Sally Masango discusses the importance of understanding Child Care Proceedings and our role in helping clients.
Child Care Proceedings
We, at Farani Taylor Solicitors, hold a legal Aid Franchise in Family Matters. Should your child be a subject of Care proceedings, we can offer full public funding to regardless of financial means.
The local authority has a duty to intervene and start Child Care Proceedings if there are concerns that a child is at risk. In most 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 or not a Care Order needs to be made.
If the Local Authority decide to start Child Care Proceedings the Court can take up to 26 weeks to decide what should happen to the child. However, some complex cases can take longer.
How can we help you with Child Care Proceedings?
Our solicitors are on the Law Society Family panel and are Resolutions members. This means you can be assured of quality advice. We advise you of your legal options to achieve an outcome of no further action by social services.
If court proceedings are issued, then please do contact us immediately. It is important you understand the meaning and consequences of thees proceedings.
If it is believed your child needs to be removed from your care prior to the hearing, an Interim Care Order can be granted. This outlines where the child lives and who they see on a temporary basis.
We support you through this process with clear legal advice to ensure the best possible outcome. Our solicitors contact social services and represent you at any scheduled meetings. We arrange court representation and advise you in respect of correspondence, reports or agreements you are asked to sign.
What happens if it goes to court?
At the initial stage, the court reviews the interim care plan in place. If agreed, whether there should be a temporary legal order for your child. They could make an Interim Care Order, Interim Residence Order or Interim Supervision Order.
Following this, there will be a number of hearings. These include: Case Management and Issues Resolution Hearings to see if an agreement can be reached on where your child lives and how much contact parties have.
If a plan cannot be agreed there is usually a final hearing where long-term decisions are made about your child’s future.
What are the potential outcomes?
There are several final orders that the court issues, these include:
- Care Order: your child stays in care until they are 18 unless the order is ended before then.
- Supervision Order: your child lives with you but Children’s Services supervise the family.
- Child Arrangements Order (previously known as a Residence Order/Contact Order): your child lives with another person such as a family member or friend for as long as the order exists. The order also sets out contact arrangements for your child during court proceedings.
- Placement Order: Children’s Services have permission to place your child for adoption even if you do not agree.
- Special Guardianship Order: your child lives with another person such as a family member but they also have parental responsibility for your child. This gives them rights, powers, duties and responsibilities of a parent.
How can we support you?
Our Solicitors are experienced family lawyers who advise daily on the complexities surrounding final orders. We also assist families to obtain a Special Guardianship assessment by drafting the application and attending hearings that follow.
It is extremely important you do not ignore social services as they do not go away. Even if you do not attend scheduled meetings or court hearings, they can still make important decisions about the future of your child.
Dealing with Child Care Proceedings is an extremely emotional and stressful time. With clear legal advice, support and guidance we can 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.