We do not offer legal aid. All of the advice we offer is on a private paying basis. However, you may be entitled to legal aid. You can check online here. We can help you obtain this financial assistance however you would be responsible for our costs until funding was in place.
Have you or a family member been contacted by social services regarding the care of your child/children? If yes, it is important that you seek legal advice straight away, even if you are working with social services amicably.
The local authority has a duty to intervene and start child Care Proceedings if there are concerns that a child is at risk. In a lot of these cases, social services are involved for just a short period of time, however, for some, they may call for a Child Protection Case Conference. This allows social services to assess whether a Care Order needs to be made or not.
If social services decide to start child Care Proceedings the Court will try to make a decision within 26 weeks of the application being made (about six months).
How can we help you with child care proceedings?
Our expert team can advise you of your legal options and may be able to help you achieve the outcome of no further action by social services.
If court proceedings have been issued, then please do contact us immediately. It is important that you understand what this means and the consequences for your child.
If it is believed your child needs to be removed from your care before the final hearing, an Interim Care Order can be granted which will decide where the child lives and who they can see on a temporary basis.
We can support you through this process with clear, sound legal advice to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your family. We will contact social services on your behalf, attend any scheduled meetings at their offices and advise you in respect of correspondence, reports or agreements you are asked to sign.
What happens if it goes to court?
At the first stage, the court will review the interim care plan in place and if agreed, whether there should be a temporary legal order for your child. They can make an Interim Care Order, Interim Residence Order or Interim Supervision Order.
Following this, there will be a number of hearings: Case Management and Issues Resolution to see if an agreement can be reached by everyone about where your child should live and how much contact they should have.
If a plan cannot be agreed there will usually be a final hearing where long-term decisions are made about your child’s future, who they will live and what court order is best.
What are the potential outcomes?
There are several final orders that the court can make:
Care Order: your child stays in care until they are 18 unless the order is ended before then.
Supervision Order: your child will live with you but Children’s Services will supervise the family.
Child Arrangements Order (previously known as a Residence Order/Contact Order): your child will live with another person such as a family member or friend for as long as the order exists. The order can also set out contact arrangements for your child during court proceedings and once the court case has finished.
Placement Order: Children’s Services have permission to place your child for adoption even if you do not agree.
Special Guardianship Order: your child will live with another person such as a family member but they will also have parental responsibility for your child giving them all the rights, powers, duties and responsibilities that a parent has.
How can we support you?
Our experienced family lawyers can advise you on the complex law surrounding any final orders. We also assist people to obtain a Special Guardianship assessment by drafting the application to Court and attending the Court hearings that follow.
It is extremely important you do not ignore social services as they will not go away. Even if you do not attend scheduled meetings or court hearings, they can make important decisions about the future of your family.
Dealing with child Care Proceedings is an extremely emotional and stressful time. With clear legal advice, we will support and guide you through the process to get the best result possible for you and your family.
Worried about a child?
If you think a child might be suffering from neglect or abuse, it is difficult to know what to do. But by taking action you are helping the child to get the support they need.
We provide confidential advice on what you can do to help protect a child and the implication of involving social services.
If you wish to report child neglect or abuse to your local council you can do so below:
I have been very pleased with how Stowe handled my case as a father seeking residency. They are clearly experts and I would recommend them to anyone unfortunate enough to need their services.
Client: Mr C
Lawyer: Kate Sarsfield
Stowe Family Law provided professional support and direction during a difficult and contentious divorce proceeding, involving court settlements for financial and child custody elements. Despite demanding court deadlines and some challenges associated with exchanges between solicitors, Kate (and the Stowe Family Law team) was always able to meet deadlines and even contacted me outside of normal working hours when swift communication and action was required. I found Kate’s review and crafting of legal documents to be very helpful. Kate was able to recommend and co-ordinate with a very competent barrister to represent me during the court appearances and supported those interactions herself during those times. Although going through a divorce can be an incredibly sad and harrowing time, the legal services that were afforded by Kate did aid in making me feel supported and professionally guided during the overall process.
Client: Mr C
Lawyer: Joanna Newton
Joanna Newton is always extremely well prepared and aware of the issues which are likely to impact on her client’s goals. Joanna cares a great deal about achieving the right outcome for her clients.
Client: Legal 500
Lawyer: Jemma Slavin
I contacted Stowe family law after I had separated from my partner of 12 yrs. She had walked out and left me to look after my 6 yr old son, 8 months later i was taken to court by my ex partner over my son, so I turned to Stowe for help. Jemma, Rachael and the team where there for me from the first time I met them until my case was settled in court. They supported me constantly through a very tough and emotional time that lasted for over a year, they we’re always there to help and I could not of got through this without them. My heart goes out to Jemma, Rachael and the team at STOWE FAMILY LAW. A big thank you.
Client: Mr W
Lawyer: Rebecca Calden-Storr
Having received a devastating blow that my ex-wife was planning to relocate with our daughter I researched lawyers and as soon as I spoke to Rebecca (Calden Storr) her calm, professional and reassuring nature made the decision to pick Stowe Family Law easy. Rebecca held our hand throughout the process and I can't recommend her highly enough. She explains everything in simple terms so we fully understood everything happening and her advice was second to none. As a father, you are sometimes made to feel like the underdog but Rebecca never did this and reassured me that we had a good case. Most importantly we achieved an end result that reflected our daughter's wishes and meant that my time with her has increased to shared care. My partner and I couldn't be happier. Thank you
Client: Mr A
Lawyer: Claire Ward
Fantastic professional service from Claire Ward and her team. Claire was extremely knowledgeable, kind and patient during a difficult period of my life . Nothing was too much trouble and she was extremely patient with me as emotions ran high. The service was efficient and very reasonably priced for the time taken. I would recommend Claire and her team to assist families in need of expert advice during divorce, separation and child matters. Thank you for your service Claire.
Client: Mrs T
Lawyer: Kate Sarsfield
Kate Sarsfield has been absolutely brilliant. She is very professional, friendly, supportive and understanding and totally cared for me and my case during one of the worst periods in my life. She dealt with my divorce and difficult child arrangements. Kate was always available to answer all my questions. Knowing that she was behind me gave me the strength and confidence to carry on. I always felt in safe hands. I would definitely and highly recommend Kate to anyone in a similar situation. I will not hesitate to ask her for help again if necessary in the future. Thank you Kate.
Client: Mrs P
Lawyer: Niamh McCarthy
May I take this opportunity to personally thank you for your support at this difficult time. I very much appreciated your flexibility and responsiveness to such tight turnaround times. I received a thorough, professional yet compassionate service.