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Monday, 06 February 2017

Woman in foster care court case waiting six months for written ruling

Written by Brian Farmer

A woman says she has been waiting six months for a copy of a ruling after a family court judge decided her daughter should be taken from her care.

The woman, who comes from Poland, said a judge had ruled her daughter should go into foster care in August following private hearings at a family court in Reading, Berkshire.

She said she had yet to see the judge's written ruling outlining the reasons for his decision.

"I am appealing against the decision," said the woman.

"I have filled in the paperwork for the appeal without seeing the ruling."

The woman's case hit the headlines a few weeks ago after being accused of contempt of court.

Social services bosses at Oxfordshire County Council, who have welfare responsibility for the child, accused her of publicising her case and identifying her child in breach of a court order.

The woman appeared at a committal hearing in Reading on December 23 - and feared she would spend Christmas in jail.

Judge Simon Oliver concluded she had wrongly revealed detail of her daughter's circumstances in an interview with a Polish journalist.

But he decided not to impose any punishment.

Family court judges 'too slow to produce written rulings'

Family court judges are under fire for being too slow to produce written rulings on cases.

A former MP who helps people embroiled in family court battles wants better monitoring by judicial heads.

John Hemming says too often people who want to mount appeals are hamstrung because a judge has not given them a written ruling.

"I would say it's a problem in 80% of the cases I deal with," said Mr Hemming, who used to be a Liberal Democrat MP in Birmingham.

"A judge makes a decision, at a private hearing, which someone wants to appeal. But they can't make any kind of sensible challenge because the judge has not given them a written ruling setting out the reasoning behind the decision.

"It's a real problem for an awful lot of people which is undermining justice.

"People have limited amounts of time to mount appeals, they often have to represent themselves because they can't get legal aid, and they are being left waiting for months before they see the reasons for a decision outlined.

"It's simply not good enough. Proper monitoring should be carried out on how long it is taking for family court judges to produce rulings."

He added: "We're talking about cases where people have seen children taken from their care or have been found to have deliberately harmed their child. The issues couldn't be more serious and the problem needs to be addressed."

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