Care Proceedings

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If you or a family member been contacted by social services regarding the care of your child/ children, it is important that you seek legal advice straight away, even if you are working with social services.

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 number of cases the social services are involved for just a short period of time, nevertheless, 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).

If it is believed by the social services that your child needs to be removed from your care before the final hearing, an Interim Care Order can be granted by the Court which will decide where the child lives and who they can see on a temporary basis.

Going to Court

At this 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. The Court can make an Interim Care Order, Interim Residence Order or Interim Supervision Order.

After this there will be various hearings: Case Management and Issues Resolution to see if an agreement can be reached about where your child should live and how much contact they should have.

If a plan cannot be agreed of where your child should live 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 would be best for your child.


There are several final orders that the court can make in respect to your child:

  • 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.

It is important that 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 with or without your presence.

Dealing with child Care Proceedings can be an emotional and stressful time. With clear legal advice, we will be able to support and guide you through the process to get the best result possible for you and your family

Our wide range of clients, both in the UK and abroad, means we have the skills and expertise to deal with international child custody cases.

If you need advice or information on Care Proceedings, please contact us today on 020 3301 6666.