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The nation's top family judge has set a collision course with the Government after ruling that the drive to speed up adoptions cannot outweigh the desirability of keeping natural families together.
September 17, 2013 / The Telegraph
Emphasising that separating children from their birth parents is a 'last resort', Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, said that, all too often, local authorities, social workers, even judges, give 'scant attention' and pay 'little more than lip service' to the benefits of keeping children with their birth parents.
Calling for root and branch change in the family justice system, the judge emphasised the 'wide-reaching importance' of the case and said that current adoption procedures were riven by 'sloppy practice' in which family links are severed forever on often flimsy evidence.
The Government is wedded to a policy designed to accelerate family justice and a 26-week limit on child care cases is soon to be imposed by statute.
But Sir James said that, when it comes to the irrevocable step of adoption, 'the issues are too grave, the stakes for all are too high, for the outcome to be determined by rigorous adherence to an inflexible timetable and justice thereby potentially denied."
Ruling on the case of a desperate mother, from the Chelmsford area, who was battling to block adoption of her two young children, the judge said the aim of judges must always be to keep families together wherever possible