New developments in the child welfare case involving two Indian children make it impossible to carry out the hearing in Stavanger District Court that was scheduled for March 23.

The case was due to be heard on March 23 on the condition that the parties entered into an agreement that care of the children should be awarded to their uncle in India. The conflicts over the last few days between the parents and their respective families mean that the conditions for entering into an agreement of this kind are no longer present.

In January, a process was initiated following a joint request from the families of the children’s parents to find a mutually agreed solution for the children. At the end of this process, the Child Welfare Service in Stavanger concluded that the children’s uncle should be awarded care of the children, so that he could take them back to India to be with their extended family there. The Child Welfare Service was of the view that this was a satisfactory way of ensuring that the children were given the care and follow-up they needed.

According to the plan, Stavanger District Court was to decide whether the children could be removed from the care of the public authorities on this basis.

Close dialogue

There has been close dialogue with the family throughout the process, which has until now proceeded as planned. However, the head of the Child Welfare Service, Gunnar Toresen, says that the authorities have now been made aware of a conflict in the family that could influence the outcome of the case.

“Over the last few days, both the parents and the uncle of the children have changed their position several times on the agreement that had originally been reached. This has caused the Child Welfare Service to doubt their motives as far as the agreement is concerned. The conflicts over the last few days have revealed that the necessary foundation for an agreement does not exist. The Child Welfare Service is no longer confident that the parties wish to enter into a genuine agreement. Over the last few days, the parties to the agreement have provided conflicting and different information, both to the Child Welfare Service and to the media, on their positions in the case,” Mr. Toresen said.

“Great uncertainty”

Mr. Toresen emphasises that the Child Welfare Service is well aware that there is a great deal of external pressure on the family, and that this makes it difficult for them to agree on a clear position.

“But in the light of the great uncertainty that now prevails, the Child Welfare Service cannot maintain that a move to India would be in the best interests of the children. Even if the parents and the children’s uncle should nevertheless now want to sign an agreement, the Child Welfare Service does not have sufficient confidence that an agreement would be fulfilled as intended, because the necessary consensus and understanding between the parties and their families does not exist. This means that the children could be caught up in a very unfortunate tug of war in India,” Mr. Toresen said.

The family no longer appears to be in agreement, and the necessary conditions for entering into an agreement of this kind are therefore not present. Mr. Toresen stresses that the Child Welfare Service had a clear intention to sign and implement the agreement, but that the events of the last few days now make this impossible.

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