Child care proceedings

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.

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:

England

Wales

Your team in this field

Sarah Jane Lenihan
Sarah Jane Lenihan is a Senior Solicitor in the London Victoria office. Sarah Jane joined...
Senior Solicitor
Hannah Ross
Hannah Ross is a solicitor in the Leeds city centre office. Hannah joined Stowe Family Law...
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