A separated father who has been granted custody of his children claims they remain in foster care organised by the Child and Family Agency more than a week ago without a court order or any legal basis, the High Court has heard.
The agency has argued it is in an “impossible” position because the two children, aged 12 and 13, are refusing to return to their father since he placed them in voluntary care last week.
He claims that is because their mother, his wife from whom he is separated, has actively alienated them from him and “poisoned” them against him. His concerns about parental alienation are shared by an independent family therapist, the court has heard.
The man placed the children in voluntary care of the CFA last week after they made complaints at school about his taking their mobile phones from them some days earlier. He alleged the phones were being used for contact with their mother in breach of a District Court order.
The children told the school authorities they did not wish to return home to their father, who had been granted custody of them by the District Court following a contested hearing. He placed them in voluntary care of the CFA overnight in the hope the situation would “cool down”.
When he sought their return the following day, the agency failed to return them and instead sought an emergency care order (ECO) on Friday, July 2nd which was refused by the District Court.
Last Wednesday, the man initiated judicial review proceedings, ex parte (one side only represented), against the Agency seeking to overturn its "flawed" investigation into his complaints about the mother’s care of the children, particularly alleged failure to consider parental alienation. He also sought to overturn its finding last November he had coercively controlled and abused his wife, which he strongly denies. He wants a fresh investigation and an injunction seeking return of the children.
During that application, the court was told the Agency intended to seek an interim care order (ICO) from the District Court.
Mr Justice Charles Meenan returned the judicial review matter to Friday when Feichin McDonagh SC, for the CFA, said it needed time to put in opposition papers.
Counsel said two family therapists had proposed a meeting of all parties next week, the agency considered that was a good idea and was happy to participate. He sought an adjournment to later next week by which time he hoped there may be developments “to the benefit of all parties”.