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Clare
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 34236
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practise since 1985 and have specialised in Family Law for the last 10 years
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I am asking this question on behalf of a young Mum. About a

Customer Question

I am asking this question on behalf of a young Mum. About a year ago she had her daughter taken into care because her husband had been violent towards her daughter who is now 7 years old. Then about four months ago social services applied to the Court for her daughter to be adopted and the Judge granted the adoption order. Although the Judge agreed that she had been a good loving Mum to her daughter he said due to the risk of her now ex husband finding her daughter he said the adoption order would go ahead. He also wrote to her saying she could appeal the decision within one year of the adoption which was in March 2014. She cannot get legal aid but I am willing to help her by paying her legal costs. Is this something you can give some advice on as to what she needs to do to appeal her daughter's adoption and if so can you recommend any solicitors who could help her with her appeal? I know I can't give all of the details here but I hope you can help. Thank you.

I have been asked to give a little more information. When the Mum first went to Court to oppose the adoption of her daughter she did have a solicitor provided by legal aid. The Judge said that the procedures used by the solicitor were incorrect and that did not help her to overturn the adoption order. She complained to the firm of solicitors and the Law Society and except for the solicitor concerned being reprimanded the adoption still went ahead in March 2014. She is unable to get any further legal aid to appeal the decision so that is why I am helping her as I will pay her legal costs to try and get the adoption overturned. I hope this helps.

Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Hi
Thank you for your question.
My name is Clare
I will do my best to help you but I need some further information first.
When you say Adoption do you mean the Placement Order?
Who does the child live with at the moment?
Has the father had any further contact with the mother?
clare
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Clare

First her child was taken into care then the Court made a Placement Order giving permission to the social services to place my friends daughter with prospective adopters against her will. Then an application for adoption was issued and she has been told by social services that her child has been adopted and that she has no right to even see her anymore. So the child has been living with her adopted parents since March 2014. She was prevented from stopping the initial Placement Order right from the start partly because the Judge told the solicitor who was acting for her that procedures had been wrongly carried out but the exact details of this are unclear. When she went back to the Court to try to oppose the Adoption Order she no longer had legal aid as this had "run out" and the Judge told her although he agreed she was a loving mother he was granting the Adoption Order as he was concerned that the father might try to find her daughter and harm her. I asked her if the Police had made an injunction against her ex husband preventing him from trying to see her daughter but she said as far as she is aware they didn't and it seems this was never even considered by social services at the time. I was not aware of all of this at the time as I know her through a friend of mine and I have only recently been told all of this.

If I had known I would have tried to help a lot earlier. My friend is going to Court today 6 August 2014 to end her tenancy agreement as she does not want to live there anymore and wants her Landlord to let her move away from the area nearer to her Mum. She is currently living with her Mum about 7 miles away. She no longer sees the father and to make sure he does not try to see her she is moving from where she lived. It is all very sad. I hope this helps.

Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Hi
Have you seen any of the paperwork regarding the case?
Clare
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Clare

No I have not seen any of the paperwork regarding the case. She will be bringing over all of her papers to me in a few days time so I can take copies of the relevant papers especially the letter from the Judge granting her one year to make an appeal from the adoption date. I am writing to you on behalf of my friend as she is dyslexic About 15 minutes ago I met with my friend who agrees everything I have sent you but asked me to tell you the following:

She was engaged to be married about 7 years ago but did not actually marry her partner, but they lived together. So from now on I will refer to him as her "partner". Early on in their relationship her partner used to beat her and she reported it to the Police and social services. The social services did not believe her and gave custody to her partner of their daughter and re-housed him. She then moved in with him to help protect her daughter, but finally on one occasion when her partner had beaten her daughter she reported it to the Police and social services who then took her daughter away and put her into care. She had asked/begged the Police and social services to take out an injunction against her partner from seeing her daughter and asked to be re-housed so she could care for her daughter on her own. At the time they knew that her daughter and her were in need of protection from her partner,but the social services refused to take out the injunction. After placing her daughter in care came the Placement Order and Adoption Order followed as I have told you. My friend says she told this to the Judge who she said had a lot of sympathy with her but nonetheless the Judge said in the circumstances she had no option but to approve the adoption order to prevent her partner from harming her daughter. My friend feels and so do I that had the injunction been taken out against her partner and she was re-housed with her daughter that this would have been in the best interests of her daughter. If he broke the injunction then he could have been sent to prison. I think social services did not go down this route as the easy option was to have her daughter adopted and have the case off their hands. I do not feel that justice has been done, and I want to help my friend to appeal against the adoption of her daughter. She said I am the first person who has said I would try to help her get a solicitor to help her with this and I said I will pay whatever costs are involved. It is a pity I was not told all of this months ago. It is an extremely sad case which in my opinion has resulted in a wrong decision because the social services did not pursue other options in the interest of her daughter, but instead just went straight down the adoption route. Sorry this is so long but my friend just wanted to add this to what I'd told you. I will edit the price on this case as I know I have given you a lot to consider and that this is a very complicated case. Thanks for your help so far.

Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Hi
Until you have seen the documentation I do not think I can help.
There is a misunderstanding somewhere - there is no way that your friend would have been given a year to appeal against an Adoption Order that has actually been made.
The whole point of an Adoption Order is that they are final.
It is possible that the Order that she refers to is not an Adoption Order - so timing could well be crucial - when you get the paperwork please let me know
Clare
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Clare

I did see my friend this morning and asked again her if she had the letter from the Judge saying she had a year to appeal the Adoption Order and she said yes. However, I understand what you say. I will be seeing her again in a few days and will ask her to bring the papers. Just hope she hasn't misunderstood the letter she has. So, until I see her I know you cannot progress things. From what you are saying without this letter the Adoption Order is final so would that mean nothing can be done? I hope not. Will get back to you as soon as I can. Thanks again for your help so far.

Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Hi
You are welcome - just add the details when you have them
Clare
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Clare

I met with my friend yesterday afternoon and had a long chat about the exact details of her case. Since social services told her that her daughter had been adopted it has been extremely stressful for her as you can imagine. You are right it does seem that there has been a misunderstanding. I am a Chartered Accountant near to retirement so the exact process of all of this is new to me and is very confusing to my friend. She has a lot of papers in connection with the case but she was unable to find the letter from the Judge granting her one year to appeal the Adoption Order. Also she never wrote and complained to the firm of solicitors or the Law Society relating to the procedures the Judge said had not been carried out correctly, she only phoned them as she said she did not know how to formally make a complaint in writing. What a pity. In brief what seems to have happened is this:

We are almost certain there was a Placement Order (though I have not had time to be able to go through all her papers to see it) which her solicitor failed to overturn. After that she went by herself to the High Court and tried to overturn the Placement Order but the Judge told her she needed to go back to the County Court and that she had a year to appeal the "Order". The words "Placement Order" or "Adoption Order" were not used by the Judge she says. I am sure if there had been an Adoption Order the Judge would have made this clear to her and what its implications were. She found all of this confusing and not long after social services phoned and told her that her daughter had been adopted. She understood from this and so did I that social services meant there had been an Adoption Order. However, she has never received any papers from the Court or social services saying that there is an Adoption Order. A few days ago after speaking with me she spoke to someone who had tried to help her earlier on and was told to write to the Court and ask for the "Order" to be revoked. She expects a reply from the Court next week.

In addition a little while ago she phoned social services and asked if she could see her daughter and they said no. She told them she was going to try and get the "Order" revoked and all they said was "oh, okay". They never said you can't do that which from what you are saying if there was an Adoption Order in place they would have told her there is no more you can do. In speaking with social services they did tell her that her daughter was not eating properly and they were concerned about that. Her poor daughter probably can't understand why she is living with "strangers" and not her Mummy and I think the only way she can protest is to refuse to eat. It is extremely sad. Something needs to be done in the interests of her daughter as she must feel "imprisoned".

I hope this extra information will help you to give my friend some guidance on what to do. What I really need too is the name and address and phone number of a solicitor who is a specialist in this area hopefully not too far away from Orpington in Kent where we both live so we can set up a preliminary meeting with them as soon as possible. I wish you could take on the case!

I hope this all helps to make things a little clearer, and as you said time is crucial in all of this. Once you have all the information that you need from me I will edit the price again as I know this is a very complicated matter and has taken a lot, lot longer than I initially thought partly because my friend finds all the technical aspects of the process hard to understand and I must admit so have I, but I think I understand a lot more now than when I first sent my question on 5 August. Many thanks for your help and all of your useful questions. I will complete the survey you sent me at the end of this process.

Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Hi
I can give you a site to find a name on - but I still feel that there is more to clarify so that you can take the matter forward
The site to find and experienced Family lawyer on is
www.resolution.org,uk
However I think as you sort the papers out further you will have more questions
You can read more about the actual process here
http://www.frg.org.uk/images/Advice_Sheets/15-care-proceedings.pdf
Clare
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Clare

I am happy with all you have done and I will rate your service, but there are three things I really wanted to know from all of the information I sent you. (1) If the Placement Order went through in March 2014 is there one year from this date to try and get this overturned if not what is the timescale? (2) If an Adoption Order is granted does this mean nothing can be done to reverse this or is it still possible to do so and what is the timescale? (3) the web site you gave me gives details of firms of solicitors who deal with Family Law matters but before I emailed Just Answer none of the firms seem to deal with Placement Orders or Adoption Orders they all seem to cater for Family Divorce, wanting to adopt a child but NOT dealing with trying to appeal against Placement Orders etc. You know the details of my friend's case so I really need to know the names and addresses of firms of solicitors who could help with this. If I can get these answers I will be very happy with your service. Please can you help with these three vital questions so I can try and help my friend. Thank you.

Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Hi
1. A Placement order simply means that a family has been identified and the Child Placed with them - it can still be challenged
2. To be honest - no - adoption orders are meant to be irreversible
3. If you let me know where you are I will certainly look
When you speak to solicitors you are asking for those experienced in dealing with Care proceedings
You may also find this site useful
http://www.frg.org.uk/need-help-or-advice/our-advocacy-service
Clare
Clare and other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks for your reply. As in the penultimate sentence of the reply I sent this morning my friend and I live in Orpington in Kent. I will now go back to your email and rate your service which has been very good. Thank you.

Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Hi
So you did - my apologies
here are two firms in the area that deal with Care cases
http://www.thomasduntonsolicitors.co.uk/family-children/child-care-proceedings/
http://mackesysfamily.co.uk/family-law/
Clare