Care Proceedings and Social Services Involvement
If social workers become involved with a family it can be a very stressful time. All of our solicitors who deal with these cases have specialist qualifications (Law Society Children Panel accredited) to ensure that our clients have the best possible advice and representation.
Social workers' involvement can be at any stage; initial enquiries, child protection conference, PLO meeting or court proceedings. We have specialist, sympathetic solicitors who will guide and represent you throughout. Please contact us at the earliest opportunity.
Where social workers have concerns about a family they may carry out initial enquiries. Legal advice should be sought to ensure that the family are best able to deal with those enquiries. Legal aid may be available subject to your financial circumstances (i.e. means test).
Child Protection Conferences
Social workers call a meeting of the agencies involved with a family, and the parents, to share information so they can decide whether any further steps are required to help the family and/or protect the children. We can attend such meetings with you to advise you about the process, protect your interests and ensure that your views are provided to the meeting. Legal aid may be available subject to your financial circumstances.
Social workers are considering taking court proceedings to protect a child or children. The parents are sent a detailed letter setting out the social workers' concerns and are invited to attend a meeting. The letter urges parents to obtain legal advice because of the seriousness of the circumstances. We can provide advice and representation at such meetings. Legal aid is available to parents in these circumstances without means or merits test.
Emergency Protection Order
Social workers believe that a child or children is suffering immediate risk of significant harm and make an urgent application to court for an order, usually they want to place the child or children with alternate carers. Urgent advice should be sought, we can give that advice and represent you throughout the process, to ensure your interests are protected. Legal Aid is available for all parents in such cases.
Social workers have issued proceedings seeking a care or supervision order because they believe a child or children in the family is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm. They may wish to place the child with alternate carers or in foster care. We can advise and represent you throughout the process. Whether you are a parent, grandparent or other family member who wishes to become involved, we can ensure that you have the best possible advice, guide you through the process and put your views and evidence before the court. Legal aid is available to parents in such cases, without any assessment of their financial position. Legal aid can be available to others who wish to be involved (subject to means and the merits of the case).
Social workers have brought proceedings seeking an order enabling them to place a child or children for adoption, away from the natural family. These proceedings usually occur at the same time as care proceedings. Whether you are a parent, grandparent other potential carer we can advise and represent you to ensure that your interests are protected. Legal aid can be available.
Discharge of care orders
Where a child or children is subject to a care order it is possible to apply to discharge the order. Whether the application is by a parent (or other interested party) seeking return of a child, or by the social workers who may be seeking some other form of placement (e.g. special guardianship order with a foster carer) we can advise you, issue the proceedings and represent you at court. Legal aid is available subject to a means and merits test.
Contact to children in care
Where a child or children are subject to care orders there can be disagreements between the social workers and the parents or other family members about how contact should take place. We can advise you and, if necessary, issue proceedings to seek better contact arrangements. Legal aid is available subject to a means and merits test.
Secure accommodation orders
Where social workers are concerned that a child presents a serious risk of harm to him or herself, or others, they may seek a court order allowing them to place the child in a secure unit which restricts their liberty. Our specialist solicitors can advise you and represent you. Legal aid is available for the young person concerned (without means or merits test) and the parents (subject to means and merits test).
Special Guardianship Orders
If a special guardianship order is made then the special guardian has parental responsibility for the child. The parents does not lose their parental responsibility but the special guardian’s parental responsibility takes precedence. It is an order short of adoption but is intended to mean that the special guardian is the child’s permanent carer. These are therefore very significant orders for any family. Whether you are an intended special guardian or a parent you should seek legal advice and we can provide that help and court representation if need be. Legal aid might be available.
If you have any concerns about a fostered child that require legal advice, whether you are a foster carer, a parent of indeed a fostered young person, please contact us. Our specialist solicitors have significant experience in relation to these issues.
Like many family cases these are complex and very emotive issues. If you seek to adopt a child or have any concerns about an adoption issue please contact us, we have expert solicitors who can advise.