National Legal Service was recently appointed to help Paul*, a distraught father who had been separated from his wife and newborn baby after the family’s local authority applied for an Interim Care Order (ICO).
A local authority will typically make an application for an ICO where there are serious concerns about the welfare of a child. An ICO is an interim order which grants the local authority a share of parental responsibility and can also approve the child being removed from the family, to ensure their safety.
The local authority had expressed concerns about Paul’s wife’s mental health and how she was parenting her teenage daughter. The local authority also alleged that Paul had a long criminal record. Given these concerns, the local authority determined that Paul’s wife and child should move into a specialist mother and baby residential unit so that an assessment could be carried out.
Paul’s teenage stepdaughter also left the family home and moved in with Paul’s mother on a temporary basis.
Although both parents disputed the opinions of the local authority, they did not have enough evidence to oppose the ICO at the initial hearing. As a result, the ICO was granted, and mum and baby were required to move to the residential unit. Paul was granted supervised contact, which meant a third-party would need to be present when visiting his wife and child.
Paul was adamant that he did not have a criminal record and was capable of properly caring for his newborn baby. National Legal Service contacted the local authority to ascertain where the suggestion of a criminal record had originated. We were able to determine that incorrect information had been passed over by the police. We then confirmed that a family member had been using Paul’s identity and it was that person, not Paul, who held the criminal record.
With this case of mistaken identity proven, the requirement for supervision during visits with his wife and child was removed. We then applied for the ICO to be discharged, and for Paul’s wife and baby to be allowed to return home.
National Legal Service supported Paul in opposing the ICO and we successfully argued that he should be made primary carer. The ICO was discharged, and an Interim Supervision Order (ISO) made in its place. An ISO is intended to offer support, befriend and assist the child and will typically see a social worker offering advice and assistance on parenting for a period of time.
At this point, mother and baby were allowed to return home, with regular checks to be carried out within the home by social services.
We’re pleased to report that Paul and his family were able to settle back into life at home, with Paul’s stepdaughter also returning within a few months. The case has now been closed, with no final orders made, and only minimal support from social services in place.