Re M (children) (placement order)
Case date: 01 November 2007
The mother was HIV-positive. She had two children, M, aged five, and L, aged three, both of whom had different fathers. The local authority accommodated both children, at the mother's request. The children were placed with foster carers. The local authority issued applications for care orders.
By the time of the hearing of the applications, the local authority's care plan was for the children to be placed for adoption. The magistrates made the care orders on the basis, amongst other things, that the mother had exposed the children to incidents of domestic violence; that she had allowed L's father, who had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, to return to the family home; and that the mother had abused drugs alcohol and crack cocaine for five years.
One month after the making of the care orders, the magistrates made placement orders. The local authority informed the mother that a placement had been found for the children. The mother made applications for leave to apply to set aside the placement orders under section 24(2) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002, on the ground that there had been a change in her circumstances, namely that L's father had died, and that she had stopped using crack cocaine.
The judge concluded that the matters upon which the mother relied amounted to a change in circumstances for the purpose of section 24(3) of the Act, and that therefore since the placement order had been made, leave had to be granted pursuant to section 24(2) of the Act.
The local authority appealed against that decision.
It argued that the judge's interpretation of section 24(3) of the Act had been wrong.
The relevant parts of section 24 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 state: '(2)But an application may not be made by a person other than the child or the local authority authorised by the order to place the child for adoption unless – (a)the court has given leave to apply, and (b)the child is not placed for adoption by the authority.
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