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Care Proceedings

Are social services involved with your children, your grandchildren or children of your family or friends? If there are reported concerns that a child is being neglected or ill-treated, local authorities have a duty to protect children. They have a range of powers from arranging meetings to consider how best to support a child in their family right through to recommending that children are temporarily or permanently removed from their carers or even adopted. Removal of children and adoption cannot happen without a court order and parents and other carers should be sure to know what their rights are as soon as a local authority becomes involved.

What are my rights as a carer?

If you have parental responsibility for a child, the local authority should consult you in decision making about that child. If care proceedings are issued you will automatically be a party and entitled to take part and to be legally represented. A local authority cannot take any step about your child that you disagree with unless the court says it can. The court can make an interim care order, which is a temporary order giving a local authority the right to make decisions about your child, even if you disagree. Or the court can make a full (or permanent) care order. The court can also authorise the placement of a child for adoption or agree to the child staying at home with their carer or going to live with a family member or friend. Care proceedings are very complex and the outcomes can be very drastic. Make sure you are legally represented by a specialist.

 

What are my rights as a grandparent or other family member or family friend?

If you want to offer to care for a child that the local authority deems to be at risk, either together with a parent or on your own, you should let the social worker know immediately. They then have  a duty to consider whether you would be able to care for the child. You do not have the automatic right to be involved in any care proceedings but you can apply to join in the proceedings if you have a case that is separate from the parents’ case or the case of anyone else who is involved.

As a grandparent, other family member or friend you do not have a “right” to see the child, unless there is an order that says you should. However, the local authority has a duty to maintain contact with a child and their family/relatives/other significant people so the social worker may organise for you to see the child. If they do not, you may be able to apply to the court to see the child. As for parents, the legal position is complex for grandparents, family members and friends and you should ensure that you take specialist advice at the very outset.

 

How can The Modern Family Law Company help?

We can advise and represent you in relation to care proceedings and any other local authority involvement with your child or a child in your family. We are experts in this field with over 30 years’ experience. However, you should be aware that if you are a parent or anyone else with parental responsibility you are entitled to free Legal Aid for care proceedings, irrespective of your financial position. For grandparents and other interested parties, Legal Aid is means and merits tested which means that you may be eligible depending on the strength of your case and the extent of your income and assets. We do not offer Legal Aid services, and are able to refer you to trusted partners who do. However, if you are not eligible for Legal Aid or, even if you are, and you still wish to benefit from our bespoke service, we will advise and represent you at all stages of the proceedings.

 

How will we support you through care proceedings?

For most parents, the process of care proceedings is very stressful and very distressing.  We will walk and talk you through the whole process, making sure that you understand what is happening at every stage and that you feel heard and that your views are being properly communicated to the people that matter. We can refer you to one of our trusted partners e.g. a counsellor or psychotherapist,  if more formal support services are needed.

 

How do I find out more about care proceedings?

Please Get in Touch via our contact page and we'll be delighted to provide further information.

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