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Family Court judge issues ruling to highlight successful use of “Resolutions Model”

A mother and daughter have been reunited under the rarely used ‘Resolutions Model’ by the Family Court.

In J (A Child) (Resolutions Model) [2021] EWFC 58 HHJ Baker said the case in which Lancashire County Council had made an application for a care order for ‘Jane’ the day she was born had unusual features that meant “using the Resolutions Model has led to a reunification of a mother and child in circumstances where a different outcome might have been anticipated at the start of the case”.

Jane was born in May 2020 to her mother ‘Beverley’ and father ‘Carl’. She was taken into care because an older sister ‘Amber’ had suffered injuries inflicted by the parents.

The judge said: “Although Jane has never suffered any harm at the hands of either Beverley or Carl, what had happened to Amber and things about Beverley and Carl’s lifestyle and attitude at the time Jane was born make it likely that Jane would suffer harm in the future if looked after by either Beverly or Carl.”

Lancashire commissioned an independent social work report that found neither parent could look after a child safely given what had happened to Amber. 

The judge said the Resolutions Model was right in this case as “it may be possible to use the entire family and support network to build a protective regime around the child to ensure the child’s future safety”.

He described the model as meaning: “In the right set of circumstances, the fact that a parent denies causing an injury need not rule out the possibility of that parent resuming care of or involvement in the care of that child.”

Circumstances meant the model might be appropriate as the parents had separated, Beverly accepted that Amber’s injuries were inflicted rather than accidental and she appeared to have a relatively large and supportive family.

HHJ Baker said the case plan would see Jane and Beverley supervised when together, 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

Five family members and a close family friend would do this on a shift pattern with very short periods of unsupervised time being introduced gradually.

As these periods extended, the family members’ roles would change to looking after Jane’s health and safety through planned and unplanned observations and family meetings, all in cooperation with local authority staff.

Carl’s father supervises his contact with Jane, which the judge called “a considerable commitment as it is unlikely that Carl’s contact with Jane is going to become unsupervised until she is much older, if at all”.

The judge congratulated Lancashire and  children’s guardian Peter Morey for having “been both flexible and challenging [and] I think that has led to a very thorough and strong care plan for Jane”.

Mark Smulian

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