Sophie Smith-Holland summary on SZ v Birmingham City Council & Ors [2021] EWFC 15

22nd March 2021

Sophie Smith-Holland writes: This was a decision of Mr Justice Mostyn to summarily dismiss a father’s application for contact with two children in care. The judgment concerned the father’s (F) application for contact with his children B (aged 16 ¾) and K (aged 14 ¼). Both children were in the care of Birmingham City Council (LA). B was living with the mother (M) and K was living in a care home, but having regular contact with M and B.

The LA had applied to discharge the care order in respect of B.

There had been a lengthy set of care proceedings which concluded in 2013 with care orders and an order pursuant to s.34(4) of the Children Act 1989, granting the LA authority to refuse contact between the children and F. B and K had therefore not had any contact with F since 2012.

F sought to keep in contact with B and K indirectly and for them to be able to exchange photographs and drawings with his three youngest children in his care. B and K were not only half-siblings of those children, but also their aunt and uncle as F had fathered the children with B and K’s half-sister.

A case management order identified that F’s application for contact must be preceded by an application to discharge the s.34(4) order. The court required the LA the serve a statement in response to F’s application together with a plan setting out what steps were necessary for the assessment of F in respect of his contact application, if it was determined that his application should proceed.