Clare Ciborowska and Christopher Rice, acting separately for parents in care proceedings, successfully challenge a care plan for adoption of four children in the Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC). In an extraordinary case with a number of twists and turns the parents, who were oth recovering from alcohol and drug addictions, argued at the final hearing that further time should be allowed for them to demonstrate ongoing rehabilitation and that a care plan of adoption, when looking at the evidence of commitment from the parents to addressing their issues was a disproportionate interference in their family lives. The Local Authority argued that sufficient change on the part of the parents was not possible within the children’s timescales relying on the expert psychiatric evidence of the parents’ history of and battle with substance misuse.

The case was adjourned at the final hearing for the parents to provide further evidence of the changes they had made. After an unsuccessful appeal of that decision by the Local Authority the case resumed some twelve months after the initial contested final hearing with the Local Authority coming around full circle to recommend a care plan whereby each parent would have care of two of the children with provision for ongoing contact between the two branches of the family. The 26 week timetable was set aside in this case with a result that may not have been achieved had the timetable been rigorously adhered to.

The FDAC process afforded the parents intensive support with substance misuse services and the parents were both able to access the support of external rehabilitation centres to aid them in their ongoing recovery. The case concluded with the making of a Supervision Order.