Comparing qualitative care in different jurisdictions: Court approves transition of children to father’s care in Poland

Monday 8 July 2024

Hannah Wyatt of the Garden Court Family Law Team represented the children via their Guardian, instructed by Natasha Singh of Slater Bradley & Co Solicitors, in LB of Hillingdon v Simon & Ors [2024] EWFC 157 (B).

See full judgment: LB of Hillingdon v Simon & Ors [2024] EWFC 157 (B)

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The case involved a history of parental alcoholism, domestic violence and mental health concerns leading to the father’s imprisonment and deportation to Poland in 2017. Following the suicide of their mother in 2023, the children were placed in a residential setting in England due to the youngest child, J, having global developmental delay and autism, and requiring significant support.

The family are Polish nationals, but the children were born and have lived their entire lives in England. The court had to consider whether to place the children in Poland with their father, whom the Local Authority raised significant concerns about, regarding his motivation, commitment and capability to care for J, in particular; or for the children to remain in care in England for the rest of their minority (and for J, likely into adulthood). It was highly likely that this would result in separation of the children.

It was the Judge’s view that there was a risk of breakdown of the placements in both jurisdictions, particularly in relation to J. However, placement with their father in Poland allowed an opportunity for the children to be cared for in a family placement, to maintain their cultural identity and a chance for the children to remain together. The Judge had some doubts about whether the father would be successful in caring for J into the medium term. However, the Judge considered it would be wrong to undertake a comparative assessment of the qualitative care available in Poland against that in this jurisdiction, in the event of a breakdown of J’s placement.

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