Man’s ‘aggressive’ emails to social worker play part in care order decision

The father’s emails, along with his failure to attend a final hearing and an assessment, led the judge to conclude he couldn’t meet his son’s needs

Photo: SkyLine/fotolia

An eight-year-old boy will be taken into care after a judge concluded “aggressive” emails his father sent to a social worker were one of several behaviours suggesting the man was unable to work with services to meet the child’s needs.

The emails, sent to a social worker at Hampshire children’s services during care proceedings, were “bordering on the offensive, certainly aggressive, and make it very clear to my mind that he would not be able to work with the local authority” to the child’s benefit, Judge Levey said.
The judge said the father clearly had a “deep and abiding love” for his son, referred to as T, and his motive for opposing the local authority was positive in that he felt he could best meet the child’s welfare needs in the future.

No evidence

However the emails, along with the father’s decision not to attend the final care proceedings hearing and a failure to cooperate with a court-ordered psychological assessment, left the judge with “no evidence” on which to conclude the man had any understanding of the boy’s emotional needs or the ability to meet them currently.

The judge said: “In those circumstances, bearing in mind that making a care order is an order of last resort, I accept the evidence which [the social worker] gave which is that there really is no alternative but for a care order to be made given that the only option before the court, other than that, would be father’s application for T to live with him.

“There is no evidence upon which I can be satisfied that father is able to meet T’s needs.”

Difficult

The father, who claimed he had not attended the final hearing because he’d been threatened by the boy’s mother, said he was “extremely unhappy” with the local authority and called for an investigation.

During the care proceedings the judge was asked to consider whether the boy should live with his mother, his father or under the care of the local authority.

The mother said she would not challenge a care order as she felt unable to care for T at that time. However, the father requested a child arrangements and supervision order be made in his favour.

The parents’ relationship was “extremely difficult” and they had made “allegation and counter-allegation against each other”, Levey said. The social worker submitted in evidence that it had been difficult to work out where the truth lay.

Future carer

“On reading the evidence it seems quite clear that in relation to their dealings with each other they have lost sight of the fact that T is their son, is their joint responsibility, and needs to have parents who are able to meet his needs. They have become consumed with the conflict between each other,” Levey said.

The child’s guardian argued that a decision to return T to his father’s care, against his wishes, “would be a disaster”.

The judge agreed and accepted social work evidence that, without any evidence to suggest care with his father would work for T, she should make a care order.

Levey said the local authority had not written off the father as a future carer, and would consider that an option if he was able to demonstrate “a very significant change of attitude”.

4 Responses to Man’s ‘aggressive’ emails to social worker play part in care order decision

  1. Eunice August 18, 2016 at 10:52 am #

    Very insightful of the judge to have come to this decision and well done to the social worker for thoroughly evidencing all these facts that has brought about this positive outcome for this child.

  2. Del Toro August 18, 2016 at 9:02 pm #

    I feel that the father should have been given help to put his position across clearly. Men come across as aggressive when they’re are scared, upset, confused. Social Services starting point is that women have the capacity to parent whilst men have to prove it. The boy will probably be stuck in a residential home until he’s old enough to leave. So sad.

  3. Mike August 19, 2016 at 4:33 pm #

    A judge should not have made any decision based on momentary reactions to understandingly difficult circumstances. This shows that judges and social workers are in need of educating and training into the effect of how people react to situations created by state involvement.
    The social worker has not shown that they are able to work on a personal level and gain the confidence of their client.

  4. Mandy August 25, 2016 at 3:37 pm #

    The article explains that there were several factors taken into account by the judge in making the decision, not simply ‘momentary reactions’. It doesn’t make clear how many emails there were but that there was more than one. The other evidence as detailed above was
    * The child did not want to return to his father
    * The child’s guardian felt a return to the father would be disastrous
    * The father refused to participate in a psychological assessment
    * Both parents had made allegations against each other
    * The father did not attend hearings

    Whatever your feelings on whether there is gender bias in family courts, I feel that the evidence above strongly supports the decision made by the judge.