Step-parent adoption order set aside where court misled

Step-parent adoption order set aside where court misled

Family analysis: A father’s appeal out of time was allowed and a step-parent adoption order set aside as a result of deception by the applicants. Nasstassia Hylton, barrister at 1 Garden Court Chambers, considers the decision in Re J (Adoption: Appeal) [2018] EWFC 8 and looks at the serious consequences of giving false information to the courts.

What are the practical implications of this case?

This case involved the father’s applications for permission to appeal out of time against the making of an adoption order that was made on 1 May 2013 and his substantive application to appeal that order. In this case, the court reiterated the fundamental principle that clients must be honest with the court, practitioners should therefore advise their clients to be truthful, specifically drawing their attention to the wording of the statement of truth and the consequences of giving the court false information (either in a written or oral format), namely contempt of court and the risk of imprisonment. It is also sensible to reiterate to clients that a further serious consequence can be the setting aside of a previously obtained court order.

There is no mention of the respondents in this case using legal representation, nonetheless the points are of general application. One cannot assume that clients have these matters at the forefront of their minds when they are desperately pursuing or opposing a particular application. Furthermore, this case gives an example of the type of situation which may result in the successful appeal of an adoption order.

The case also reaffirms the principle that notwithstanding the fact that a parent (the father in this case) does not have parental responsibility, and even where the pre-existing relationship between parent and child was limited, he was nonetheless someone whom the court could have directed to be a respondent to the application pursuant to the Family Procedure Rules 2010 (FPR 2010), SI 2010/2955, 14.3(3) Cobb J found th

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