When a child has a baby, does the Court place them in a special category?

Posted by Rachel Giles on
In the recent case of Re C (A child) [2018] EWHC 3332 (Fam), a decision has been made that it is not necessary for a Local Authority to inform a father of his baby's birth. The baby was born to a mother aged 14 years, without knowledge of the father, aged 15 years. The mother had not been aware of the pregnancy until the birth.

The mother decided that the baby should be placed for adoption. Various options were explored, including the possibility of the baby being placed with maternal and paternal families, the mother having provided a social worker with the name of the father. She was clear at this time that she did not wish for the father to be informed of the birth. She was concerned about the backlash of this, as the father was reported to have a history of antisocial behaviour and was known to social services. The mother was intelligent and articulate, and was fearful of the reaction should the news be leaked from a close circle of family and friends aware of the birth. It was also considered that the mother would have severe disruption to her education should the news be leaked, as she had a promising future, but was psychologically vulnerable.

The Judge considered all of the circumstances of the case, including that the parents of the baby were children themselves. He held that this did not place them in a special category, but was to be taken into account when considering the mother's wishes (to which considerable regard was given) and the interests of both parents.

Whilst each case will turn on its own facts, this is an interesting case for a number of reasons. The Judge rightly considered all circumstances of the case, which included the potential for harm to the baby on the information before him, the fact that the mother was a child herself and the fact that the father had not had the opportunity to present himself or his family as possible carers for the baby. The conclusion was reached for the baby to be placed for adoption and the father not to be informed. The Judge took that view that this was an unusual decision and one which was very fact specific.

It is certainly not a new concept for all of the circumstances of the case to be taken into account. This is an interesting case in terms of the treatment of unusual circumstances however. The family team at Blake Morgan would be delighted to assist with any queries relating to this or any other family law matter.

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Rachel is a Senior Solicitor in the Family team and is based in the Southampton office.

Rachel Giles
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