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Social Worker Assessment / Report.(4 Posts)
Dispute over residency is the long story short.
Used to be equal shared residency for a number of years. Children's Services got involved after child disclosed a minor "assault" by parent A which Police investigated and it was substantiated by Social Worker but taken no further by either, just "advice given". Whilst this was ongoing Parent A had supervised contact only and Parent B had residency - for 4 months.
At the next Court hearing accusations of poor parenting were made both ways, Parent A accused Parent B of DV and MH problems - all the usual I guess. Judge ordered a Section 7 welfare report be done by Children's Services and kept residency with Parent B and (now unsupervised) alternate weekends with Parent A.
Court Order states specifically Section 7 report is to determine the parenting capabilities of each parent, whether they can/are meeting the children's emotional and physical needs and whether there are any factors that may cause problems with this (ie DV and MH problems).
We have been told today report has been completed and is in the post. Parent B (my partner) has only met the Social Worker twice. She's sat and "observed" us with the children for 10 minutes and spoken to them alone upstairs for 10 minutes. She has told us she has not met with Parent A (my partner's ex) at all. Due to MH accusations (neither my partner or I have any MH problems but Parent A does or used to and it is suspected does now) the Social Worker was adamant a medical records disclosure was obtained from the GP, we consented and she obtained them, but she has said Parent A refused to consent to this.
Any one have any idea what will happen at the next Court hearing next month. How on Earth can this Section 7 report be complete without having ever met with Parent A? How can the Social Worker comment on anyone's ability to parent without any parenting assessment? Will the Judge be likely to be concerned about Parent A's refusal to consent and see it as them having something to hide?
We want residency to remain with us, Parent A also seeks majority residency. We were hoping this report would be clear and concise and close matters either way, it seems not.
I could have written this.
This is my story entirely.
I'm sorry to say that the magistrates just went with the recommendation by the SW in the section 7 which was shared care.
I have contested the desicion, he agreed to it, I didn't. The case goes on.
It was almost like the magistrates didn't even read the report or the personal statement regarding my concerns and simply skipped straight to the recommendation.
Are you self representing? There is case law you can use if the officer writing the section 7 did not see both parents with the child(ren).
OK, well first thing is that you need to be sure what the court ordered its report. The social worker completing the S.7 report writes the report speaking to what the court ordered. You haven't posted what the court wanted, so that makes it difficult to comment. - But -
When considering Section 8 matters (where the child should live & with whom and contact arrangements etc), there is statutory government guidance what the court must consider. The guidance is clear:
Paragraph 1.12 (f); "how capable each of his parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting his needs"
If the S.7 report did not address parent A, you can raise the matter before the judge ask the court to direct the local authority to return to parent A. You can print out and take the guidance with you to show/read to the court. The court is bound by the guidance unless it can say why it isn't! If your a week or more from the hearing date, you can write a letter to the court raising this matter, and copy the letter to the social worker (or better the social workers manager).
If the court refuses to listen to your concerns, you can (politely) ask the court to give reasons either verbally, or in the written judgement (or both). A failure of the judge to address any concerns you raise will give you an automatic right of appeal, as the court will commit an error of law (not following the guidance or welfare checklist as it is also known).
Although this is called 'Guidance' it has full force of law, and must be followed unless valid reasons can be given why it can't be followed in your specific case!
Hope this helps!
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