Friday, 19 October 2012

The Best Interests of the Child

Mr Justice Coleridge is entirely right to have ordered that a couple who were duped into accepting a child in a Nigerian clinic as their own should have custody of that child.

The child is now two years old and, it appears, has been with her carers since near her birth. The judge has decided that these people are perfectly fit and proper to care for her describing them as "people of the highest calibre and of complete integrity".

Who could argue for taking a two year-old child away from a situation in which she is settled and happy, with people whom she loves and regards as her parents? In this case what was the alternative? Take the child into care and place her for adoption with a new family? That seems little short of cruel.

But there are those who believe that the public interest (in combating trafficking) outweighs the best interests of the individual child.

Clearly everything needs to be done to stop child trafficking, but the day the family courts in Britain begin to extend the scope of their decision-making beyond the best interests of a particular child is the start of a very slippery slope. Fortunately it has not yet arrived.