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 will be forever grateful for what Jemma Slavin and her team in Bristol have done for me and my children. Jemma is a top-class Lawyer that really knows her stuff. She is professional, personable, quick to respond and above all always knew what the right legal advice was, and she was always 1 step ahead of my husband’s Lawyer. It is thanks to her legal advice and persistence that gave me and my children a better outcome then I could ever have imagined. But most importantly my children can now continue their life growing up with the right support and living in the area familiar to them and close to their school and friends. Could not recommend Stowe enough, they are amazing!
Client: Miss K
Lawyer: Sushma Kotecha
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
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: Helen Miler
Helen Miller is a credit to the Stowe Family Law Team! She continually supported me throughout a litigious private child law matter, in which I acquired everything I wanted from the Court, and much more. The shared care arrangements that are now in place are testament to Helen. I would have no hesitation in recommending Helen to anyone that finds themselves in a family dispute. I write this as a very very satisfied customer, and Lawyer... Stowe Family Law are very lucky to have such a wonderful Lawyer working for them.
Client: Mr W
Lawyer: Jemma Slavin
Hi Joanna ... Thank you very much for all your help, understanding and support through all of this. You dealt with my ex brilliantly and, as you say, got the result we wanted! Such a relief. I must also pass on my thanks and appreciation to Jemma who was showed me lots of compassion on that first phone call and held my hand through those beginning stages. Stowe's holistic ethos was such a revelation and I got lots of brilliant advice and therapy as a result of using your company. Thanks again.
Client: Mrs S
Lawyer: Kate Sarsfield
I would like to thank Kate Sarsfield, QC Katherine Dunseath and Gill Bridger for all the hard work and immense support they have all given me over the past six months. Stowe handled my divorce in 2013 to 2015 and then a capital settlement plus lifetime maintenance for our down syndrome daughter five years later. It has been an extremely emotional and stressful experience for myself and our two special needs children. I cannot thank the Stowe team enough for their professionalism, quality advice, empathy and wonderful support. We fought a very hard battle and won! I will always recommend Stowe Family Law.
Client: Ms G
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: Louise Chipchase
I approached Louise to help me with my, divorce, finances and safeguarding issues around my children . Louise was extremely professional, friendly and knowledgeable. She offered me so much support and guidance and was with me every step of the way. It never felt like anything was too much trouble and I always felt reassured. I would highly recommend Louise at Stowe family law, if you are looking for a highly professional and superb service then I suggest you instruct Stowe family law to act on your behalf as I am so grateful that I did.