If the Social Services Department of the Local Authority become involved with your family, raising concerns about the care of your children, this can be a very distressing situation. The risk of losing a child is extremely upsetting. Should this happen, then the Local Authority may arrange meetings requiring your attendance to address their concerns or could commence Care Proceedings before the Court.
In these types of cases the Court may be asked to make a Care Order, Placement Order (adoption), Supervision Order or Special Guardianship Order regarding your child. Whatever their level of involvement with your family, it is crucial that you take immediate legal advice from a lawyer who specialises in cases of this type. At HPJV solicitors we have a team of expert Lawyers in this field who are available to help you and your family stay together.
Our experienced Child Care accredited solicitors and the Family team can guide you through this difficult legal process, ensuring that you understand the entire process from start to finish. Appointing the right lawyer that you can trust and be confident in is crucial in these cases.
You do not have to worry about legal costs as Legal Aid may be available in these types of Children cases.
If you would like more general advice about children in care, feel free to visit our Children in Care Solicitors page.
Our child care proceedings advice and expertise
We will approach your situation with skill and sensitivity no matter how challenging the case. We understand that everything may feel hopeless at this time, but with our assistance, you will have the best possible chance of achieving a positive outcome.
Local Authorities and judges have strict duties to act in the best interests of your child. We will take all possible steps to promote their welfare within the care proceedings and preserve your parental rights.
We will be by your side through every step of the process, from pre-proceedings meetings to representing you in any court proceedings. We respond to all correspondence swiftly and we can set up emergency meetings to discuss your case if necessary.
Our advice is sympathetic but practical and our expertise formally recognised. We are members of the Law Society Children Law Accreditation for our ability to represent children and parents during family law proceedings. We are also members of the Family Law Advanced Accreditation for our experience in complex family law proceedings.
As a parent involved in care proceedings, you will be entitled to legal aid regardless of your financial circumstances.
Our expertise covers a wide range of children in care matters from pre-proceedings to court orders, including:
Care Orders place children under the protection of the Local Authority’s Social Services Department. This gives the Local Authority parental responsibility to make decisions about things like where your child should live, who should look after them, and where they go to school.
Unless you voluntarily allow the Local Authority to look after your child, they must apply to court for a Care Order if they believe that:
- Your child is at risk of harm or is suffering harm
- The harm is caused by you or that you are unable to protect the child from harm
We can provide advice throughout the proceedings, including:
- Liaising with the Local Authority on your behalf
- Liaising with the Cafcass Children’s Guardian (who will be responsible for representing your child’s rights, interests and wishes)
- Representing you during Care Order hearings
- Promoting your parental rights and the best interests of your child
- Challenging Care Orders
We can also help relatives (who are not the parents) apply for care of a child either temporarily or permanently where the alternative is foster care or adoption.
Placement Orders (adoption)
A Placement Order gives the Local Authority permission to place a child for adoption where there is no parental consent. The Local Authority must first obtain a Care Order before they can get a Placement Order.
When a Placement Order is granted, the child will go to live with their prospective adopted parents (who will also get parental responsibility to make decisions about the child’s upbringing).
Supervision Orders allow the Local Authority to assist and supervise your child without giving them parental responsibility to make decisions about their upbringing.
The Order may require the child to live in a certain place or attend specified activities and these requirements also extend to the parents.
You can apply to discharge a Supervision Order if the circumstances which led to the Order being made in the first place have changed and it is no longer needed. Alternatively, it may discharge automatically once a period of time has elapsed but there will be meetings leading up to this to decide whether it is still needed. We can provide clear, practical advice in relation to Supervision Orders and discharge applications.
Special Guardianship Orders
Special Guardianship is when a child is placed on a long-term basis with someone who is not a parent. The Special Guardian will get parental responsibility to make decisions about the child’s upbringing and look after their welfare. It is generally appropriate where adoption is not the right choice for the child (for example, because they still enjoy a good relationship with their parents).
A person can apply to be a Special Guardian in various circumstances, including:
- They are someone with whom the child has lived for three out of the last five years (with no gaps longer than three months)
- They are a Local Authority foster carer with whom the child has lived with for one year or more
- They are a relative of the child and they have lived with them for at least one year
Special Guardians may be entitled to a Special Guardianship Allowance upon application to the Local Authority.
We support people making Special Guardianship Order applications and parents looking for advice about someone else becoming a Special Guardian for their child.
Emergency Protection Orders
Emergency Protection Orders are used to protect a child from harm or risk of harm. Anyone can apply for an Emergency Protection Order, including the police, but most applications are made by the Local Authority.
An Emergency Protection Order can allow the local authority to enter a home to find and remove a child to a safe place. The Order can only last up to eight days (or extended to fifteen days). During this time, the Local Authority will consider whether it needs to apply for a Care Order or Supervision Order.
If someone plans to make an Emergency Protection Order application, you will be given one day’s notice. If you receive such notice, get in touch with us as soon as possible for advice about what to do.