Child welfare. Revocation of care order.

Supreme Court 15 September 2020,HR-2020-1788-A, (case no. 20-035781SIV-HRET), civil case, appeal against judgment. 

A, B (Counsel Mehvish Taj Haider) v. X municipality (Counsel Mette Yvonne Larsen) (Assisting counsel: Bendik Falch-Koslung)

Justices: Indreberg, Falkanger, Ringnes, Østensen Berglund, Steinsvik

The biological parents had applied for a return of their child, who had been placed in public care in 2016 when she was two years old. The Supreme Court took as its starting point the main rule in section 4-21 of the Child Welfare Act that care orders are to be revoked if it is highly probable that the parents may provide proper care. The provision – including the standard of proof – is not incompatible with Articles 102 and 104 of the Constitution or Norway's international obligations. In the individual assessment, the parties agreed that it was highly probable that the parents could provide the child with proper care, which meant that the condition in the first sentence was met. However, the child was very vulnerable to separation. It was thus crucial for a return that the parents have the ability and will to cooperate with the foster parents and the child welfare services. From the evidence presented, it could not be concluded that this was the case. A return would then lead to serious problems for the child because of her attachment to the foster home. The exception in section 4-21 second sentence of the Child Welfare Act - the attachment exception – was thus applicable. The Court of Appeal, which had denied the application for return, had granted increased access taking into account the goal of family reunification and the fact that care orders are meant as a temporary measure. The new access scheme also ensured stability in the child's everyday life. The parent's appeal against the Court of Appeal's judgment was dismissed.  

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