoken to by the experienced staff at the centre about his conduct and behaviour but he was very rude and dismissive and oft repeated that he was ‘the benchmark of modern parenting’.

That case finished in July 2011 and our client was allowed to refuse direct contact; only an order for monthly indirect contact was made.  As our client did not want the father to write to her home, we agreed – at our own time and expense – for the father to send the indirect contact to our offices and we vetted them and forwarded them to our client.

The father then reissued another application for contact in January 2012.

As often happens in these cases, the Court appointed a solicitor-guardian for the child at the first hearing.  From the off, we wanted the father to be psychologically assessed.  We believed our client when she told us how violent and emotionally abusive the father was towards during their relationship and how this domestic abuse was witnessed by the child.  However, because of what had happened at the ‘fact finding’ during the last case, we could not rely on those allegations.  In any event, the father was adamant that our client was lying and exaggerating for the most part; he claimed that he was provoked to do the minor things he had agreed he had done such as spitting at our client in front of the child and he showed absolutely no remorse for his actions.  He also showed no insight or remorse for how his actions affected his daughter during the supervised contact sessions.

These solicitor-guardians are obviously new to the case and so they do not know the history. Also, because they want to appear to be ‘fair’ and not ‘taking sides’, sometimes the cases take a wrong direction at this point.  This could have happened in this case.  From the beginning, the guardian wanted our client and the child psychologically assessed but we successfully resisted that.  The Court did, however, direct an independent social work assessment to assist the solicitor-guardian with the welfare issues; the independent social worker duly recommended a psychological assessment of the father.  Again, the guardian wanted our client and the child to take part in the psychologically assessment – as did the Judge – but we stood firm in our steadfast refusal to allow this unnecessary and egregious intrusion into the child’s life and because we knew that there was absolutely reason to allow our client to be subjected to such an examination either.

In the end, the psychologist diagnosed the father with Narcissistic Personality Disorder and declared him to be a significant risk of significant emotional harm to the child and a risk to our client as well.  The psychologist recommended that no direct contact – supervised or supervised – should take place.

At the final hearing on 23 January 2013, we successfully resisted the father’s application for direct contact and successful sought a 6 year section 91(14) barring order against the father, preventing him from making any further applications in respect of the child without the court’s permission until January 2019.  Our skeleton argument in support of the application for the barring order won praised from the Judge.

In the almost non-stop proceedings over the 3 and a half years, the child met with almost 10 different professionals ranging from women’s aid to CAMHS to a guardian at litem to CAFCASS and an independent social worker, all for the purposes of assessing her.  Now, mother and child can look forward to at least a 6 year break from litigation and intrusion into their lives.

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